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Microsoft Buys 3D Chip Maker

Microsoft has reached a deal for the acquisition of Canesta, a 3D chip maker based in Sunnyvale, Calif., for an undisclosed amount.

Canesta provides Microsoft with its 44 patents relating to 3D motion-capturing technology and has many more patents on its way. Coupled with last year's acquisition of 3DV, a similar motion chip manufacturer, Microsoft may have some big plans for integration of the fairly new technology in a wide array of future products.

One consumer-related product that is already implementing similar technology is this week's release of the Xbox 360's Kinect, a motion capturing game add-on that allows gamers to play without the use of a controller. Although the Xbox 360 peripheral uses similar  Canesta technology in its 3D camera to give the user control through gesture recognition, the chip used was provided by PrimeSense, a direct rival to the newly purchased company.

While the details of the deal, expected to be finalized by the end of the year, have not been disclosed, the technology offered by the Canesta buyout could be present in the next Windows OS. In leaked slides apparently created by Microsoft that hit the Web in late June, the possibility of integrating motion-capturing technology in Windows 8 was discussed.

"With Microsoft's breadth of scope from enterprise to consumer products, market presence and commitment to NUI, we are confident that our technology will see wide adoption across many applications that embody the full potential of the technology," said Jim Spare, Canesta president and CEO, in a press release.

According to a New York Times article on the deal, Honda has previously invested in Cantesta to equip its cars with 3D sensors that could warn users of obstacles and adjust airbag deployment based on the size and weight of an individual. A Taiwanese laptop manufacturer, Quanta Computer, also has plans to implement 3D camera modules in its manufacturing factories to make its robots more responsive to its surrounding environment.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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