Apple Purchases PrimeSense, Opening Up New Computing Experiences – And Enterprise Solutions

Apple has completed an acquisition of the Israeli firm PrimeSense, a sensing company whose technology has powered Microsoft’s popular Xbox Kinect for Xbox 360. (Microsoft moved to an in-house technology for the Xbox Kinect for Xbox One).

For the consumer market, Apple’s purchase opens up a number of tantalizing product possibilities:

  • Apple TV. The long-rumored Apple television set – as well as the long-extant AppleTV set top device – could both benefit from motion-sensing and depth/color sensing, particularly for next-generation interactive television applications.
  • Mobile and wearable products. PrimeSense has made a strong effort to miniaturize its components, and the next logical step would be to embed its technologies into mobile or wearable computing products. While often seen as a motion-sensing technology, PrimeSense is at base a depth- and color- perception technology that could potentially someday be used to recognize people – or to help the blind navigate the streets.
  • Customized e-commerce. In 2011, I wrote a report suggesting that Kinect and other sensing technologies could be used by companies to offer mass customized clothing and furniture. Imagine scanning your house – or your body – to receive custom-build cabinets or bespoke clothing shipped to you in short order. PrimeSense technology can already empower these mass customized scenarios.

Perhaps just as interestingly, PrimeSense powers a number of interesting enterprise technology solutions. Apple has traditionally proved averse to articulating an enterprise-specific marketing and sales strategy, preferring to focus on end users – be they consumers or workers. But PrimeSense’s enterprise portfolio is meaty, including (but not limited to) a number of vertical scenarios:

  • Healthcare. PrimeSense technology powers iRobot’s Ava, a telemedicine robot that displays a remote doctor’s face and checks vitals and collects other information.
  • Manufacturing. PrimeSense drives a number of manufacturing scenarios, including helping product designers with next-generation interactive design interfaces, like Ayotle’s solution.
  • CPG. According to PrimeSense, its technology can be applied to food manufacturing – creating food production lines that are  “accurately counted, sorted, inspected for quality based on predefined parameters, given a volume calculation, and much more.”

Ultimately, Apple’s acquisition of PrimeSense gives the company additional ammunition in the drive to innovate its products – as well as a new foothold in the enterprise-focused technology market.

To learn more about PrimeSense and companies like it, Forrester clients can check out this report by Michael Yamnitsky and Sophia Vargas.

J. P. Gownder is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research serving Infrastructure & Operations Professionals. Follow him on Twitter at @jgownder.

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