Apple Air Tags explained in a patent

Two patents have appeared that explain in detail the operation and use cases of Apple Air Tags, in a clear sign that the product is ready for presentation and there is nothing that the competition can do to neutralize it before it is released. know.

Patently apple He calls them “Master Patents,” meaning that they not only explain how the product works, but provide an overview of the full line of products involved.

Patents, which include a large number of images, are called “Mounting Base for a Wirelessly Locatable Tag”(Mounting base for a wirelessly locatable“ Tag ”) and“Fastener with a Constrained Retention Ring”(Strap with retaining ring) describe a wirelessly locatable device that can be used to determine the absolute position of an object in a way that is tighter than using GPS. The patents also show a large number of potential uses for AirTags.

The documents outline “a device used to locate physical objects” than “small, and with an adequate shape to be able to be attached to objects”, with “a robust structural design that guarantees a reliable use in case of impacts, falls or general situations of damage. potential in different scenarios and conditions ”. They suggest that “the device could be waterproof or at least water resistant, and may be able to withstand direct impacts, drops or adverse situations that may occur in normal use of the device.” It could also offer audible or haptic responses.

The images included in the patent also show the potential design of the device, which coincidentally closely resembles the rumors about the design with a metal disc on the back and a plastic casing on the top and sides. A leather bag with a key ring is also illustrated in the patent.

The location and tracking capabilities and direction of objects that the device has are called extremely reliable, so that “a phone may be able to determine the location of a” tag “with an approximation of less than one meter, and even with less than thirty centimeters ”. The patents explain how the general connected environment that includes labels, phones, computers, and other devices offers new features, presumably using an ultra-wideband connection.

Beyond locating a lost object, the devices can be used to trigger actions on the devices when they are within a certain radius or orientation. The patent offers the example of a “Tag” “placed in a room of a building so that when someone enters, their smartphone detects that they are within the distance threshold of the“ tag ”, which causes a map of the building to appear on the smartphone ”.

The patents also explain that the devices can operate in different ways. In a “normal operational mode… the tag can conserve energy and establish one-off or intermittent communications between one or more devices ,,, to confirm the location and exchange information about the status or location of the tag. In this way, the location device can periodically update other devices ”. Interestingly, this communication could occur in one direction only, without the tag receiving any information about the other devices despite transmitting.

“Lost mode” would occur “in response to an unexpected loss of communication between the locating device and one or more devices” allowing the tag to conduct encrypted transmissions through other devices to send information to the owner of the device. In other words, a lost tracking device could be “secretly” discovered by another person simply because it has come within range, allowing the owner to see the location of the lost tracking device. Another way would be to use the same system to report the location and status of tags that have been forgotten at home, for example, through their connection with other devices in the home.

The images also show tracking devices tucked into compact storage boxes, an Apple Watch strap, a cable or tape, a circuit that you can open or close. The patent also indicates that these devices could be charged mounted on a base, which may be similar to the Magsafe charging cable that Apple just introduced.

Interestingly, the images accompanying the patents also show how the devices could be positioned on the user’s body to monitor the user’s posture, record body movement to control a game or avatar, or monitor body movements in training.

The proprietary devices can also be used in augmented reality and games of that kind. For example, these “pills” could be used as pieces in an Augmented Reality chess game, since their position can be determined with great precision. They could be visually substituted in an augmented reality environment by computer-generated graphics.

Although patents are not conclusive proof that ‌AirTags‌ will have all these characteristics when they are announced, the length and breadth of the patents is surprising (and there is no doubt that it aims to limit the growth capacity of potential competitors and that other competitors block the development of new functionalities on AirTags.

We have already covered Apple Air Tags patents on other occasions