Apple Buys 3D Motion Sensor Firm: Updated

primesenseUPDATE: AllthingsD reports this morning that the deal reported by Reuters and others below is not in fact final but that it is expected to close by the end of the week.

The rumor mill surrounding Apple's always imminent entry into the TV OEM space and purported intentions of getting into video gaming got some fuel this weekend. According to financial newspaper Calcalist, Apple just acquired the maker of 3D sensor technology PrimeSense. The company creates the sort of 3D machine vision that drives motion-based interaction, gestures, etc. Its technology formed part of the basis for Microsoft's Xbox Kinect motion controller.

Neither Apple or PrimeSense is confirming the acquisition, which Calcalist prices at a hefty $345 million.

According to the company Web site, PrimeSense is aimed at giving devices the power of sight. It produces both the 3D sensors as well as the middleware used to interface with software. It claims to be the “only mass produced 3D sensor in the market, and it resides on 20 million devices already.

The acquisition, if confirmed, leads to endless speculation about Apple's intention. A number of rumors attached to the Apple TV indicate that a gesture-driven interface is part of the package. At the same time, many analysts have expected Apple to make a move into a gaming market that its iOS ecosystem has already helped build into a financial powerhouse that is challenging consoles for user mindshare. 3D sensors are applicable in both scenarios.

On yet another hand, Apple has not yet added 3D gesture control to its core mobile products, iPhone and iPad. At a price tag that high, clearly Apple has some very substantial plans for the technology.

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