In the first of several expected important announcements by Israeli companies at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), two Israeli gesture-technology companies — PointGrab and eyeSight — announced separately that their respective technologies would be integrated into the products of two tech giants. eyeSight’s gesture technologies will be integrated into new, advanced processing units from processor giant AMD; and PointGrab’s hand-gesture control software will be included in Samsung smart televisions.
The fact that two Israeli companies are making deals with corporations on the scale of AMD and Samsung is notable, but not really surprising; The two companies, between them, control some 95% of the 2-D gesture-technology market.
The two companies are rivals, since they are seeking out the same customers. Both companies’ technologies offer similar results: Interacting with webcams or other cameras on a device, both systems let users employ pre-programmed gestures, like waving a hand to move to the next photo in an online album, grabbing to select objects on a screen, or using a hand motion to switch to the next song on a playlist. And both technologies have a machine-learning capability that lets users add more complicated or unique gestures, and both can be installed by manufacturers using an SDK, or integrated into a chipset.
In the contest for customers, PointGrab has been the clear winner; according to the company, it makes 90% of the two-dimensional hand-gesture recognition software, and its system is present in equipment from companies such as Lenovo, Fujitsu, Acer, Toshiba, Asus, and Haier. eyeSight’s system accounts for the majority of the rest of the market.
Industry sources said that the two companies have been working on the Samsung contract for months. An announcement by PointGrab at CES — which is taking place this week in Las Vegas — indicated that it was the winner of that contest. The PointGrab software will be integrated into the next generation of Samsung smart TVs: Users will be able to interact with a built-in 2-D camera, to do anything they would be able to do with a remote control — hand gestures to flip channels, raise or lower the volume; zooming or rotating an image; and other controls. Since the TVs can be used to access Internet sites as well, users get the extra bonus of being able to control a PC with no need for a mouse.
If losing the Samsung contract was a blow to eyeSight, the company got a decent “makeup prize”: Its technology has been integrated into AMD’s upcoming Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) platforms “Richland” and “Temash,” which include a high-performance computer and graphics processor, with very low power consumption. The system is intended primarily for desktop, laptop and tablet PCs. eyeSight’s 2-D recognition software has been integrated into AMD’s Gesture Control system, allowing the processors to process gestures with optimal speed, accuracy and efficiency, eyeSight said in a statement.
Both companies were quite satisfied with their victories. “We are proud to partner with a world leader in implementing and offering new ways of interaction between TVs and consumers,” said Haim Perski, PointGrab CEO. “PointGrab will continue to strive to offer the best technology to support Samsung in this mission. We believe hand-gesture control brings value to consumers when interacting with their TV, enabling them to control and interact in an intuitive and direct human way, making man-machine interaction as simple as an interaction between two people.”
Meanwhile, eyeSight CEO Gideon Shmuel said that “working with AMD to bring gesture control to their 2013 APUs in this way is really significant. AMD’s solution will clearly be a very attractive option for any OEM looking to build a PC, laptop or tablet with gesture control functionality.”
If only all tech rivalries could be resolved so amicably.