The riff that Apple doesn’t get AI overlooks their ability to buy cutting-edge tech, to acquihire, and then to never say a word about it for years to come.
There are some companies that we know they’ve bought that figure into their AI, Siri, and voice UI ambitions. And we can draw conclusions as to what that means: Apple products not just on your person, but controlling your personal space.
But in each pundits’ run to make sense of Apple’s rumoured “Amazon Echo killer” most have overlooked one confirmed purchase. In 2013 Apple purchased PrimeSense. They’re the company responsible for the 3D sensor that made Microsoft’s Kinect possible.
In 2013, with Apple TV the only obvious product to associate it with, most analysts postulated that Apple’s purchase of PrimeSense figured into their ambitions within the home entertainment space, that it would be utilised as some kind of ‘wave your hand and control your TV’ novelty. PrimeSense’s tech will probably come to have an impact on your in-home entertainment. But don’t sell it short. Apple are great at making multifunctional devices. iPhone doesn’t sell in great volume merely because it’s a phone, nor did Apple Watch outsell Rolex because it tells you the time.
And where might PrimeSense’s 3D spacial technology have its biggest impact? Think of in-home control. A system that knows who you are and in which room of your house you’re in. A system that can control your home’s entertainment system accordingly. A system that can control every HomeKit connected-device in your house. And one that processes everything locally and privately. That wouldn’t kill Amazon Echo — it’d be more expensive — but it would innovate right past it.
The gem is that Apple wouldn’t even be the first people to attempt to use PrimeSense’s technology to do just that.