RoomAlive: Microsoft’s new room-filling tech is coming for your living space. Yes, all of it

Oh, to be a lab technician over at Microsoft’s Redmond campus. What joyous madness might these white coats have conjured up and left by the wayside as the big M rolled tank-like towards the relatively nondescript black box of the Xbox One?

One slice of unique tech that’s yet to see the light of day is Illumiroom, first revealed back at CES 2013. Microsoft didn't stop working on it, however, and a new demonstration of the game projection system shows it off in its 2.0 form, under the new moniker RoomAlive.

Using multiple projectors, Kinects and ‘procams’, RoomAlive projects a game world directly onto the walls, furniture and floor of your living room. The whole system, which sounds like an epic undertaking to set up, is wholly auto-calibrating and can completely determine the three dimensional
geometry of a room over the course of a few minutes. It tracks the player within the conjured ‘world’ too, allowing them to control, punch, kick, shoot, trample or dodge in-game objects as they appear.
Room with a view
And the games? Well, Whack-A-Mole predictably sees you thrash its titular mammals as they attempt to invade your gaming den, while Robot Attack looks like a low-budget Killzone: Liberation. We like the concept of Traps, a game which requires you to physically duck and dive out of the way of Indiana Jones-llke dart arrows as they virtually fire across the room. Misjudge the dodge and you'll find yourself plastered with bloody wounds projected right onto your body.

But will this tech ever make it to our own homes? We doubt it. It’s not just the expense that would cause a problem, but the huge variety of living rooms that players will need to shift around to make way for their flailings. Even one camera, the Kinect, was too much for many gamers to calibrate their set-ups for. But when it comes to fitness games, or even for educational purposes, RoomAlive may
present an avenue to different kinds of gaming experiences. Plus anything to get certain people up off the sofa…

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