Apple Inc. (AAPL) is in talks to buy PrimeSense Inc., the maker of motion-tracking chip technology that was used in Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Kinect video-game console, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.
Apple is negotiating to acquire Tel Aviv-based PrimeSense for about $345 million, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.
Apple hasn’t used much of its $146.8 billion in cash and investments for big acquisitions. A deal for PrimeSense would fit the Cupertino, California-based company’s pattern of buying less well-known companies whose technology is folded into future products. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said in October that Apple had purchased 15 companies last fiscal year.
PrimeSense’s technology gives digital devices the ability to detect movements and objects, and then translates that into depth and color. With Microsoft’s Kinect, that included controlling a video game by waving an arm and other body parts. That collaboration ended when Microsoft built its own technology for the latest Xbox One.
Apple’s talks with PrimeSense was earlier reported by Israeli newspaper Calcalist. Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, declined to comment, as did PrimeSense.
“We do not comment on what any of our partners, customers or potential customers are doing and we do not relate to rumors or re-cycled rumors,” PrimeSense said in an e-mailed statement.
In addition to its use in gaming, PrimeSense has been developing new depth-sensing technology that allows for a 3D camera in a mobile phone to enable apps like indoor navigation tools or 3D shopping catalogs. PrimeSense also has said its technology can be used for measuring depth, allowing a person to take a photo of their living room into a furniture store to determine if a sofa would fit in the space.
Motion-tracking technology has been a sought-after area for many large technology companies. Google Inc. recently bought a company called Flutter, which makes motion-tracking software. Another startup, Leap Motion Inc., has partnered with Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) and others to integrate its technology into computers so people can wirelessly control machines with their fingers and hands.
Apple has bought several chip companies, including Passif Semiconductor this year, Intrinsity in 2010 and P.A. Semi in 2008. The company also purchased the Israeli company Anobit last year to acquire flash-memory technology.
Apple this year also acquired navigation-software company Embark, online transit-navigation service HopStop.com, business-locations maps company Locationary, and WifiSLAM, which makes location-identifying technology for when a smartphone user is inside a building.
Apple shares fell 1.2 percent to close at $518.63.
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