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Intel grabs Omek gesture-recognition developer for reported $40m

Intel has closed a deal to acquire Israel-based, motion-sensing software developer Omek Interactive, the company has announced.

"The acquisition of Omek Interactive will help increase Intel's capabilities in the delivery of more immersive perceptual computing experiences," Guy Grimland, Intel's Israel public relations manager, said.

Intel is not disclosing the terms of the deal or the "timelines on future products that integrate this technology," Grimland said, but earlier, reported that the chip giant will pony up $40 million (£27 million) for Omek.

Omek Interactive, a venture-backed company founded in 2007, produces middleware such as its Beckon and Grasp development suites, which work in conjunction with 3D depth sensor cameras to convert raw depth data into usable inputs for gesture recognition and motion tracking interfaces. Intel Capital led a $7 million (£4.6 million) Round C financing round for Omek in 2011.

In recent years, Intel has taken a keen interest in developing new user interfaces for PCs and mobile devices, evangelising a panoply of touch, gesture, and voice interfaces that can be mixed and matched under the umbrella of what it calls "perceptual computing."

Touch-enabled smartphones are just a starting point for a coming revolution in user interfaces, form factors, and computing ubiquity that Intel plans to lead, the chip giant said last September at its annual Intel Developer Forum.

"Touch is just the beginning. Whoever thinks touch is the end [of interface innovation], it's not," Intel product chief Dadi Perlmutter said at IDF as he demonstrated voice-recognition technology from Nuance, a new ultrabook-optimised gesture recognition platform from SoftKinetic, and an Intel-secured NFC credit card reader for MasterCard's PayPass Wallet.

Omek Interactive is now officially part of Intel's perceptual computing vision, but Omek co-founder and CEO Janine Kutliroff has in the past indicated that the company's ambitions for its technology extend beyond just PCs and other consumer-oriented computing devices.

"[T]he ability to understand and interpret the movement of human bodies in 3D has huge implications for the entertainment, medical, fitness, and automotive industries, among others," Kutliroff told Reuters following her company's 2011 funding round.