Intel buys Omek Interactive for $40M: Raises the ante on Perceptual Computing
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Photo Credit: Screenshot, Image processed - from Omek Interactive

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Image processed - from Omek Interactive

According to sources within both companies, Intel has closed with Israeli gesture recognition and tracking technology firm Omek Interactive for $40M

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Image processed - from Omek Interactive

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Image processed – from Omek Interactive

According to sources within both companies, Intel has closed with Israeli gesture recognition and tracking technology firm Omek Interactive for $40M.

Rumors of the negotiations have been running rampant since late March, with Qualcomm and Samsung being thrown around as possible competitors for courting the Beit Shemesh based company. Intel has always been the favorite for the final purchase though, already having led Omek’s series C round for $7M nearly a year ago in July of 2011.

But it isn’t just about the money. No seriously this time. Intel has made perceptual computing an integral part of their R&D investment strategy for a while now, choosing Perceptual Computing as the topic of their latest Hackathon event and Israel as the location. Fittingly, considering the startup nation has been at the forefront of this emerging field ever since it ceased being fiction.

The perception of hardware

So what’s a hardware company like Intel doing crossing over to the other side of the tracks and mixing with coding riff raff like Omek Interactive and Perceptual Computing, anyway?

Well, 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. Device companies must be convinced of the need to design their products to support the more expensive vanguard models of the processing world, placing the need for innovation above price point, and even quality in some cases.

As such, terminator-like directives of ‘Seek and Acquire’ are becoming more common for hardware multinationals, with small hardcore tech startups like Omek Interactive serving as the red meat of prime hunting grounds for these kinds of purchases – of which, Israel is one of the choicest spots.

Intel and Qualcomm both already have a heavy presence in Israel, with Qualcomm actually being neighbors of Omek in their home town of Beit Shemesh and Intel residing not far off in Kiryat Gat. Will we be seeing Samsung opening up a manufacturing base here in the foreseeable future?

The long and short version

Omek Interactive has two main solutions for long and short range gesture recognition:

Beckon – works on full body tracking and gesture interfaces ideal for gaming or hands-free TV (think Wii or Xbox).

Grasp – is the company’s latest product and deals with ‘fine’ gesture tracking working at distances as close as 10 cm. This kind of tracking sensitivity opens up a whole range of possibilities in the spheres of PC, mobile and even automotive.

Omek Interactive was founded by husband and wife team, Gershom and Janine Kutliroff in 2006. The company received both of its earlier rounds of funding from ff Venture Capital in late 2008 and early 2011, amounting to $6.8M and making the total investment before the buyout $13.8M.

Video: Omek Interactive – Grasp

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Avi Schneider

About Avi Schneider


Global editor and writer for Geektime, author of the book 'How To Fight For Your Goals: Social Combat Theory' and the SocialCombatMedia.wordpress blog, founder of Cluboom and former senior writer for Blonde 2.0. Schneider is an orthodox Jew, husband, father, martial artist, writer, speaker - overall Jack of all trades and a master of jack (but working on it).

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