Rumours that Apple planned to buy 3D sensor specialists shot down

Israeli-based PrimeSense are specialists in 3D sensing technology, a key component for next-gen living room technology

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The Independent Tech

Update: A source speaking to TechCrunch has denied the acquisition rumours describing them as a “journalist delusion based on unverified and twisted hints.“ The source added ”280M? Come on! We’re worth 10 times that.“

Apple are reportedly in talks to buy Israeli-based company PrimeSense, a 3D sensor specialist responsible for creating the original Kinect. Local newspaper Calcalist reports that Apple has offered $280 million, following talks about incorporating PrimeSense’s technology into Apple products.

Negotiations between the companies are described as in “early stages” but reportedly began at the beginning of the month when an Apple delegation made the trip to Israel.

PrimeSense claim that their technology currently powers more than 20 million devices, giving hardware “the ability to observe a scene in three dimensions”. In practice this enables the sort of gesture-based interfaces seen with the Kinect and the Xbox.   

Although the acquisition is not yet confirmed it’s strongly suggests that Apple are serious about making a move into the living room – be that through a revamped Apple TV or another, as yet unknown device.

Promotional videos from PrimeSense show their technology being used to control video games, navigate operating systems and browse through video on demand services using hand-only as well as full-body gestures.

Although it’s unlikely that an Apple-built device for the living room would be competing with the likes of the Xbox One and the PS4 (though both of which have greatly improved their 3D sensing tech from the previous generation), it seems likely there will be competition from TV makers and Google.

Samsung launched a smart TV with built-in gesture recognition during CES this year, hoping that the interface would encourage users to access new functions like internet browsing and create “the ultimate lean-back experience.”

Google are also entering the living room according to reports from the Wall Street Journal. Sources close to the company revealed that a new Android-powered gaming console is under development as well as a planned revamp for the Nexus Q – Google's media-streaming device that was discontinued after negative feedback in 2012.

Despite this flurry of attention though, there are plenty of people who are sceptical about a fully-fledged Apple TV ever existing. Benedict Evans sums up the problems for the company as "very low margins, little scope for higher prices, content irrevocably locked up by platform owners", though does continue by considering the possibility of a device that extends the iOS ecosystem onto a TV.