Sure, you can slip on a pair of VR glasses to transport yourself into another world. But why bother when you can turn whatever room you’re in into another world all by itself? That’s what happens with RoomAlive, an interactive gaming platform created by Microsoft Research.
Pairing an Xbox Kinect with projection mapping, the system, essentially, pulls the display out of your TV and beams it all over the room’s walls. Whether the game involves piloting a space-faring battleship, waging hand-to-hand combat against ninjas in an ancient Oriental temple, or engaging in future warfare in an imagined world 30 years from now, everything shows up in the room, where you can interact with them the way you would in a game.
RoomAlive uses multiple off-the-shelf projectors to beam the game world around the room, multiple Kinects to track your movements, and a specialized control device. The system can calculate the entire 3D geometry of any room, tailoring the projected game world based on its structure and dimensions. Since you’re now part of the game world, you’ll also be part of the projection canvas, with elements like wounds and blood projected on your body, depending on what happens in the game.
While only a prototype for now, RoomAlive does seem like a viable future direction for console gaming. Sure, it’s going to take a lot of work to raise the realism, but it definitely looks fun. Plus, you’ll have to get off the couch in order to play, which is never a bad thing.