PrimeSense was formed in 2005, and unless you're a sickly obsessed silicon junkie, you've probably never heard of them. All that changes today. We sat down with the company at GDC
to learn more about the chip that it produces, and we left with an imagination sore from being stretched so severely. Put simply, the company manufacturers a microchip that, when paired with off-the-shelf optics, can create a 3D grid that a computer can understand. The purpose here, as you can likely glean, is to enable PlayStation Eye
-like interactions, or as the company suggests, a "more natural" way to interface with devices you use every day. Rather than grabbing the remote to switch channels or snapping up that HTPC keyboard in order to flip through your stored DVD library, PrimeSense would rather you kick back on the sofa and gently flick your hands in order to turn to this week's Gossip Girl
or sort through those classic horror flicks.
It's important to remember that PrimeSense isn't in the business of creating hardware, but today we were shown a reference design that looks an awful lot like an enlarged webcam. The device is completely USB powered, and while the unit shown in the images and video here was obviously a standalone device, we were told that it would be possible to integrate the solution into displays and the like in the future. They also mentioned that the depth location -- which enables it to map out a room and detect your entire body -- was done on-chip, with only the associated middleware taxing the CPU. Still, they've had success running this on Atom-level processors, so there's certainly no big horsepower hang-up preventing it from hitting up a variety of markets.
More after the break...