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Canesta Raises $16M to Expand Natural Interfaces Beyond the TV

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Canesta, which makes 3-D image sensors, announced today that it has received $16 million in new funding from returning investors Carlyle Growth Partners, Hotung Venture Group, and Venrock as well as two new strategic investors – Quanta Computer Inc. and SMSC. This brings the total amount of funding the company has raised to $70 million.

Canesta creates CMOS 3D “camera” sensors that can be embedded into devices that look back at the user to create a 3D “map” of the device’s surroundings. We’ve written before about how these sensors allow users to do things like control TVs with body movements. Today’s investment will help put Canesta’s sensors into more PCs and consumer devices. Quanta Computer manufactures PCs across many different brands, and SMSC creates “smart” mixed-signal connectivity applications and chips.

In a phone interview, Canesta CEO Jim Spare commented on how his company is the “other side” of 3-D. If you think of movies and TV shows as the output of 3-D, Canesta powers the input. “3-D input has the ability to be a platform, like keyboard and mouse,” said Spare, “3-D natural input — enables a range of capabilities and gesture control for user experiences.”

The gesture control space is one we’ve been following all year. Other players in the space include Softkinetics, GestureTek (named one of NewTeeVee’s Next Big Things), Hillcrest Labs and Microsoft (s MSFT).

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