Microsoft is yet to announce its arrival in the virtual reality (VR) industry, no matter how many rumours suggest that the company is close. While VR fans continue to wait on the Windows owner’s own head-mounted display (HMD), the company has revealed a unique concept that captures the elements of what VR hopes to achieve without the need of a vision-obscuring device. That concept is RoomAlive, an evolution of the Illumiroom technology that company has revealed in the past.
As seen in a video below, RoomAlive uses a series of projectors and cameras hung from a ceiling to display images of every surface within the given environment. This includes anything from tables, chairs to even players themselves. Using a Kinect camera for depth sensing, it’s possible to play an entirely new range of videogames in which players can step into the experience, transforming a living room into an ancient temple, peaceful river and more. The company calls this ‘dyadic projected spatial augmented reality’.
Despite RoomAlive being an iteration of Illumiroom the concept is still very much in the design phase. Obviously asking consumers to hook multiple, expensive cameras and projects up to their living room ceilings this something of a stretch, so it may see many more iterations before the company even thinks at looking at release. One thing’s for sure; the technology could have a huge impact on VR. Right now RoomAlive represents one of the closest replications of the ‘Holodeck’ concept first seen in the Star Trek sci-fi TV series.
While the technology may not deliver a true sense of presence like the Oculus Rift aims to do, it also avoids many of the issues that conventional VR currently faces. Players don’t need controllers to replicate body movements and crucially don’t need to work about moving around a packed room effectively blinded by an HMD. As such, this is something that definitely warrents the attention of VR enthusiasts, especially with Microsoft’s current VR plans unknown.
Make sure to watch the video below to get a thorough grasp of RoomAlive. VRFocus will continue to follow any and all VR-related events, reporting back with all the latest.