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4 comments

The Next Era of Immersive Media?

Posted June 03, 2015 10:55 AM by HUSH

Growing up, it was always a battle with my older brother to use the video game system. Located in his room, along with a roughly 22" CRT television, was an original Nintendo Entertainment System, along with the requisite Duck Hunt, Super Smash Bros., Excitebike and several other classic 2D games.

It was the cutting edge of gaming technology for the 1980s era, and I would sit endlessly waiting for my turn--which always seemed way too short. It was the younger brother's curse of shared toys. Today, I am the proud owner of an Xbox One that I can use whenever I want. My brother is the proud 'owner' of three toddlers. He has no time for games, while I'll squeeze in about an hour every other day.

Well I suppose I'm finally getting my due. Not only did I send his three-year-old home with a can of silly string yesterday (revenge!), but at the same time Microsoft debuted the latest update to their Illumiroom concept. The technology uses a Microsoft Kinect to geometrically map the game room. At the same, at least one projector positioned on the other side of the room projects the game environment onto furniture and walls. The console supplies real-time graphics that are overlaid onto furniture.

This can be used to expand the player's peripheral vision. While the gamer might be focused on the TV at center, they can see enemies flanking to the right on the walls around them. The game can also be relieved of the constraints of the TV. The video at left shows shows how Microsoft engineers have developed the technology.

Around five years ago, there was a big movement in the game industry to integrate motion capture. Swinging a sword required swinging a remote or the player's movement was relayed by a camera, such as the Kinect. However there were major limitations. Players were restricted to a small square area immediately in front of the camera and few games were able to leverage this technology without compromising gameplay. At-home, console-based virtual reality remained elusive.

Applications for this technology aren't limited to video gaming, which is probably its biggest asset. Footage right now shows AI enemies lobbing a grenade "through" the TV and onto the floor, while players cower behind their sofa to prevent damage. The same could be done for action movies; suddenly 3D isn't as immersive as once thought.

Microsoft is so confident in the technology that they're already preparing its next iteration: RoomAlive. Instead of media being played on your TV and peripherals projected into the real environment, Room Alive eliminated the TV. Now the game takes place completely in the room itself. This cool concept video shows a wack-a-mole type game, an immersive shooter, and a remote control game where the protagonist chases baddies up coffee tables and across sofas.

It will be interesting to see how Illumiroom and RoomAlive compete against wearable HUDs such as Google Glass and Microsoft's own HoloLens, as well as VR sets such as Oculus Rift? I'd have to say removing the wearable aspect could be a huge benefit for those that find it agitating.

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#1

Re: The Next Era of Immersive Media?

06/03/2015 11:40 AM

It's difficult for me to relate to this blog entry.

"Growing up, it was always a battle with my older brother to use the video game system." For me and my brothers, whenever such a battle broke out it was over a favored book... or the ball and bat... or the bike (we had to share)... Odd, battles never seemed to erupt over the lawnmower, or the rake, or the snow shovel.

"...along with a roughly 22" CRT television," We had a B&W television set in the living room, about 20" diagonal measure, fitted in a monstrous entertainment center sort of thing together with record player, speakers nearly as large as the TV screen, and record album storage space.

Later (high school years), during our twice a month supper-out treat at the pizza joint, we could hit the super cool arcade video game 'Pong'. Of course, we would fight over that - the blinks and pings and bells and slaps of the pinball games just wouldn't hold a candle to the attraction to that glowing electronic ball.

I guess I can relate to this after all.

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#4
In reply to #1

Re: The Next Era of Immersive Media?

06/08/2015 12:24 AM

Twice a week at a pizza joint?

When I was growing up (in Oz) pizza joints as portrayed on US TV shows didn't exist even in natural black and white like on the TV, which took 10 minutes to warm up before you could see a picture....

Actually people didn't go out much at all in Oz when I grew up. Sydney was a big village. Men went to the pub, ladies took Bex or Vincents powders.

The CBD was empty on Sunday. Great for a bicycle ride.

As for indoor games, there was a pool table at the pub except Sundays when they were closed.

Very immersive in summer at the beach.

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#2

Re: The Next Era of Immersive Media?

06/03/2015 11:18 PM

Sounds like a poor man's holosuite. ie, a holosuite without holograms.

I'll wait.

Hooker

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#3

Re: The Next Era of Immersive Media?

06/04/2015 12:15 PM

I'm waiting for the human species to begin rejecting the virtual world and live a real life (with a three year old toddler for instance). Even though the youngest of four is nineteen now, I still don't find myself twiddling my thumbs wondering what's on the boob tube. I got so many things going, I'm going to need to retire just to get caught up. I can't wait.

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