In November 2013, Apple acquired PrimeSense, a 3-D technology sensing company that could hint at the ability for future iPhones, iPads and Macs to have a Kinect-like ability to sense where users are and react to their movements.
Given the acquisition, you’d think Apple would be the first company to use one of PrimeSense’s hot 3-D imaging systems-on-a-chip, maybe in the iPhone 6, but no. Google has beaten Apple to the punch, using PrimeSense’s Capri PS1200 3-D imaging SoC in the experimental Project Tango device, the world’s first motion-sensing smartphone.
The discovery was made by gadget vivisectors iFixIt, who found the chip during a routine teardown. They write:
This appears to be PrimeSense’s new Capri PS1200 SoC 3D imaging chip, unexpected for a couple of reasons:
Just last year, Apple bought PrimeSense, manufacturer of the Kinect’s 3D vision hardware. Speculators assumed we would be seeing this hot new hardware in an upcoming iOS device, with intent of mapping 3D spaces. Looks like Tango beat Apple to the punch with their own tech?
The truth is likely more complicated. Apple bought PrimeSense relatively recently, after Project Tango was in the pipeline. Even though Apple might intend on making PrimeSense the killer tech behind future iPhones, Cupertino was likely contractually bound to give Google the chip.
Google and Apple aren’t the only companies working on 3-D-tracking smartphones. Amazon is also rumored to be working on a smartphone for release later this year that would use as many as six different cameras to sense motion within a room.