Microsoft confirms motion-camera firm buyout

Business daily says chief of Microsoft's Israeli R&D center has averred long-rumored acquisition of suspected Project Natal tech-maker 3DV systems. [UPDATE] Microsoft now directly saying deal is done.

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In February, reports out of Israel and Silicon Valley indicated that Microsoft had purchased the Israeli startup 3DV Systems to acquire its Z-Cam motion-sensing technology. However, Microsoft has steadfastly refused to comment on any such deal. It also has remained mum on whether or not the highly responsive Z-Cam (pictured top) is related to Project Natal (pictured bottom), an eerily similar--and, at times, just eerie (see below)--motion-sensing camera peripheral unveiled at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

That has apparently changed this week, according to an article in the Israeli business daily Globes. The newspaper's online edition reports that Moshe Lichtman, Microsoft corporate vice president and head of the software giant's Israeli research and development center--its third biggest in the world--has confirmed the sale. He did so in a Monday speech designed to bolster morale at the center, which apparently laid off 50 employees in January as part of Microsoft's massive worldwide staff cuts.

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"Fourteen development projects are taking place at the center today, 12 of them completely new and destined to become Microsoft products in new markets," he reportedly said. "The R&D center helped Microsoft in buying the intellectual property of 3DV Systems, and in the wake of that dozens of the company's employees were recruited to work at the development center."

However, Lichtman remained tight-lipped when Globes asked him whether Project Natal was based on technology from 3DV and Prime Sense, another Israeli tech firm bought by Microsoft. "When there's something to tell, we'll do so," was all he would say.

[UPDATE] The day after this article went live, US Microsoft reps confirmed the acquisition directly to GameSpot. "Yes, we did purchase the intellectual property of 3DV," a rep said before switching back into recalcitrant mode. "Beyond that, we have no comment."

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