PrimeSense dismisses Apple buyout chatter, Intel buys perceptual computing startup Omek

primesense sensor

The Israeli newspaper Calcalist in late-2011 accurately reported on Apple’s $500 million purchase of the Israeli Flash memory startup Anobit.

Yesterday, the paper claimed Apple had been mulling buying PrimeSense, the motion control specialists behind the original Kinect motion sensor for Microsoft’s Xbox console.

It now appears that any such talk could be premature as an unnamed source associated with the motion-gesture startup debunked the rumor in an interview with TechCrunch…

The source called the rumored $280 million purchase a “journalist delusion based on unverified and twisted hints,” adding:

280 million? Come on! We’re worth 10 times that.

PrimeSense CEO Inon Beracha provided the following statement to Mashable:

We are focused on building a prosperous company while bringing 3D sensing and Natural Interaction to the mass market in a variety of industries.

We can’t comment on what any of our partners, customers or potential customers are doing and we’re not commenting on rumors.

Mashable also notes that a representative for the firm has flatly denied buyout talk.

Cult of Mac editor Leander Kahney in November 2010 recalled sitting next to PrimeSense CEO on a June 2008 flight (via MacRumors):

In fact, he’d already had several meetings at Apple. It was the first place he and his engineers thought of. “It was the most natural place for the technology,” he said. […]

Yet the initial meetings hadn’t gone so well. Obsessed with secrecy, Apple had already asked Beracha to sign a stack of crippling legal agreements and NDAs.

He shook his head. Why didn’t he want to do a deal with Apple? No need. The technology was hot. He could sell it to anyone.

Some watchers speculate Apple may have been willing to snap up PrimeSense just so its rivals don’t have  access to it in the future. For what it’s worth, PrimeSense thus far has raised about $50 million in funding.

Whether or not the $280 million valuation floated by Calcalist is too optimistic depends on your point of view. By comparison, Apple paid $350+ million for the smart-sensor maker AuthenTec.

Other incumbents are also taking notice of motion sensing, including chip giant Intel which just bought the Israeli-based perceptual computing company Omek Interactive for between $30 million and $50 million.

Here’s a quick demo of their technology.

Several Apple patent filings have signaled the company’s interest in Minority Report-like motion-based interactions. But the company may already have such technology. Back in August 2012, Forbes reported the iPhone maker might have licensed a JDS Uniphase Corporation technology for gesture recognition in 3D space.

Apple is widely expected to bring motion sensing to an upcoming Apple TV revision and pundits have been keeping their fingers crossed for motion gestures on iPhones and iPads ever since Samsung mainstreamed the tech in mobile with its Galaxy SIII.