Here’s gesture recognition tech Apple probably licensed for iTV

Jefferies & Co’s Peter Misek wrote in today’s note to clients that production of the rumored Apple-branded HD TV is in full swing. While we suspect there would have been plenty of leaks ahead of manufacturing ramp up, a pair of The Wall Street Journal reports yesterday (here and here) did claim that Apple’s been working on a set-top box with cloud DVR features and the ability to retrieve premium cable TV content.

Whatever living room gizmo Apple may have in the works (or in manufacturing), it could rely heavily on hand gestures seen in sci-fi movies like Minority Report. In order to nail gesture recognition in 3D space, Apple allegedly licensed a technology from JDS Uniphase Corporation (JDSU).

Here’s what so special about it…

According to Forbes which relayed Misek’s note, JDSU recently went on the record to confirm that it has a new non-gaming customer for its gesture control modules.

“JDSU indicated this is a new ‘living room’ based customer”, Forbes writes.

What other company besides Microsoft, whose Kinect system for Xbox 360 also taps JDSU’s technology, has a strong living room presence, credibility in the entertainment space and, above all, has a living room product – or is developing one – that would take advantage of gesture recognition?

Sure, there are plenty B and C players, but of A players I see only Apple.

Here’s a quick video walkthrough of JDSU’s gesture control system (sorry, it’s Flash-only)

Flash player not found.

Here’s another one that could be of interest.


According to a July 2010 media release, JDSU combines near-infrared light source technology and optical coatings with other 3D sensors. The technology can be deployed in small form factor devices like set-top boxes and gaming consoles.

The main purpose of  gesture control systems is to “detect and extract external information from a person’s movements”, the document explains.

The information is then mapped into a 3D image, and incorporated into the system so that a person can easily manipulate an application.

Examples include a gamer’s movements being tracked and translated within a video game, or a person in a living room using a hand gesture in front of TV to pull up a movie or a web site.

In addition to Microsoft, Israeli firm PrimeSense has also licensed JDSU lasers and optical filters technology, here’s their CES 2012 demo of a next-gen home entertainment system.


Of course, there is no shortage of rumors depicting an Apple living room product with Kinect-like gesture recognition, traced back to blogs, analysts and big media. Apple’s also been filing patents revealing its interest in 3D gesture controls.

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs tol his biographer Walter Isaacon that “I’ve finally cracked” the code to building the perfect television set, hinting that it would have “the simplest user interface you could imagine”.


Whether or not the interface Jobs envisioned calls for spoken interaction via Siri and physical interaction via 3D gestures is anyone’s guess, but with Smart TVs from Samsung and others already incorporating much of that functionality (to little effect), it will take Apple to perfect the technology to make it “just work” and mainstream it in a hot living room product.

What’s your take on Apple allegedly licensing jDSU’s technology?