What are UWB chips?
Ultrawideband (UWB) chips utilise a very high-frequency, short-range radio wave spectrum to enable precise and highly accurate location and tracking capabilities. UWB technology achieves this by sending out pulses of radio waves and measuring the time it takes for these pulses to bounce back after they reflect off objects in the environment. This allows for extremely precise distance measurements, making UWB an ideal technology for applications like indoor positioning, object tracking, and secure device authentication.
When did Apple introduce UWB?
Apple introduced UWB technology to its product lineup with the iPhone 11 in September 2019. The specific UWB chip used in Apple devices is the U1 chip, which has since been integrated into various Apple products like the iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirTags. The introduction of UWB marked a significant step forward in Apple’s efforts to enhance user experiences, security, and connectivity.
What do the UWB chips do in Apple devices?
The primary functions of UWB in Apple devices include:
Precise Device Location
: UWB enables precise device-to-device positioning. With the U1 chip, Apple devices can accurately determine their relative positions in space down to the centimetre level. This capability opens up possibilities for applications like finding misplaced items using AirTags, augmented reality (AR) experiences, and improved indoor navigation.
: UWB helps devices understand their physical surroundings better. This spatial awareness is particularly useful for AR applications, allowing virtual objects to interact more naturally with the real world. For example, UWB can be used to anchor virtual objects to specific physical locations.
: UWB enhances device handoff experiences. For instance, when listening to music on an iPhone and transferring playback to an AirPods Pro, the U1 chip can facilitate a seamless transition by accurately determining which device is in proximity and should take over playback.
How will the U2 chip be better than U1?
According to Gurman, the new chip will improve location capabilities and hence making it easier for users to track their devices more accurately in the Find My app. He also added that the next versions of all major Apple products could get the U2 chip.