This latest Microsoft patent is pretty amazing. Imagine a holodeck-style device for your Xbox 720 that displays a game's environment on all four walls the room. This allows you to look around your environment without moving your character on the television, catching would-be attackers as they sneak up on you. Or, perhaps, you can instead use a 3D headset like the Occulus Rift. Welcome to the future.
Here's what the patent actually says that it does:
"An immersive display environment is provided to a human user by projecting a peripheral image onto environmental surfaces around the user. The peripheral images serve as an extension to a primary image displayed on a primary display."
This is done by a combination of devices, including an "interactive computing system" which would be your console, an "environmental display device" which would be a 3D headset or a projector of some kind, and a "user tracking device" which could only be a Kinect. Basically, the Kinect would track a user's movement and display the appropriate environment, with all the computational work being done by the console.
As it is with moth technology patents, the wording is left intentionally vague. For instance, the only described use of the technology is to display an environment in 3D space. There's no interaction described, so it's difficult to tell if Microsoft actually has the ability to do something exciting with it or not.
Still, the implication that Microsoft is at least trying to figure out interesting things to do with 3D-space is inspiring. I'm not necessarily keen on FPS titles with motion controls, but a social environment like the Wii U WaraWara Plaza or PlayStation home? That would be great fun.
Maybe there's more to the Xbox 720 than we realize quite yet.