When researching lighting effects in immersive design environments I came across the concept IllumiRoom project created by Microsoft.  This technology would in theory create a 3D scan of a room and project imagery to produce an expanded and immersive gaming environment (Jones et al, 2015).

Central to this was the enhancement of vision by utilising the same principles of the natural human visual system through technology. Whilst, images in the central fovea are clear, peripheral vision struggles to distinguish imagery (Nuthmann & Malcolm, 2016), thereby, low quality images can be used in the peripheral sphere to create a sense of motion and movement for the game player.

IllumiRoom: central vision is focussed towards the screen, however, images are projected into the room to capture a wider field of vision and create a scenc of movement during gameplay.  [image from Microsoft.com]

The IllumiRoom concept projects moving imagery into the peripheral vision to enhance a central focus.  However, there are various psychological studies and optical illusions that demonstrate how colour and shade can be used to create the impression of movement in a static image.  Known as the ‘Peripheral Drift Illusion’ Faubert & Herbert (1999), demonstrated how grey shading could be utilised to create the impression of moving cogs.  As the illusion accessed the peripheral visual receptors, it the illusion is broken when the image is viewed directly.


Original Faubert & Herbert peripheral drift image: Radial grating with a sawtooth luminance profile. (Faubert & Herbert, 1999)

The original peripheral drift theory was enhanced by the introduction of colour, producing more visually pleasing and design adaptable images. The first of these, and one of the most widely replicated notions of this on a google image search, are the ‘Rotating Snakes’ created by Akiyoshi Kitaoka.


‘Rotating Snakes’ by Akiyoshi Kitaoka (2003) [image from sciencedaily.com]

The central visual field is core to the understanding of and focus upon an object, however, the peripheral vision can be used to enhance the immersion into an experience.  It is therefore, this combination that I want to investigate further through design and whether they can be used effectively to produce experiential environments.  Is it possible to use shadow and lighting to create immersive environments? Could a simplistic shadow box design produce sufficient sense of movement in the peripheral visionary field? Can colour be introduced to focus attention on the ‘take-away’ objective?  And how might the two be combined to create lasting memories? 


Jones, BR, Benko, H, Ofek, E & Wilson, A (2015). ‘IllumiRoom: Immersive Experiences Beyond the TV Screen’ in Communications of the ACM, 01 June 2015, Vol 58, Issue 6, p93-100.

Nuthmann, A & Malcolm, GL (2016) ‘Eye guidance during real-world scene search: The role color plays in central and peripheral vision’ in Journal of Vision, 29 Jan 2016, Vol, 16 (2), Art ID: 3.  Pub: US: Assn for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology

Faubert, J & Herbert, AM (1998) ‘Peripheral Drift Illusion: A motion illusion in the visual periphery’ in Perception, 1999, Vol 28, pp617-621.


IllumiRoom field of vision: www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/illumiroom-illumiroom_450.png [accessed 05.12.2016]

Peripheral Drift: Faubert, J & Herbert, AM (1998) ‘Peripheral Drift Illusion: A motion illusion in the visual periphery’ in Perception, 1999, Vol 28, pp617-621.

Rotating Snakes: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120501100037.htm [accessed 05.12.16]