from the December 2011 issue

Global technology moves to the motion of Israeli sensors

The upcoming acquisition of Invision by Intel is another step in Israel's becoming a 3D technology super-power. At the end of August, there were only four major players competing over the dominance over the 3D motion sensor market which develops technology for capturing body motion and converting it into digital information for games, home appliances and cellular devices.

Three of the four contenders, which own leading patents in the industry, are well known giant corporations Microsoft, Apple and Qualcomm. The fourth is a small Israeli company named XTR otherwise known as Extreme Reality.

The Israeli company developed technology that can turn any digital or web camera into a state of the art 3D sensor.

XTR, however, is not the only Israeli company which deals in motion capturing technology. The most well known Israeli company in the field is PrimeSense which sells 3D motion sensors to Microsoft.

The company supplies Microsoft with millions of PCBs at $10 a piece and estimates are that it cut a $100 million coupon on the sales of 10 million unites of Kinect - Microsoft's motion sensor which is based on Primesense's technology.

Calcalist revealed that another Israeli company is joining the war between the technology giant over the 3D sensor market: Intel is negotiating with Invision for the $50 million acquisition of the small Israeli company. In the long run, Invision's technology will enable Intel to launch 3D vision chips and software and market them to television, game consol, smartphone and tablet manufacturers.

The three Israeli companies are not alone: a number of other Israeli companies deal in the development of image processing technologies that incorporate complex algorithms and electro-optics to produce 3D vision systems.

"Many of these technologies came out of the army", explains XTR founder David Geva. "Many military engineers migrated to the civil industry and it is only natural that the industry is developing in Israel".

PrimeSense CEO Inon Bracha has another take on the profusion of companies in the digital imaging industry - the success of his own company. "When Ceragon Communications was established, many companies were founded in an attempt to reproduce its success but there is only one Ceragon. Most companies in Israel were not able to raise funds until the Kinect became a success and now everyone wants a piece of the action."

Izhar Shay from Canaan Partners VC fund, a key investor in PrimeSense, believes that image processing expertise is not enough and attributes Israel's success to the required multidisciplinary know-how that the local market can offer. "In order to develop a 3D vision controller, you need knowledge in video, signal development, electro-optics, ergonomics and cognitive psychology on top of expertise in all aspects of the program. It's hard to find such a combination of fields like Israel has", he says.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report December 2011

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