Apple confirms it bought Kinect sensor startup PrimeSense

With the 3D sensor company under its belt, Apple looks set to add more more gesture capabilities to its devices.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Apple has acquired PrimeSense, an Israel-based 3D sensor startup that provided a key component to Microsoft's early Xbox Kinect models.

Rumours of the acquisition have surfaced more than once before, but came to a head last week. Early reports valued the deal at between $300m to $350m; however according to AllThingsD, the price was closer to $360m.

Apple today confirmed the rumours are in fact true: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," an Apple spokesperson told ZDNet — its standard way of acknowledging an acquisition.

Israel-based PrimeSense brings technology that could see Apple embed motion sensors in iOS devices, Macs or Apple TV, using the startup's 3D sensor for uses such as 3D modelling or gaming.

PrimeSense claims its USB-powered Carmine 3D system on chip has 20 million users worldwide while its latest SoC, Capri, is equipped to run on mobile devices. The technology enables the identification of movements and gestures and the classification of objects, according to the company. 

Once a key component of Microsoft's Kinect before Microsoft built its own sensor, the startup's technology has also been put to use in Asus' Xtion motion sensor.

Apple's purchase of PrimeSense is in line with its habit of acquiring smaller tech companies and rolling their products into its own devices, such as Authentec, which it acquired for $356m last year and whose tech later landed in the iPhone 5s TouchID fingerprint scanner. It's also the second Israeli tech company Apple has acquired recently, the last being flash memory maker Anobit whose tech is used in the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air.

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