Razer's Project Ariana Projector, Hands On

Project Valerie might have been Razer’s most highlighted product at CES, but the company also had another ambitious protoype to reveal at the show. Project Ariana is a projector that’s supposed to enhance your gaming experience by extending your field of view beyond the boundaries of the conventional screen. Razer sees it as the next evolution of its Chroma lighting technology, but based on the demo we saw, it’s something that might not capture everyone’s attention.

What We Know About The Hardware And How It Works

What we know so far about the internals of Project Ariana is that it features a fisheye lens (with a 155-degree field of view), two depth-sensing cameras, and a DisplayPort passthrough to work with your PC. We tried to get more specifics on the hardware, but Razer was mum on the subject. The company does have experience with depth-sensing cameras, specifically with its Stargazer webcam, which featured the SR300 model of Intel’s RealSense camera. However, it’s not clear if the same camera model is used for Project Ariana.

According to Kushal Tandon, Razer’s Chroma Marketing Manager, Ariana works by finding the screen and its relative position to the wall. Once the screen’s borders are recognized, the projector will then work with your regular game screen by displaying the game’s peripheral view that you wouldn’t otherwise see in a traditional setting. Depending on the size of the wall you’re using for the projector, you can also adjust the field of view so that it doesn’t extend past the corners.

A Wall Monitor

The result is something sort of like what you would see from a curved monitor, but at an extreme angle. With Shadow Warrior 2 (a first-person action game), most of the action occurred on the main screen. However, Project Ariana showed the game’s periphery view on the wall, which is designed to increase your immersion during gameplay.

The reason for the extreme angle at which the projector displays the game is because it’s supposed to emulate your eyes, which are directly focused on the screen. Ariana, then, provides a tunnel-vision effect that lets you see what’s going on around your character while you continue to look at the main display to play the game. In addition to the projector, the demo room also featured Philips’ Hue lighting, which works with Chroma to add even more color to the experience.

However, it all seemed a bit too much. The combination of Ariana plus the constantly changing ambient lighting made the room feel more like a nightclub than something I’d prefer for a gaming setup (although you don’t have to install the Hue lighting feature in your house in order to use Ariana). The tunnel vision effect of the projector wasn’t attractive either. It looked like you could get dizzy after using it for long periods of time, although it does somewhat help that the images displayed by Ariana are a bit blurry so as to not distract you from the main screen.

From Prototype To Reality

Tandon believes that Ariana will become an actual consumer device, and the company aims to launch it by the end of the year. For now, Razer is looking for feedback on what it can do to improve the projector.

Even with the seemingly interesting hardware packed inside Project Ariana, the unknown factor with any new device is demand. With our attention already heavily focused on the monitor, what use is a projector? It might light up the room with your gameplay along with some flashy colors, but it doesn’t seem to provide any benefits to the actual gaming experience. We’ll see if Razer continues to demo it throughout the year at shows such as GDC and E3.

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