Microsoft said late on Friday that the company has acquired Canesta, a company that uses a reflected light to effectively “see” objects.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

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Canesta debuted in 2002 as a developer of virtual keyboards, which sensed where a user’s fingers were in relation to a projected keyboard. In 2004, however, the company moved into developing its Equinox chip, which, at that time, could “see” 3D objects at 50 times per second.

The Canesta technology works by beaming a ray of light off multiple objects in front of a CMOS receptor, like that found inside of a digital camera. But extremely high-speed timers attached to different portions of the sensor can actually detect how long it took for the reflected light to reach it, calculating the distance the features are away from it, like a very high-precision radar. This helps the chip “see” the object.

“This is very exciting news for the industry,” said Jim Spare, the chief executive of Canesta, in a statement. “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.”

Although Microsoft hasn’t said to what purpose it will put the Canesta technology, the company’s Kinect accessory for the Xbox uses a technology from PrimeSense to help “see” users. But PrimeSense has also said that it may take its technology to other mediums, including PCs, which might or might not be orchestrated by Microsoft.