Apple Bought PrimeSense for Mapping Technology, Not for TV Ambitions

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Apple will use the PrimeSense technology for mapping, former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin’s sources have whispered.

Since the news broke that Apple had acquired the Israeli motion sensor company, PrimeSense, a wave of speculation hit the blogosphere about the iPhone maker’s future plans. The majority of them have concluded that Apple will use the technology in its rumoured iTV, but according to Jessica Lessin’s sources, the motion-sensing technology for gestural controls is “a little bit behind.”

James McQuivey of AdAge emphasized today that PrimeSense has been focusing on miniaturizing its SoC for 3D sensing, which could mean that 3D sensing could be part of the next-generation smartphones.

As McQuivey points out, a 3D sensing tool could be used to snap a picture and assess the size and structure of the objects.

[…] a phone with that capability could perhaps picture of your recently expired refrigerator, for example, and be able to immediately recommend new refrigerators that would fill the exact same space, not to mention match the colors in the rest of your kitchen.

Lessin’s sources, however, emphasize Apple’s efforts to boost its mapping service.

But PrimeSense’s technology is much more strategic for mapping, according to one person familiar with the company. In fact, companies like Matterport, which makes a camera for mapping three-dimensional spaces, use its chips.

We know Apple cares about mapping. The company bought WifiSLAM, an indoor GPS company, to help it map out malls and another indoor spaces in a race against Google, which is doing the same.

Combined with Apple’s recent acquisition, WifiSLAM, Apple could really improve its Maps application and provide “scans” of the spaces we are heading. In other words, we could say goodbye to 2D maps and hello to 3D maps.

That’s something that could really place Apple ahead of all other smartphone makers.

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