With 3D sensors a weak point for Apple, reports are suggesting it is in negotiations to acquire Israeli company PrimeSense which has been responsible for gestural control devices such as Microsoft's Kinect controller. This information is coming from an Israeli business news site, Calcalist.
Many of PrimeSense's products have been used in living-room or gaming devices, although they have also been working with companies like Asus to provide 3D sensors for its Xtion PC. Reports from a few years ago even mentioned Apple's interest in PrimeSense, suggesting that Apple executives have met multiple times with the CEO of PrimeSense, Inon Beracha.
However, these talks did not go over well, according to Beracha, due to Apple's extreme secrecy issues and the executives' demands that PrimeSense sign multiple contracts and non-disclosure agreements upfront. According to Cult of Mac's reporting from 2010, Beracha even went as far as to say "Apple is a pain in the ass."
If the recent reports are correct, Apple is looking to spend around $280 million in its acquisition of PrimeSense, which is a drop in the bucket considering Apple's $100 billion in "rainy day" money. Apple executives reportedly visited PrimeSense last month with an entire team of Apple employees to thoroughly examine some of PrimeSense's technology.
Apple's reported $280 million bid seems low, since PrimeSense has already received nearly $100 million in venture capital funding from both Israeli and U.S.-based firms. While Apple may have sent an entire commission of employees to check out PrimeSense and its well-known sensors, Apple's bid seems too low for Beracha to take interest in the potential acquisition.
Apple Loves Israel
These acquisition reports are coming shortly after Apple began to show interest in other Israeli companies as well interest in using Israel for some of its development. Early last year Apple acquired the Israel-based flash storage maker Anobit to enhance the memory capabilities of both the iPad and iPhone.
Since acquiring Anobit, Apple has also set up three development centers in Israel, which have worked on the wireless components for Apple mobile devices as well as on the newer A-series processors coming out from Apple.
How Would Apple Use 3D Sensors?
Apple has been showing interest in 3D body sensors for some time, and has picked up multiple patents regarding them. One of the features likely to make an appearance in the next-gen Apple TV will be motion sensors, which could allow Apple to take over the living room.
PrimeSense already has a track record of developing sensors for other devices similar to the Apple TV, so it makes sense Apple would show interest in also using the company's sensors. Even though this type of 3D technology would most likely be seen in the Apple TV, it could well make an appearance in future iterations of the Mac, iPhone, or iPad.