Report: Apple buys the company that helped Microsoft create Kinect

Microsoft’s Xbox One will be launched later this week, and with it will come a new version of its Kinect motion-tracking system. The first version of Kinect, designed for the Xbox 360, was created by Microsoft using technology developed by the Israeli company PrimeSense, and according to one report, that company has just been bought up by Apple.

Israeli news site Calcalist reports that the acquisition has been finalised in a deal worth $345m. It comes after PrimeSense had previously shrugged off rumours that it was in takeover talks back in July, when it had been hinted that the company could be sold to Apple for around $280m.


PrimeSense technology: Carmine 3D sensor (black); early Kinect prototype (white); and 'Capri' SoC

While the second-gen version of Kinect, exclusive to the Xbox One, was developed by Microsoft’s own engineering teams, PrimeSense continued work on its technology separately. In June, Engadget posted a detailed profile on the company and its plans for a “post-Microsoft future”, which included the creation of ‘Capri’ – essentially a miniaturised, low-power version of Kinect that could be integrated into smaller form factors, such as tablets and smartphones.

As SlashGear notes, Capri was believed to be a big part of Apple’s interest in the company when rumours of the acquisition first emerged, hinting at motion-tracking and touchless gesture support for the company’s iOS devices.

But today’s report points instead to Apple’s desire to use the technology in television hardware. Rumours that Apple has been working on an ‘iTV’ have been swirling for years now, with many reported release dates having come and gone - but last December, its CEO, Tim Cook, described television as an "area of intense interest" for the company.

Source: Calcalist via Slashgear | image via Engadget

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Spicoli said,
Apple's trick is to dumb it down to a point where end users think they know what they're doing.

Exactly. Offer simplicity to consumers and they will buy your product.

Of course you can also try and confuse them and see how that goes...

stevan said,

Exactly. Offer simplicity to consumers and they will buy your product.

Of course you can also try and confuse them and see how that goes...

Or lack of flexibility. It depends on how you look at it.

To be fair I am technical but on my phones I prefer simplicity. My OS preference for mobile devices goes like WP, iOS, Firefox OS then Android:p

Riva said,
....

Agreed.
However, Sony did create something beautiful with the Xperia Z1. If only Fujitsu sold their waterproof WP handset outside of japan, I wouldn't be recommending the sub par Android set to my friends here in the great white north.

Interesting. This may be Apple's hardest "spin product" yet... Think about it, they're taking a product and trying to market it a magical and never before done, and people will already have much better tech in their Living Rooms thanks to the Kinect 2. They'll be seeing commercials showing off Kinect 2 left and right.

I don't recall a time when Apple tried to release a "revolutionary" product when there was already such brand awareness for a competing (and likely better), and commercially available product...

M_Lyons10 said,
Interesting. This may be Apple's hardest "spin product" yet... Think about it, they're taking a product and trying to market it a magical and never before done, and people will already have much better tech in their Living Rooms thanks to the Kinect 2. They'll be seeing commercials showing off Kinect 2 left and right.

I don't recall a time when Apple tried to release a "revolutionary" product when there was already such brand awareness for a competing (and likely better), and commercially available product...

First, Apple won't be trying to release anything as magical or revolutionary. This is just a silly idea by trollers.

Secondly, the brand awareness that Apple brings to the table is much higher than anything Microsoft can. And that's not taking away from just how great Kinect 2 is.

M_Lyons10 said,
Interesting. This may be Apple's hardest "spin product" yet... Think about it, they're taking a product and trying to market it a magical and never before done, and people will already have much better tech in their Living Rooms thanks to the Kinect 2. They'll be seeing commercials showing off Kinect 2 left and right.

I don't recall a time when Apple tried to release a "revolutionary" product when there was already such brand awareness for a competing (and likely better), and commercially available product...

It would be a hard spin; however, it is more amazing that you think Apple hasn't done this in the past. It shows how well their marketing does change how people see technology and the history of technology.

My question would be, what product has Apple ever released that was a new or innovative technology?

There are a few, but I would wager the ones most people think Apple brought to market were already around and some of them were doing quite well before Apple pretended they invented it.

stevan said,

First, Apple won't be trying to release anything as magical or revolutionary. This is just a silly idea by trollers.

Secondly, the brand awareness that Apple brings to the table is much higher than anything Microsoft can. And that's not taking away from just how great Kinect 2 is.

First, no one's trolling here. Apple ALWAYS markets their products as 'magical and revolutionary'. They do little else really...

And while I am not arguing with Apple's brand awareness, XBox has a tremendous brand awareness, and THAT is the brand Apple is hoping no one knows about... Which is ludicrous....

Mobius Enigma said,

It would be a hard spin; however, it is more amazing that you think Apple hasn't done this in the past. It shows how well their marketing does change how people see technology and the history of technology.

My question would be, what product has Apple ever released that was a new or innovative technology?

There are a few, but I would wager the ones most people think Apple brought to market were already around and some of them were doing quite well before Apple pretended they invented it.

My post didn't say that Apple hasn't done that in the past, in fact I thought it was quite clear that that's all they've done... However, I cannot think of any other example of them doing so with a technology that is so commercially available or well known... This is a lot different than something like the MP3 player, which most people didn't realize was out there before the iPod... It's something backed by a very well known brand (XBox) that many people will already have the second generation of which in their homes...

It's different, and that's my point.

M_Lyons10 said,

First, no one's trolling here. Apple ALWAYS markets their products as 'magical and revolutionary'. They do little else really...

Prove it.

"...helped Microsoft create Kinect"

Most likely, Primesense created alone the device then later MS put a mic on it. The original kinect is a carbon copy of the primesense device.

Anyways, why MS miss the chance to buy Primesense?.

MS didn't need to buy Primesense. They used Primesense technology for the original Kinect, then created something much better (Kinect 2) on their own.

Brony said,
"...helped Microsoft create Kinect"

Most likely, Primesense created alone the device then later MS put a mic on it. The original kinect is a carbon copy of the primesense device.

Anyways, why MS miss the chance to buy Primesense?.

Microsoft had similar in house R&D like the Primesense device before working with them. Instead of just using their own tech, they paid Primesense and adapted their basic hardware design.

Microsoft tends to reward products/companies that have similar technology instead of just giving them the finger. Microsoft CMOS depth project goes back to the 1990s and very easily could have held off any patent claims from Primesense that started in the early 00s.

As for the actual device, Microsoft took a variation of the Primesense design, but the Kinect is only input configuration similar. It doesn't use the Primesense SoC technology, which is why they would be valuable to Apple.

Microsoft did away with the dedicated external processor so they could use their own tracking recognition that was faster and easier to adapt. On the Xbox this is handled all on the CPU. (The Xbox One may be using a dedicated multimedia core, but I don't remember off the top of my head.)

As for Microsoft buying them, it wouldn't have made sense. Primesense is mainly in the business of the SoC technology for CMOS-D, which Microsoft doesn't need.

Apparently Apple does and it would seem that Apple may be wanting to adapt the actual Capri 3D imaging SoC into their devices.

Apple is backed into the corner in having to find yet another feature to add to the iPhone as it makes most of their revenue. I would expect them to somehow adapt the depth sensing to the iPhone rather than a set top box.

Major_Plonquer said,
"innovation"?

I thought that's what improving upon the work of others was called.

Invention is creating it first. If PrimeSense invented it, Microsoft innovated, Apple can surely do the same.

Kinect is a Microsoft product. They originally used some camera depth technology from prime sense, but the Kinect product is many years of development on from the prime sense raw material. Apple buying prime sense in no way buys them a Kinect product. If apple intend refining and implementing an existing technology then its not Kinect that they will be refining. I'm sure they know that, although the 'bois are not on the ball yet.

One thing Apple does well. Taking an existing product, refining it, implementing it well within their products, and raking in the cash.

JHBrown said,
One thing Apple does well. Taking an existing product, refining it, implementing it well within their products, and raking in the cash.

While I'm not an Apple fan, the same could be said for any big tech company. Didn't Microsoft buy DOS and rebranded it MS DOS? Didn't Google buy Android and rebranded it Google Android?

JHBrown said,
One thing Apple does well. Taking an existing product, refining it, implementing it well within their products, and raking in the cash.

You forgot about the brainwashing which is paramount for "raking in the cash" in this case.

JHBrown said,
One thing Apple does well. Taking an existing product, refining it, implementing it well within their products, and raking in the cash.

lol look at what apple did with AuthenTec's fingerprint reader.
you can expect the prime sense tech to be implemented in the usual apple fashion.

I am surprised that sony didn't get involved with this as their motion tracking tech sucks when you compare it to kinect

JHBrown said,
One thing Apple does well. Taking an existing product, refining it, implementing it well within their products, and raking in the cash.
That is basically all they do actually.

Microsoft does that as well and so does Google. Out of the three though Microsoft creates most in-house products

JHBrown said,
One thing Apple does well. Taking an existing product, refining it, implementing it well within their products, and raking in the cash.

It depends on how far back you look. Until the ipod/iPhone, they tended to lose a lot of cash.

Spicoli said,

It depends on how far back you look. Until the ipod/iPhone, they tended to lose a lot of cash.

Yeah, it was like XBox losing 2 billion USD annually bad back then.

Riva said,
... In-house ...

Excel -> NO
Visual Basic designer -> NO
Dynamics -> NO
System Center -> NO
InRelease (rebranded as visual studio something 2013) -> NO
Windows Defender -> NO
...

They may make a lot in house, but there's a huge portion of the Microsoft mountain that comes from acquisition.

EvilAstroboy said,
Does MS Own Kinect or Does Apple own the Kinect now , sorry bit confused

Microsoft owns the Kinect, PrimeSense presumably own's some of the IP in the Kinect. Hence Microsoft is likely paying PrimeSense rent for using PrimeSense patents.

If Apple has bought PrimeSense as is suggested then those fees Might be paid to Apple instead. However given the relationship between Microsoft and Apple, those fees would be cancelled.

laserfloyd said,
Yep, MS and Apple play together decently well. Google however......... I'm starting to see why Jobs declared war on them.

Honestly, as a consumer alone, I'm struggling to like what they do. That's why I've gone back to Firefox for one, and am looking to take Microsoft up on their offerings to replace Gmail eventually. It's too bad Bing isn't better yet. ><

Aheer.R.S. said,
With the success of Kinect, I was expecting the buyout figure to be higher...

Success ? Too soon to say that.

Well it sort of is, methods in Kinect, and to some extent Kinect itself, is used in more applications now than a tool for the x box.
I've heard some news here on neowin stating it gets used in hospitals, or something, to me this sounds like it's evolving. And to be honest, even as a ps4 fan, I find that impressive as ps cameras didn't evolve like that.
And yes a lot of that is also down to software as well as hardware,,