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.