Apple Inc. agreed to acquire PrimeSense Ltd., the maker of motion-tracking chip technology that was used in Microsoft Corp.’s Kinect game console.
Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, confirmed the purchase yesterday in a telephone interview. Apple, maker of the iPhone and iPad, and Tel Aviv-based PrimeSense were negotiating a deal for about $350 million, one person familiar with the deal said last week.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” Huguet said.
The deal fits Cupertino, California-based Apple’s pattern of buying less well-known companies whose capabilities are folded into future products. PrimeSense’s technology gives digital devices the ability to detect movements and objects, and then translates that into depth and color. Apple, the world’s largest technology company, hasn’t used much of its $146.8 billion in cash and investments for big acquisitions.
PrimeSense investors include Canaan Partners, Silver Lake, Gemini Israel Funds and Genesis Partners. 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.
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.