Talking tech since 2003

Over the weekend, reports started coming out that Apple was working at acquiring PrimeSense, the Israeli-based company behind Microsoft’s original Kinect. A post on AllThingsD cites the report from Israeli newspaper Calcalist that initially broke the news, which puts the purchase price at $345 million.

According to the post, the deal isn’t quite done yet, as it’s “hung up on end-game issues like liquidity preferences—in other words, who gets paid first.”

And for its part, PrimeSense issued a statement in response to the reports:

“PrimeSense is the leading 3D technology in the market. We are focused on building a prosperous company while bringing 3D sensing and Natural Interaction to the mass market in a variety of markets such as interactive living room and mobile devices. We do not comment on what any of our partners, customers or potential customers are doing and we do not relate to rumors or re-cycled rumors.”

And Apple, of course, declined to comment in total. But if the reports of the deal do turn out to be true, some other questions besides price have to be addressed—at least by those of us watching from afar. Namely—what would Apple do with PrimeSense?

A post on BGR about the story speculates that PrimeSense technology could be integrated into Apple’s rumored forthcoming iTV device—and considering the ways the PrimeSense-built Kinect was used in the Xbox 360’s various media-viewing apps, that would make a certain amount of sense. Being able to direct your television with hand gestures and voice commands was definitely one of the selling points for the Kinect…especially since Kinect-powered games left a lot to be desired.

But Apple tends to pride itself on stuff that, you know, works. There’s lots of talk that Microsoft’s next-gen Kinect, coming packed with the soon-to-launch Xbox One, will work much better than its current-gen predecessor. The old Kinect liked to see and hear things that weren’t there, and react accordingly. On more than a few occasions, I’d be watching a Mets game through the MLB.TV app that got stopped because I stretched out on the couch, or a movie would get interrupted when a character said anything that rhymed with “Xbox rewind.”

Moreover, the AllThingsD post notes that Microsoft built the new Kinect in-house, presumably based on lessons learned through working with PrimeSense. So would Apple want PrimeSense—who, let’s face it, doesn’t have a great track record in terms of the functionality of its biggest product—anywhere near its forthcoming TV product? Or might they just be snapping up PrimeSense to keep it from going to anyone else, and providing a motion-sensing edge?

My money’s on the latter. But if Apple does decide to add some motion-sensing to iTV, it’ll probably be a combined effort once PrimeSense is absorbed into the company. Let’s wait and see what happens if this deal actually goes through later this week.

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