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Apple's PrimeSense buy: It's all about the maps

Apple reportedly is keen on improving its mapping technology with PrimeSense, rather than going after motion technology.

Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Apple's recent decision to acquire PrimeSense, the company behind Microsoft's motion-detecting Kinect game console, had little to do with motion and a lot more to do with mapping, according to a new report.

Apple had its eye on PrimeSense's chips that allow for mapping 3D spaces, Jessica Lessin reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the deal. What's more, Lessin says that while PrimeSense might have provided the backbone technology in the original Kinect game console, its offerings in that sector are behind the industry and have not made their way to the latest version.

Apple earlier this week confirmed that it had acquired PrimeSense. The company said that it, at times, buys smaller technology companies, but declined to say how much it spent or its plans for the future. Apple had been in talks to acquire PrimeSense since July.

That Apple is thinking about mapping is no surprise. The company's Maps platform got off to a rough start but has been improving ever since. The talk is that Apple is planning to start a race with Google to add images and contextualize locations around the US. PrimeSense might be a key component in that.