Put your hands in the air--Intel has made another major push into the world of touch-free computing. The chip maker confirmed on Tuesday that it bought Israel-based Omek Interactive, a gesture-recognition firm. Omek (which means 'depth' in Hebrew) offers gesture-recognition products for computer and software makers that can track full-body movements as well as finer detail hand and finger gestures.
Under Intel, Omek will help the chip maker in its ongoing push to popularize perceptual computing, Intel's vision for the future where we interact with our PCs and other devices using hand gestures, voice commands, and facial tracking. "The acquisition of Omek Interactive will help increase Intel's capabilities in the delivery of more immersive perceptual computing experiences," Intel spokesperson Guy Grimland said.
Intel representatives show off the company's perceptual computing efforts at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this past March.
Intel hopes to see perceptual computing go mainstream in the near future. In March, Intel was at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco talking up its perceptual computing platform. In June, the company's investment arm, Intel Capital, announced a $100 million fund to invest in software and application projects involving perceptual computing. In late 2012, the company released a software development kit (SDK) to help developers take advantage of Intel's new interactive capabilities. Intel also recently closed the submission process for its Perceptual Computing Challenge, a contest with a $100,000 grand prize for the best use of the company's new technology.
A successful perceptual computing push could add a flood of new user experiences to the PC and give the desktop a new cool factor that pushes people to snap up PCs capable of using the new features. "Intel wants to be leading the industry in the next generation of device interaction," says Patrick Moorhead, Patrick Moorhead, founder and principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy. "[The Omek] acquisition adds to a collection of perceptual computing technologies owned by Intel. Additionally, these technologies soak up a lot of computing resources, which is good for the company."
But don't count on seeing a flood of perceptual computing applications just yet. "It's going to take several years for this technology to spread as processing power improves, and gesture libraries further mature and develop," says IDC's Michael J. Palma, research manager for consumer semiconductor and electronics manufacturing (IDC and PCWorld are both owned by International Data Group). Palma doesn't expect to see perceptual computing go mainstream for at least another two to four years.
Plans in motion
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