FCC filings discovered by electronics company Securifi (via TUAW) have revealed Apple’s plans for first-party iBeacon hardware to go along with the microlocation technology found in iOS. The transmitter is registered as the “Apple iBeacon” and carries a model number of A1573, which is in line with the company’s other products. This is a game changer in a lot of ways because while Apple already uses triangulation technology between satellites, wifi internet, and cellular towers, this new device may even be viable when the phone is off or under intense atmospheric conditions.
According to the documents filed by Apple, the iBeacon was tested in collaboration with China-based Audix Technology from April 30 to May 13, 2014. The beacon tested has a diameter of 5.46” and has a highest working frequency of 2.4GHz, which is in line with modern Bluetooth standards.
Originally introduced at WWDC 2013, iBeacon technology enables iOS devices to communicate with transmitters through Bluetooth in order to deliver relevant information to apps and services when a user is nearby. Apple introduced a “Made for iPhone” iBeacon specification in February, signaling a more primary role for the technology in its devices and services. It looks like this technology will be soon incorporated into many more devices than just the iPhone.
So far, however, companies have used third-party transmitters, like the Estimote Beaconto work with the technology and iOS devices. Shopping app Shopkick and Macy’spartnered during the holiday season last year to integrate the technology into stores, while Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association have used iBeacons to enhance live events.
Apple has also integrated iBeacons into its own retail stores to notify customers about picking up online orders and special upcoming events. Internationally, Virgin Atlanticintegrated iBeacons into London’s Heathrow Airport to notify users of promotional deals and areas of interest.
While it is unknown as to whether Apple will actually launch iBeacon hardware or not, the product could integrate with the company’s other platforms and services. Apple’s iBeacon could be the company’s first product to integrate with its HomeKit initiative, which allows home automation devices and their apps to work with iOS.
It is likely that HomeKit integrated hardware would come further down the roadmap in Apple’s future product lineup, as that lineup is expected to include the iWatch, perhaps a12-inch Retina MacBook Air and a next-generation Apple TV.