Apple confirms it bought Kinect sensor startup PrimeSense

Apple confirms it bought Kinect sensor startup PrimeSense

Summary: With the 3D sensor company under its belt, Apple looks set to add more more gesture capabilities to its devices.

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TOPICS: Hardware, Apple
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Apple has acquired PrimeSense, an Israel-based 3D sensor startup that provided a key component to Microsoft's early Xbox Kinect models.

Rumours of the acquisition have surfaced more than once before, but came to a head last week. Early reports valued the deal at between $300m to $350m; however according to AllThingsD, the price was closer to $360m.

Apple today confirmed the rumours are in fact true: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," an Apple spokesperson told ZDNet — its standard way of acknowledging an acquisition.

Israel-based PrimeSense brings technology that could see Apple embed motion sensors in iOS devices, Macs or Apple TV, using the startup's 3D sensor for uses such as 3D modelling or gaming.

PrimeSense claims its USB-powered Carmine 3D system on chip has 20 million users worldwide while its latest SoC, Capri, is equipped to run on mobile devices. The technology enables the identification of movements and gestures and the classification of objects, according to the company. 

Once a key component of Microsoft's Kinect before Microsoft built its own sensor, the startup's technology has also been put to use in Asus' Xtion motion sensor.

Apple's purchase of PrimeSense is in line with its habit of acquiring smaller tech companies and rolling their products into its own devices, such as Authentec, which it acquired for $356m last year and whose tech later landed in the iPhone 5s TouchID fingerprint scanner. It's also the second Israeli tech company Apple has acquired recently, the last being flash memory maker Anobit whose tech is used in the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air.

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Topics: Hardware, Apple

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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13 comments
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  • Not good; a sign of Apple loosing the vision

    Being just another among twenty companies that think that waving hands before your TV is a way to go -- a failure, unless Apple will come up with something really extraordinary.
    DDERSSS
    • Actually . . .

      . . . isn't it a sign of Apple gaining vision? Pun intended.

      You must learn to think outside of your very small box.
      Gr8Music
      • And... what are your out-of-your-giant-box genius thoughts about this?

        NONE.

        What a pathetic smarta$$.
        DDERSSS
        • And the out-of-your-giant-box genius said

          Copy the Xbox.

          Seriously, if Apple is going to do a AppleTV with gesture, it would be exactly like Xbox 360/One.
          Samic
  • Premature DDERSSS

    It's a little early to write this purchase off as just "waving hands". Just because that's what we see with Kinnect and on some Samsung "smart" TV commercials, doesn't mean that's the only way this tech can be leveraged.

    That being said, I hope someone does figure this out, because personally, I think sitting in my living room and having to act like a mime just to change channels is asinine.
    TroyMcClure
    • Agreed. My first thought was using

      motion detect for camera and video. Imagine your phone being able to automatically know when to take a picture based on movement in the image, or when to automatically up or lower video framerates based on real-time motion detection.
      baggins_z
      • motion detection

        has been around for decades.
        NoAxToGrind
        • Motion detection has been around for decades

          But motion tracking is a far more recent development.
          StandardPerson
      • Or...

        follow the ball smoothly when recording a sporting event.

        Really, there are many potential uses beyond what we've seen so far, the waving of the hand, the moving of the eyes away (to pause video), etc. There's a ton of opportunity to be creative.
        TroyMcClure
    • Not quite premature since I included disclaimer;my statement is conditional

      If Apple will use this technology for something extraordinary, it would mean there will be no failure.
      DDERSSS
  • Apple should sue Microsoft now

    So Microsoft used to use their sensor but now build their own? Can you say patent infringement? That does seem to be the Microsoft way. Apple should look at this new sensor and if it's even close to the one in the old Kinect it's lawsuit time.
    BrianC6234
    • Appearing live, straight from Cupertino

      for a two night engagement - BrianC6234!

      Please, enough of the Anti-Christ BS, OK?
      William.Farrel
  • Sounds like

    Apple will likely introduce a hand gesture feature in the future with this companies acquisition (Samsung Galaxy 4 has this already).
    Apple wont be able to sue MS on this front since they acquired the company after they have already sold some of the tech to MS. That contract will likely remain valid. (without actually reading it, just a guess)
    Jaytmoon