Apple reportedly purchases PrimeSense, the Israeli 3D body sensor firm behind Microsoft Kinect for $345M

According to Israeli publication Calcalist.co.il, Apple has purchased PrimeSense, the company behind the original Microsoft Kinect’s technology somewhere near a valuation in the $345M range. According to the report, a delegation of PrimeSense senior executives visited Apple’s engineering offices in recent days. The purchase would bolster Apple’s living room TV interface offerings and allow Apple to add controls with body movements and hand gestures to its products.

Calcalist reported in July that Apple was mulling a purchase for somewhere in the neighborhood of $280M.  PrimeSense had issued a denial that it was in talks to be bought by Apple. As we know with past history surrounding these type of matters, company denials don’t often mean much in the grand scheme of things.

Apple purchased Israeli Flash chip optimization company Anobit in late 2011 for $400M+, also originally reported by Calcalist. The company now functions as one of Apple’s R&D centers in-country… Read more

Report: Apple mulling $280M purchase of PrimeSense, the Israeli 3D body sensor firm behind Microsoft Kinect

A series of reports from Israeli publication Calcalist.co.il claims PrimeSense, the company behind the original Microsoft Kinect’s technology, is in acquisition talks with Apple, somewhere near a valuation in the $280-300M range.  According to the report, a delegation of PrimeSense senior executives visited Apple’s engineering offices in recent days. The purchase would bolster Apple’s living room TV interface offerings and allow Apple to add controls with body movements and hand gestures to its products.

Apple purchased Israeli Flash chip optimization company Anobit in late 2011 for $400M+, also originally reported by Calcalist. The company now functions as one of Apple’s R&D centers in country.

We’ve heard previously that Apple is working on such 3D gesture interface and may have already been licensing IP from the Israeli firm and/or its competitors. At $280M, Apple may believe it’s better to own this IP and technology rather than let others have access to it in the future.

Apple has its own patents on similar 3D technology and has been working on its own gesture-controlled OS (below).

Microsoft used the sensor technology that PrimeSense developed for its original Kinect, previously known as Project Natal, but has since replaced the technology with its own in-house technology for 3D body mapping and movement.

PrimeSense went on to work with Asus on its WAVI Xtion living room home media controller (video) and has since shrunk chips down to be used in tablets and phones (another area of  Apple interest)

PrimeSense was founded in 2005 and is a founding member of OpenNI, an industry-led non-profit organization formed to certify and promote the compatibility and interoperability of Natural Interaction (NI) devices, applications and middleware.

Update: PrimeSense has issued a denial that it is currently in talks to be bought by Apple. As we know with past history surrounding these type of matters, the company’s claims might not mean much.

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More on Apple’s Anobit acquisition: Team remains in Israel (for now), headed by notable chip VP

During the question-and-answer section of Apple’s blowout Q1 2012 earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook let out a widely known fact from within the company: Apple Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering Bob Mansfield is now in charge of the team that comes from Anobit, an Israel-based SSD company that Apple acquired earlier this month. Cook also said Apple is integrating Anobit’s talent into Apple’s current workflow. Cook did, however, leave out some crucial details about Anobit’s integration into Apple.

We have some of the missing details, below:

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Report: Apple could turn Anobit purchase into development center, R&D VP Ed Frank touring Israel

Calcalist, a daily business newspaper published in Israel by the Yedioth Ahronoth Group (which also publishes Yedioth Ahronoth, the country’s most widely circulated newspaper) on Tuesday ran a story claiming Apple was actively engaged in talks to buy fabless flash memory chip maker Anobit for as much as half a billion dollars. In a follow-up story this morning, Calcalist reports that Apple’s senior research and development executive Dr. Edward H. Frank is already touring Israel, investigating possibilities of an Apple-run development center as numerous Silicon Valley technology giants already operate R&D centers in the country, including Intel, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Yahoo!, eBay and China-based Huawei, to name just a few.

Apple’s Frank is a member of Carnegie Mellon University’s Board of Trustees and chairs the university’s Inspire Innovation campaign. He is apparently holding meetings with a bunch of Israeli startups who are hoping to wow the world’s most valuable technology company with next-generation solutions promising to bring flash storage prices down while substantially extending the lifespan of flash memory chips. The delegation headed by Frank has already met with executives at Intel Israel, the Calcalist story claims.

Globes chimed in with information from sources that “Apple has hired Aharon Aharon, a veteran player in Israel’s high tech industry, to lead the new development center”.

Should the Anobit deal go through, reporters Assaf Gilad and Meir Orbach write, Apple may be interested in further acquisitions of other Israeli startups specializing in innovative flash storage solutions. This includes XtremIO which develops server-based storage systems and its rival Kaminario, as well as DensBits which specializes in controller based signal processing to improve the operation of flash memory chip processors.

DensBits licenses its technology which improves flash memory chips’ reliability to about 100,000 deletions – twice that of its nearest competitor Anobit – helping reduce the prices of flash memory chips dramatically. Both DensBits’ and Anobit’s technology is believed to be licensed by many flash memory chip makers. Specifically, South Korean Hynix uses Anobit’s solution for a flash memory chip inside the iPhone 4S. Interestingly, Apple co-Founder Steve Wozniak is lead scientist for a competing enterprise SSD operation called Fusion I/O.

Ed Frank can be seen in the below clip talking about his experience at Carnegie Mellon University and how it continues to influence him today.

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Rumor: Apple in talks to buy Israeli flash memory chip maker Anobit

People have been wondering what should Apple do with its cash hoard since the dawn of time and the company’s silence on the matter has only fueled speculation and increased pressure on the new CEO to pay a cash dividend, which they had stopped doing in 1995. If TechCrunch is to be believed, which relayed a Calcalist report in Hebrew, Apple is going to spend between $400 and $500 million to acquire Anobit, a fabless flash memory chip maker based in Israel.

To put this in perspective, the Anobit acquisition would be bigger than any since the 1997 purchase of NeXT for $404 million that brought back Steve Jobs. Anobit specializes in flash storage solutions for enterprise and mobile markets and making them cheap and reliable using its proprietary MSP technology (which stands for ‘Memory Signal Processing’). MSP lets Anobit engineer more reliable flash memory chips with significantly longer usable life.

Anobit’s list of clients isn’t public, but the Calcalist report claims Apple is a client:

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