Microsoft IllumiRoom’s Proof-of-Concept

I came across this interesting proof-of-concept by Microsoft, released during CES-13:

In class today we discussed (or at least my conclusion of the discussion was) that 3D TVs do not really create a Virtual Environment because we do not really ever interact with it. But I guess it depends on what are you doing with it. Watching a movie might be a passive experience while at the same time playing a game can be considered as an active experience in which we do look around. In my opinion, the only difference between a CAVE and a 3D TV is probably the size of the display. Instead of covering 3 walls, it covers a 1/6th of a wall. Does “Virtual Environment” actually mean that if we move physically then the world around responds to it as oppose to using a controller to move around? But then simulators may be considered equivalent to controllers.

The definition of Virtual Reality seems to be really broad.

This proof-of-concept is an interesting attempt at maybe taking it to another level. It is simulating the CAVE in your living room and may add to the virtual reality “feel” of the TV displays we have.

I would like to know what does everyone else think and maybe clear any misconceptions I might have portrayed above.

6 Responses to “Microsoft IllumiRoom’s Proof-of-Concept”

  1. gr8dhage says:

    Well, the word environment literally means one’s surroundings which have well defined behaviors in the real world. But the phrase “Virtual Environment” or “Virtual Reality” also indicates that whatever is portrayed is not real but a virtual equivalent of that. So, do interactions with this world have to be realistic? I don’t think so. The controller is the virtual equivalent of moving your limbs in the real world and for interacting with virtual objects. Instead of the size of the screen, a good criteria for evaluation of Virtual Environments could be to measure the level of immersion that the technology provides.

  2. Hitesh Chhabra says:

    I feel the concept is novice and perhaps cost effective as it increases the field of view and thus presence in an assumed Virtual Environment, with a single 3D TV screen. However, I think that this qualifies more as 3D special effects than a VR environment. For me, it would be a big distraction and loss of context if I shift my focus from the TV screen to the walls around but then I am not an experienced gamer. But given the context of a game, the usage of controller to manipulate objects is quite logical and can provide experience close to moving around physically, but with a much less degree of immersion.

  3. Andy says:

    I agree that passive experiences are not Environments.

    But sure, why not let the gun and kart games be called virtual environments. The interaction may be simple or limited by the gamepad and physics engine, but its no less a virtual environment.

    I would argue that while not very significant on the AR/MR scale of things (correlating to an actual reality), even games like Zork, Dwarf Fortress, Sim City, and Katamari Damacy are all Virtual Environments of a sort. The representations of the environment that they intend on simulating in virtual space can vary widely in fidelity, but can still be very immersive and offer a sense of presence.

    This PoC video is more about enhancing the user’s level of presence and immersion by adding low-cost peripheral cues. To me, this is analogous to a sports car manufacturer tuning the sound of the exhaust notes so that the sensory experience has the right kind of rumble.

    I dont think this makes the game a “Better” virtual environment, but may improve the sense of immersion that the player feels. (This never would have worked as well without flat screen TVs)

    Does anyone play games in 3D or play with the field of view spanning several monitors? Minecraft with 3D glasses?

    Personally, I find this ( kind of effect more convincing than peripheral stuff.

  4. (Going to make some short, terse comments; we can discuss more in class! In general, a lot of what I see in these comments reflects the muddiness of the terms we use, and why I really want people to use terminology consistently to facilitate meaningful discussion.)

    What is shown in this video is technology: it is not a VE/VR, although the examples shown clearly are (all of them are interactive 3D experiences, mostly games). It is neither “good” nor “bad”, not “better” or “worse”, just different.

    VE/VR do not require interactions to be “realistic” (whatever you mean by that). The require interactive control, which an XBox game clearly has.

    It is more “immersive” that the TV alone: recall that immersion refers to the amount something occupies your senses. By definition, it’s more immersive that the TV, because it has a wider FOV.

    Immersion is one metric, although it really tells you nothing about the quality of the experience alone. All other things equal, a more immersive experience might be (and often is) better; or it might not. Games like shown here, probably yes. But, what about work-oriented things? Or experiences where the user needs to also pay attention to the world. A key part of thinking about VE/VR is to NOT get hung up on things like “the quality of the technology”, independent of what the experience is.

    VE/VR does not imply it’s a “virtual equivalent” of anything: it implies a consistent interactive world that may or may not correspond to something real, or something using the same physical laws as our world.

    Next, PLEASE do not conflate the terms “presence” and “immersion”. As discussed briefly in class, presence is one subjective measure of the user experience (that, btw, we can’t really measure directly). Immersion is a more objective measure of the attributes of the display technology.

    Personally, I disagree that this “would be a big distraction and loss of context if I shift my focus from the TV screen to the walls around”: even if one kept ones eyes focused on the TV, having the motion and content in ones peripheral display should (note: “should” not “would”) give you a better sense of the 3D space, and the ability to see things like a monster attacking you from the side. This will likely help with the game. BUT, only if it’s done well; it’s easy to imagine lag or other issues causing this to fail dramatically. And, it’s clearly a VE by any definition, and likely a VR experience by many.

    Any media experience can offer a sense of presence: books, films, etc. obviously can. Neither sensory immersion nor interactivity is required. Presence is a concept that goes beyond VE/VR.

    I’ve played 3D games (on my TV at home): it’s interesting, but clearly not better (because the tech has tradeoffs that hamper the experience in most cases).

    In general, most people reserve the term VE or VR for synthetic 3D worlds. Zork and other text based things are a matter of augment; Sim City is not 1st person so is also not generally considered a VE/VR; Katamari is a VE/VR by any reasonable definition.

    The key to to not get hung up on philosophical interpretations of the words themselves: this sort of thing is not useful. Yes, any “virtual” representation of an “environment” that is in the computer is a “virtual environment” by the “I put two english words together” metric; similar, anything that “augments” our “reality” (drugs? random obnoxious SMS’s from a bot every time I enter my office?) is “augmented reality”. But, while any of the infinite possible experiences you might be conceiving might or might not be “good”, “fun”, “provocative”, whatever … just falling back to the english definitions of those terms is not useful.

    Why? Communication requires mutual understanding. I can’t talk to a geneticist if I decide that the acronym DNA means “Do Not Attack!”, even though it literally could: but, each field has it’s own language, and it’s there to facilitate communication.

  5. Mukul Sati says:

    Would love to see this discussed more in class, as there seems to be a somewhat hazy demarcation of the different terms that be. See for a view that even tries to differentiate between the virtual reality and virtual environments based on the fidelity of the experience provided. which presents the authors views on what differentiates presence and immersion also makes for good reading.