The 2013 Consumer Electronics Show is currently underway in Las Vegas, and Microsoft has shown off a teeny morsel from their R&D labs called IllumiRoom that has me a little more intrigued about what we might see with the successor to the company’s Xbox 360.

Ok, so it’s not specific to the as-yet unannounced console, but I’d imagine it will be an optional extra for the new hardware, as opposed to an add-on for the current machine. I’m sure many will say “What the hell is the point in this!? Why would I want it!?”, but screw them, I want it! It’s easier to understand what IllumiRoom is if you just watch the video below.

The tech, which uses Kinect paired with a projector, is still just a proof-of-concept, though Microsoft states (on the site linked at the bottom of this article) that all footage in this video (as well as a second one hosted on the aforementioned site) was captured live, and that no effects have been added in post-production.

The research team claims IllumiRoom “uses the appearance and the geometry of the room (captured by Kinect) to adapt the projected visuals in real-time,” allowing the room you play in to extend your game out from your TV and add extra effects and ambience to your game, filling up your peripheral vision. I think this could be massive for immersion – sure, it’s not a holodeck, but I can imagine getting utterly engrossed in a game using this. Or maybe it could be horrible – imagine playing Amnesia or Slender with this going on!

Am I getting overexcited for this thing? Probably, but I don’t care, it seems like a fantastic idea to me. Admittedly, it’s not going to do anything for gameplay (and it probably won’t be a good idea for every game), but one of the things I’ve always loved about gaming is the chance to explore strange new worlds (which is why most releases take me a ridiculous amount of time to finish), and the option to really immerse myself in one of those worlds is very exciting to me. What do you guys think, exciting innovation or pointless gimmick? Or somewhere in-between, perhaps? Let me know in the comments.

Microsoft Research’s IllumiRoom site:
http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/illumiroom/

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