Prime Sense's technology powered Microsofts' original Kinect motion sensor.

Apple has acquired PrimeSense, a developer of 3D sensors that allow devices to respond to the environment in three dimensions.

It is not known for which applications Apple aims to use the PrimeSense technology or the price it has paid for the Tel Aviv, Israel, company. Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet emailed the company's standard statement after an acquisition.

"Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," she wrote.

Apple's Kinect tech

PrimeSense technology was used to power the Kinect motion sensing input device in the original Xbox from Microsoft, but not the Kinect used by the Xbox One.

The Calcalist newspaper in Israel reported on the deal about a week ago, and said Apple would pay US$345 million for the company.

PrimeSense said earlier this month that its sensor was used by 3D printing company 3D Systems for its new 3D scanner called Sense.

The company's sensors have applications in other areas, ranging from retail to healthcare, which suggest that Apple has a number of alternatives for deployment of the technology in its own devices. Its Capri sensor is a small-size device designed specifically for integration with mobile phones, TVs, tablets and PCs.

PrimeSense was founded in 2005 and has operated as a fabless semiconductor company. Its technology already powers over 24 million devices around the world, enabling natural interaction between people and devices and between devices and their surroundings, the company said on its website.