Canesta has announced that it is being acquired by Microsoft. Canesta’s technology and patents could bring Microsoft a step closer to letting users control the computer with their mind, instead of a mouse.
No details of the agreement have been disclosed, but this is a strategic move on Microsoft’s part to gain access to the technology and intellectual property of the chip maker.
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.”
Canesta is the inventor of a leading single chip 3-D sensing technology platform and has a large body of intellectual property. With 44 patents granted to date and dozens more on file, the company has made breakthroughs in many areas critical to enabling natural user interfaces broadly across many platforms. Some of these include the invention of standard CMOS 3-D sensing pixels, fundamental innovations in semiconductor device physics, mixed-signal IC chip design, optics, signal processing algorithms, and computer vision software.
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.
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.