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back to article Arm-wave bye BYE! Apple grabs Kinect flail-sensor maker for $345m

Apple has reportedly snapped up the Israeli firm responsible for the motion-sensing chip and hardware used in Microsoft's Kinect device. According to the Israeli newspaper The Calcalist, Apple has finalised the acquisition of Primesense for an estimated sum of $345m. An official announcement is expected in the coming weeks. …

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Apple v Microsoft round 1001

I can just see now, Apple suing Microsoft over patents they hold on this or for more licensing revenue. Then going after Sony.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple v Microsoft round 1001

I would say that the valuation of the company makes it look like they've not got the technology for the Kinnect chips, I'd imagine that would be worth a hell of a lot more, also that MS would have bought them if they were that critical to Kinnect.

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Re: Apple v Microsoft round 1001

I think Microsoft isn't too concerned about Primesense or the related patents. Odds are they hold a nice long licensing agreement with Primesense that would be transferred with the acquisition. Which means Apple can do sod-all with the deal or Microsoft (since the license means Microsoft can legally use the patented tech) until the contract runs out.

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Re: Apple v Microsoft round 1001

"I can just see now, Apple suing Microsoft over patents they hold on this or for more licensing revenue. Then going after Sony."

I doubt they will be suing each other, because Apple and Microsoft already have a patent cross licensing agreement. Even if these new patents fall outside of the scope of that agreement, the likelihood is they will just extend it. I suspect they will be happy to maintain their patent alliance against Google. Additionally Apple also have cross licensing agreements with Sony, for jointly developed Camera tech. Apple have elaborated five elements lens designs to fit the camera in a smaller enclosure (so there is no bump on the back of the handset). Sony have contributed fundamental knowhow and manufacture the camera subcomponent for Apple. I expect their working relationship is healthy enough that again they will extend their cross licensing arrangement rather than sue each other..

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Re: Apple v Microsoft round 1001

Hopefully MS have a long term licence agreement in place, although the Kinect 2 allegedly uses their own hardware.

This sounds like the fingerprint sensor purchase all over again. The company had been providing the sensors for laptops for a decade and it was a staple of Windows business laptops, now they have yanked support...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple v Microsoft round 1001

"I can just see now, Apple suing Microsoft over patents they hold on this or for more licensing revenue."

Firstly Microsoft and Apple have a cross licensing agreement.

Secondly Microsoft have far more patents in this space than Prime Sense or Apple - having already purchased the market leaders in this space - 3DV Systems and Canesta, and having been developing this sort of tech themselves for years....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple v Microsoft round 1001

Apple and Microsoft have been fairly close of late. They're both united against Google.

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Re: Apple v Microsoft round 1001

""I can just see now, Apple suing Microsoft over patents they hold on this or for more licensing revenue."

Firstly Microsoft and Apple have a cross licensing agreement.

Secondly Microsoft have far more patents in this space than Prime Sense or Apple - having already purchased the market leaders in this space - 3DV Systems and Canesta, and having been developing this sort of tech themselves for years...."

You say that but Apple invented flapping your arms about... oh and oxygen...

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im stunned that MS dont already own them. The kinect seems rather important to the xbone.

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Why buy when you can get a long-term lease for cheaper? And by the time the lease expires, newer tech will be along to replace it.

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Anonymous Coward

"im stunned that MS dont already own them. The kinect seems rather important to the xbone."

Microsoft licenced what they needed for Kinect V1 from Prime Sense. This was the fastest route to market, but not the best technology. Microsoft subsequently bought the 2 main companies with the patents for the more advanced solutions in this space...

Apple are desperately trying to buy in some tech in this space as Microsoft are along way ahead of the curve in this compared to them.

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"Apple are desperately trying to buy in some tech in this space as Microsoft are along way ahead of the curve in this compared to them."

Which is quite possibly true, but actually you have no real idea because Apple are known to be continually working on alternative control systems and have the most secretive R&D in the world. I personally believe Apple will have been working on control systems similar to the kinect for years. What is undoubtedly true for Microsoft is that they have extensively field tested their sensor and this will certainly have given them an edge.

But just to demonstrate the point, Apple Jan '12 there were news stories about Apple filing a gesture based UI patent. Patent applications are kept secret for at least 1 year after application. That means Apple will have been iterating an idea from at least Jan '11. Kinect was launched June '11, so this doesn't illustrate Apple were working on the idea first (MS would of course have been working on Kinect earlier than Jan '11) and patents are often filed for tech businesses are not working on, but it does illustrate the point that a company like Apple are likely to have been researching and even developing the technology in private for some time (also like many others they could well have been using Kinect and the development kit to prototype applications - this isn't some "Apple must have been before MS comment.")

But unlike MS and XBox, Apple haven't had a clear application for Kinect like tech as yet. It makes sense it is of greatest value in the gaming market first.

They may now, however, have a suitable application if they are giving TV connected devices a comprehensive interface overhaul.

Also they may be moving Apple TV into the casual gaming space, since the volumes and power of the next generation of ARM chip after the A7 will make a TV STB a very interesting multipurpose device proposition. Bear in mind also iOS 7 has new API's for bluetooth 4 games controllers and some beefed up easy access/easy to programme 2D particle and physics gaming API's in addition to existing full support for 3D gaming. I could easily see them supporting a cloud connected device where games are downloaded on demand. After all, through iCloud, they already have infrastructure where they deem it cost efficient to sell movies for a once off fee, but stream them on demand to users who don't want them stored on the local device. Also they have a very resilient and proven scalable AppStore infrastructure, including game centre. So casual gaming to extent across mobile and TV connection iOS devices? Maybe. They could do all this at a price point way below Playstation and Xbox, even whilst preserving their standard high margins, without competing directly for hardcore gamers.

An unlikely but interesting possibility: Apple buy Nintendo, who would be a perfect match for beefing up their quality casual and family gaming credentials and who specialise in ensuring the highest quality gaming experience over the need for the highest end hardcore gaming technology. As said the next gen after the A7 chip will be very interesting for gaming in it's own right and may indeed hold its own albeit for casual gaming and paired with a suitable Graphics Processor, even when compared with Xbox One and Playstation 4. The cultural fit with Nintendo could be excellent as well as both companies have a reputation for striving for all round excellence, polish and appeal in a way that is reminiscent of the blueprint laid out by Disney many years ago.

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"and have the most secretive R&D in the world of consumer tech" I should, of course, have said.

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@Charles 9

It always used to be the Microsoft dictum that they would always prefer to purchase than to license — e.g. that's why they foisted Helvetica-alike Arial on the world rather than using the real thing. But I guess that was back when there was virtually unbounded room for growth. They were probably more cautious about a peripheral for a video game console with known sales figures.

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Re: @Charles 9

"They were probably more cautious about a peripheral for a video game console with known sales figures."

AND, more importantly, a known lifespan. When you know your console will pretty much be in the bargain basement inside of a few years with its successor on the horizon, you pretty much know how long you need the tech. That's the thing about tech: it moves fast. By the time you're done, you're already seeking the next generation of that tech, which is as likely as not to be elsewhere (and from what I heard Microsoft went and bought that tech which is now in the XBox One). Microsoft bet on Kinect and for the most part it's paying, so they'll keep running with it.

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Anonymous Coward

"but actually you have no real idea"

Microsoft already launched Kinect V1 - which was the fastest selling consumer product in history. V2 launches this week. Apple still have nothing in the market and are desperately trying to buy an expensive also ran in this space. QED....

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You're right the kinect 1 was (I understand) the fastest selling product at launch, but that is no longer true. not by a large margin. The kinect sold 8 million units in its first 60 days on sale. The new iPhone 5S sold more than that in 3 days. You also used the emotion word "desperate" which is a reflection of what you probably want to be the case, not what you know to be the case, hence the reason for my counterpoint. But if you read what I said carefully, you will see I'm not making statements of fact on the point you disagree with me on and neither are you. I have an opinion and expressing it is my point of view. You have yours.

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Apple Telly

Surely only a complete jasper still believes Apple will release a TV set. There are two strategies for owning the living room - box-in-the-corner (XBox, PlayStation, etc) vs device-in-your-hand (Apple, Google, etc). In Apple's strategy, the TV is just a dumb screen that you beam Airplay at. There is no money in making TVs.

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Re: Apple Telly

While I agree with you, I wouldn't rule out an attempt by Apple. I think they might use their "retina" sales tag to try to grab some cash during the great up-sell to 4k. With a built-in AppleTV and the assumption of Wifi it'll play well with Apple's traditional sales pitch of simplicity — just plug it into the electricity.

Use their Hollywood clout to talk the networks into live streaming through a unified platform and they might even have a compelling sales pitch. For the Americans, whose networks they'd actually bother with, anyway.

It'll need to happen very soon though.

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Re: Apple Telly

Thing is, for 4K to sell, it'll need something outside of Apple's control: CONTENT. And for once, the movie companies have said "No Way, Jose!" to anything even remotely resembling general-purpose computing. Unfortunately, Apple counts among them (FTR, so do Google and Android). When 4K content arrives, Apple will have no control over the content: the movie companies are too paranoid to trust anyone but themselves and those they've hired directly to deliver the goods.

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Re: Apple Telly

Steve Jobs was the largest individual shareholder in Disney, and a member of its board. Now his widow is (the largest shareholder, not on the board) That relationship with Disney might be enough to help Apple get a deal with them. That doesn't guarantee the Sonys and MGMs of the world would be willing to deal, but makes it a bit more likely than it would otherwise be.

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Re: Apple Telly

Jobs' widow may have the largest individual share, but I suspect the MAJORITY of the shares are held by types who would see things the media firms' way and thus vote to secure their content behind as many walls as they can. As Disney has itself proved, keeping a good chunk of their stuff locked up makes people clamor when they DO come out those rare times. BY stirring up excitement in rotations, they can actually draw repeat business out of a one-time thing. When it comes to 4K, I'm pretty sure Disney and the other movie companies want to get it right the first (and only) time. Who cares if the customers get ticked at the hoop-jumping; too many aren't bright enough to see the hoops for what they are: enough to keep business going. It's 1 smart vote against 10 stupid votes; stupid wins.

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Sign language

Maybe Siri will get be able to work with sign languages in the future. One of many possibilities, I imagine.

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Re: Sign language

You mean something like this?

http://channel9.msdn.com/coding4fun/kinect/Kinect-Sign-Language-Translator-from-Microsoft-Research

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Anonymous Coward

Pardon me?

"Apple has already shown an interest in non-traditional ways of controlling devices, after introducing a fingerprint sensor to the iPhone 5S"

Controlling? That's stretching things a tad isn't it? You could categorise unlocking as controlling I suppose if you're the sort to call a cleaner a sanitation engineer. As for non-traditional, yes using a sensor that requires you to leave a readable fingerprint on a reader that is supposed to increase security is indeed non-traditional. Boring old traditionalists use swipe fingerprint readers upon which you leave nothing useful to a thief.

What are their past examples of this tradition? There's their f##king awful mice and.... and.... Does one prior example make it a tradition?

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Anonymous Coward

"Apple has reportedly snapped up the Israeli firm responsible for the motion-sensing chip and hardware used in Microsoft's Kinect device."

I see Apple are innovating again!

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Gimp

encouraging fanbois to gesticulate at the telly to control it.

I think the word you were looking for is 'genuflect'. This IS Apple, after all.

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