Who? Tear down a Microsoft Kinect game sensor, and you’ll find that PrimeSense provides the core technology that does the key function of the motion-sensing and related processing in it. We posted a teardown of it just before Christmas, and found the PrimeSense PS1080 inside.
PrimeSense PS1080 in Microsoft Kinect
I just had a great interview with Shlomo Zippel, Applications and User Experience Engineer (I love his title) and Iris Finkelstein, Director of Marketing at PrimeSense. Iris and Shlomo were kind enough to bring me into their booth to discuss today and the future. They showed me to a demo system/reference platform for their new kit that they have provided to ASUS.
Some background: PrimeSense has grown from 30 employees to 140 employees in three years. They doubled over the last year with the release of the Microsoft Kinect.
I asked about the technology being used and they confirmed what we had researched on the chip. Back a few years ago they considered the Time of Flight technology, but realized that the there was not a roadmap to reduce the cost of the sensors. So they turned to what they offer now, the IR LED and the standard VGA CIS (CMOS Image sensor) from Micron / Aptina. This was far cheaper as CIS devices had already been scaled up in wafer size and adopted in every camera phone, so the cost per chip for them was next to nothing. They were able to keep the BOM for the cameras cheap and focus on the image processing ASIC.
Xtion Motion Sensor Development Pack using Primesense
When I asked about the future, Shlomo told me that ASUS was one of their new customers and it was ASUS’ vision to offer PC based gaming systems using gesture recognition. PrimeSense believes they will have more customers like ASUS in the future.
PrimeSense sees gesture recognition as the future of home controls for things like heating and ventilation or lighting. They see a lower horsepower image processing engine needed to process a lower resolution image. By projecting fewer IR points into the room, they drop the resolution. But to recognize a simple on/off, raise/lower, gesture you do not need so much image processing horsepower. So the BOM for a home control system becomes very simple and cheap; an IR LED, a VGA CIS and a low end image processing engine. Can you imagine multiple gesture recognition systems throughout your house? Talk about hundreds of millions of units. That is far greater volume than a gaming system.
I wish them luck and we’ll keep a close eye on PrimeSense over the coming months and years. Viva Las Vegas!