Kinect is just the beginning for Microsoft

Posted by Aharon Etengoff

Microsoft is signaling its determination to maintain a wide (technological) lead in the "controller-free" space by acquiring Canesta. 



Indeed, the Sunnyvale-based company specializes in 3-D sensing technology - which is typically tapped to power advanced Natural User Interfaces (NUI).

"This is very exciting news for the industry. There is little question that within the next decade we will see NUIs become common for input across all devices," Canesta CEO Jim Spare told TG Daily in an e-mailed statement.

"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."

To be sure, Canesta has developed a sophisticated, 3-D sensing technology platform and amassed a formidable intellectual property (IP) war chest of 44 patents. 

"We have made breakthroughs in [multiple] areas critical to broadly enabling natural UIs across many [devices].  



"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,"  added Spare.

So, how does the technology work?

Well, Canesta’s electronic perception platform forms 3-D, real time moving images via a single chip using light photons to "range" the image (similar to radar). 



3-D depth maps are developed in excess of 60 frames per second, while additional processing is performed to resolve the images into application-specific information.

The technique - which works in dark or bright environments - is also capable of precisely distinguishing nearby objects from low- or no-contrast backgrounds.