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Xbox 720 to feature new Microsoft IllumiRoom technology

Microsoft has unveiled a new technology which could make it into its next-generation Xbox 720 console: IllumiRoom.

The work of Microsoft's Research arm, IllumiRoom is designed to increase the feeling of immersion when playing games on a console. Combining the technology used in Kinect, the company's motion-sensing controller system, with a projector, IllumiRoom extends the game world beyond the borders of the TV.

In a demonstration video, Microsoft showed what is possible with the IllumiRoom system: in-game objects and environments extend well beyond the confines of the TV screen, with gunfire appearing to leap out at the user in a first-person shooter or snowflakes drifting around the room during a snowy level. One example of a space-based game sees the stars drifting around outside the edges of the TV, creating an incredibly immersive environment. The motion sensor makes sure the effects are centred around the user's viewpoint.

According to Microsoft, all effects featured in the video were created by the IllumiRoom system with no camera trickery or post-processing work. Furthermore, the effects were being created in real-time - meaning that it's perfectly possible for the IllumiRoom system to respond to player movement in a fluid and realistic manner, providing the system running the IllumiRoom hardware - an Xbox 720, in other words - has enough processing power.

What Microsoft hasn't announced, sadly, is availability for the system. Describing the IllumiRoom hardware as a proof-of-concept prototype, the company is currently silent on whether the system will form part of the rumoured Kinect 2.0 hardware that is thought to be bundled with the Xbox 720 games console when it launches later this year.

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