Intel Buys Israeli Gesture Recognition Startup Omek for $40 Million

Intel Buys Israeli Gesture Recognition Startup Omek for $40 Million

Intel has bought Omek Interactive, an Israeli-based gesture recognition startup, for $40 million.

Intel (INTC) has ponied up $40 million to snap up Israeli gesture recognition startup Omek Interactive, founded in 2006 by a husband and wife team Gershom and Janine Kutliroff and backed by $13.8 million in venture capital, about half of which came in Series C funding from the chip giant itself.

According to Geektime, an Israeli technology news blog, Intel bested Samsung and Qualcomm (QCOM) for Omek, whose technology is used in automobiles, casinos and arcades, consumer electronics, video games, health care and digital signage.

Omek’s software enables computers to recognize gestures, from face analysis and tracking; hand, finger and gesture tracking; and 2D/3D object tracking to speech recognition—part of a class of technology referred to as perceptual computing. Intel has plunked R&D money into perceptual computing, offering developers an SDK and making it the central focus of a hack-a-thon called the Perceptual Computing Challenge to encourage developers to create innovative applications.

Intel confirmed the transaction in an email to CNET but declined to provide any further details.

"The acquisition of Omek Interactive will help increase Intel's capabilities in the delivery of more immersive perceptual computing experiences," said an Intel spokesperson.

According to the Geektime report, some of Intel’s interest in Omek stems from wanting to pack as much power onto its chips as possible.

“While chip-fab giants are locked in a protracted battle to squeeze as much power as possible out of every nanometer on their latest core processors, the search for worthy power-eating technologies to justify the need for yearly chip version upgrades is an integral part of the hardware industries market management strategy,” wrote Geektime’s Avi Schneider.

With touch serving as the gateway to newer technologies such as smart watches and other wearable devices, as well as smart televisions, developers of Omek's ilk have moved into more advantageous positions as market makers—including Intel—make sure they’ve prepared for the next wave in computing.

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