People run to the theater to see 3-D movies, why? Sure, because Avatar looks cool, but also because they want to be immersed in the experience, making their way through Pandora and helping protect the world alongside long-legged, blue-bellied supernatural creatures. Yet, what if you could achieve a similar experience at home without ever having to throw on a pair of cardboard glasses?

Over at the MIT Media Lab, in the Object-Based Media research group, V. Michael Bove Jr. and Daniel Novy have developed a way to expand the home-video viewing experience by latching on to your peripheral vision. Using open source computer vision tool kits to analyze video on a per-frame basis, they were able to create a seamless extension of the primary content, giving the impression that the scene wraps completely around the person watching it.

The software, called Infinity-by-Nine, is able to detect scene changes based on pixel position and velocity, among other factors, and then extend those changes onto side screens through ceiling-mounted projectors. Through their research, the duo found:

Viewers report that immersion in the synthetic light field adds to their sense of inclusion in the story universe, which suggests that expanding the technology from the home theater to the full cinema experience will create a deep feeling of narrative participation.

The video below suggests this could be tweaked to allows viewers to feel the heat of movie-generated explosions, or even enhance everyday sports content and cooking shows. To see Infinity-by-Nine in action for yourself, check out the video from the Media Lab below.