JERUSALEM Nov 25 Apple Inc has bought
Israel-based PrimeSense Ltd, a developer of chips that enable
three-dimensional machine vision, the companies said on Monday,
a move that signals gesture-controlled technologies in new
devices from the maker of iPhones and iPads.
An Apple spokesman confirmed the purchase but declined to
say 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's
Xbox Kinect gaming system.
"Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time,
and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," an Apple
spokesman said in an e-mail.
A spokeswoman for PrimeSense said: "We can confirm the deal
with Apple. Further than that, we cannot comment at this stage."
It was the second acquisition of an Israeli company by Apple
in less than two years. Apple bought flash storage chip maker
Anobit in January 2012.
PrimeSense's sensing technology, which gives digital devices
the ability to observe a scene in three dimensions, was used to
help power Microsoft's Xbox Kinect device.
The Israeli company has licensed the technology to Microsoft
but it is unclear how that deal changes with Apple's acquisition
of PrimeSense, which provides the technology behind Kinect's
visual 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 in
Apple devices in about 12-18 months from now, potentially in the
often-speculated device for the living room such as a
television, dubbed iTV by fans.
"While we have not had any more evidence of an iTV coming in
the next 6 to 12 months, some sort of living room appliance is
in 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 by
Israeli financial newspaper Calcalist. The paper
last week noted that PrimeSense has raised $85 million from some
of its investors such as Israeli and U.S. venture capital funds
Canaan Partners Global, Gemini Israel and Genesis Partners.