The "How does UWB Work?" section has paragraphs lifted straight from the patent applications. Some sentences make no sense, ex: "the U1 chip along with the results of FaceID/TouchID system is stored in the Secure Enclave"; the typo at the end calling it 'A1 chip' before going into 'holographic crystal memory', plus the final sentence: "We will once again leave the Mainframe computer and become cloudless".
I'd guess it is an elaborate promotion piece for the author and his companies. Nothing is free on the internet anymore.
None of this makes sense as-written. It is either techno-blither or the author doesn't sufficiently explain "distance", "power", "speed", "better" or "accuracy".
100x accuracy seems to imply that the data transmission is 100x more accurate which is not the cae. The product has high positioning accuracy. "can move 6.8Mbps of data with an accuracy that is 100x better than WiFi or Bluetooth." is a very bizarre way of saying that to be charitable.
"It can reach 290 meters of distance with a very minimal power requirement"
Very minimal? What is "very". Also in practice, the distance achieved is going to be dependent on power. So you can't get these maximum distances with minimal power. Also a bit misleading, as for non-positioning Bluetooth LE is superior.
"with a 50x faster speed compared to standard GPS latency."
This is a tortured way of saying that position acquisition is 50 times faster than GPS.
In practice, the laws of physics also apply. You're not getting 290m of 6.8 Mbps through any walls with minimal power.
Yes, it's power consumption is quite good--compared with GPS and WiFi which have abysmal power numbers for small battery powered devices.
Compared with BLE--UWB doesn't look so great in terms of power consumption. So, most things only turn UWB on when they are trying to get accurate position measurements.
There is a lot of confusion around UWB positioning. Some articles describe TDoA (time difference of arrival) systems, which can indeed be very precise and the device being positioned can be low-power, but these require a nwetwork of beacons with precisely synchronized clocks, which is very difficult to achieve in practice.
Also, the DW1000 chip is a power hog. Yes, if you compare it to a GPS receiver it is still fantastic, but in low-power devices it is not easy to manage. As an example problem, you can't power a DW1000 from a coin battery: the internal resistance of the battery is too large, and it can't deliver the peak current that the chip needs.
I think it's viable to determine the level of knowledge an author has on a topic purely based on the number of times the word 'technology' is used. In this case - this is almost certainly written by someone with little to no actually knowledge of the topic.
That's a load of codswallop, mate. The following projects stand to prove otherwise:
Certainly understand your sentiment, though it's important to not spread silly FUD like "nothing is free, everyone's a shill, etc."
One could argue this article is a net-gain for the community as a whole, even if he is ultimately hawking buzzwords and his consultancy. We're still getting this long-form exposition with a bit of research into Apple patents and other direct sourcing from both Apple and others collected in one place for free.
Content marketing can provide a lot more value to the world than most forms of marketing.
Additionally, 99% of people are only going to read the first half where he explains it's an ultra-wideband chip with a few examples then move on. They aren't going to dig into his futuristic predictions and other consultancy nonsense, or even look at his name.
Although having to skim through crap like this in order to get to the meat is a bit annoying:
> Many folks in the payment industry including disruptive startups thought me insane and went about becoming redundant when Apple Pay was released. Of course I had far more basis than a single Phil image. History is about to repeat itself.
This is bad enough to make it almost unworthy of HN. But otherwise it did the job of answering the question well enough.
I'd be very interested in technical details: are they using 802.15.4a? Do they use the spectrum above 6GHz?
I was telling my kids about this at the dinner table tonight and we were cracking up imagining our dog eating one of these trackers, and you open up the app and the blue dot is following the dog around. Why Milo, why?!
Did you read the article?
HN tends to assume a ton of charity in the comments section, "did you read..." style comments are highly discouraged
He'd write as if he had some sort of inside information and was a serious authority on the subject.
Anytime he'd make a new post about us, it would make the rounds on internal lists. Usually to the tune of "Oh wow, another Roemmele..." and we'd all read on in amazement at how much he'd just plain made up.
As insiders, we knew his posts were pure speculation, and were rarely even close to the mark about strategy or the technical details of our products.
Since then I cringe a little anytime I see one of this posts show up up. He completely lacked credibility when talking about Square. So I'm not sure why it would be different with Apple.
Every so often, pure random chance means that they get it right and it looks incredible to the spectators who witness it.
I mean ... faulty reasoning or not: Bitcoin is currently at $10,240.
Of course I guessed he didn't believe his own reasoning, as when the article was written in November 2013 Bitcoin was $600 and he could have tenfold and more his own money.
Anyway, the point is, it is a coincidence, nothing more.
Had he given a number above $20k he would't have been right at any point in time. And bitcoin might have never hit $10k, which would also left him being wrong.
(just saying hello)
Here's a pie-in-the-sky example: I almost always buy clothes in-person. I want to see what I'm getting, and want to avoid the issues (discussed in other, mostly Amazon-related, posts) that come from buying stuff online. But I often run into trouble finding the specific item (make, style, and size) on the shelf. If each item were tagged (possibly as part of the anti-theft tag), I could be led directly to where the item is.
Here's a more realistic example: I want to buy an DB9 null-modem adapter from Micro Center. I can find out in general where it is. But if a tag were attached to the shelf, I could be led directly to where the item should be.
Of course, there are tons of issues (among which cost is but one). But it's nice to know that things like this may be possible!
Said person would even have directed you to a competitor’s shop if they didn’t sell the article you’re looking for, and might even have done that if they did sell it, but didn’t have it in stock.
Interestingly I also use Home Depot's online store just to look up the aisle/section/shelf. Stores can have a locator system that doesn't need active electronics.
One example, I had recently rented a townhouse with very overgrown brush in the back yard, thick as a jungle. My weedwacker wouldn't scratch it, so I wanted a machete. The home depot employee acted like he'd never heard the term "machete" in his life. I explained what it was, and he shrugged, muttered something about big knives being illegal (untrue and ridiculous), and walked away. I found them in the gardening section.
It's very hit and miss. The biggest issue is that it can be very hard to locate anybody at all.
If you still can't find it (it's not 100% accurate) then just show them the app, with a convenient product picture and name.
Has worked for me when buying slightly obscure items there.
Cool idea but tricky execution. There'd need to be a way to "claim" that you already picked it up (maybe NFC from phone to specific item you pick up?) otherwise you get people chasing each other throughout the store.
I'd figure it'd work better just to embed one in the price tag for the item on the shelf or rack it's located on; at that point it's a matter of the store being kept as organized as possible so stuff doesn't get mixed into other areas.
I go to and use the Home Depot app in part because one can search for the aisle and section that any item is in for their particular store, and quickly find what they're looking for. The store near me is kept very well maintained, and the combination of aisle and section has never been wrong.
Attaching a radio beacon to a storage container or duct tape would be interesting, but it's just as useful to know that it should be in aisle 7 section 21, where I can go ahead and find it.
They want you looking around forever and hopefully buying some other things you didn't come in for specifically.
Same reason (I've heard) that milk is in the back of the grocery store. They want you to walk past everything and maybe notice something on the way to pick up that quick gallon of milk.
Almost nobody wants to use it that way (tested, worked and failed). It remains an idea that sounds great behind desks.
Could be a powerful addition to their future AR hardware.
Not true with beamforming. Imagine the chip as a little rotating radar dish.
(I used to love Tile, but as a product we hit its technological peak several years ago and the network effect does not seem to improving this incrementally as much as it used to)
On my iPhone X, Google Maps clearly shows the compass direction with a blue cone emitting from my location 'circle'.
I'd love to see the fidelity of this. It seems unbelievable...
There are references in OS betas to assisted reality head-sets and a Tile competitor, which will both likely access this chip- but since they aren’t ready yet the demos for them were spiked and other references to the underlying tech scrubbed.
It wouldn't really work if the new products only work with a product they released 6 months ago - there's little incentive not to just wait for the new phone anyway (Unless they expect everyone to be upgrading?).
like the one announced in the referenced iPhone announcement event?
This might be a feature worth upgrading over, but who wants to upgrade in the middle of a cycle? The only people who would benefit are those who already have this new iPhone anyway.
> Why Apple Did Not Announce The U1 Chip?
So with all of these amazing attributes, why did Apple not announce the Apple A1 Chip? I assert it is a confluence of things:
The iPhoneOS software needed is not yet released
Apple will release AppleLocate tags for holiday shopping 2019
Apple had too many things to announce at this Apple Event and this would take too much time
Apple is aware of the privacy implication many will cast and wants to spend more time to explain
Other issues I can not present at this moment in time
At a previous job we looked into locating. If you had two items parked on opposite sides of a common wall, you couldn't tell which rooms they were in. Which was critical for us since we did NOT want people wasting time running into the wrong room to grab it (think automated defibrillators)
“Hey Siri, we lost Spot the dog, do you know where he is?”
Siri: "I found this on the web for 'we lost Spot the dog, do you know where he is'" displays google results
Seriously Apple, Siri is awful in its current form.
On the hardware front, very few companies have the capability to design and manufacture their own chips. Apple does it repeatedly.
The article also points to the very long timeline they can adopt in development. Some of these concepts have been in play since the early 2000s.
I'll shamelessly paste it here since it's relevant to your comment:
Lots of people disappointed in the new iPhone. The reason I see is simple; Apple has long been outsourced a large fraction of its hardware innovation capabilities to other companies rather than having a full vertical ownership of the production line, unlike its competitors (Samsung, Huawei, etc).
This works very well when most of the required technologies are already there for bringing their idea to the reality so Apple doesn't have to push the state of the art for the manufacturing technologies. Multi-touch, Retina Display, Apple designed SoC were all good examples where this strategy worked out very well.
The trouble is that now most of the low hanging fruits are gone and the rest of innovation opportunities lie within the manufacturer side and require non-trivial investments. For instance, getting rid of notch requires camera under screen technology. This is being developed by Samsung, their competitor. The same thing applies to fingerprint sensor under screen. While all the competitors are shipping 5G in their flagships, iPhone 11 couldn't ship 5G due to their hard dependency on Qualcomm. In short, the current landscape doesn't allow Apple to keep itself on the bleeding edge in the smartphone business.
I'm curious about how Apple will address this problem. Disappointingly, I haven't seen any positive signal to indicate that Apple has a good plan to address this issue. It first tried a high-price, even-more-premium strategy and this turned out to be a disastrous one. Apple now tries to expand into the services business and chooses to be a competitor to its own ecosystem by exercising its dominant position. I'm pretty sure that this plan will work very well, maybe too well sufficient to de-prioritize the iPhone business just enough to keep its marketshare around 3~40% and make no more commitments. I hope I'm wrong.
It was the reason why UWB PHY was dropped from bluetooth
Interesting. Will this thing be always on and broadcasting my phone's precise location? Seems like a rather privacy-sensitive feature.
How common are the use cases where you need to know it’s 56 feet ahead?
No, but they'll give everyone a free one, and then the blowback will be terrible.
The way we used it is a bit power hungry and doesn't scale well, but we worked out a design that would have.
Think massive geopositioning satellites orbiting my living room and communicating with my iPhone? Neat!
It was flakey when it first came out, mainly due to hardware compatibility, but it’s pretty robust these days IMHO
So it’s like Batman Begins?