ByTim Horton, writer at
Business Development Manager at Universally Speaking. @TimHortonGame | Email: [email protected]
Tim Horton

No TV, no problem

Microsoft's research division is back with something very special and very complicated: "RoomAlive," which turns your living room into an interactive augmented reality space. Microsoft plan to turn your desired play space into a living alternate world.

The plan is to take videogames out of the TV and instead put it around you. The idea is now at a working stage as you can see below.

RoomAlive requires no TV, but several projectors and sensors (Kinect), and turns any room into a video game, Holodeck style, and will be able to interact with the player in the room. The projectors are self calibrated to make the setup easier.

The Power of Kinect

Although Kinect began life as a gaming peripheral for the Xbox, it has quickly become a platform in itself. Microsoft released Kinect for Windows last November as a way for businesses and researchers to tap into the power of the peripheral. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer has claimed that some 200 businesses have begun working with it.

Microsoft - RoomAlive
Microsoft - RoomAlive

RoomAlive’s video projectors and Kinect combination are far too costly and large for living rooms right now, but Microsoft is imagining a future where this technology will be smaller and low-cost. Sony has created similar virtual reality experiments in the past, but Microsoft’s system can automatically detect the floors and walls of the room to let the system work anywhere.

"There’s still lots to explore with RoomAlive as a gaming platform," explain’s a Microsoft Research spokesperson. "We envision a future where games can use physical objects as part of the game."

Microsoft - RoomAlive
Microsoft - RoomAlive

Obviously this is currently proof-of-concept type technology, and in no way represents what the end-user may see in the future. Still, it isn't just a battery of projectors creating a super-large viewing surface. Six Kinect sensors follow the player's head around the play space, and RoomAlive's software recognizes the different surfaces in the room's layout and adapts the video game to them.

What are your thoughts on this? Are we ready for this level of tech in our living rooms or is it all a little too complicated?


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