November 25, 2013
Apple Confirms Acquisition Of 3D Sensing Company PrimeSense Ltd
Bryan P. Carpender for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
After months of speculation and rumors of stalled negotiations, Apple has finally acquired Israeli 3D sensor company PrimeSense Ltd. Just last week redOrbit reported that a $345 million deal between Apple and PrimeSense was nearing completion and today Apple has confirmed it’s a done deal.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” said Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman, confirming the purchase in a telephone interview with Bloomberg on Sunday.
Estimates put the final purchase price in the neighborhood of $350 million. However, both Apple and PrimeSense are remaining typically tight-lipped about the financial details of the acquisition deal, refusing to disclose dollar amounts or comment further on any specifics.
PrimeSense is known as the company behind the motion tracking technology used in Microsoft’s Kinect game console. This technology has been of particular interest to Apple, who already started developing its own motion-sensing technology, even taking out patents on a few in 2012. That’s why PrimeSense was so attractive to Apple; why waste time in development and testing trying to reinvent the wheel when you can buy the top wheel maker?
The practice of acquiring other smaller tech companies is nothing new to Apple; it’s just smart business. That’s how Apple is able to fill in the significant gaps in its technology road map. By partnering with (and purchasing) the best innovators, it allows the tech giant to save months — even years — in development with new technologies.
These strategic acquisitions are very business savvy. They give Apple a competitive edge; rather than having the tech available to other competitors in the market, it allows it to keep the sought-after technology to roll into its own devices — after the tech has been tested and proven tried and true. It also increases the speed of innovation, allowing the Cupertino, California-based company to hit the ground running instead of enduring a lengthy ramp-up period.
Motion sensing and gesture control technologies are becoming more common, pointing to the next wave of innovations, so the timing of this deal is key.
"Usage of gesture-based, touch-less control of devices is one of the big mega trends in the industry right now," Nitin Bhat, a partner with business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, told the BBC. "From Apple's perspective it looks like an attempt to make its current gadgets a lot more attractive by offering such a feature on them. It could also look to incorporate this technology in future portfolio of devices which could include an Apple TV."
PrimeSense claims its 3D sensing technology gives digital devices "the ability to observe a scene in three dimensions," observing movements and translating them into a “synchronized image stream, just like humans do.”
It then processes these images, translating them into spatial relations information such as the location of walls and floor. In addition to the ability to detect movements and objects, it also translates data into depth and color. Not only can it classify objects such as furniture, it’s capable of identifying people, their individual physical characteristics, movements and gestures.
In 2012, Apple acquired AuthenTec for $356 million, whose technology recently debuted in the iPhone 5s TouchID fingerprint scanner. It also propelled its flash memory technology forward by purchasing Anobit Technologies for somewhere between $400 million and $500 million. That tech is used in various iDevices, including MacBook Air, helping to streamline hardware and make it more compact and more powerful.
Now with the acquisition of PrimeSense complete, we await the new innovations that will come as Apple incorporates the 3D sensor array into its products; updating current ones and hopefully rolling out new devices. (Maybe even the long-rumored iTV?) Stay tuned.