Probably not coming soon to a living room near you: RoomAlive.
RoomAlive is a new concept shown off this week by Microsoft Research that turns an entire room into a gaming space. We saw at last year’s CES a hint of things to come with IllumiRoom, but that just expanded the standard video gaming space, rather than making it interactive. Where IllumiRoom was essentially a bunch of projectors covering a room in pictures, RoomAlive uses Kinect sensors to turn the room into a play field.
In the video above, we see a few different concepts for games that could work with the hardware. There’s a Whack-a-Mole game that can be interacted with either by a player’s hands or with a gun prop, a booby-trap room that recognizes the player’s position and throws digital death, such as hidden wall darts, and finally a controller-operated top-down shooter that plays on the walls and uses the room’s topography to make the playfield.
In terms of sheer hardware, the setup for this costs thousands of dollars. It’s not likely to come home anytime soon, and with the Kinect dying a slow, public death on consoles, there’s even less evidence to suggest this is a consumer product in any way. More likely, though, are commercial applications for this.
This is the kind or product that could be used as part of a theme-park attraction or a party room at a place like Chuck E. Cheese. The ease of end-user setup shown in the video means any business could potentially set this up, whether to use it as an game or just interactive projected scenery. If this concept makes it out of the concept stage, this is likely how we’ll see it.
Even so, it shows that Microsoft is constantly exploring new technology to make games more interesting, even if it’s not something they’ll ever be able to market and might never be able to sell.