SAN JOSE, Calif. – Qualcomm Inc. acquired some assets of GestureTek, a developer of gesture recognition technology. The chip maker said it plans to put the gesture recognition technology into its "current and next-generation Snapdragon processors" for smartphones, tablets and other consumer devices.
Qualcomm bought unspecified intellectual property assets related to gesture recognition, as well as some engineering resources from the company that was founded in 1986. GestureTek retains some of its assets and will continuation its business in gesture-enabled digital signs. The companies did not disclose financial details of the transaction.
Prior to the deal, GestureTek said it owned eight broad patents on camera- and video-tracking that issued starting in 1996 and said it had applied for 37 others. It has developed gesture-recognition technology for displays and surfaces used in markets spanning handsets, digital signage and heath care.
The company first got its software into handsets in 2007 in a deal with Japan's DoCoMo. It also is used in handsets from HTC, Motorola, Nokia, NEC, Sony Ericsson, Samsung and LG. Licensees for other products include Panasonic, Microsoft (Xbox 360), Sanyo, Sony, IBM, and Intel.
Last year the company demonstrated its software running on Android and Symbian environments. It also supports Linux, Nucleus, Windows Mobile and Qualcomm's Brew for feature phones.
"Applications processors are enabling a range of new ways for consumers to interface with their home entertainment and mobile devices," said Steve Mollenkopf, executive vice president and group president, Qualcomm, speaking in a press release. "Our acquisition will strengthen Qualcomm's smartphone product portfolio and enable our customers to launch products with new and compelling user experiences," he added.
Gesture recognition technology will be integrated into Qualcomm's current and next-generation Snapdragon processors, giving OEMs the capability to produce smartphones, tablets and home entertainment devices with user interfaces based on natural human gestures.
The debut of the Nintendo Wii and Apple iPhone heated up the market for gesture recognition starting in 2008. Hitachi and others showed such interfaces at CES in 2009 powered by chips from Canesta and others. Microsoft Kinect, one of the fastest selling consumer products in history, further spurred work in gesture recognition with a software developers kit released in June.