Microsoft buys gesture-chip maker (and patent holder) Canesta

Microsoft has purchased for an undisclosed amount the technology, people -- and perhaps most importantly, the intellectual property -- of chip maker Canesta, according to a press release issued by Canesta on October 29.

Microsoft has purchased for an undisclosed amount the technology, people -- and perhaps most importantly, the intellectual property -- of chip maker Canesta, according to a press release issued by Canesta on October 29.

The New York Times reported on Friday that Microsoft was about to purchase the Sunnyvale, Calif., chip company.

Canesta is in the business of providing 3D sensing technology that is important to natural-user-interface developers. It also owns a number of patents in this space, as the company made clear in the press release about its acquisition by Microsoft:

"Canesta is the inventor of a leading single chip 3-D sensing technology platform and a large body of intellectual property. With 44 patents granted to date and dozens more on file, the company has made breakthroughs in many areas critical to enabling natural user interfaces broadly across many platforms. Some of these include the invention of standard CMOS 3-D sensing pixels, fundamental innovations in semiconductor device physics, mixed-signal IC chip design, optics, signal processing algorithms, and computer vision software."

The sensing technology built into Microsoft's Kinect gaming sensor for Xbox is not from Canesta; it is from Canesta rival PrimeSense, according to the Times. (Kinect goes on sale on November 4, by the way.) I wonder if the Softies are heading off potential patent-infringement suits (or readying some of their own) based on this acquisition...

Canestais Microsoft's third publicly acknowledged acquisition for calendar2010. Microsoft has bought a number of other companies this year, officials have said, but have declined to name them.

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