Might Apple’s PrimeSense Buy Transform the iPhone, iPad?

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Apple has acquired PrimeSense Ltd., the Israeli chip developer that supplies the 3-D sensing technology for Microsofts Kinect and a variety of other technologies, for approximately $350 million.

So when will we see some of this technology show up on an Apple device? In about 12 to 18 months, say analysts. Perhaps the best bet is in an Apple television set, something that’s been rumored for years, but never come to fruition.

“I think every technology company is looking at user interfaces based on gestures, especially given the prevalence of cameras and sensors on smartphones and tablets,” noted Yankee Group VP of research Carl Howe, commenting specifically on a CNET article. “Buying PrimeSense now gives Apple both the technology and patents necessary to experiment with and develop gesture-based systems of its own. I wouldnt expect to see Apple clone Microsofts Kinect gaming application, but instead to use the technology to deliver new gesture-based interactions with mobile devices, laptops and iMacs. Apple might also use the gesture recognition capabilities as an additional type of user authentication; while it may be possible to use a picture to fool facial recognition software, its much harder for an impersonator to replicate the speed and size of someone elses movements.

There are other uses for the technology, not just for consumers, but in the enterprise space.

Forrester Research believes that aside from the usual handheld devices, Apple could use PrimeSense’s technology in verticals such as health care. It’s already responsible for iRobot’s Ava, a telemedicine robot operated by doctors so they can remotely check on patients. The technology could also help product designers with new interfaces or even, according to PrimeSense, food manufacturing.  

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