Microsoft names Israel's PrimeSense as Project Natal partner

PrimeSense's technology allows control of computer devices with body gestures.

Since US software giant Microsoft unveiled its "Project Natal" last June, there has been semi-official word that Tel Aviv-based company PrimeSense is one of the technological engines behind it. Today, Microsoft announced officially that PrimeSense's technology, which enables people to interact through gestures with computers, will be integrated into Project Natal, and will be an important part of the technological platform that allows control of Microsoft's entertainment applications through movements of the body.

PrimeSense was funded in 2005 by its president, Aviad Maizels, along with CTO Alexander Shpunt, Ophir Sharon, Tamir Berliner and Dima Rais. The company is managed by Inon Beracha. Its idea is to create a more convenient interface with computerized devices, mainly for entertainment applications such as games and multimedia content.

The company has developed a chip that digitizes the environment and can detect and analyze the movements of people present in three dimensions, so that they can control computerized systems with simple movements. So far, PrimeSense has raised some $30 million from the Gemini, Genesis, and Canaan Partners funds, and it estimates that it will not require further venture capital funding.

The first application in which Natal will make use of PrimeSense's technology is in games. The system is supposed to be launched at the end of 2010, alongside the Xbox, and it will enable users of the console to play games with physical gestures, without a keyboard or joystick.

For PrimeSesne, the importance of this is huge. In fact, it's the dream of every start up. "Microsoft is indeed a fantastic customer for us, it' something wonderful," Beracha said today. "The companies share the same vision for the interface with computing resources, and it will go far beyond games," he is convinced.

PrimeSense would not divulge details of the agreement between the two companies, but the principles are fairly clear: PrimeSsense will enjoy royalties on every sale of Natal devices. In 2009, Microsoft sold some 10 million Xbox systems, and tens of millions in recent years. The Natal system can interface with the Xbox, and it can be estimated that on every purchase of such a system, PrimeSense will earn a few dollars. It is still not clear what kind of demand there will be for the Natal system, but in any event, from the end of this year PrimeSense will have before it a promising market potentially worth tens of millions of dollars a year to it.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 31, 2010

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

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