IllumiRoom and Presence

Article, Michael Schwartz No Comments

Michael Schwartz | April 14, 2013

There exists much speculation about when the next version of Microsoft’s gaming console, Xbox 720 (aka Durango), will release; however, the Washington based company has already released details about a next-generation immersive gaming system which extends gameplay beyond the television screen. The new system, IllumiRoom, can transform the entire room to become a part of the gaming experience. IllumiRoom accomplishes this by utilizing a Kinect for Windows camera paired with a projector which is connected to the game console and television. Finally, we can let our peripheral vision join in on the fun.

By engaging more of our senses (i.e., haptic controller feedback) and engrossing those sensory modalities to a greater degree, game developers can influence gamers to play longer. This is accomplished by the aspect of gaming known as presence, which is the sensation of being spatially located in the mediated (game) environment. If Microsoft uses projected visualizations to meld the physical and virtual worlds, gamers might find it even easier to become “lost” in a game. What are some of the possible consequences that can arise from inducing a more engaging experience in video game players?

Several studies have examined the link between presence in a virtual environment and learning. Annetta and Holmes [1] found that students with a higher sense of presence in a synchronous, online class reported having a higher degree of satisfaction with the course. Video games can also motivate players to learn by providing a more engaging experience [2]. However, a rich, immersive environment can have unintended consequences. Simulator sickness, a condition caused by disagreement between the movement you see and the vestibular system’s sense of movement, can cause dizziness, fatigue, and nausea. Approximately a third of all people are prone to motion sickness even in mild conditions. The causes of simulator sickness have been found to be bright images, motion at 0.2 hz in moving systems, and wide fields of view (like the kind created by IllumiRoom). The immersion doesn’t stop with IllumiRoom either. Microsoft has also announced the projected release of augmented reality glasses that can be used with or without the Xbox gaming console. How will this affect learning, interpersonal relationships, and the line between fantasy and reality?


1. Annetta, L. A., & Holmes, S. (2006). Creating presence and community in a synchronous virtual learning environment using avatars. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 3, 27-

2. Annetta, L. A. (2008). Video games in education: Why they should be used and how they are being
used. Theory into Practice, 47(3), 229-239.

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