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Microsoft buys 3D chip maker Canesta

Microsoft announced it is to buy up chip firm Canesta Inc., a privately-held outfit that designs 3D-sensing chips.

Canesta's principal products are 3D image sensor chips which form the heart of Camera Modules which may be integrated into electronic end-use products from cars to personal computers.

Canesta has developed and patented new, low-cost, semiconductor-based methods for forming electronic images of nearby objects in three dimensions. Unlike the sensors in digital still and video cameras that see the world as flat images, Canesta technology can additionally compute the distance from the sensor of every single pixel in the image,
in real time, in any lighting conditions.

Canesta's president and CEO, Jim Spare reckons: "There is little question that within the next decade we will see natural user interfaces become common for input across all devices. 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.”

Microsoft is scheduled to roll out a new line of products, dubbed Kinect, that incorporate motion-based game play into its Xbox 360 videogame console.

The acquisition announcement of Canesta comes a day after Microsoft reported stronger-than-expected earnings. The company said sales of the Xbox 360 grew 38%.