According to multiple reports by Calcalist.co.il, Apple is in the midst of negotiations to acquire PrimeSense, a fabless semiconductor firm that worked on the original technology behind Microsoft’s Kinect sensor.
The Israeli publication says the deal is still in its early stages, although Apple is expected to offer around $280 million for the company. Senior engineering managers from Apple, specializing in optical hardware, are also said to have visited PrimeSense in Israel earlier this month.
Update: TechCrunch is reporting that a source at the company has described the deal as “BS” and “delusion based on unverified and twisted hints.”
Microsoft used PrimeSense’s sensor technology to develop the original Kinect, which was shipped as an additional peripheral for its popular Xbox 360 video game console. It later became a popular choice with the modding community and was released as a standalone device for PC users.
Acquiring PrimeSense would give Apple greater access to a similar form of technology. It’s difficult to speculate how PrimeSense’s expertise would be integrated into new or existing products in Apple’s portfolio, although an obvious implementation would be the long-rumored overhaul of Apple TV.
Enabling consumers to interact with a TV interface using only hand gestures or subtle body movements would be an interesting proposition and far removed from other set-top box manufacturers such as Roku. Despite the original Kinect’s success as a video game controller, it’s yet to be proven as a widely adopted method of navigating and selecting other forms of media content.
Regardless, Apple has its own stake in the video game industry at the moment following the explosion in mobile gaming across its iPhone, iPad and iPod hardware platforms. Subsequently, some have suggested that the existing App Store could easily be transferred to the TV, similar to the Android-based OUYA console.
An entirely new control interface, leveraging the best aspects of Kinect, would certainly give Apple a new edge in the living room.
TNW has reached out to both Apple and PrimeSense to confirm that the negotiations are taking place and will update this article if and when they respond.
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