Friday, November 25, 2011

Gentex acquires Intersense

A couple of days ago, Gentex Corporate announced that it had acquired Intersense. Gentex makes various military products including helmets, eye protection devices, aluminized fabric and helmet-mounted displays. Intersense makes various inertial trackers.

I've had the pleasure of working with Intersense over several years, where we partnered on delivering virtual reality solutions for academic and defense markets. To many of our customers, Intersense has  always been considered the 'gold standard' of tracking, which is why I find this acquisition disappointing.

The financial details of the acquisition were not published, so perhaps this is a big win for the shareholders of Intersense, but I feel the company will now take an even stronger defense focus and will thus miss the bigger consumer product opportunity.

It is ironic that the Intersense acquisition happened just a week after the Invensense IPO (INVN), which values Invensense at some $800M. 

Founded in 1996, Intersense makes professional motion sensing products. Motion sensing is becoming more and more commonplace - just look at the Wii or the iPhone. Surely, Intersense had plenty of expertise in sensors and signal processing to offer a compelling low-cost product that builds off  Intersense's professional reputation but offers a compelling price point. 

As motion tracking became more common, lower-cost solutions started to appear. For instance, Sensics offers an integrated three degree of freedom (yaw/pitch/roll) head tracker inside the zSight professional HMD. Though the performance of the embedded tracker is not as good an Intersense IC-3, for instance, we found that for many customers it was good enough and saved them the need to pay a couple of thousand dollars for an external tracker. Intersense could have probably easily offered this lower-cost tracker, but they did not. Missed opportunity, I think, both for Intersense and for the market.

Good luck to the excellent team at Intersense, in whatever market you choose to serve!


Qsb11 said...

Hi VRGuy and everyone
I also had many opportunities to work with Intersense as partners of Virtools first and then of Dassault Systèmes
We jointly developed some prototypes of immersive gaming to demonstare the value of 6 DOF tracking in the gaming world (that was GDC 2008, after the wii and before PS3 move or Kinect)
Intersense had real ambitions in the gaming world, but this was not at all their culture, and I believe they missed that train
In all case, their thechno is THE reference, and for military needs, it may be the reason of the acquisition
Good luck guys if you read me
David "iV Evangelist" Nahon

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