Apple has paid roughly $350 million to acquire motion-tracking chip maker PrimeSense, the Israeli startup that Microsoft tapped to help develop its Kinect gaming technology. Though snatching up small, relatively unknown tech firms is par the course for Apple, its purchase of PrimeSense could mean the tech giant is ready to take the motion-tracking leap.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Apple has been slow to join the movement before now:
To say that Apple is late to the gesture game would be something of an understatement. It’s picking up affordable, proven technology. But there will be big-time questions around how the PrimeSense gear can evolve and how Apple’s gesture-patent portfolio will match up with those of existing players. Intel (INTC), for example, has also spent the last couple of years buying small gesture-technology specialists and intellectual property, and Google (GOOG) recently purchased the motion-tracking startup Flutter.
Bloomberg reports that PrimeSense is working on depth-sensing and -managing tools that could be used on smartphones. Apple is rumored to be working on a gesture-controlled TV set, which could explain the purchase. PrimeSense technology may alternately be brought into the next iteration of the iPhone or iPad, contributing motion controls or visual identification tools to the devices.
The Guardian compares the PrimeSense acquisition to Apple’s 2012 purchase of AuthenTec, a fingerprint recognition firm whose technology quickly became a feature of the iPhone 5S. AuthenTec was snapped up for a similar price tag. If Apple continues according to the AuthenTec precedent, we could see motion-tracking in Apple products as soon as next year.
Apple announced several slight changes in its product lineup at an event in October — most notably, the tech firm offered the X Mavericks Operating System for free — and may start revamping the iPhone twice each year.