After months of rumour, Apple has confirmed the acquisition of Israeli motion-sensing firm PrimeSense, which developed the gesture control feature for Microsoft’s Kinect add-on for the Xbox 360.
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The second-generation Kinect hardware was developed in-house by Microsoft, making its official debut as part of the Xbox One launch. It will be released for Windows sometime in 2014, according to Neowin.
No financial details or reasons for the acquisition have been disclosed, but some reports said the deal was worth $360m and that Apple plans to use the technology for a new generation of products.
In particular, the deal is expected to support a 2011 patent filing by Apple for new ways to control devices without physical contact, according to the BBC.
The patent filing for "Real Time Video Process Control Using Gestures", talks about allowing users to "throw" content from one device to another using hand movements.
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The acquisition comes after PrimeSense unveiled advances it has made in incorporating its technology in mobile devices such as a Google Nexus 10 tablet.
According to the company’s website, its 3D sensing technology gives digital devices "the ability to observe a scene in three dimensions" and translate that into a synchronised image stream of depth and colour.
This image stream can be used for identification of people, their body properties, movements and gestures; the classification of objects such as furniture; and the location of walls and floor.
PrimeSense has also developed a 3D scanner, which the firm says allows "anyone to scan items in their own environment and print them out on a 3D printer".
In addition to computing devices, the company says its technology can be used in TVs, interactive displays and robotics as well as applications in the retail, healthcare and industrial sectors.