Apple acquires Israeli 3D chip developer PrimeSense

Reuters

JERUSALEM, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Apple Inc has boughtIsrael-based PrimeSense Ltd, a developer of chips that enablethree-dimensional machine vision, the companies said on Monday,a move that signals gesture-controlled technologies in newdevices from the maker of iPhones and iPads.

An Apple spokesman confirmed the purchase but declined tosay how much it spent or what the technology will be used for.Israeli media said Apple paid about $350 million for PrimeSense,whose technology powers the gesture control in Microsoft Corp'sXbox Kinect gaming system.

"Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time,and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," an Applespokesman said in an e-mail.

A spokeswoman for PrimeSense said: "We can confirm the dealwith Apple. Further than that, we cannot comment at this stage."

It was the second acquisition of an Israeli company by Applein less than two years. Apple bought flash storage chip makerAnobit in January 2012.

PrimeSense's sensing technology, which gives digital devicesthe ability to observe a scene in three dimensions, was used tohelp power Microsoft's Xbox Kinect device.

The Israeli company has licensed the technology to Microsoftbut it is unclear how that deal changes with Apple's acquisitionof PrimeSense, which provides the technology behind Kinect'svisual gesture system.

Apple and Microsoft have other licensing deals between them.Microsoft did not return a call seeking comment.

Analysts are expecting PrimeSense's technology to show up inApple devices in about 12-18 months from now, potentially in theoften-speculated device for the living room such as atelevision, dubbed iTV by fans.

"While we have not had any more evidence of an iTV coming inthe next 6 to 12 months, some sort of living room appliance isin Apple's future and gesture technology could be critical,"Peter Misek, analyst with Jefferies said in a note to clients.

Apple's interest in PrimeSense was first reported in July byIsraeli financial newspaper Calcalist. The paperlast week noted that PrimeSense has raised $85 million from someof its investors such as Israeli and U.S. venture capital fundsCanaan Partners Global, Gemini Israel and Genesis Partners.

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