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What Will Apple Do with PrimeSense Tech?
What Will Apple Do with PrimeSense Tech?

By Jennifer LeClaire
November 25, 2013 10:51AM

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If you are going to add a gesture interface to anything, you need a technology like PrimeSense's tech. Apple needs a new iPod-like product -- a segment-breaking product -- to come out that it can ride for the next decade or so. It looks like PrimeSense is at the center of Apple's strategy, said analyst Rob Enderle.

Apple is betting $350 million on motion-sensing technology. The company has reportedly acquired PrimeSense, an Israeli start-up.

Founded in 2005, PrimeSense is working on sensory inputs for a number of industries and markets. The fabless semiconductor company has patented technology that has made its low-cost, high-performance 3D sensing and machine vision technologies popular.

PrimeSense technology is powering more than 24 million devices around the world, giving what the founders call the “gift of sight” to users. The tech makes possible natural interaction between people and devices and between devices and their surroundings.

A 3D World

Earlier in November, for example, the company launched Sense, a consumer grade 3D scanner that promises sub-millimeter accuracy for 3D scanning so people can scan items and print them out on 3D printers.

“3D scanning has soared beyond use in industrial applications to touch upon a more mainstream purpose in the home and -- with the advent of mobile and tablets -- on the go,” the company said in a blog post. “It has taken us from capturing objects in real time for virtual viewing to full-on, video-game style immersion in a 3D model of any environment.”

PrimeSense has won numerous awards. PrimeSense is one of 23 of the world’s most innovative technology start-ups that is being recognized for its potential to transform the future of business and society, according to the World Economic Forum. The company was selected as a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer in 2012. MIT Technology Review and the EE Times Ace Awards have also recognized the company.

How Will Apple Use It?

Apple could not immediately be reached for comment but Jennifer Kite-Powell, a spokeswoman for PrimeSense, confirmed the deal to USA Today. We caught up with Rob Enderle, principal analyst at The Enderle Group, to get his take on what Apple could do with the technology.

“If you are going to add a gesture interface to anything, you need a technology like this,” Enderle said. “We’ve seen Microsoft Kinect, which was originally slated to go to Apple, now get adopted into robots and 3D scanners. The next wave of technology seems to be around Kinect.”

As Enderle sees it, Apple’s acquisition in a similar space suggests that the company realizes the iPod strategy has run its gamut.

“Apple needs a new iPod-like product -- a segment-breaking product -- to come out that they can ride for the next decade or so,” he said. “It looks like PrimeSense is at the center of that strategy.”

But Amit Chowdhry, a technology analyst, said we are unlikely going to find out how Apple will integrate PrimeSense’s technology until new products are released.

“PrimeSense’s motion detectors could hypothetically be used for an Apple smart TV product, which was mentioned by late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in his biography by Walter Isaacson,” he wrote in a Forbes column. “Unfortunately, Apple’s smart TV product launch has been reportedly delayed due to content deal issues. We should not expect an Apple smart TV until the second half of 2014 or later.”

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Posted: 2013-11-26 @ 8:57pm PT
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