Mystery wireless Apple device goes through FCC testing for a third time

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited February 13
Apple continues to submit its mystery Bluetooth and NFC product to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for testing, with a third listing in the regulatory database revealing few new details about the wireless device.




Originally discovered in September, with a second appearance last month, the third iteration of the device has been subjected to RF exposure tests, as well as those concerning Bluetooth Low Energy and NFC. While the listing was published by the FCC on February 10, along with application and confidentiality letters from Apple representatives, the submissions were in fact received by the FCC on January 25.

The regulatory label location image included as part of the listing is continuing its trend of being slightly smaller with each passing publication, possibly to try and maintain the secrecy surrounding the device. The first listing showed the edge of the back plate and Torx screws, suggesting a similar footprint to the FCC, and while the second showed parts of the screw heads in the image, this third version cuts off almost all of the screw heads.


Fourth generation Apple TV disassembly by iFixit, showing similar screw position.


As before, it has a power draw of 100mA and a peak of 700mA, between 5.5V and 13.2V. The Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) is 3136, close to the 3137 and 3133 of the other submissions, with all three sharing identical wiring guides on the label.

The model number A1845 used in the filing notably sits exactly in the gap between the model numbers of both previous FCC submissions, A1844 and A1846 in order of appearance. The stock keeping unit (SKU) is also of note, as while the first and second labels used the codes JR1 and JR2, this model uses JR1A, which could mean there are two main versions of the hardware, but this could be a variant of one version.

It is unclear what exactly the device could be, but it is known it includes both Bluetooth and NFC connectivity, but not Wi-Fi, and it may be quite a while until the purpose of the hardware will be. Aside from an official launch from Apple itself, the FCC filings may provide more clues about its identity in the future.

Confidentiality letters included with each filing advise that the non-public technical and design information are confidential trade secrets, but can be revealed 180 days after "the grant of equipment authorization is issued." External and internal photographs of the device, as well as the user manual, could appear in the FCC in the coming months, and possibly before its launch.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15

    My guess is that these are for installation in Apple Campus 2. RS-485 is used for lots of things, but building automation makes the most sense to me. They are going to need a very large number of badge readers in their new campus. It makes no sense for them to limit themselves to the standard controllers. Using devices with NFC would allow them to use iPhones, Apple Watches, as well as passive devices. The Bluetooth LE would be seen by the devices to know where they are in the building and other cool features. It would allow Apple to control the innovation platform for their building automation. They have enough facilities around the world to justify making their own. 
    irwinmauriceeightzerorepressthisicoco3douglas baileywatto_cobraantoniofonseca
  • Reply 2 of 15
    The oldest entry is set to become public on 3/19/2017. So if nothing changes we should get to see external photos, internal photos, user manual, and test setup photos on that date.
    leavingthebiggrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 15
    RS-485 is heavily used with industrial controls. Maybe Apple is breaking into a new market.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 15
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 1,467member

    My guess is that these are for installation in Apple Campus 2. RS-485 is used for lots of things, but building automation makes the most sense to me. They are going to need a very large number of badge readers in their new campus. It makes no sense for them to limit themselves to the standard controllers. Using devices with NFC would allow them to use iPhones, Apple Watches, as well as passive devices. The Bluetooth LE would be seen by the devices to know where they are in the building and other cool features. It would allow Apple to control the innovation platform for their building automation. They have enough facilities around the world to justify making their own. 
    Good call. The lack of WiFi had me baffled. I was thinking some sort of clever payment system for the Apple stores. 
    edited February 13 hammeroftruth
  • Reply 5 of 15
    The oldest entry is set to become public on 3/19/2017. So if nothing changes we should get to see external photos, internal photos, user manual, and test setup photos on that date.
    Steve Jobs announced the original iPhone early to get ahead of the FCC revealing it to the world. It is possible Tim Cook will announce this new device at MWC (Apple had briefly been listed as an attendee) or at an upcoming Apple event IF the device is a consumer device. 
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 15
    I'm hoping for something in March to roll out new iPads...it's (finally) time for an upgrade to mine...it'd be great if they announced something new then. The few things I can imagine this to be given only Bluetooth/NFC would be watch band or some sort of key fob (but why?).
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 15
    iBeacon related?
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 15
    Maybe its a wireless charging platform that uses those protocols to negotiate and control the charging with the device being charged?
    repressthisdouglas baileywatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 15
    Sounds like a controller for a product line of wired home automation devices. The current market of such is a mess of incompatible standards right now. When Apple introduced HomeKit, they did not have the "Home" app, and if I recall correctly, made noises about wanting the developer community to innovate. No clear controller app emerged
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 15
    emerrill999emerrill999 Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    The inclusion of RS-485 makes me think this is *very* likely to be badging hardware for the new campus. Also, the fact that it has a 'wiring diagram' supports that too. It implies it is a hardware installation - not jacks that you would find on any consumer hardware. They are (reportedly) custom door handles - it's not unreasonable to think they would make their own access control hardware too. Assuming most doors would have it, you would likely need several thousand of them, which well passese the need for FCC compliance, and probably reasonable pricing for them to just make them themselves.
    watto_cobracyberzombie
  • Reply 11 of 15
    irelandireland Posts: 16,402member

    My guess is that these are for installation in Apple Campus 2. RS-485 is used for lots of things, but building automation makes the most sense to me. They are going to need a very large number of badge readers in their new campus. It makes no sense for them to limit themselves to the standard controllers. Using devices with NFC would allow them to use iPhones, Apple Watches, as well as passive devices. The Bluetooth LE would be seen by the devices to know where they are in the building and other cool features. It would allow Apple to control the innovation platform for their building automation. They have enough facilities around the world to justify making their own. 
    Or for opening drawers in Apple Stores
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 15
    ireland said:

    My guess is that these are for installation in Apple Campus 2. RS-485 is used for lots of things, but building automation makes the most sense to me. They are going to need a very large number of badge readers in their new campus. It makes no sense for them to limit themselves to the standard controllers. Using devices with NFC would allow them to use iPhones, Apple Watches, as well as passive devices. The Bluetooth LE would be seen by the devices to know where they are in the building and other cool features. It would allow Apple to control the innovation platform for their building automation. They have enough facilities around the world to justify making their own. 
    Or for opening drawers in Apple Stores

    Agreed. Badge readers is an obvious use case, but it could be used for almost any building automation they desire. For mobile employees we have badged lockers on campus. You can easily innovate for all of these scenarios. Especially if ALL of your employees iPhones and Apple Watches. :) 
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 15
    The oldest entry is set to become public on 3/19/2017. So if nothing changes we should get to see external photos, internal photos, user manual, and test setup photos on that date.
    IF that version was approved. 
    Do we know if it was?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 15

    My guess is that these are for installation in Apple Campus 2. RS-485 is used for lots of things, but building automation makes the most sense to me. They are going to need a very large number of badge readers in their new campus. It makes no sense for them to limit themselves to the standard controllers. Using devices with NFC would allow them to use iPhones, Apple Watches, as well as passive devices. The Bluetooth LE would be seen by the devices to know where they are in the building and other cool features. It would allow Apple to control the innovation platform for their building automation. They have enough facilities around the world to justify making their own. 
    Wait so Apple could well be building a MODBus interface to HomeKit?

    Which would mean a massive increase in HomeKit compatible systems. Leaving HomeKit brand for plug and play home automation, while the bridge takes care of talking to build in automation systems.  Now seeing there is no wifi then that would suggest maybe this device would have ethernet (hopefully PoE). So they could well use that for the other major standard BACnet which is open source IP based. If this is an actual commercial device it could well be the shake up that home automation (even commercial automation) really needs to stop being a royal pain that most clients give up on or get annoyed at how it doesn't work well in practice.
  • Reply 15 of 15
    Rayz2016 said:

    My guess is that these are for installation in Apple Campus 2. RS-485 is used for lots of things, but building automation makes the most sense to me. They are going to need a very large number of badge readers in their new campus. It makes no sense for them to limit themselves to the standard controllers. Using devices with NFC would allow them to use iPhones, Apple Watches, as well as passive devices. The Bluetooth LE would be seen by the devices to know where they are in the building and other cool features. It would allow Apple to control the innovation platform for their building automation. They have enough facilities around the world to justify making their own. 
    Good call. The lack of WiFi had me baffled. I was thinking some sort of clever payment system for the Apple stores. 
    Winner, winner, chicken dinner! It is for retail. 
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