Qualcomm’s GestureTek Deal Signals New Possibilities for Qualcomm Atheros

7/25/11Follow @bvbigelow

Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), the San Diego wireless technologies giant, said today it has acquired certain assets related to gesture recognition technology from Sunnyvale, CA-based GestureTek—a move that points to new capabilities at its new Atheros unit.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. GestureTek, founded in 1986, specializes in machine vision technology that enables people to use hand and body motions to dynamically control computer-based information displayed on a screen or camera-enabled device. GestureTek says there is no need for users to wear, hold, or touch anything special for its proprietary technology to work.

In a statement, Qualcomm group president Steve Mollenkopf, says, “Applications processors are enabling a range of new ways for consumers to interface with their home entertainment and mobile devices. Our acquisition of key technology and assets from GestureTek will strengthen Qualcomm’s smartphone product portfolio and enable our customers to launch products with new and compelling user experiences.”

The acquisition appears tailor-made for Qualcomm Atheros, the business unit formed in May, after closing its acquisition of  San Jose, CA-based Wi-Fi chipmaker Atheros Communications for $3.1 billion. Qualcomm has explained the combined companies will advance development of products for “the connected home,” such as wireless technologies for displaying information from smartphones on high-definition TV screens and larger monitors.

Qualcomm says the GestureTek technology will be integrated into Qualcomm’s current and next-generation Snapdragon processors, providing possibilities for new types of user interfaces from Qualcomm customers making smartphones, tablets, and video game consoles. In the latter market, Qualcomm could be challenging established motion-recognition technologies developed for the Nintendo Wii, Playstation and Xbox360 video game console.

GestureTek has retained other assets to continue its its gesture-controlled public display and digital signage business. The company’s business has been focused on displays for kiosks, the healthcare industry, and consumer electronics.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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