A patent by Microsoft has been discovered which sheds light on an ambitious 3D projection display system, which appears to be a future evolution of the company's Xbox gaming brand.
Filed on 2 March 2011, the patent includes a clear diagram that shows an on-screen game image escaping the confines of the television and being projected onto the walls of the room around the user.
The patent suggests that user interactivity will come about as a result of combining a product similar to the Xbox 360's current Kinect motion detection sensor, with the addition of "a projection display device configured to project a peripheral image in a 360-degree field around environmental display".
The patent also mentions that the product may have abilities such as eye tracking and collection of colours from the display environment (via a further camera) in order to more realistically meld the room's appearance with the television display.
However, the patent application goes on to say that Microsoft is not completely set on the projection approach for all tasks, explaining that "suitable 3D displays may be used without departing from the scope of present disclosure. For example, in some embodiments, [the] user may enjoy an immersive 3D experience using suitable headgear, such as active shutter glasses."
The patent also admits that full-room projection, colour moderation and room scanning to take account of obstructive objects will take its toll on a games machine's processor, saying "the peripheral image may be displayed at a lower resolution than the primary image without adversely affecting user experience."
It seems Microsoft is keeping its options firmly open for physical applications of the projection device, which makes the device's potential in areas wider than gaming entertainment of considerable interest to the technology community.
With Microsoft's recent acquisition of Perceptive Pixel's large-scale multi-touch hardware and software technologies, and after its keen demonstration of a large touchscreen running Microsoft Office 2013 at the product's unveiling in July, a combination of large interactive screens and room-sized graphical projections promises a whole host of future applications in both entertainment and business.
A video has also appeared on Sony's Japanese YouTube channel clearly showing the physical design of a virtual reality helmet. Looking similar to a device Sony has already shown to the press as early as January 2012 – which the company said is capabale of simulating a 70in 3D movie screen – the redesigned device appears to have an additional camera mounted on the front.
Little more is currently known about the headset, other than it shows Microsoft's rival Sony is still determined to keep up the competition in the race for domination of the living room of the next generation.