back to article Microsoft bod dreams up 'Star Trek holodeck' games console

Microsoft wants to push Xbox games beyond the screen and put them all over the sitting room, reveals a patent application published by the US Patent Office last week. The idea sketched out by MS optical engineer Gritsko Perez in the patent application 'Immersive Display Experience' would create a peripheral display around the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

      @AC 13:02

      I have absolutely no idea what you're trying to say, so have a down-vote on the basis that I might disagree with you if I understood your post. It's always best to play it safe in these situations, don't you find?


    2. Goldmember


      What's a plep?


      And what the fuck are you talking about? Seems unrelated to the article, whatever it is.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ???

        I would down vote AC, but I was brought up not to mock the afflicted, and it is clear that BigDumbGuy555's degenerative brain disease is worsening. My thoughts are with his family.

        1. Goat Jam

          Re: ???

          Don't feed the trolls

  2. Piloti
    Thumb Down


    How can MS patent something that has been in Star Trek, Star Wars, Red Dwarf and H2G2, to name a few ?

    Can /I/ trawl SCI-FI novels and telly programmes and start a patent company ????????

    1. Chad H.

      Re: Madness.....

      Because none of those demonstrate how it works.

      Patents don't just cover a general idea, you have to have a specific method showing how its going to work, that anyone with skills in that field following the details in the patent could replicate.

      Any system to invalidate this patent would need to either have been patented before or demonstrated before the patent was requested..

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Madness.....

        Neither does Microsoft's patent application, except in extremely general terms.

        My guess is that they watched the Queen's Jubilee celebration last year and decided to try to steal d3's technology out from under them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Madness.....

          So d3's technology tracks your movement and eyes and dynamically changes the output to accommodate it? The answer to that is no

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Madness.....

            Sorry, but the answer is yes, it can.

            d3's system dynamically alters the 'virtual' projection source - otherwise known as the 'eyepoint' - using an arbitrary 3D control input.

            While it's true that the last demo I saw was using a mouse to control where the 'virtual' projector was and the direction it was pointing in, it's trivial to hook up anything capable of handing out a position and direction.

            It's a seriously cool bit of kit.

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Madness.....

          >Neither does Microsoft's patent application, except in extremely general terms.

          Yes it does.

          Just as examples of the the twenty claims in the patent:

          4. The system of claim 3, further comprising instructions to compensate for topography of the environmental surface described by the depth information so that the peripheral image appears as a geometrically distortion-corrected extension of the primary image.

          Easily within the capabilities of the existing 'Kinnect' device.

          14. The subsystem of claim 11, wherein the depth camera is configured to detect color information by measuring color reflectivity from the environmental surface.

          Even easier.

          The claims, put together, explain how the system would work. All of the individual claims seem perfectly possible. The Star Trek Holodeck doesn't explain how it works, and isn't even holograms- in First Contact, Picard 'disables the safety features' so he can shoot Borg with a Tommy-gun.

          1. ZeroP

            Re: Madness.....

            Not to nitpick, but the holodeck uses similar technology to the ship's shields to simulate matter and build a world around the user, the user doesn't move very far physically, but the world is moved around them. Evidently, the ship's computer is able to determine what would injure or kill a person and not let it do the intended damage, based on the settings the user has entered.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Madness.....


              Hadn't realised the Holodeck worked like that... I guess that in the Startrek TNG universe the term Holodeck is a hangover from a previous technology, much as we might say 'Solid State Disk' when there is no disk involved.

              I see, so on entering the Holodeck, there is a scanner which determines the physical condition of the user, and allows greater forces in the simulation to be applied against, say, Cornish-pasty-head or the bearded one, than it would against JLP. Cunning. Whilst it is at it, it could apply forces to the users body, so the mere act of walking strengthens their limbs.

              I think they put too much faith in technology. When they're not in a malfunctioning holodeck, they're beaming down to a planet and getting in pickles that would be easily solved had they taken a rope or a knife with them.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Madness.....


      Okay, here is an example. The film H2G2 featured a device that cut AND toasted bread at the same time. It didn't explain how it worked, other than it looked exactly like an 8" Light Sabre.

      This doesn't prevent me from inventing and then patenting a device to do the same thing using different- and plausible- means. At its crudest, it would be an electric meat slicer with a hot wire bolted on. (I wouldn't expect this to produce a satisfactory piece of toast, and then there are the safety concerns... but i have no doubt that it could produce something that meets the definition of a slice of toasted bread. The slice probably wouldn't be satisfactorily toasted on the inside, given the speed at which people would want to slice the bread, and so it wouldn't be commercially viable. I guess I could have some microwave emitters in array, aligned to that they intersect 3mm into the loaf from the cutting edge, to aid the hot wire... )

      Where I might run in to trouble if is someone has invented the same device that I have in mind... for example, some sort of self-cauterising field surgery tool designed for the military.

      (before the microwave oven was developed, RADAR engineers used to have their wives prepare them a raw jacket potato... prior to lunch they would place the spud in a RADAR dish for a little while)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Madness.....

      And where do you think the idea of the Iphone, Ipad, and many other devices came from? Jobs already admitted that.

      If I were writing for movies or books and came up with something unique, I would put a patent on it before someone else does. That's where mostly all tech comes from, they see it in a movie and think " Wow! I gotta have that!"

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Admittedly it's a detailed description of an idea, but nevertheless it's still just that: an idea. Aren't patents supposed to be limted to the implementation of ideas rather than ideas themselves?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      just an idea

      I bet they have working prototypes in the Microsoft R&D labs right now based on the kinect with attached projector(s)

      1. dssf

        Re: just an idea

        I am willing to bet (butt not bet my ass) that ms are funding a stealth company to introduce the Sex Box and SexNekt. Really, seriously, ms could angelically/stealthily enter the "Dr. Ruth Westheimer 'What's Your Problem'" and similar sex therapy field. After all, the automobile industry knows that 'sex sells' when it paces sultry or catty women on show cars and in adverts.

        Just imagine postal deliveries in non-descript packaging, containing the aparatus that could save sexually dysfunctional relationships or interface with RealDolls and allow the users to aero-dynamically hip-scrawl their ways into Rudy Valentino-rivalling gyrations.

        Now THAT could be a way for ms to fast track their way into orgasmic cash stream or cash flow. Well, if they decide to actually make or angel/angle-fund product production.

        Of course, it would not be advisable to permit demos in Best Buy, eMart, Lotte, Costco, etc...

    2. Bod

      idea patents

      "Aren't patents supposed to be limted to the implementation of ideas rather than ideas themselves?"

      You'd think so, but then Apple doesn't nor do a lot of patent trolls.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: idea patents


        Care to explain exactly which part of this patent is beyond MS's ability to prototype? Before answering, bear in mind it can all be achieved with off-the-shelf hardware, and MS have at least a couple programmers on their payroll to take care of the software.

        1. SkippyBing

          MS have at least a couple programmers on their payroll to take care of the software

          Then why don't they use them when they make an operating system?!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: MS have at least a couple programmers on their payroll to take care of the software

            "Then why don't they use them when they make an operating system?!"

            Give them a break, they've just finished Windows 8 and they're working on Office at the moment and then scheduled for some XBox development before writing some patches for the up-coming patch Tuesday.

        2. paulc

          Re: idea patents

          oh please bring back the prototype requirement for patents... you know, where they actually had to provide a working device in order for the patent to be granted...

          1. dssf

            Re: idea patents PBD

            Give them a break? They have beelyuns in the bank. If they blow a few wads o cash on the pron end dust try, they could get more bang for their buck by thrusting the SexBox, ramming itnthroug the highly pliant USPTO. At least this time, a patented idea truly would have a prod duct coarsing throug the USPTO. I am sure at least 100ms engineers would jump at the chance to work with the pron industry to develop cameras and UV sensitive skin strips to fine tune Kineckt to recognize air groping and "the climactic ugly face" moment.

            PBD for Patent Booty Duty

  4. Kynth

    Why stop at peripheral images?

    A Kinect style positioning sensor combined with a 360 degree projector...

    1. dssf

      why stop at 360 degree projectors? toss in metro

      umm specialy-milspeck-hardened win 8 tablets and have sexbox actors cat leap on colors a la Toss Across and Twister. In the Adult arena, this could become Twist Across and Tosser (Spoonerims here, mind you) as Kineckt, SexBox, and Metr8 furiously track users....

      Of course, ms shareholders may not want to hold shares in such a touchyfeely geek realm of this genre.

  5. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    The description of a device or method is enough for a patent

    The US government patented ships with nuclear propulsion before they got it working. The description as to contain enough technical detail to show it is inventive.

    Countless patents have been awarded on perpetual motion devices (now no longer allowed), and there are patents for algorithms that compress any bit string (including its own output) by at least one bit without loss of information. This is clearly impossible, but it has been patented.

  6. Miek

    "Of course even if the patent is granted, it's going to take a while to get people mounting 360 degree projectors on their TVs, but it's an interesting step towards simulated reality. ®" -- Why bother with the TV at all if you have an expensive 360 degree projector?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Probably a matter of image clarity... if you have the rest of the walls in your room all lit up, then your primary projected image is going to take a hit in terms of contrast.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My TV stand is in a recess beside the fireplace, so a 360 degree projector would have a bit of a blind spot where the fireplace wall comes out.

    Maybe I'm not trendy enough to have the TV mounted above the fireplace or no fire at all.

    I'm reminded of the Philips TVs that have colour behind the TV based on the colour of the image on screen.

    The concept would work well for sports games - having a full golf course around you, F1 track, football pitch or such.

    However, I suspect that it's real breakthrough is going to be the same as VHS, DVD and BluRay's original popular application...... (I'll let you find that out...)

    1. Crisp

      Re: Projector Blind Spot

      My living room has five walls.

      So.... um...

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Projector Blind Spot

        Modern games consoles can cope with irregular polygons, don't you worry.

      2. Simon Harris

        Re: Projector Blind Spot

        My living room has five walls.

        My living room is open-plan into the kitchen...

        So theoretically...

        3. The system of claim 1, further comprising instructions to: receive one or more of depth information and color information for the display environment from the depth camera; and display the peripheral image on the environmental surface of the display environment so that the peripheral image appears as a distortion-corrected extension of the primary image.

        4. The system of claim 3, further comprising instructions to compensate for topography of the environmental surface described by the depth information so that the peripheral image appears as a geometrically distortion-corrected extension of the primary image.

        could project an image of tidiness into my room and make all the dirty dishes disappear.

        I want one now!

  8. Lord Voldemortgage

    Eye tracking

    If it is adjusting the scene in response to the eye movement of one viewer, how is this going to affect other people in the room?

    Chunder effects always make popular stories.

  9. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Why the grief?

    Now we have a full 3D in-depth arena to play Halo and... ummm... ermmm...

    We can play Halo!

  10. theastrodragon

    Been in use for years...

    I fail to see how this is patentable - similar systems (using domes for projection) have been in use in the military for well over 20 years for training. The only difference seems to be to claim it will work in a living room (which, frankly, I will believe when I see it done and not before)

    Yet another US-driven patent grab of existing techniques

    1. SpitefulGOD

      Re: Been in use for years...

      so had rounded corners, didn't stop apple using their patents against numerous companies.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Been in use for years...

      They aren't patenting immersive 3D, they are patenting a method of achieving it in rooms of varying shape and colour! Why is everyone commenting on patents that they clearly haven't read?

      If you need convincing, just think about the static images of Gail Porter projected on the Houses of Parliament ten years ago. It is the same in principle- you place a digital camera on the same tripod you intend to place your projector. You take the photo into Photoshop, and in a new layer take the image you wish to project and apply simple geometric distortion to it (Edit > Free Transform > then hold Ctrl to let you drag the corners independently of each other) so that it appears aligned to the first photograph. You then project your distorted image from your tripod. Simples. Given that the Kinnect is capable of determining where your limbs are in space, let alone your head, it should be obvious that what MS is proposing is fairly straightforward. Its not like games consoles can't do calculations relating to 3D space.

      Which bit are you stuck on?

  11. Quentin North

    But what about the Windows?

    How would this system cope with Windows? I mean the see-through type that cant easily be projected on. Of course, it could be a BSOD.

    1. Simon Harris

      Re: But what about the Windows?

      Curtains spring to mind!

  12. ukgnome

    Didn't channel 5's The Gadget Show create a 360 degree immersive experience?

    oh yeah -


    1. Sirius Lee

      Prior art

      "Didn't channel 5's The Gadget Show create a 360 degree immersive experience?"

      Yes, saw that episode. Maybe prior art is only valid if it's in the US. Even so, I though patents had to be non-obvious to an expert. This is obvious to everyone.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm all for this.

    I play, primarily, racing games (did my fair shair of Quake etc. in my yoof, but F1 sims are where it's at for me these days), and the idea of being fully surrounded by ones, er, surroundings can only be a good thing. Sure, the 42" TV I play through now is more 'immersive' than the 13" I started with way-back-when, but I can still see various room paraphernalia from the corner of my eye, whereas I'd like to see the rest of Silverstone from the corner of my eye.

  14. AF

    All perfectly doable, but I don't see the appeal in the average living room - having the peripheral image moving is all well and good, but not if the pot plant, sideboard and radiator stay right where they are, spoiling the illusion...

    I can see it now:

    "EDI, take cover behind the reclining sofa" "I'm sorry Shephard, I can't do that- it's not time for Doctor Who yet"

  15. Stevie


    The main problem with this idea in my house would be the very real danger it would get stepped on, owing to my real-world living room being about 1/2 the size of the one in the drawing and full of stuff unrelated to holodeck gaming besides.

    On the other hand, if it could get me out of painting the ceiling by hiding the cracks I'm all for it.

  16. FartingHippo


    If this let's me phaser Wesley Crusher I'll buy one at any price. Phasers not-in-any-way set for stun.

    [Yes I know Mr Wheaton is a lovely chap in real life. But on TNG: *pew* *pew* *pew*]

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reminds me of the time long ago when someone brought a B&W pr0n film to a party. They forgot the screen - so had to project it on the newly papered white walls. The paper's design of large orange flowers added a certain exotic effect that has never been forgotten. That was the same party where they forgot the corkscrew - and everyone had to drink Bulls Blood filtered through their teeth to remove the cork particles.

    At least now people will have an excuse for Dulux Brilliant walls when their partner wanted some subtle colour shaing.

  18. Gordon Pryra

    Its just a form of legalised protection racket

    Somone sits and writes up something, puts in some nonproven theorys for making it work, but it sounds right and generic enough to be possible.

    Then they wait for someone who is actually cleverer than them to actually make it

    Then sell the rights to make it to them


    Actual affect, item is never made in the best way, as the clever person is just going to spend 10 years more designing something that us not as efficiant, but gets past the patent on the non-existant item instead of selling out to some scum troll for the rights to use his own inventions.

    Microsoft, Samsung, Apple. Just 3 name in this area of legal bollocks holding us back (its the pity the strorys about a game, but I bet I dont own a "7 milllion miles on one charge personal electric flying car" because of this sort of thing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Its just a form of legalised protection racket

      I don't see why you think this is difficult to achieve. Look at what a student did hacking a Kinnect unit, less than 48 hours of getting his mitts on it....

      The whole system uses off-the-shelf hardware, and the 3d dimensional transforms and distortions required are trivial for the XBOX.

      People have been using corrected projections in advertising for years - this is a proven technique. What MS are patenting is a method of achieving the same results automatically, using a piece of patented kit, the Kinect, which MS already sell.

      You may have valid point about the current state of patents in general, but this is not the best example for you to illustrate it.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't see this happening...

    and if it does, I can't see it working all that well.

    In my living room, I have all sorts of shit on or against the wall - pictures, sofas, piano, cd racks, bookcases, windows, the staircase - from my experience with projectors, projecting onto an irregular surface doesn't produce the best results. Unless I'm missing something here?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I can't see this happening...

      You are, the projection will be able to compensate for things like that to display a consistent image

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Just sling a sheet over the bookcase...

      You might be missing something - anyone who has gone to the effort of assembling a TV, an XBOX, Kinect and a projector or two will probably make the effort to at least sling a white sheet over their pictures and bookcase before settling into their evening's entertainment- it only takes a minute. Remember, this system is to tickle your peripheral vision, so movement and colour is more important than image clarity. The system can't strive for too much more than this, because the projector can't keep all of even a flat wall in focus if it is projecting at too much of angle.

  20. Darkwolf

    While this may be

    not necessarrily feasible for many living rooms, if they market the technology to other companies, and then the price comes down/starts improving then how long before homes start coming with rooms specifically designed with this in mind?

  21. Graham Marsden

    Prior art...

    Sounds rather like a Camera Obscura which would project an image onto a surface.

    They've been around for rather a long time...

  22. Anonymous Coward

    They're called CAVEs

    CAVE, - and have been around in VR research since the 1990's and I remember playing around in one in Germany in 1995.. Sounds like Microsoft have patented putting kinects in a CAVE.

    Colour me unsurprised.

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  24. The Mighty Spang

    basically already done.

    can't find it but i've seen an sfx showreel of a guy sitting in a room in a sofa with table and the 3d was calculated from a fixed projector position.

    then there's this which is the same basic idea but using 3d vision solving to find the objects.

    this is the next patent revolution.

    80's-2000's ... add 'with a computer' to existing patents

    2000's to 2010's add 'with a mobile device'

    2010+ add 'with a kinect'

  25. Martin Huizing
    Thumb Up

    360 degree camera mirror

    you know, those odd shaped mirror thingies that provide your photo camera with a 360 degree view. Shine a projector on it and it will act like a 360 degree projector. adjust room size in software and presto!

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Didn't Sony already do this?

    Some year ago I bought my gf 'EyePet'; its a PS3 game involved around the Playstation Eye (camera) which displays your room on the telli and adds a plushy adorable furry creature into the mix. She actually liked it and thus the down side; it meant cleaning out the table and freeing it from everything which could block the view of the camera because the game wouldn't work otherwise.

    Even so; I have to admit being impressed with what I saw. Even trying to kick the virtual creature away from my couch only made it jump up and carefully avoid my feet.

    As such... not sure if I understood the article right but it seems to me as if Sony beat them to the punch a few years.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pass me the bucket

    I could imagine this working for on-rails shooters or racing games where you're constantly moving into the field, but imagine a FPS where you spy a zombie hiding behind your bookcase. You turn (using the controller) and the whole room whirls about you. Bleurrgh!

    Some people can't handle movement in FPSes as is, and say it gives them motion sickness. This is clearly not going to be suitable for many of the sorts of games about today.

  28. Silverburn


    You're all wrong.

    Stuff your games; the killer app - as it always has been - is PORN.

    1. dssf

      Re: Pfft. hehehehe... glad i am not the only one on that bent...

      See my three e-lab-orations in this topic, hehehe....

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