Apple bought PrimeSense, a company which specialises in the spatial sensing technology used in products like Xbox Kinect.
History, of course, can be a fickle guide to the future, but in light of this purchase it is worth noting Apple’s two most significant new product categories – the Mac and the iPhone – owe their success in large part to the new interaction mechanisms they introduced. Will Apple achieve a similar breakthrough with spatial sensing and launch into a new product category?
For the Mac, it was the quality of the mouse used to control the interface which differentiated from it from competing PCs. With the iPhone it was the decision to use the ‘light touch’ capacitive sensing instead of the more accurate, but less satisfying, resistive touchscreen technology favoured by competitors.
You don’t have to spend much time with Kinect to realise it feels anything but natural in its current state. The theory of swiping your hands through the air to navigate an interface may be sound, but in practice it just seems stupid. If Apple leverages PrimseSense’s technology in a new product category, it will need a new approach. History suggests it is capable of this and the decision to purchase rather than simply license suggests it intends to do something different which it wishes to own as core IP.