November 21, 2013, Updated November 25, 2013

Apple has bought Israel’s PrimeSense in a deal worth $360 million. The acquisition is being hailed as a milestone for perceptual computing.

The Israeli 3D sensing company has raised $85 million from Israeli and US venture capital funds, according to a report in Calcalist.

PrimeSense’s technology revolutionized interaction with digital devices by allowing them to “see” in three dimensions and let users control a game with their hands and body. They’re the ones who helped power Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect.

Reports of the buyout first came to light in July 2013. Earlier this month, Israeli and international media reported that the hardware giant had bought the blue-and-white technology.

“We are focused on building a prosperous company while bringing 3D sensing and natural interaction to the mass market in a variety of markets such as interactive living room and mobile devices,” a spokeswoman for PrimeSense was quoted by Reuters. “We do not comment on what any of our partners, customers or potential customers are doing and we do not relate to rumors or recycled rumors.”

Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet was quoted as saying: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

“Usage of gesture-based, touch-less control of devices is one of the big mega trends in the industry right now,” Nitin Bhat, a partner with consulting firm Frost & Sullivan told the BBC. “From Apple’s perspective it looks like an attempt to make its current gadgets a lot more attractive by offering such a feature on them.”

PrimeSense is Apple’s second Israeli purchase – the company bought flash storage chip maker Anobit in 2012.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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