This experience turns a player’s living room into the environment of the game, itself.
The research division from Microsoft has stepped up its efforts from last year’s “Illumiroom”, which it demoed at CES, having come back with “RoomAlive”, which converts a living room into an augmented reality space with a highly interactive experience.
The concept of Illumiroom was impressive, but in essence, it was strictly an extension of the game field of view.
The rest of the game was projected onto the floor and the surrounding walls for Illumiroom. RoomAlive, on the other hand, may continue to be in the research phases, but it is considerably more complex than its predecessor. This takes the user out of the recliner or couch and has him or her interacting with the environment as it renders on surfaces in the room such as furniture. The result is meant to be a more thorough augmented reality experience for the players to enjoy.
Though the technology for this augmented reality game experience is quite complex, no expertise is required by the user.
In the Microsoft concept video, one of the game experiences that was described was with a Whack-A-Mole program. This is an experience somewhat based on the same idea as the popular classic carnival game where little creatures pop up from a surface and they are smacked down with a mallet or other similar device. In the case of the AR game being developed from Microsoft, the virtual moles can appear from nearly any surface in the room, including the floor, walls, or from furniture. The players must simply move about the room and touch the virtual moles in order to gain points.
At the moment, the system for this AR game requires too much hardware, with a monitor and projector rigging that would be far too complex and expensive for the average consumer. Microsoft does not intend to release the technology in its current form. Instead, it is more of a proof of concept than an actual product.
That said, it is clear that the company is headed somewhere with considerable potential through the use of augmented reality technology. It uses 6 Kinect sensors to follow a player around the space and its software is able to recognize all of the different surfaces throughout the layout of the room, adapting the game to suit that environment.