How New Tech Breaks Content Outside the Limits of the TV Screen

How New Tech Breaks Content Outside the Limits of the TV Screen

The Future of Entertainment series by iQ by Intel and PSFK Labs is highlighting the latest in entertainment innovation. Over the course of 10 weeks at, we are showcasing new products, services and technologies, exploring the changing face of how we consume, share and create content and getting reactions from Intel experts.

This week we are discovering how the future of entertainment will be about tools and platforms that enable us to go deeper inside our media. These new technologies provide an unprecedented integrated experience that literally thrust audiences straight into their entertainment. This trend is called Immersive Story Environments, and as part of the larger Inside The Story theme, focuses on how consumers are becoming dynamic participants in their entertainment experience, interacting with content in new ways through augmented and virtual reality technologies.

“Not since the birth of television have the rules of storytelling been so up for grabs,” declares the Lincoln Center Film Society on their website, and yet the television is still a major mainstay of people’s homes and entertainment systems, with 95% of Americans owning at least one set, according to Nielsen. Harnessing this knowledge of the television’s omnipresence in people’s lives, Microsoft are thinking outside of the TV box, breaking graphics beyond the confines of the television screen and bringing them onto the floor, ceiling and walls of the living room.

Microsoft’s IllumiRoomis a proof-of-concept system that is moving beyond concept and inching closer to actuality. Using an Xbox Kinect and a standard projector, the IllumiRoom throws content from the TV onto the walls and furniture, overlaying its surroundings with the visualizations from the TV. The Kinect captures the appearance and geometry of the room, making the IllumiRoom easily adaptable to any space. It’s not quite virtual reality, rather, this is spatially augmented reality. 

While it could be used for simple television watching, Microsoft’s focus is on the way IllumiRoom can create a better gaming experience. The system enhances traditional gameplay by projecting illusions onto the room that further immerse the player into the game’s environment. Extending the content is not the only trick IllumiRoom has up its conceptual sleeve: it can highlight the edges of the game to create a sense of peripheral vision, and also enhance certain game elements, such as gunfire or explosions, so that they are the only things that come out from the screen. Furthermore, the IllumiRoom can alter the appearance of the room itself through a series of projected illusions. One such illusion, called the Radial Wobble sees the living room appear to ripple every time a gunshot is fired. It gives the illusion that a player’s actual environment is affected by in-game action.

Currently, Microsoft remains tight-lipped as to whether or not the IllumiRoom will ever be more than a proof-of-concept; though many speculate it may end up as part of the next generation Xbox. Nevertheless, if and when the IllumiRoom comes out, it will change the way viewers see and experience their living rooms. It blurs the line between our physical reality and the virtual reality of a game, bringing the two worlds together in a quasi-reality.

Whether through virtual reality accessible through the Oculus Rift or the augmented reality of the IllumiRoom, Immersive Story Environments provide an active and enthralling entertainment experience beyond sitting on a couch and passively ingesting content. Check in tomorrow to find out more about the trend in an interview with Sean Koehl, Technology Evangelist at Intel Labs.

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