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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Report: Apple starts hiring chip experts in Haifa, Israel

Following our in depth report last night on Apple turning its Anobit purchase into a permanent Israeli  presence, a new report in Hebrew by Israeli daily business newspaper Calcalist says Apple is looking to open a research center in Haifa by the end of February.  This follows its acquisition of NAND flash technology provider Anobit for a reported $390 million. The facility is said to be located at the Matam technology district south of the Haifa city, right in the neighborhood of Intel, Microsoft and Philips who also run R&D centers there.

The company reportedly received “several hundred resumes” for various engineering positions. Specifically, Apple is seeking hardware engineers in chip development with strong emphasis on electrical circuits, analogue and hardware testing and verification. The publication learned that Apple’s new research center in Israel is not related to the Anobit acquisition. In fact, Anobit employees are not expected to participate in the activities of the Haifa research center.

The Yedioth Ahronoth Group is also behind Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s most widely circulated newspaper publishes Calcalist. The paper reported in December of last year that Apple dispatched its Vice President of R&D Ed Frank to investigating possibilities of an Apple-run development center in Israel. Apple joins other Silicon Valley firms that operate R&D facilities in the country, such as chipmakers Intel, Qualcomm and Broadcom, Internet giants Google, Yahoo! and eBay, software makers IBM and Microsoft and China-based handset maker Huawei.

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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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