Apple Was Offered the Kinect Controller Before Microsoft

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Microsoft's new gestural controller Kinect is generating lots of excitement. Around the office, I was saying to people, wow, how about Microsoft? This launch has the trappings of an Apple launch. It is, after all, an unexpectedly awesome and unprecedented user interface not unlike the iPhone's touchscreen based system.

Now, it turns out, Apple could have had the new interface. But Apple was, in the words of Inon Beracha, whose company created the heart of the Kinect controller, "a pain in the ass." Here's Cult of Mac's Leander Kahney with the scoop, who happened to sit next to Beracha on a plane in June of 2008:

On his laptop, Beracha showed me videos of people waving their hands in the air to control Wii-like games.

He showed people controlling TV programming menus by gesturing their hands in the air. And, most impressive of all, someone flipping through a photo slide show like they were Tom Cruise in Minority Report. It was so slick, I asked him if it was CGI. It was real, he said, and so cheap, the technology could eventually be found everywhere in the home, office and car.

Of course, PrimeSense's system is at the heart of Microsoft's new Kinect game controller, which is getting rave reviews and looks set to be a monster hit. It's a "crazy, magical, omigosh rush," says the New York Times' David Pogue.

And it almost belonged to Apple.

Read the full story at Cult of Mac.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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