Apple’s latest acquisition, PrimeSense, a startup that specializes in 3-D sensor technology, caught cable’s eye about four years ago.
Back in 2009, attendees at the annual CableLabs Summer Conference voted the chipmaker’s 3-D sensing system as the “Best New Product Idea,” recognizing its use of infrared cameras to enable TV viewers to interact with set-top box or televisions. The system, which can function as a virtual remote control, projects IR light into a room and then detects distortions in the field to allow gestural controls.
The company has come a long way since, claiming that its technology now powers more than 24 million devices worldwide. One of its marquee deals involved earlier-generation Kinect camera that power the Microsoft Xbox 360, though Microsoft now uses its own sensor technology for current Kinect-enabled devcies, according to AllThingsD, which said Apple paid about $360 million to acquire PrimeSense.
Apple, meanwhile, has not said how it intends to use PrimeSense’s technology, though obvious candidates would be to help power a new video user interface for a new stand-alone streaming device or that mythical TV that Apple is said to be working on.
And gesture-controlled navigation remains an interest for the cable industry. As FierceCable reported earlier this month, Comcast recently applied for a patent entitled “System and Methods for Controlling a User Experience” that describes a network of cameras and sensors that allow customers to navigate the TV and control lights in their homes using gestures.