Microsoft Buys Rival Canesta, A Leader In 3D Sensing and Gesture Technology

Microsoft has announced that it has acquired Canesta, a leader in 3-D sensing technology and maker of chips that allow game systems and other electronic devices to recognize gesture controls. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Microsoft Buys Rival Canesta, A Leader In 3D Sensing and Gesture

Canesta is a leader in 3-D sensing technology, which is critical to making Natural User Interfaces (NUI) possible. According to Jim Spare, Canesta president and CEO, “This is very exciting news for the industry. There is little question that within the next decade we will see natural user interfaces become common for input across all devices. With Microsoft’s breadth of scope from enterprise to consumer products, market presence, and commitment to NUI, we are confident that our technology will see wide adoption across many applications that embody the full potential of the technology.

The Canesta technology works by beaming a ray of light off multiple objects in front of a CMOS receptor, like that found inside of a digital camera. But extremely high-speed timers attached to different portions of the sensor can actually detect how long it took for the reflected light to reach it, calculating the distance the features are away from it, like a very high-precision radar. This helps the chip “see” the object. Canesta is essentially the very same company, which provided the gesture control technology behind the Sony Eyetoy.

The sensing technology that Canesta provides could be built into Microsoft’s Kinect gaming sensor for Xbox. The current gaming sensor is made by PrimeSense, a rival to Canesta, according to the Times. Kinect is an Xbox add-on that gives users control of the games by using their bodies. It will go on sale on November 4.

Canesta PC Demo Video

The possibilities of using natural user interfaces are immense and it has been a focus of Microsoft’s for years.  Recently, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer called natural user interfaces one of the next big revolutions to come in technology. Ballmer gave the example of removing the mouse to connect with a computer, similar to how Kinect works.

Although Microsoft hasn’t said to what purpose it will put the Canesta technology, the company’s Kinect accessory for the Xbox uses a technology from PrimeSense to help “see” users.

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