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Confirmed: Apple buys 3-D tech company PrimeSense

After months of speculation, Apple and PrimeSense confirm a deal. Sources say the price hit upwards of $350 million.

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    Actor Rich Sommer played Kinect on Xbox 360 at the Xbox booth during the E3 2010 conference in Los Angeles June 15. PrimeSense created the 3-D sensing technology that powered the first round of Kinect devices.
    Vince Bucci/AP Images for Xbox
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Apple could be getting into the 3-D sensor game. 

Following rumors last week that guessed Apple had bought Israeli 3-D tech company PrimeSense, Apple and PrimeSense both confirmed the sale, though the price and reasoning behind the move is yet to be officially revealed.

According to AllThingsD, Apple confirmed Sunday that it had bought PrimeSense, the company behind Microsoft's Kinect sensor device, only offering, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans” as an explanation. A spokewoman for PrimeSense followed up with a similar response: “We can confirm the deal with Apple. Further than that, we cannot comment at this stage.”

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Talks of the deal were first reported by Israeli website Calcalist in July, corroborated Sunday by Globes, another Israeli financial website. These sources claimed the sale was made for about $350 million, though neither company confirmed the price. If true, this would mean each of the five start-up founders would make $50 million to $85 million from the sale.

Though Apple and PrimeSense are mum on the deal, rumors and speculation of what this could mean for the iPhone-maker have been swirling for days.

AllThingsD adds that PrimeSense has developed more compact and device-specific software, which could point to applications for mobile devices. In October 2011, Apple filed a patent for “Real Time Video Process Control Using Gestures,” which could “throw” content from device to device, according to the BBC. The Wall Street Journal points out that adding 3-D technology could be a key feature in the long-rumored Apple iTV set.

This isn’t the first Israeli tech acquisition lately either – Apple bought flash memory controller maker Anobot last year for more than $500 million, and Google bought route-mapping start-up Waze for a reported $1.1 billion. This lines up with the recent start-up boom in the Middle East, specifically Israel where the New York Times reports that of the 70 Israeli companies listed in the Nasdaq, more than a third are technology companies.

Microsoft now uses in-house 3-D technology for the Kinect device, but that hasn’t damped PrimeSense’s reach. The company’s products are in more than 24 million devices worldwide. Looks like 3-D technology, no matter in whose hands, is on the horizon.

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