New tech inside iPhone 11 is the future of everything

0 Posted by - 16th September 2019 - Technology

Credit: Apple

Apple introduced the new iPhones this week. It was all about the cameras.

But no matter how good Apple’s lenses, camera electronics and computational photography AI gets, that’s all still an evolution of what everybody is already doing: taking selfies and cat videos.

Apple didn’t even mention the real revolution, which will change everything.

The iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro will contain an Apple-designed chip called the U1. The U1 chip enables ultra-wideband (UWB) positioning, which means it’s designed to pinpoint the locations of nearby objects.

Ultra-wideband used to be called pulse radio. It’s been used for years in military and medical applications. But UWB is uniquely suited to real-time locating systems (RTLS), which is what Apple is going to use it for.

Apple notoriously lags in the introduction of new technologies. For example, the new iPhones don’t even support 5G, even though Apple’s Chinese and Korean competitors are offering 5G phones.

Yet the iPhone is the first and only major phone supporting UWB, that I’m aware of. Apple is so far ahead that just last month, Engadget said in an article about gathering industry interest in UWB, “The technology is still a fair way off from consumer use.” Turns out that “fair way off” was a few weeks.

Apple’s leadership in UWB reminds me of the company’s aggressive rollout of Bluetooth 4.0 a few years ago. The leap from Bluetooth 3.x to 4.0 was a giant one, and for months Apple was the only major company that supported it. (The iPhone 4S was the first major smartphone to support Bluetooth 4.0. And the iPad was the first tablet to support it.)

Fun facts about UWB technology

UWB can pinpoint objects’ locations with 30cm accuracy, at a conservative estimate, passing through walls easily but not interfering with Wi-Fi.

It can transfer data at up to 8mbps, which is far faster than Bluetooth.

UWB uses “time of flight” to pinpoint location (measuring the time of signal to gauge distance), enabling it to know not only in which direction an object is, but how far away.

UWB passes safely through human bodies, and it’s time-to-flight approach is far more accurate for distance measurements.

UWB technologies will probably replace most uses of Bluetooth LE and even RFID.

RFID, like Bluetooth LE, is cheap, ubiquitous and already implemented. But UWB is far more accurate, and it’s compatible with environments where other wireless standards are being used — especially in hospitals, where you really don’t want to be interfering with medical devices.

Apple is building an ultra-wideband monster

Apple calls its U1 chip “living room-scale GPS.”

read more at by Mike Elgan