PrimeSense, a 3D sensor company based out of Israel and best known for creating the original Microsoft Kinect was acquired by Apple for roughly $350 million over the weekend. The move has many in the industry raising their eyebrows, given the combinations inherent between Apple and the 3D sensor company.
David Fleet, a computer science professor at the University of Toronto was surprised by the proposal. “I think it’s very big news,” he said, adding, “I think many more applications are on the horizon.”
The sensing systems currently used by PrimeSense are equipped with an infrared emitter which shoots out beams of invisible light which can then be scanned by a camera for discrepancies such as the movement and depth of objects crossing the lights’ path. The potential of such a system to Apple is for a form of system access which does not require touch but can be regulated by hand motions over the screen.
Effectively, Apple wants to make you Tony Stark by giving you access to your computer via hand signals.
As if the match weren’t already made in heaven, PrimeSense has also demonstrated that its’ equipment is compatible with mobile devices, leading many to conclude a future for this technology on future Apple iPads or iPhones. And the fun doesn’t stop there.
Fleet argues that there are limitless applications for the technology being developed. “You can imagine that if every device could understand its environment, we would have smart appliances, smart vehicles, smart toys. [Computer vision] really is a fundamental source of information for just about anything you’d ever want to do.” Apple’s well-documented interest in the television market might be another potential application.
PrimeSense isn’t the only company developing this new technology – Leap Motion, one of PrimeSense’s leading competitors, is already in the process of developing it with computer manufacturers for use in laptops. The trick is creating a device that does not leave the user tired after a short time.
“Most studies to date have shown that gesture-based interfaces have not been very successful because people get tired quickly,” says David Fleet. But he followed up that statement with the fact that new software is under development that may fix these issues.
Included in this line up of advancements are upgrades that will provide better range, smaller sensors, and a greater diversification for the use of the sensors. These upgrades will make 3D sensor technology not only more powerful, but will also reduce the overall power requirements of the technology as it is fit to smaller and smaller devices.