Kinect Creator May Join The Ranks At Apple
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
While Apple never really embraced video games, and the Mac largely paled in comparison to the PC as a game platform, the company could now be looking to get into the electronic entertainment arena. On Tuesday news broke that Apple was looking at buying Israeli semiconductor company PrimeSense.
What makes this story noteworthy is that Apple has offered to pay $280 million for the 3D sensor producer, which previously worked with Microsoft to design, develop and even provide the hardware for the Kinect motion control accessory for the Xbox 360.
The news was first reported by Israeli-based Calcalist. According to various reports online, Apple has gone so far as to send a team of senior engineers to PrimeSense.
However, TechCrunch reported on Tuesday that PrimeSense has denied the rumors that Apple is seeking to acquire the company. TechCrunch further noted that Intel has acquired Omek Interactive, another company that makes technology for gesture-based interfaces.
Clearly something is moving in the motion control sector. The question is why Apple is suddenly interested again?
The Cupertino, California-based tech company could be wanting to develop a video game console, or it could be looking to include the 3D motion tracking technology into future iPhones, iPads and Macs.
“It could play into both areas,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. “They (PrimeSense) were supposed to work with Apple but found them too hard to work with, so they worked with Microsoft instead.”
While the rumors could suggest that Apple is working on something in gaming, there are other possibilities, Enderle told redOrbit.
“Apple hasn’t had much of a gaming basis, but it could be for Apple TV, as motion control is working with set-top boxes. This is one of the technologies that is playing more to the motion control,” he added.
It is unlikely that Microsoft would up the offer to buy PrimeSense, as the Redmond, Washington-based software giant opted to develop its own motion-tracking system for Kinect 2.0, which will be built into the upcoming Xbox One video game console launching this November.
Instead it appears that PrimeSense is working on a new motion-tracking architecture. Slashgear reported that this new sensor is dubbed the Capri, and offers a much smaller chipset — one that could find its way into smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
This could very much explain Apple’s renewed interest in the technology.
“PrimeSense was thought to be too intense and even too expensive for a mobile device or tablet, but it does have this application on many devices, as we’re now seeing,” said Enderle. “The technology hasn’t delivered so well when you’re up close, but that could be refined.”
The Capri technology could fit that bill, and could be a way to create an interface that utilizes more than a mouse and keyboard for the MacBook line. To date Apple hasn’t opted to add a touch-screen, but perhaps motion control could be what Apple hopes to add in the near future.
At this point it isn’t clear if a deal is in the works or not.
“We can’t comment on what any of our partners, customers or potential customers are doing and we’re not commenting on rumors,” PrimeSense CEO Inon Beracha told Mashable.
As far as the price tag, a source reportedly told TechCrunch that the $280 million price tag was below expectations and suggested the company was worth at least 10 times that figure.