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 …
Apple has recently hired a lead engineer from Microsoft’s HoloLens team, leading to more speculation that it could be working on its own augmented reality project behind the scenes.
Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster first spotted the change of positions for Nick Thompson, who was reportedly previously leading audio hardware engineering efforts for Microsoft’s Hololens augmented reality project:
The WSJ is suggesting that Apple’s growing presence in Israel is focused on expanding the company’s chip design capabilities, reporting that it has hired most of the local employees of a chip design company shut down by Texas Instruments and is advertising new positions in silicon and semiconductor design.
“Apple’s Israeli acquisitions and its expanding local workforce show that the company is becoming more and more independent on the chip level, where it once had to rely on external suppliers,” said Shlomo Gradman, chairman of the Israeli Semiconductor Club.
While the report contains more speculation than hard fact, we noted yesterday that Tim Cook–who is currently visiting the country–is accompanied by Johny Srouji, whose bio on the Apple website says that he “leads all custom silicon architecture and development” …
Apple is opening up a new suite of offices inside Israel this week, with CEO Tim Cook reportedly visiting Israel in part to inaugurate the new workspace. Recent reports have indicated that the offices will hold approximately 800 employees across 180,000 square feet of space.
Today, Israel-based website GSM-Israel has published purported photos of the upcoming new Apple space in Herzliya. The construction, features, and tables are all in line with Apple’s offices in others parts of the world. A full gallery of the new offices can be viewed below.
Apple has a history of working in Israel from purchases of companies like Anobit and PrimeSense, to the construction of research and development offices. Cook has also previously met with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During this upcoming visit, Cook will reportedly meet with former President Shimon Peres.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is traveling through the United States this week for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual conference, and he is scheduled to meet with Apple CEO Tim Cook today. The meeting plans were revealed on the Prime Minister’s Twitter account earlier this week:
Apple is steadily focused on enhancing and innovating the camera system on its hardware, the iPhone in particular, and the tea leaves unsurprisingly suggest we should expect further progress in iPhotography.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark office recently granted Apple a patent entitled ‘producing stereoscopic image,’ as noted by AppleInsider, which describes a process in which two similar images are intelligently combined to create an artificial sense of depth within the photo.
The camera system on the latest iPhone hardware already supports a number of algorithm-driven features such as HDR (high dynamic range) photography in which an over exposed and under exposed image are matched together to produce a greater dynamic range of lighting.
Just last month, the company was awarded a patent describing a Light Field camera with the ability to refocus images already captured hinting at which photography advancements we should anticipate in future hardware.
Globes reports that Apple has completed its purchase of PrimeSense, the Israel-based firm behind the technology in Microsoft’s Kinect sensor, and Apple confirmed the acquisition to AllThingsD. As noted earlier this year, the deal will cost Apple somewhere between $300-350 million. PrimeSense previously denied any talks with Apple.
On Friday, the acquisition of Israeli gesture recognition company PrimeSense Ltd. by Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) was closed. The deal, which has not been formally announced, was made at a company value of $300-350 million, and follows lengthy negotiations by PrimeSense with several potential buyers.
The sensor firm is no longer working with Microsoft, as the Xbox manufacturer has moved to all in-house work for its latest Kinect-based technology. With Apple reportedly working on a gesture-controlled 3D interface, possibly for some sort of television-related product (or a media hub to rival the Xbox One, perhaps?), the PrimeSense purchase makes perfect sense.
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…
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.
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 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.