Intel Eyeing Israeli Gesture Recognition Start-up

The multinational chip giant is reportedly in negotiations to acquire Omek Interactive, a Beit Shemesh-based start-up that develops software that creates an interface for identifying gestures through the use of three-dimensional cameras.

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The multinational chip giant Intel is reportedly in negotiations to acquire Omek Interactive, a Beit Shemesh-based start-up that develops gesture-recognition and tracking technology.

Intel competitors Qualcomm and Samsung are also considering bidding on the Israeli company, according to a report published Friday by the website VentureBeat. The article quoted one source, however, as saying a bidding war for Omek is unlikely.

Intel did not respond to the news of its interest in the start-up, which develops software that creates an interface for identifying gestures through the use of three-dimensional cameras.

Omek CEO Janine Kutliroff told VentureBeat: “Omek is always having conversations of a strategic or financial nature. We never comment on rumors in the marketplace.”

VentureBeat reported that “For these companies [Intel, Qualcomm and Samsung], gesture control technology is attractive as it offers a way to simplify increasingly sophisticated devices, draw customers to cool sci-fi-like devices, and chew up a lot of computing power that can be produced by their future chips.”

Omek Interactive was founded in 2007 by Kutliroff and her husband, Gershom Kutliroff, who is Omek’s VP for technology. According to the company website, Janine Kutliroff was CEO of IDT Global Israel and has a degree in applied mathematics from Columbia University in New York.

The company has raised about $14 million to date. It raised $3.5 million during its first financing round, including funds from the Kutliroffs. A second round in 2011 generated $3.8 million from the U.S. investment fund Artists & Instigators, which according to its website invests in “creators who are crafting game-changing businesses.” A third financing round, also in 2011, raised $7 million and was led by Intel’s investment arm, Intel Capital.

Jim Moore, a technology mergers and acquisitions executive, commented on the possible acquisition in VentureBeat: “In this case, using depth of field camera data for gesture input will allow people to control their computers without touching them.”

“It is [the] early days for this technology as the application builders will need to build this into their interface and functionality,” he said. “But the possibilities are enormous.” In addition to Omek, Israel has spawned an impressive number of gesture-recognition companies, including PrimeSense, which developed the chip that Microsoft’s first generation of Kinect systems was based on.

Intel's offices in Israel.Credit: Courtesy of Intel Israel

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