VR is cool. VR is expensive. VR is not quite ready for our frail little bodies. So let’s forget about VR and get excited about other hyper immersive gaming experiences—like Razer’s new concept, Project Ariana, a 4K projector that splashes entire virtual worlds onto the wall of your home.
While Project Ariana is still in development, Razer says the goal is to be able to simply point the projector at your TV, plug it into the computer and then a depth sensing camera built into the front of the projector will read where the edges of the TV are and instantly expand a video game player’s field of view beyond that—instantly taking the game out of a tiny square and further into the real world. The camera could also, conceivably, be able to read what’s on the TV, and provide immersive lighting, similar to the old Philips Ambilight TVs.
In the context of a super controlled demo at CES, Razer’s Project Ariana worked tremendously well. In this particular case, it was tied directly into an array of Philips Hue lights and Chroma products around the room, so every time your character in the game passed by a light in the room it would flicker like firelight. And when the character goes into rage mode, it wasn’t just the screen going red, but every single light source in the room.
The feat was accomplished because Project Ariana was developed in tandem with Chroma, Razer’s big fancy lighting system. Razer engineer and Chroma Project Manager Kushal Tandon told Gizmodo Ariana was just a natural extension of Chroma development, with the project beginning development at around the same time Chroma launched in 2014.
But the software requirements of Project Ariana—reading rooms and light levels and automatically calibrating to the TV—are going to be what keeps the projector in the land of concept and out of the land of reality. So the final version of Project Ariana is still at least a year away, with Razer optimistically hoping for a release date of very late 2017. If the company pulls it off it could spell a blow for VR, which has so far been fueled by gamers eager for an immersive gaming experience. Project Ariana accomplishes a similar feat and if it comes in at less than $600 it will be cheaper than most gaming VR too.