Perhaps hinting at a future feature of its iPad, iPod touch, and iPad mini devices, it's being reported that Apple snatched up PrimeSense, a fabless semiconductor company in Israel that specializes in low-cost, high-performance 3D sensing and machine vision technologies. The start-up's technology is represented in more than 24 million devices around the world, including Microsoft's original Kinect sensor for the Xbox 360 console. It can also be found in 3D scanning applications like the Asus Xtion.
A Calcalist financial newspaper report says the deal went down for $345 million, according to CNET , though AllThingsD says the acquisition has yet to be finalized as the two sides try to negotiate "end-game" issues like liquidity preferences (who gets paid first).
In any event, Apple is clearly interested in 3D sensing technology, though it's not clear what the Cupertino company would use it for. There are a number of possible applications, from controlling on-screen AppleTV content through motion controls, to countering Samsung's hands-free swiping capabilities in smartphones.
"We are focused on building a prosperous company while bringing 3D sensing and natural interaction to the mass market in a variety of markets such as interactive living room and mobile devices," a spokeswoman for PrimeSense told Reuters . "We do not comment on what any of our partners, customers or potential customers are doing and we do not relate to rumors or recycled rumors."
This isn't the first time these two companies have been linked in acquisition reports. It was reported back in July that Apple was trying to buy PrimeSense for around $280 million.