Microsoft's new projector concept, IllumiRoom, could let the next Xbox take over your whole room. First shown off at CES in January, the company's research division has explained the idea in more detail in a new video, embedded below.
IllumiRoom isn't a real product yet, but the idea is that it's a projector that sits on your coffee table, wirelessly connected to your Xbox -- but it doesn't replace your TV. It uses a sensor to see where your TV is and blocks out that part of its projection, enhancing your experience with explosions and movement in your peripheral vison.
Microsoft's Eric Rudder explained the concept to The Verge: "Oh, my TV got bigger, and I can project on anything because the surface doesn't need to be flat."
It's like a much more sophisticated version of Ambilight, Philips' system of throwing soft coloured light out the back of your TV to match what's on screen. Ambilight could only match the colours, however, whereas IllumiRoom displays stuff that's directly relevant to the game you're playing.
And it does seem to be focused on gaming, rather than general home cinema use. Presumably that's because movies are just what appears on the screen, while a 3D game has all this extra information that's not normally displayed -- characters and environments moving around you all the time.
In the video above, the presenter name-checks Portal, the fiendish 3D puzzle game that takes place in distinctive tiled rooms. IllumiRoom is shown projecting a moving grid of those tiles, a relatively simple effect that would be fairly easy to add to Portal as a downloadable update. If IllumiRoom took off, developers could go back and add support for old titles to extend their shelf life, and build more sophisticated effects into their new games.
IllumiRoom is unlikely to be something you can actually buy for quite some time, so don't expect it to take the stage at Microsoft's Xbox launch event next month.
Do you think it would be popular? Is your living room big enough for this? Give me some 360-degree feedback down in the comments, or on our peripheral Facebook page.
Update: I've replaced the initial video I saw, uploaded by The Verge's Tom Warren, with a longer, much more detailed version that was brought to my attention by Zak Islam on Twitter. It appears to have been initially uploaded by Windows Blog Italia.