By embracing ultra-wideband location tech, Apple has a chance to reshape experiences far beyond Airdrop and locating Apple Tags. On the company’s website, Apple describes the U1 chip: “The new Apple‑designed U1 chip uses Ultra Wideband technology for spatial awareness — allowing iPhone 11 Pro to understand its precise location relative to other nearby U1‑equipped Apple devices. It’s like adding another sense to iPhone, and it’s going to lead to amazing new capabilities.”
From raw data alone, UWB devices can detect locations within 10 centimeters (4 inches), but depending on implementation that accuracy can be lowered to as much as 5 millimeters, according to Mickael Viot, VP of marketing at UWB chipmaker Decawave…
The possible applications of UWB go way beyond AirDrop and tracking tags. Decawave’s Viot says potential applications include smart home tech, augmented reality, mobile payments… keyless car entry, and even indoor navigation…
In terms of smart home tech, both security and functionality could be improved by devices knowing exactly where they are, and where the humans in the house are. (This is one reason why Viot thinks that Apple will add UWB support to the Apple Watch sooner rather than later: we aren’t always with our phones, but we bring our wrists with us wherever we go.) Imagine a whole-home audio system moving music playback through multiple rooms based on the location of an individual listener. Consider the peace of mind of knowing that your smart door lock won’t open unless you’re standing right in front of it—and can lock the moment it knows you’re inside.
MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last week:
When looking at Apple Tagged objects while wearing Apple Glasses, the U1 chip will be invaluable!
Grocery and every other retail store that wishes to remain in business will be full of Apple Tags. Imagine golfing while wearing Apple Glasses with an Apple Tagged golf holes. Or shooting pool. Or driving past Apple Tagged road signs. Or holding a baseball card. Or touring a city or museum or hiking a wilderness trail. Or running a 5K. Or looking at vehicles on a car lot or rideshares as they arrive to pick you up. Or, through crowd-sharing, precisely locate where that last remaining Cabbage Patch doll is within 25 miles of you on Christmas Eve. “Hey, Siri, find me a Cabbage Patch Doll for sale with 25 miles of me! Buy it and hold it for me, on on my way!” Extrapolate from there.