|Subsidiary of Apple Inc.
|Acquired by Apple Inc.
PrimeSense was an Israeli 3D sensing company based in Tel Aviv. PrimeSense had offices in Israel, North America, Japan, Singapore, Korea, China and Taiwan. PrimeSense was bought by Apple Inc. for $360 million on November 24, 2013.
PrimeSense was a fabless semiconductor company and provided products in the area of sensory inputs for consumer and commercial markets.
PrimeSense's technology had been originally applied to gaming but was later applied in other fields. PrimeSense was best known for licensing the hardware design and chip used in Microsoft's Kinect motion-sensing system for the Xbox 360 in 2010. The company had been founded in 2005 to explore depth-sensing cameras which they had demonstrated to developers at the 2006 Game Developers Conference. Microsoft had been looking on its own at 3D camera technology applications to its Xbox line of consoles, and engaged with PrimeSense after the conference to help establish the direction the technology needed to go to make it into consumer-grade products, while Microsoft improved on additional software aspects and incorporated machine learning to help with motion detection.
On November 24, 2013, Apple Inc. confirmed the purchase of PrimeSense for $360 million.
PrimeSense's depth acquisition was enabled by "light coding" technology. The process coded the scene with near-IR light, light that returns distorted depending upon where things are (Structured light). The solution then used a standard off-the-shelf CMOS image sensor to read the coded light back from the scene using various algorithms to triangulate and extract the 3D data. The product analysed scenery in 3 dimensions with software, so that devices could interact with users.
The CMOS image sensor worked with the visible video sensor to enable the depth map provided by PrimeSense SoC's Carmine (PS1080) and Capri (PS1200) to be merged with the color image. The SoCs performed a registration process so the color image (RGB) and depth (D) information was aligned properly. The light coding infrared patterns were deciphered in order to produce a VGA size depth image of a scene. It delivered visible video, depth, and audio information in a synchronized fashion via the USB 2.0 interface. The SoC had minimal CPU requirements as all depth acquisition algorithms ran on the SoC itself.
PrimeSense embedded its technology in its own sensors, the Carmine 1.08 and Carmine 1.09. Capri 1.25, touted by the company as the world's smallest 3D sensor, debuted at International CES 2013.
PrimeSense developed NiTE middleware which analyzed the data from hardware and modules for OpenNI providing gesture and skeleton tracking. They were released only as binaries. According to the NiTE LinkedIn page: "Including computer vision algorithims, NiTE identifies users and tracks their movements, and provides the framework API for implementing natural-interaction UI controls based on gestures." The system could then interpret specific gestures, making completely hands-free control of electronic devices a reality. Including:
PrimeSense's original focus was on the gaming and living room markets, but expanded to include:
PrimeSense was 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. The original OpenNI project was shut down by Apple when they bought the open source software, but Occipital kept a forked version of OpenNI 2 active as an open source software for the SDK for their Structure Product.
The company provided the 3D sensing technology for the first Kinect, previously known as Project Natal.
The company was selected by MIT Technology Review magazine as one of world's 50 most innovative companies for 2011.
PrimeSense won Design Team of the Year in EE Times 2011 Annual Creativity in Electronics (ACE)
PrimeSense was honored as a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer in 2013.