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Apple reportedly buying PrimeSense, makers of original Xbox Kinect sensor tech

Apple is reportedly in the final stages of acquiring PrimeSense - the Israeli company whose sensor technology was used by Microsoft to create the original Kinect for Xbox 360 - for roughly $280 million. According to Calcalist (via Google Translate):

The transaction was scheduled to be signed at the beginning of the month but the legal issue surrounding the partnership of developers Bfriimsns delayed the signing. These days the two sides are working on a solution to the last problem, and the contract will be signed as the next few day

Microsoft switched from PrimeSense to their own technology for the Xbox One Kinect sensor. PrimeSense currently offers their own line of 3D sensors including the Kinect-like Carmine, and the embedded reference design, Capri.

The deal is, of course, being linked to long-standing Apple Television rumors, since such a device would presumably require non-touch based direct manipulation and gesture recognition input. However, Apple already makes and markets many currently non-mythical products that might also that benefit from 3D sensors as well.

If this deal proves real, iSight could get a lot smarter in the coming years. How would you like to see Apple make use of it?

Source: Calcalist via SlashGear

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 38 comments. Add yours.

johnnybe65 says:

Would be awesome to be able to swipe through channels on a tv from a chair or pull down a menu screen without touching the tv. Could you imagine the smudges on a tv screen if you had to touch it to navigate!

Carioca32 says:

Would that really be any easier than moving a single finger and operating a remote?

marchie_78 says:

I wonder if this acquisition will lead to more accessibility options. I would think people could control devices with just subtle movements.

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lbendezu says:

Not surprising if you think about it. Agree would be great to see this integrated into Apple TV!

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ScottSouder says:

They could do a lot with this. Maybe future iPhones have the technology built in to work with Apple TV. You set your phone by your tv and use your motions and voice to control things on your tv.

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mashono says:

I could see a lot of potential with this! Hopefully we'll see the signs of this purchase with the next Apple TV update or in future iterations of mobile devices being able to see movement around them.

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Premium1 says:

I'm interested to see how apple uses this and what products they design that will use/take advantage of it

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jproubique says:

Oh of only we were this far ahead already. What a world! If apple had the "sense" to acquire such a company then the options could conceivably be limit less!!!

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rtteachr says:

This could be a big step to gaming through an AppleTV box either through apps or airplay. I'm not thrilled about hand gestures to control an Apple TV, but I guess it would be nice to have when I lose that little "silver stick" for the hundredth time.

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sir17reeder says:

This is awesome this opens up so many possibilities especially consider the type of products that a rumored to be released in coming years.

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Ipheuria says:

I would also love to to change the channels by swiping. Navigating the current Ape TV menus with fingers and gestures would be easier, quicker and awesome. The applications in the video are great like being able to put furniture, change paint colors and see changes in the room on your iPad. The same for tattoos, makeup, hairstyles and color. Sure you can photoshop etc. now but it never has the element of realism. It's just got so many possibilities.

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richard451 says:

Isn't the kinect sensor kind of crappy? meaning it requires a lot of space, isn't very accurate, etc?

Rene Ritchie says:

It's gotten better. Xbox One is apparently better still.

kataran says:

This will be interesting to see how it unfolds

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evilokole says:

interesting purchase...wonder what apple has up their sleeves...i don't think apple is in the business of buying out competitor innovations and then squashing it..

Carioca32 says:

How's that liquid metal coming along?

Delroy Nedd1 says:

I don't know if anyone remembers that video that circulated on the internet with the "iPhone 5" that had the projected keyboard and hologram display. Now I doubt they would be able to do the projected keyboard but I see them being able to do something along those lines. Having it where you can type without touching and possible 3D or projection style display. I'm interested to see how apple integrates them in to future projects

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draztikrhymez says:

Interesting I'd like to see what comes of it

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zdn1042 says:

Wow, I can only imagine all the cool things that would be made possible if Apple acquired them. For, TVs yes changing channels with certain hand sways would certainly be awesome. And for games, it can lead to some more casual fun.

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steve.truong says:

Oh man. Bigs things for Apple this year. First we get a fingerprint sensor, an awesome fully functional version of maps (which I love), and now this new acquisition. I'm surprised Apple had yet to hop on the touchscreen laptop/desktop bandwagon. Could you imagine a version of OS X built for touch screens?!

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Dionte says:

Nice, can't wait to see where they go with this.

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angermeans says:

Wow! This could get very interesting.

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Justin Thiel says:

Wow, this would be amazing. Proof that Apple is still looking to innovate and bring their products into the future. I would love to see this technology built into the Mac product line and a future television set. Apple always excites me. Not because they are always the first to do things, but when they do things they try to be the best.

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Becjr says:

No thank you.
I need a tactile interface - verbal at the very least. It's so much more intimate and real.
Besides, the way I wave my hands around under an average television sitting, between trying to get the kids out of the way or yelling at the pin-heads on the screen, I'd kick my TV in the face if it started changing channels or volume level (or activating menus) while I was trying to watch the winning goal or pivotal reveal of a show/event that I might be trying to enjoy.
I could embrace a Siri [JARVIS] interface on the spot, but now flicking and waving for me.

Tyler Y says:

I think a combination of voice and gesture, as well as an easy way to turn gestures on and off so you don't accidentally do things, would be really cool.

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Rene Ritchie says:

JARVIS has air gesture support in the movies. And holographic projection!

Becjr says:

Yes. Yes he does. So cool, and yet, still awkward feeling to see Mr. Tony Stark waving his hands around to interact with ...
Wait a minute, Mr. Stark is not kicked back on his sofa channel surfing. He's interacting with his computer system up close and personal... Now that I could get along with, down right get into - especially for creating digital art! (I could just image the Pollock-esque creations from that kind of digital freedom! xD)

goodevening says:

I think it would be great. Especially when you lose your remote and need to control the tv.

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Atrain54 says:

This is interesting

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Tyler Y says:

I feel pretty certain that, Apple being Apple, they will find an awesome and innovative way to use this new technology. It's not like them to take something and use it exactly like someone else, so I think that they'll find a really cool and new way to implement this. Sadly, I don't know what that will be, but I sure cant wait to find out!

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dalyapp says:

Interesting purchase, but I wouldn't expect anything too soon from this. It usually takes Apple a few years to find the right use for these acquired technologies.

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counterculture says:

Hopefully it's only for the rumored TV and not for an iDevice. I applaud Apple for making wholesome, functional products free of gimmickry (i.e. Android's "swipe" feature). But if Apple uses this technology and keep their signature cleanliness and functionality, I'd be at least INTERESTED to see what it looks like on an iDevice (maybe something like Android's capability to recognize when you look up/down on a page and it registers your eye movement). Sorry can't think of the phone(s) that do that.

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bradenbarker says:

It's great to see Apple acquiring another company. I can't wait to see what Apple will actually do with this technology. There are so many possibilities.

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Carioca32 says:

I hope its not for controlling a TV, cause I cannot fathom why waving your hands at the set like a Kung Fu master would be any easier than operating a remote control. I see usefulness for gaming, but that's old news by now. This might be a defensive aquisition, I would not read too much into it.

stylesbythree1 says:

Oh please be true that would be awesome!!!

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stylesbythree1 says:

Oh please be true that would be awesome!!!

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Guy4Tech says:

Sounds promising and should be interesting how they use it a few years from now. If we know Apples history, it will take a year or two of prototyping before we see anything for retail. This sounds more like the TV rumors would be true eventually, but I don't see how they would put that on MacBooks and so forth. Living rooms are much busier that staring at a computer or tablet 1-3 feet from you. In my living room, my tv is like 10-15 from my couch and there can be a lot of traffic in between with my kids.
I think they would use a different technology for the MacBooks and tablets, such as how cameras can track your eye movement to see what you are looking at on the screen. Creepy, I know, but cool nonetheless.

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BeyondtheTech says:

Integrate this into future Macs and Apple TV, and iOS devices as an API and we'll be in for a treat. I just hope they can improve on the product, because Microsoft really has taken the ball and ran it way past the goal line with the new Xbox One.

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