According to the Calcalist and AllThingsD Apple is looking to buy PrimeSense. PrimeSense is an Israeli company that makes 3D sensors that are designed to be able to accurately measure depth and other visual cues. Their claim to fame is that their sensors were in the original Microsoft Xbox Kinect motion controller which enabled for a completely hands free experience. This time around, Microsoft has their own solution that doesn’t use PrimeSense, so they are naturally working on the next generation of 3D sensors.
One of the developments coming out of PrimeSense is a smartphone 3D sensor, which is likely what Apple is going to want to take into their next product lines. The rumor coming from the Calcalist is that Apple is paying $385 million for the company, while AllThingsD claims that the deal isn’t over with quite yet so a price hasn’t been completely set. Either way, I think that a company such as PrimeSense should be able to command a stronger premium than $385 million. However, there is a chance that they are having a hard time finding applications for their 3D sensors in volumes that they had with Microsoft in the Kinect. Apple buying them and their technology would allow for the technology to live on in millions of products instead of being allowed to drift into irrelevance.
Apple’s push to acquire is nothing new. They acquired multiple companies to make Apple Maps happen, as did they with the iPhone 5S in order to enable the fingerprint authentication. Apple is exhibiting similar behavior that many of their older competitors have been exhibiting for years. And that is the fact that they are having a hard time innovating from within a vast corporate structure and as a result are forced to acquire smaller more innovative companies in order to obtain the technologies they want or need for a new product. Apple will no doubt put this technology to a good use, but it will be interesting to see what they’ll do with it in smartphones as well as laptops and desktops. Perhaps this is even part of Apple’s Apple TV play where they would integrate this sensor array into a TV or AppleTV streaming box.
The rumors are continuing to pile up and we’ll know soon enough whether or not they’re true. This announcement may give us a glimpse of what’s to come from Apple and will likely help fuel other rumor mills about new and interesting products from Apple.