Apple Confirms It Acquired Israeli 3D Sensor Company PrimeSense
Apple announced its arrival in the gesture-recognition industry with a boom as it signed a $350 million acquisition deal with the Israeli company PrimeSense, the maker of a motion-tracking chip technology. Although rumors of the acquisition had been circulating in the media for months, Apple spokeswoman Huguet Kristin confirmed the agreement late Sunday. However, she refused to elaborate upon the specifics of the deal, again proving that Apple loves keeping the cards close to chest. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans, Huguet said in an email.
PrimeSense rose to prominence as it developed the three-dimensional motion tracking technology used by Microsoft in the first-generation Kinect Sensor for the gaming console Xbox 360 which came out in 2010. It should be noted though that Microsoft did not use PrimeSense for its next-generation Kinect for the console Xbox One. The company now relies on Canesta and 3DV systems – rivals to Primesense which Microsoft acquired in 2010.
According to the Israeli company, its USB-powered Carmine 3D system on chip has 20 million users worldwide while its latest system on chip Capri is equipped to run on mobile devices. The technology not just enables the recognition and identification of various movements and gestures, but also enables classification of objects. PrimeSense has also said that a new depth-sensing technology is in the works, which could open new doors for apps like indoor navigation tools or 3D shopping catalogues. With gaming consoles and TV makers making the most of the gesture technology, Apple’s move of acquiring the three-dimensional has fuelled speculations that a future Apple TV product would be controlled by motion-tracking. It could also see Apple feature the 3D technology in the iOS devices for gaming or 3D modelling. The technology could also be used for measuring depth, which opens up a bunch of exciting possibilities.
The deal also perfectly fits Apple’s Modus Operandi. Apple has a history of buying relatively unknown companies and using the technology in its upcoming products. In 2008, the company bought the fabless semiconductor company PA Semi for $278 million. It later used the technology in the custom A-series chips in the iPhone and iPad. Similarly in 2009, Apple purchased the online music website Lala for $85 million, which paved the way for iTunes Match.
Last year Apple bought AuthenTec for $356 million. In September this year, the iPhone 5s featured the company’s technology in the form of Touch ID — a fingerprint sensor. Earlier this year, it acquired navigation-software maker Embark, online transit navigation service HopStop, business-locations Maps Company Locationary, and WifiSLAM, a location-identifying technology. Apple had also bought another Israeli company, flash storage chip maker Anobit, in January 2012. The Israeli start-ups, on the other hand, have enjoyed continuous spotlight this year when it comes to merger-and-acquisition deals. Taking the cake was Google’s purchase of the navigational app Waze. The $1 billion deal helped Google add a social data aspect to the maps. Before Google other companies- most notably Facebook- were on the hunt for the company.