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Apple granted patent for detecting touch-free gestures at close-range, building on multi-touch

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Apple was today granted a patent for detecting touch-free gestures at close range, the patent language suggesting that the approach could build on the capabilities of multi-touch and 3D touch to respond to fingers hovering close to an iPhone or iPad display, as well as use on keyboards and trackpads.

The patent describes using sensors similar to the proximity detectors used to disable accidental touch input on the iPhone screen when you’re holding the phone to your face during a call. Unlike longer-range gesture technologies like Kinect, the system would detect ‘hover events’ just above the surface of the screen …



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Opinion: Why has Apple bought Faceshift? Six intriguing possibilities …

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Not too long after the first rumors surfaced, Apple has given its usual non-confirmation that it has acquired Faceshift, the company behind the technology Star Wars used to animate the faces of CGI characters. It’s not an obvious fit for Apple, so what could be the thinking behind the purchase?

Like Apple’s patents, it is sometimes easy, I think, to read too much into some of the company’s acquisitions. Sure, it doesn’t go around acquiring companies randomly, but it may not always be after the complete package. It may well be that there is some small element of the company’s technology that Apple wants, or it may be an acquihire – where it’s the engineers rather than the specific tech the company wants.

But in this particular case, there is reason to suspect that Apple does have an interest in the broad brush-strokes of what Faceshift does … 

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Sources say new Apple TV box likely coming soon, App/Game Store possible

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We’ve learned that Apple is making progress on its development of a successor to the current Apple TV and that the device is well into testing. We are led to believe that the new device, which is said to be a set-top box rather than a full-fledged TV set, will likely be introduced in the first half of 2014. We understand that the product will include a revamped operating system that will be based on iOS. Of course, release timeframes with these type of products can quickly change due to the content partners that are involved in such products…



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Apple reportedly purchases PrimeSense, the Israeli 3D body sensor firm behind Microsoft Kinect for $345M

According to Israeli publication Calcalist.co.il, Apple has purchased PrimeSense, the company behind the original Microsoft Kinect’s technology somewhere near a valuation in the $345M range. According to the report, a delegation of PrimeSense senior executives visited Apple’s engineering offices in recent days. The purchase would bolster Apple’s living room TV interface offerings and allow Apple to add controls with body movements and hand gestures to its products.

Calcalist reported in July that Apple was mulling a purchase for somewhere in the neighborhood of $280M.  PrimeSense had issued a denial that it was in talks to be bought by Apple. As we know with past history surrounding these type of matters, company denials don’t often mean much in the grand scheme of things.

Apple purchased Israeli Flash chip optimization company Anobit in late 2011 for $400M+, also originally reported by Calcalist. The company now functions as one of Apple’s R&D centers in-country…

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Extreme Reality SDK gives any iOS game Kinect-like motion control, now open to all devs

Extreme Reality, a company that has been developing motion capture technology that Sega and others have used in PC & mobile games, today announced it is opening up its SDK to all developers. The software works with any 2D camera and allows devs to easily capture and analyze motion for games and apps. Think Microsoft’s Kinect, but with Extreme Reality motion is captured with an iOS device’s built-in FaceTime camera rather than bulky, expensive external hardware:

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Report: Apple mulling $280M purchase of PrimeSense, the Israeli 3D body sensor firm behind Microsoft Kinect

A series of reports from Israeli publication Calcalist.co.il claims PrimeSense, the company behind the original Microsoft Kinect’s technology, is in acquisition talks with Apple, somewhere near a valuation in the $280-300M range.  According to the report, a delegation of PrimeSense senior executives visited Apple’s engineering offices in recent days. The purchase would bolster Apple’s living room TV interface offerings and allow Apple to add controls with body movements and hand gestures to its products.

Apple purchased Israeli Flash chip optimization company Anobit in late 2011 for $400M+, also originally reported by Calcalist. The company now functions as one of Apple’s R&D centers in country.

We’ve heard previously that Apple is working on such 3D gesture interface and may have already been licensing IP from the Israeli firm and/or its competitors. At $280M, Apple may believe it’s better to own this IP and technology rather than let others have access to it in the future.

Apple has its own patents on similar 3D technology and has been working on its own gesture-controlled OS (below).

Microsoft used the sensor technology that PrimeSense developed for its original Kinect, previously known as Project Natal, but has since replaced the technology with its own in-house technology for 3D body mapping and movement.

PrimeSense went on to work with Asus on its WAVI Xtion living room home media controller (video) and has since shrunk chips down to be used in tablets and phones (another area of  Apple interest)

PrimeSense was founded in 2005 and is a founding member of OpenNI, an industry-led non-profit organization formed to certify and promote the compatibility and interoperability of Natural Interaction (NI) devices, applications and middleware.

Update: PrimeSense has issued a denial that it is currently in talks to be bought by Apple. As we know with past history surrounding these type of matters, the company’s claims might not mean much.



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Apple is selling almost 1,000 iPhone 4Ss/minute, setting it up to be the fastest selling gadget ever

Shawn Blanc (via The Next Web) calculated this morning that Apple is selling 16 iPhone 4Ss a second, or roughly 1,000 a minute. Blanc’s figuring comes after Apple announced this morning that there were 4 million iPhone 4Ss sold its opening three-day weekend. Figures are also expected to expand as the iPhone 4S is introduced in 22 more countries on the 24th.

Reaching this milestone, Apple is on tract to pass Microsoft’s Kinect as the fastest selling consumer device of all time. Microsoft sold 8 million Kinects in the first 60 days, a number Apple could theoretically pass in the first two weeks.

The success of the iPhone 4S is most likely helped by a few factors:

  1. The availability on three U.S. carriers: AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. AT&T and Sprint both announced opening day sales records on Friday. The iPhone 4 was only on AT&T in the US its opening day.
  2. iPhone 4 was released in 5 countries. iPhone 4S was also available in Canada and Australia in addition.
  3. iPhone 4 saw serious product shortages while it appears that Apple made plenty of iPhone 4Ss (OK, maybe not)
  4. There was a longer than normal wait time between the iPhone 4 and 4S (15 months)
  5. iPhone 4S is amazing.

We’re sure to hear more in Apple’s FYQ4 earnings call tomorrow afternoon.



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Apple patents projector technology and “Shared Projected Workspace” concept for MacBooks and iOS devices

There certainly isn’t a shortage of Apple patents being published today (probably more fuel for a legal battle a year from now). We just told you about a new Map related (Placebase acquisition) patent, and now Patently Apple reports Apple has been granted a patent that will allow them to integrate tiny projectors into future mobile devices.

This latest patent describes, in rather clear detail, exactly how Apple could integrate projectors into iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks. It even suggests Apple cameras will be able to detect gestures and “shadows and/or silhouettes” (Kinect-style iOS games anyone?).

The patent also describes what Apple calls a “shared projected workspace”. This appears to essentially be the ability for users to share content with one another over two projected displays. For example, if I were to project an image from one iOS device, and you from another, we could then share content (via gestures?) between both displays. The patent explains:


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