Microsoft Confirms 3DV Purchase; Still Won’t Say If It’s Behind New Xbox Technology

One of the worst kept secrets in the video game business is out. Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) has indeed purchased 3DV Systems, an Israeli startup with camera technology that senses motion and shape in real-time. Israeli newspaper Globes quotes Moshe Lichtman, a Microsoft corporate vice president, as saying that 3DV’s “dozens” of employees have now been invited to work at Microsoft’s research and development center in Israel. Microsoft is not saying how much it paid for 3DV but earlier reports put the price tag at as much as $35 million. That, however, wouldn’t represent any return for 3DV’s investors, including Kleiner Perkins, who have put $38.6 million into the company since its inception in 1997.

3DV’s technology is widely thought to be behind Project Natal, new Xbox technology that lets players control the console with gestures. But Microsoft is still staying very hush hush about that. “Microsoft often pursues key pieces of strategic intellectual property for research and development which may or may not be integrated into future versions of our products or services,” a spokeswoman says.