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Apple's secret plans for PrimeSense 3D tech hinted at by new itSeez3D iPad app

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Apple has remained silent on its plans for PrimeSense, the 3D scanning firm it acquired last November. But a new iPad app based on some of the same underlying technology--which allows users to quickly capture three dimensional models for use in CAD and 3D printing via a third party peripheral--indicates that Apple may be planning to integrate the tech into future iPads as a differentiating feature.



The itSeez3D app, currently free in the App Store for a limited time, uses an iPad-connected Structure Sensor to facilitate the 3D capture of the structure of objects (or people, above), which can then be automatically wrapped with a full color surface appearance.

itSeez's app uploads its captured data to the cloud for advance processing, delivering a "complete 3D model within minutes" the company states. The software can share 3D models in standard .ply or .obj formats, which can be imported into CAD software or sent to 3D printers for building real life replicas.



"While this used to require an expensive 3D scanning unit," Itseez stated in a press release, "anyone with an iPad and Structure Sensor can now capture and share high resolution 3D models. Recreational users can also use this professional-grade technology for home design projects and the fun of turning family and toys into 3D models."

3D sensors for iPad, Xbox, PCs



The Itseez app requires an iPad outfitted with a 3D scanner. It's designed to work with the Structure Sensor (below), an iPad peripheral originally developed as a Kickstarter project.

Billed as the "first 3D sensor for mobile devices," the $499 sensor package includes a Skanect Pro sensor with an iPad-attaching bracket and a hacker cable for hobbyists.



The Skanect product is based on 3D capture research by PrimeSense, which was founded in 2005 and named as a partner in Microsoft's Project Natal in 2010. Microsoft developed the technology into its depth sensing Kinect sensor for Xbox games.



PrimeSense subsequently developed its own mobile sized 3D sensor aimed at tablets, code-named Capri. It also created OpenNI ("Natural Interaction") as an open source framework for working with depth-captured body motion and hand tracking, as well as other forms of "natural interaction" including voice command recognition, largely oriented around Microsoft's vision for Kinect.

PrimeSense subsequently created a partnership with Asus to create a Kinect-like sensor for PCs, demonstrated under the name Wavi Xtion in 2011, a device Engadget referred to as fitting into Asus' "reputation for announcing wonderfully wacky peripherals every year."

Apple to exercise PrimeSense



Last November, Apple acquired PrimeSense for $345 million, in a move that appears to have a lot in common with the company's 2012 acquisition of AuthenTec for nearly the same amount: $356 million.

Just like Authentec, PrimeSense has a premium technology ready for inclusion in mobile devices. Also like Authentec's advanced fingerprint sensor, the compact Capri sensor assembly developed by PrimeSense is a relatively expensive component that got little attention from budget-oriented manufacturers building the majority of iPad competitors.



Further, in the same way that Apple enhanced Authentec's Smart Sensor (pictured above) in the roughly 18 months between urgently acquiring the company and delivering TouchID for iPhone 5s, Apple is expected to significantly improve upon the mobile Capri sensor PrimeSense first began demonstrating at the beginning of 2013, nearly a full year before Apple bought the company.



The possible inclusion of a mobile 3D capture sensor in future iPads would open up a variety of innovative new applications for Apple's tablets, using hardware and software technology that other tablet makers would be unlikely find cost effective to copy.

Prior to being acquired by Apple, PrimeSense created a video (below) depicting a variety of potential uses of its technology, ranging from business presentations, to building and home automation, to TV navigation and games, to automotive integration, to medical applications, to mobile shopping to a hands free interface for MacBooks and iPads, touching a wide variety of parallel initiatives at Apple.



In a potential bid to advance its leadership over the development of mobile 3D imaging, Apple abandoned the OpenNI group PrimeSense had been hosting to facilitate community development of its technology. The original code and documentation have since been hosted by GitHub, while Apple itself has been laying the foundation for new 3D gaming and other initiatives in OS X and iOS with Scene Kit, first introduced in 2011 for OS X Lion and slated for inclusion in iOS 8 this fall.

Building the equivalent of a $499 Skanect package into future iPads would bring 3D room sensing, object scanning and greatly simplified access to 3D model printing to Apple's vast audience of iPad users, while also offering another proprietary advantage to Apple's iOS ecosystem that will be--like TouchID and Apple's 64-bit A7 Application Processor with advanced Metal optimized graphics--difficult for commodity tablets to copy.
post #2 of 17
APIs available to developers in Apple's development environment do not reflect any hidden functions in iOS 8. This company's product has no relation to any current or future plans for Apple.
Edited by SpamSandwich - 7/11/14 at 4:32pm

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #3 of 17

Couldn’t their acquisition of a 3D scanning company just be for the manufacture of their own products? Seems pointless to put a scanner on consumer crap.

post #4 of 17
As long as we do not destroy ourselves.., the future will be amazing,
post #5 of 17
Some third part app "indicates that Apple may be planning to integrate the tech into future iPads"????

The chain of evidence is short... and broken.
post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

APIs available to developers in Apple's development environment do not reflect any hidden functions in iOS 8. This company's product has no relation to any current or future plans for Apple.

 

someone that actually uses logic. It's so refreshing. 

 

And spot on. 

 

Yes it is possible, even likely, that Apple is going to work in this tech somehow but what an app does means zilch to what Apple is up to. Hell for all we know, the tech they bought helped them to create Metal and that's all they wanted it for

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

Some third part app "indicates that Apple may be planning to integrate the tech into future iPads"????

The chain of evidence is short... and broken.

 

Kind of like someone's post lunch 'purge' this afternoon. and they even smell about the same

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

Reply

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #8 of 17
Fear and hostility to novelty is much in evidence in this thread. A little reflection will reward the imaginative person with the certainty that the digital capture, storage and reproduction of 3D objects is as important an advance as photography..

Naturally the visionaries at Apple would be expected to be leading an integrated, end-to-end approach to working out the details of making the technology practical.
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

Fear and hostility to novelty is much in evidence in this thread. A little reflection will reward the imaginative person with the certainty that the digital capture, storage and reproduction of 3D objects is as important an advance as photography..

Naturally the visionaries at Apple would be expected to be leading an integrated, end-to-end approach to working out the details of making the technology practical.

+1

Also this from the start of the article:
Quote:
Apple has remained silent on its plans for PrimeSense, the 3D scanning firm it acquired last November

So the theory is Apple bought prime sense for no reason, and the sighting of some of the same tech in certain apps probably means nothing? Wow.

There are revolutionary products from Apple surely on the way. To imagine there won't be is an insult to all the people who worked with Steve Jobs and learned from him and who are extremely good at what they do.

Carplay is just one example but it's absolutely huge. Maybe not directly monetarily but for the halo effect. People in high priced cars interacting with apple technology every time they get in their cars. And wondering how they ever tolerated crap like microsoft's clunky and erratic SYNC for Ford cars or other crap by virtually every car manufacturer even very nice cars.

I have owned one Mercedes and two Volvo and they were beautiful cars with ridiculously clunky audio interfaces, even though the last Volvo sounded pretty good. My last two cars have been Ford with the Microsoft SYNC. It is an absolute crap UI once you're used to dealing with iOS and OSX. Getting Bluetooth reconnected every time you go into your car is like a four step process, even if you just shut off to fuel up or to be environmentally friendly when stuck in traffic. It's ridiculous.

What this means is Apple is moving into areas of expertise where they will surely excel, but everyone says it's a stupid move, just like Ballmer when asked about the iPhone. Those of us who understand Apple knew that it was cool shit, long before the majority of people understood what was going on with the iPhone and how it was changing *everything* in cell phones.

Apple acquires a 3d company and is incorporating the tech into the iPad and developing products most of us haven't even though of as a serious consumer or prosumer application. Yeah that's REALLY far fetched /s

How about an architect using this technology, relatively inexpensively. Imagine if you could provide 3d models of $500,000 homes at a cost that made sense.

How about art students, general contractors, machinists. How about doctors using it to be able to "print out" an exact replica of a human heart and plan a congruent strategy with his team on the model, before surgery? How about kids using it for art projects? Learn how and create your own toys kit - wouldn't that be a hit?! A realtor giving a 3d map of the area the couple is relocating to, before they get out looking at homes. It's going to be endless what this technology can do.
Edited by joseph_went_south - 7/12/14 at 2:19am
post #10 of 17
@joseph_went_south, interesting. So I see Carplay is a very big deal, thinking about it from this point of view. (I'm not a candidate since I stubbornly keep a small stable of ancient VWs for transport. It's a California thing.)

But the idea is that the car is going to get grafted to the Apple ecosystem, along with the home and the personal walkaround space. Now we're talking here about Apple extending into the object-manufacturing space. Actually the acquisition of 3D data can go a number of ways, as has been suggested, like street-view or interior mapping, and like you say, into all kinds of object and model-making. The imagination staggers. One gives thanks that Steve Jobs set up this machine for invention, which the unknowing comically accuse of having lost its "mojo." It looks more like they're just getting started. I wonder if they'll go into 3D printers . . .
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

Fear and hostility to novelty is much in evidence in this thread. A little reflection will reward the imaginative person with the certainty that the digital capture, storage and reproduction of 3D objects is as important an advance as photography..

Naturally the visionaries at Apple would be expected to be leading an integrated, end-to-end approach to working out the details of making the technology practical.

I agree with you and with @joseph_went_south!  When the iPhone first appeared, it was like magic from the future.  That's what people want to buy from Apple.  Adding some new magic to next generation devices is exactly what's needed to get us all in line again, waiting to jump forward in time again!

post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

@joseph_went_south, interesting. So I see Carplay is a very big deal, thinking about it from this point of view. (I'm not a candidate since I stubbornly keep a small stable of ancient VWs for transport. It's a California thing.)

depenidng on your model, you may still be a candidate for CarPlay there are a number of aftermarket vendors with CarPlay implementations.
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

Fear and hostility to novelty is much in evidence in this thread. A little reflection will reward the imaginative person with the certainty that the digital capture, storage and reproduction of 3D objects is as important an advance as photography..

The membership is simply being consistent.
http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/179932/google-reportedly-developing-project-tango-tablet-with-3d-mapping-capabilities
melior diabolus quem scies
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melior diabolus quem scies
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post #14 of 17
They have some neat gesture patents, but most of it was open in the first place. And if you look at Apple's org chart, Imaging and Gestures/interface fall under the same hardware manager. 

 

I agree with the thoughts that PrimeSense was purchased 1) for manufacturing technology 2) to get a leg in the door in Israel. Israel is the Silicon Valley of the middle east, with lots of investment capital, amazing talent, and a huge retail opportunity (if the government lets Apple in). Israel is VERY strict on it's technology import/distribution laws. Big companies have to play very hard to sell there, and taking things OUT is even harder. Hiring the tech team that worked closely with M$ in the Holy Land kills three birds: get some patents of value (gesture tech), get some idea of the competition's culture (find out if they had any interests in consumer use of the product beyond Xbox before buying the other scanning company), and have native Apple employees on the ground in Israel that have already been working on the tech export/import architecture (possibly start a management base for retail as well). 

 

Check out 3D system's stand alone 3D scanner for $300 or their iPad connected one for $400 for prior art (http://www.3dsystems.com/isense-3d-systems). I'm a HUGE prosumer 3D printer evangelist; elementary kids should be learning how to make 3D things, and scanners are a great way to start replicating the world-beyond-print. But the pro market makes spaceship engine parts, and the hobby segment requires patience (something the buying public doesn't have), so it's not going to be on Apple's scopes anytime soon.

post #15 of 17
Maps
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by chazwatson View Post

Maps


Not exterior. The IR technology that PrimeSense uses is not appropriate for fly-over style or even google street view. You would have to project an infrared image strong enough to bounce back and be seen from hundreds of feet (street view) to a mile up (fly-over). That kind of energy would be a bit hard to output. I think you would cook anyone from your plane if you wanted precise 3d details. Not terrible for interior mapping

post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by chazwatson View Post

Maps

More specificly interior-GPS, and potentially autonomous vehicle mapping. Right now Google has to stick 200K worth of LIDAR equipment to their cars. Imagine doing the same thing accurately with CMOS cameras and IR, and you have something (which is how Kinect does it.)

As for practicality. As a game thing, the Kinect has been a flop for everything except motion-rhythm games(DDR, ParaPara, Pump It Up, and such,) and mandating the accessory on the Xbox One basically doomed the platform because no developer in their right mind would make a game harder just by requiring motion control for some part of the game that would be easier done just with the controller.

Honestly, I'm surprised there aren't motion games designed for putting the player/avatar into games or simple motion capture for amateur video-game creation. Seems like only two pieces of software outside the Xbox really got any traction and they were both OpenNI MoCap http://www.vocaloidism.com/mmd-gets-real-time-motion-capture-add-on-using-kinect/ and http://www.kinecthacks.com/kinect-hack-on-valves-source-engine-garrys-mod/ , and even then it seems like the accuracy is pretty poor.
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