The Israeli motion sensor company behind Microsoft’s Kinect has been acquired by Apple, the iPhone manufacturer has confirmed.
Primesense is responsible for the PrimeSensor design technology used in the original Microsoft Kinect, which allows a camera to register an object like a moving user to be rendered in three dimensions.
The move could suggest that Apple – which is almost single-handedly responsible for the widespread adoption of touch screen devices – is looking at developing its own motion-controlled input system.
All Things Digital reports that about $360 million changed hands as part of the deal, and while both parties are being fairly tight-lipped about the purpose of the acquisition, it’s easy enough to guess what Apple has to gain.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” said Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet.
The news is especially pertinent considering the direct challenge to Apple TV posed by Microsoft’s Xbox One, which includes both a second generation Kinect and the ability to control TV and Cable by voice and motion.
Just under ten years ago Apple and Nintendo revolutionized the games industry with the former offering the first mainstream touchscreen interface through the iPhone and the latter offering motion-controlled games on the Wii.
Microsoft and Sony fired back with their own motion-controlled console tech, but the Kinect for Xbox has proved the more exciting solution and can register movement from a user’s whole body as input rather than depending on a hand-held controller.
While motion control has been very popular with a wide audience of consumers, it hasn’t generated the same consumer fervor as core gaming.
With the arrival of the Xbox One it’s now possible to control not only games, but live TV and a variety of streaming apps with motion control, so Apple may well be interested in coming up with a similar hands-free interface to combat the challenge.