Microsoft patent surfaces showing immersive Holodeck-style display

Of all the technology that they had on the Enterprise, what I always wanted the most was the Holodeck. The Holodeck was a gigantic room where people in the series went for recreation and was a fully immersive holographic video game system. A newly published patent from Microsoft shows a method of combining gaming and other content on a smaller TV screen with the projection of peripheral images around the player.

The patent shows how Microsoft envisions being able to project an image 360° around a room to complete a virtual landscape. Microsoft filed for the patent in early 2011, and it was published last week by the US patent office and talks about an "immersive display experience." The system described in the patent would connect to a standard video game console that was in turn connected to something dubbed an environmental display.

That environmental display would then throw an image that appears to surround the user so whichever direction they turn they would see the projected game space. The main TV screen would still be used in the system with the peripheral images beamed around the room serving as an extension to the primary display. The idea is that by using these peripheral images the gamer could turn left or right and see an enemy sneaking up on them.

The patent says that the technology would use a depth sensing camera system along the lines of the Kinect that would sense the layout and typography of room to project the image. This sounds like a cool system, but it also raises some interesting challenges. One challenge is how exactly the system would be able to a project surrounding images in rooms where some sides of the room are open with no walls. For instance in my game room, the right wall is open to a landing for the stairs. I wonder if the system would sense missing or incomplete walls in a room and just not use that wall.

[via ArsTechnica]