Apple's first iBeacon hardware revealed in FCC application

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2014
An FCC filing discovered on Saturday reveals in-depth details on Apple's first dedicated iBeacon-compatible beacon hardware, suggesting the company may soon introduce the micro-location technology to consumer spaces like so-called "smart homes."




Filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's Office of Engineering and Technology (OET), the original equipment application is the first clear sign that Apple is testing an in-house hardware solution for its location-aware iBeacon technology. The document was spotted by Securifi and subsequently reported by TUAW.

According to the OET's paperwork, the device is labeled "Apple iBeacon" and carries the model number A1573. Hardware testing was performed at a facility owned by Chinese company Audix Technology, which ran assessments using a conducted shielding enclosure, a semi-anechoic chamber and other specialized equipment at the end of April through mid-May.

With an operating range between 2402MHz and 2480MHz, and peak working frequency of 2.4GHz, the device looks to be in line with Bluetooth protocol specifications. Testing passed in all areas, including three selected frequencies: 2402 MHz, 2440 MHz and 2480 MHz.

Apple's iBeacon uses a combination of specialized Bluetooth 4.0 beacons and wireless data connectivity to offer location-based content services to compatible devices like an iPhone or iPad. Bluetooth Low Energy beacons can vary transceiver sensitivity, thus enabling location-aware deployments by controlling the system's effective range.

For example, visitors in an Apple Store can be notified of special deals and product information, or request help from a specific location when their iPhone discovers a placed iBeacon. Store owners can also use data sent by users' handsets to monitor any number of metrics, including customer traffic.

Aside from dedicated hardware, Apple's iBeacon platform can turn any capable iOS device (those with Bluetooth 4.0 support) into a temporarily discoverable beacon.

While Apple developed the technology behind iBeacon, companies rolling out services based on the platform use hardware made by third-party vendors. Even Apple itself uses Qualcomm Gimbal products in its brick-and-mortar stores.

If the device launches, it remains unclear whether Apple intends for the product to be marketed to consumers or businesses. While mere speculation, the small beacon device could work well with an upcoming iOS 8 feature called HomeKit. A framework for "smart home" hardware and software makers, HomeKit brings monitoring and control of connected devices like lights, A/V equipment and appliances together under the iOS umbrella.

It has been theorized that Apple could debut a new Apple TV model that acts as a hub for HomeKit-compatible products. Going even further, Apple's rumored "iWatch" is said to incorporate BLE, which suggests iBeacon support.

With iBeacons installed throughout a home sensing users' iPhones or iWatches (which would likely be worn 24 hours a day), and Apple TV handling connected device and appliance control, a HomeKit-iBeacon setup could be one of the most granular automated home ecosystems on the market.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 71
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,101member
    I was wondering when this would arrive.
  • Reply 2 of 71

    Does anyone know if this means that there is/are tangible units currently in some form of production? Or, does this mean that, at least so far (as with Model # A1573), that only prototypes are in existence?

  • Reply 3 of 71
    michael scripmichael scrip Posts: 1,910member
    If this is Apple's first dedicated iBeacon-compatible beacon hardware... what hardware are they using in Apple Stores right now?
  • Reply 4 of 71
    foadfoad Posts: 697member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Michael Scrip View Post



    If this is Apple's first dedicated iBeacon-compatible beacon hardware... what hardware are they using in Apple Stores right now?



    I forgot the manufacturer but they are a 3rd party company that makes them. There are quite out in the market. This article is a bit old but shows some of them.

     

    http://beekn.net/guide-to-ibeacons/

  • Reply 5 of 71

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Michael Scrip View Post



    If this is Apple's first dedicated iBeacon-compatible beacon hardware... what hardware are they using in Apple Stores right now?


     



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by foad View Post

     

    I forgot the manufacturer but they are a 3rd party company that makes them. There are quite out in the market. This article is a bit old but shows some of them.

     

    http://beekn.net/guide-to-ibeacons/


     

    I am amazed how someone can read something and either simply not see or pay attention to what is said.

     



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    Apple itself uses Qualcomm Gimbal products in its brick-and-mortar stores.

     

    Knowing this, a simple search would guide you here.

     

    More information is available here.

  • Reply 6 of 71
    michael scripmichael scrip Posts: 1,910member
    I am amazed how someone can read something and either simply not see or pay attention to what is said.

    I am amazed that you even bothered to make a comment like that.

    Look... I stopped reading the article when they went into describing what iBeacon is... because I already knew that. Sorry.

    Had I read a little but further... I would have found my answer. But Foad answered my question anyway... without the condescending tone.

    Forgive me for causing you to take time out of your busy schedule to point out my mistake. You can now go back to whatever it is you do here... hopefully with some tact.
  • Reply 7 of 71
    applesauce007applesauce007 Posts: 1,527member
    An iBeacon device for homes should be similar in functionality to business devices.


    Expect user friendly iBeacon programming tools soon.


    Let's hope the tools are secure and protect consumers.
  • Reply 8 of 71
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,387member
    I'd like for AI to implement a beacon that points me to threads that hasn't got any bitching or Samsung-bashing going on.
  • Reply 9 of 71
    mubailimubaili Posts: 376member
    New hardware category in 2014. Done.
  • Reply 10 of 71
    This fits perfectly with Apples M.O.
    -offer a simple solution
    -creates a platform/ecosystem
    -synergies with existing Apple technologies
    -device appeals to consumers and enterprise
    -can sell in huge quantities
  • Reply 11 of 71
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    I understand why businesses, sports stadiums or museums use iBeacons to inform users of location based information, but how would one use iBeacons in their home? Wouldn't they need their own app? And why?

  • Reply 12 of 71
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,843member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    I understand why businesses, sports stadiums or museums use iBeacons to inform users of location based information, but how would one use iBeacons in their home? Wouldn't they need their own app? And why?


    The Nest uses a proximity sensor to know when you're near it so it can automatically adjust its settings. Having iBeacons placed around the house goes one better since it would know where people are throughout a house and be able to handle lighting, environmental controls, as well as home security. This might be overkill but I could see it being used in this manner to control a wide variety of devices. The iBeacon works with an iPhone so everyone would have to carry there's to make it work. Doesn't everyone carry their phone with them constantly????

  • Reply 13 of 71
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

     

    The Nest uses a proximity sensor to know when you're near it so it can automatically adjust its settings. Having iBeacons placed around the house goes one better since it would know where people are throughout a house and be able to handle lighting, environmental controls, as well as home security. This might be overkill but I could see it being used in this manner to control a wide variety of devices. The iBeacon works with an iPhone so everyone would have to carry there's to make it work. Doesn't everyone carry their phone with them constantly????


     

    My understanding of iBeacon is that the user needs a dedicated app that is programmed to respond to a certain identifier being broadcast by an iBeacon. The app along with location services can send a push notification to the users phone. This is a one way communication from the iBeacon to the phone. The iPhone does not send any communication back to the iBeacon and the iBeacon is not connected to the Internet or the private network.

     

    Now that I think about it though, perhaps, if the app receiving a signal from the iBeacon is Apple's own HomeKit app and it was in communication with a home-based digital hub over WiFi, then it should be able to send commands to a device within the home. Depending on the action required, it does sound a bit convoluted though. If you just wanted the lights on you could just say "Hey Siri, turn on the lights." That way at least you are still in control in case you didn't want the lights to come on automatically.

  • Reply 14 of 71
    mstone wrote: »
    I understand why businesses, sports stadiums or museums use iBeacons to inform users of location based information, but how would one use iBeacons in their home? Wouldn't they need their own app? And why?

    The app is HomeKit.
    • Status monitoring:  Some inexpensive iBeacons are quite intelligent. They can measure temperature, moisture, humidity, movement, etc -- and send that information to a central HomeKit Controller.
    • Micro-Location Personalization:  With iBeacons spread around the house at known locations, your "you are here" sensor (iWearable, iWatch, iPhone, etc.) can determine where you are within a few feet by trilateration -- and send that information to a central HomeKit Controller.

    Knowing where you are (are not) and the status -- your HomeKit central controller can adjust HomeKit accessories accordingly (lights, HVAC, window coverings, security, etc.).

    Some simple examples:

    It is dark outside and you or another family member needs to get something from the garage. The individual walks from the family room, to the hall, and opens the door to the garage. iBeacons and your "you are here" sensor provide this info to the HomeKit controller which turns on lights ahead of you (and later turns them off ) -- no fumbling for light switches in the dark.

    Same scene, but an unidentified someone has opened the side door to the garage. iBeacons detect the activity and send the information to the HomeKit Controller. Based on time, schedule, who is at home -- the controller, turns on lights, security cams, locks doors, sends a message to you (iPhone, iWatch), calls 911 ....
  • Reply 15 of 71
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

     
    The app is HomeKit.

    • Status monitoring:  Some inexpensive iBeacons are quite intelligent. They can measure temperature, moisture, humidity, movement, etc -- and send that information to a central HomeKit Controller.


    So iBeacons can have WiFi and be connected to a network? I did not know that. Do you have any links to these intelegent iBeacons?

  • Reply 16 of 71
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    mstone wrote: »
    So iBeacons can have WiFi and be connected to a network? I did not know that. Do you have any links to these intelegent iBeacons?

    Sure. iBeacons can be in anything. That includes making your iPhone into an iBeacon.
  • Reply 17 of 71
    philboogie wrote: »
    I'd like for AI to implement a beacon that points me to threads that hasn't got any bitching or Samsung-bashing going on.

    "No results found. Try modifying your search parameters."
  • Reply 18 of 71
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post



    So iBeacons can have WiFi and be connected to a network? I did not know that. Do you have any links to these intelegent iBeacons?




    Sure. iBeacons can even be in anything.

    So these would be some type of iBeacon other than what has been used by MLB and NFL, which are battery powered? If it is going to have WiFi or an operating system, embedded application, and send content other than the simple identifier, it would probably need to be AC powered. If the additional services are to provide sensors for temperature, humidity, etc., to me it seems that those would be the main features. The iBeacon aspect would be independent and unrelated to the environmental monitoring.

  • Reply 19 of 71
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    mstone wrote: »
    So these would be some type of iBeacon other than what has been used by MLB and NFL, which are battery powered?

    For something persistent like a stadium I assume they would eventually run power, even for a simple iBeacon.
    If it is going to have WiFi or an operating system, embedded application, and send content other than the simple identifier, it would probably need to be AC powered. If the additional services are to provide sensors for temperature, humidity, etc., to me it seems that those would be the main features. The iBeacon aspect would be independent and unrelated to the environmental monitoring.

    That's how it appears to me.
  • Reply 20 of 71
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    philboogie wrote: »
    I'd like for AI to implement a beacon that points me to threads that hasn't got any bitching or Samsung-bashing going on.

    if you don't like the valid criticism of a copycat company that makes its living by aping apple, the. this may not be the best website for you.
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