Getting to know the capabilities of Apple’s U1 chip using UWB technology
If rumors and If the theories in Apple’s patents are to be believed, the U1 could have many uses in the near future, including gesture-based controls to better interact with a variety of smart devices, augmented reality tracking, and creating safer ways to monitor and Taking care of valuables, electrical appliances and even people.
In the U1 nomenclature, the letter U at the beginning of the Ultra Wideband combination means “ultra wide band”. Ultra Wideband positioning technology – also called UWB for short – uses short-range radio signals to measure the distance between two separate devices (both equipped with this chip). It should be noted that, for the first time in 2002, the Federal Communications Commission issued a license to use UWB technology in the United States. Therefore, this technology is not so new, but until today, its main application in the industry has been limited to tracking the location of products in warehouses or factories.
Apple at the unveiling event of The new iPhones did not say anything about the U1 chip, but on the specification page of these products on Apple’s website, it is very briefly discussed: “The new U1 chip (designed by Apple) uses Ultra Wideband technology for awareness. space, to iPhone 11 allows it to accurately locate other U1-equipped Apple devices.” Apple likens this feature to living room GPS and claims that in order to share a file using AirDrop, you just need to point your iPhone towards the other party’s device and it will appear as the first sharing option in the list.
The notion of “room-scale GPS” may be a bit far-fetched, but the U1’s ability to track position is very accurate. This is done by sending a radio signal to another device. This signal moves at a high speed and the duration of this signal can determine the exact distance between two devices. There are many advantages for UWB technology, the most important of which is the accuracy of this technology. In addition, this technology is low-power and its location tracking methods are more secure than similar technologies.
Mike Feibus, senior analyst and president of FeibusTech, believes that Apple’s U1 chip board is more than the NFC board and its accuracy is higher than the accuracy of Bluetooth (the accuracy of the current generation of Bluetooth devices). It is one meter, but this capability in UWB technology is stated to be about 30 cm). The data transfer speed using UWB technology is also 8 megabits per second, which is 4 times that of Bluetooth. Also, UWB operates over a wide frequency band and can pass through walls more easily than radio frequencies, resulting in its positioning being updated every 100 milliseconds. Finally, UWB does not interfere with the Wi-Fi signal. These same features can open new windows in the field of device tracking on Apple. For now, the U1’s functionality for Apple is limited to transferring files between iPhones (via AirDrop), but when the U1 is used in more devices, more options will be on the table.
One of the questions that comes to mind is that, considering the superiority of UWB, why has this technology remained so abandoned until now? One reason is that the parts needed to implement this technology are expensive. But the more important thing is that Bluetooth technology got off to a stormy start and was met with widespread acceptance, and before UWB had a place for Golan, Bluetooth had formed a vast ecosystem of connected devices.
In the following, we have a look at some of the most important applications envisioned for the U1.
If the U1 chip is used in the manufacture of the Apple Watch, it will minimize the possibility of the watch being lost. Also, the U1 can turn the Apple Watch into a great navigation device by helping the user find their exact location on Apple Maps or in department stores. In addition to the wearables we already know (such as the Apple Watch and its future models), the U1 could provide various ways to interact with wearables that have yet to be produced (such as Apple’s long-rumored augmented reality headset or glasses).
Brian Roemmele, founder and editor of Read Multiplex, in an article about the U1 chip, considered precise positioning to be one of the main elements of augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality environments in order to accurately set spatial coordinates. Undoubtedly, in order to properly work augmented reality and place virtual elements in the real world, it is very necessary to know the exact location of people, devices and objects in the home or workplace environment. According to Romele, what makes U1 the main candidate for use in augmented reality technology is the high ability of this chip in mapping. According to him, by using the U1 chip, a useful and practical map of any closed environment for augmented, virtual and mixed realities can be prepared in just a few minutes. Rumle also points to a patent from Apple that describes a feature called “special gestures”. In the image of this patent, a wearable device is placed on each of the two hands, and thus it is possible to follow and interpret different movements of the hand in this way.
So far, you might be wondering why Apple kept quiet about the U1 when it unveiled the iPhone 11 series despite such a wide range of features. In response to this question, we must say that many experts believe that Apple is waiting for its new device – which, according to rumors, has the ability to track personal items – to be officially introduced in 2019. Many tech sites have found references to a system in iOS 13, possibly called Apple Tags. Most likely, this system will have similar functionality to Tile, except that its mechanism is based on UWB technology, not Bluetooth. This means that the user attaches a tag to a valuable object and the user is alerted if the object moves out of range of the user or their iPhone. In this way, if in the future all Apple products have a U1 chip in them, the possibility of them being lost or stolen will be minimized.
According to Facebook, in a similar way, these tags can be used to track and monitor the activities of the elderly, disabled or even pets. In addition to finding lost objects, this feature can also be used to locate objects in the environment. An example of this application is finding a product in a department store. To do this, just type the name of the desired item or request it from Siri to be directed to it immediately. It is interesting to know that some major car manufacturers (such as Volkswagen and NXP) have also switched to UWB technology for greater security.
Imagine for a moment that all the smart devices you are currently using have the U1 chip. In this case, all these devices work together easily and provide a smart home that suits your needs with ideal light and temperature. When shopping, the required items are easily found and payment is very easy with Apple Pay is done.
It should be noted that many of the uses mentioned for the U1 chip are currently speculative. But these speculations are also based on the past statements of Apple and the patents of this The company is named. On the other hand, it takes time to equip all Apple devices with the U1 chip. On the other hand, this would require Apple to work with other manufacturers in other industries. Of course, considering that companies like Google and HTC also have a history of working with UWB technology, most likely It will not be long before the use of this technology becomes a standard.