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Microsoft invades your walls with the Next Xbox and IllumiRoom

Xbox 720 will be a scalable upgradable device

The rumor mill is a perilous place, filled with scant facts but heaps of hearsay, malarkey, bunk, and all kinds of nonsense that rhymes handily with bull spit. As we get closer to the May 21 announcement of Microsoft’s Next Xbox, though, it’s been remarkable just how many rumors about the future of the company’s video game business have turned out to be true all along. The Xbox ten-year plan memo allegedly leaked straight out of Microsoft in June 2012 described, amongst other things, the next console’s ability to project images into a player’s living room. The Next Xbox can’t do it itself actually. Microsoft’s IllumiRoom, which works with it, can.

Microsoft CTO Eric Rudder debuted the IllumiRoom technology at the Consumer Electronics Show this past January. The “raw” technology demo demonstrated proposed – as described in old Microsoft patents – a living room device that would project video images on every surface in your living room; television shows, Xbox games, a PC’s web browser, or even video and music editing tools. Its uses would range from the practical to the outlandish, from something as simple as projecting a virtual keyboard on your coffee table to displaying game enemies coming at you from all angles. 

While Microsoft didn’t discuss IllumiRoom’s role in gaming in detail at CES, that functionality is going to happen. The company is holding an event at the Paris-based CHI 2013 event on Tuesday to properly unveil the technology. A video teasing the event shows, as pointed out by Eurogamer, an example of how IllumiRoom and Kinect would work together to let people play Portal. “IllumiRoom can extend the gaming content out of your TV, creating a truly immersive experience,” says the video, “Or we can selectively show game elements, like explosions, or make it snow in our living room.”

The video below goes in to a bit more detail on the system and how it would work in your living room. 

The big tease, however, is Microsoft discussing how IllumiRoom will work with “a next-generation gaming console.” This is the first tacit acknowledgement that the Next Xbox, whatever it may be called, will work with new projection technology just as described in the ten-year plan manifesto.