A Future XBox Might Finally Make All Of Our Holodeck Fantasies Come True


(U.S. Patent and Trademark Office/Microsoft)

Be still, our Star Trek-loving hearts! Microsoft has reportedly filed a patent for some kind of technological equipment that looks a lot like the experience offered by the holodecks onboard the starship Enterprise. For those not in the Star Trek: The Next Generation (and later Trek iterations), these were essentially empty rooms that could be programmed with any experience the user wanted, including who they wanted there and in what setting. A fantastical scientific future — and maybe now close to reality.

Microsoft’s patent filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for “an interactive computing system configured to provide an immersive display experience” sounds a whole lot like “holodeck” to me, and would likely be played using something like the Xbox. The Kinect already senses movement, and this sounds like the next step in that techonology.

Notes NBC News (with a h/t to Patently Apple as well), the patent reads: “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.”

Which means you’ll be focused on what’s in front of you on the wall and/or TV but there’s going to be stuff going on all around you as you play. That bad guy sneaking up behind you will be detectable when you physically whirl around to dispose of him.

The technology included in the patent runs from the actual game console, a device to project the game’s images around the room, a depth camera to detect how large a room is and a tracking device so the game knows where you are.

There may or may not be 3-D headgear involved. We’d be fine with either way because wearing something over the eyes would make us feel even more like Geordi La Forge.

Is Microsoft making a gaming holodeck for your home? [NBC News]
Microsoft Envisions Where Gaming is going, and it’s Wild! [Patently Apple]



Edit Your Comment

  1. AngryK9 says:

    Interesting concept. I wonder how images will be projected around the players, so as to not cast a shadow behind him/her

  2. DrLumen says:

    Runs quickly to invest in Dramamine stocks.

  3. Jawaka says:

    In 100 years from now people will whine and say that it’s a basic function of gaming and that Microsoft is a patent troll.

    • Marlin says:

      100 years from now the patent would not be valid. ;-)

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        I just patented the concept of patents becoming invalid aver some period of time.

        Also, I got a patent for the process of applying for and receiving patents.

        Oh, and I patented the concept and process for suing someone based on patents.

    • LabGnome says:

      Actually depending on the language of the patent I would cry foul now. The idea is not novel. The technology might be, so I suppose it depends on how specific the patent is.

  4. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    So long as they don’t use anything that’s rectangular. With rounded corners. And nothing can have a flat, black surface. Or only one button on it. Ad infinitum.

    Anyway, wake me up when “holodecks” appear that can be used in the manner most popular with Quark’s Bar.

  5. hypochondriac says:

    Can they really patent something like that? Sound to broad, and since star trek already did it in fiction. They can’t really claim it’s unique.

  6. mikedt says:

    I think it was Scott Adams who said that the Holodeck will be the last invention mankind would ever produce.

    • axhandler1 says:

      Yes it was. I stole my above comment directly from his book “The Dilbert Future.” Which a great read, incidentally.

  7. dorianh49 says:

    Make it so.

  8. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    But then they’ll be a jungle safari game, and the lions will eat you.

    Kudos to those who get the reference.

  9. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    It seems like this would almost require a special/dedicated room to work (and maybe the patent specifies that, I don’t know). House designs for the past 20 years have been more open, meaning the main family room probably doesn’t even have walls between it and any other connected room. Anything on the room walls would be a distraction anyway that would have to be removed or you would end up seeing weird things like a ghost picture of your grandparents floating in a forest, and window blinds would distort the image also. To optimize the experience your walls would have to be white, else there would be no true white in the imagery. Also no lamps or other rounded objects.

    • Chuft-Captain says:

      Not true. You’re assuming a projection, as opposed to the wall surface itself being a screen…make said screen transparent over the windows when turned “off”, make the windows capable of changing between clear and opaque (we already have glass products that can do this with an electrical charge sent to them). Time to use the system, blank the windows and opaque the wallscreen over them. Everything hanging on the walls when “inactive” can simply be a displayed object.

  10. Chuft-Captain says:

    It’s the wall screens (or Windowalls if you like Bova books) of many a science fiction universe. Not a very new idea at all, it’s just awaiting technology to catch up with manufacturing thin, durable displays that can be that large.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Yeah, not unlike those special “distant worker” cubicle things they’ve trotted out, where it looks like you’re sitting in a cube surrounded by your co-workers who are scattered across the globe.

      Although, I don’t really see any reason why you couldn’t do it with a projector in the middle of the ceiling, projecting all images on all 4 walls from above your head. In which case you don’t need the TV at all…just whatever Kinect-ish kinds of sensors, and some speakers someplace. Could have in-wall speakers with white covers that would be essentially “invisible.”

  11. HogwartsProfessor says:


  12. Kuri says:

    Lawyers would probably kill it within half a year.

  13. nodaybuttoday says:

    I know my first holodeck program will consist of all of my co-workers who are either in love with me or far less superior than me!

  14. Selunesmom says:

    _Now_ they give me a reason for not playing Silent Hill after dark in a thunderstorm.

  15. july18 says:

    isn’t masturbation cheaper?