Apple reported to buy Israeli 3D sensor firm PrimeSense for $345 million
Building on rumors from July, an Israeli financial journal has reported that Apple "finalized the purchase details" on a plan to pay $345 million to acquire 3D motion and machine vision firm PrimeSense.
The acquisition, which neither party has yet confirmed, was said to have been scheduled to occur at the beginning of November, but delayed due to a "legal issue surrounding the partnership of developers."
PrimeSense issued a statement to Reuters saying "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. 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."
Rumors of the deal first cycled this summer, when the same news site described Apple and PrimeSense in "advanced talks" with a $280 million price tag.
PrimeSense makes machine vision products that map out 3D environments and track movements of bodies, faces and facial expressions.
The firm's technology was initially applied in the development Microsoft's Kinect sensor for Xbox 360 games, and has also been used to create 3D models of interior spaces by Matterport, Qualcomm's Vuforia 3D immersive gaming platform (above) and to enable iRobot to develop its Ava healthcare robot with the ability navigate around and interact with people (below).
Calcalist speculated that the technology would be used by Apple in the development of television products or potentially wearable devices.
PrimeSense portrays its technology as involving a sensing device outfitted with both standard color video camera and depth image camera that codes a 3D scene, objects within it and their movements using near infrared light invisible to the human eye. This process is patented under the name "Light Coding."
This camera sensor communicates with an integrated System on a Chip developed by PrimeSense that performs sophisticated analysis of the camera data, enabling the system to map out walls and furniture in a room, capture 3D object shapes, and sense bodies, their position, movements and gestures.
The initial "Carmine" camera sensor (pictured at top) currently costs around $200 on the company's website, but a recent embedded version referred to as "Capri" delivers a cheaper, improved resolution version in a "tiny form factor" that PrimeSense outlines for use in tablets, TVs, PCs, phones and consumer robotics.
In 2011, Apple previously acquired Israel's flash memory firm Anobit for a reported $400 million.