FCC filing suggests Apple will enter the iBeacon hardware business

iBeacon FCC filing

Apple’s iBeacon technology has potentially massive implications across a range of areas — many of them having been demonstrated over the past year.

Up until now, however, Apple has handled only the software side of the equation with the aid of the microlocation technology found in iOS. That may be set to change with new first-party iBeacon hardware, for which FCC filings have just been uncovered by electronics company Securifi.

Registered as the “Apple iBeacon” and with a model number of A1573, the document describes how the technology was tested in collaboration with the Chinese company Audix Technology, between April 30 and May 13 this year. The beacon in question (at least in the case of the model tested) is USB-powered, has a diameter of 5.46’, and a working frequency of up to 2.4GHz, which is standard for Bluetooth.

Since the introduction of its public API last fall, iBeacons have been implemented by the MLB, in bars, theme parks, airports, museums, and numerous retailers — including Apple Stores. A recent report by ABI Research suggests that in five years time around 60 million iBeacons and other Bluetooth LE beacons will be in use, with applications ranging from enterprise, to hospital management, to smart homes. This market would have a net worth of around $500 million.

Because Apple previously hasn’t made iBeacon hardware, it was startups like Quuppa, Sonic Notify and StickNFind which stood to gain the most from the ensuing beacon revolution.

While it’s unknown exactly when Apple plans to begin iBeacon hardware production, this new FCC filing shows the company doesn’t plan to be left out in the cold for┬ávery long.

  • Demonstr8r

    A dedicated iBeacon device for the home doesn’t make much sense. How many devices are consumers going to mount on the ceiling or walls? Including iBeacon in a thermostat or smoke detector would be a much better option IMO. Too bad Apple didn’t acquire Nest instead of Beats. I’m hoping that Nest includes support for iBeacon and HomeKit, but I’m doubtful that will happen anytime soon, if ever.

    • Duncan Hill

      you could link it to security settings; no need for passcode when near your own iBeacon for example.

      • Demonstr8r

        That doesn’t seem helpful, especially as easy as the TouchID is to use. And so when my iPhone and/or iPad are on the desk in my home office charging, then with your suggested usage scenario anyone can access my devices and my personal content. Hmmmm!? No thanks!

  • http://www.designstrategies.com Len Williams

    Maybe Apple wants to get into selling iBeacon devices to businesses. The technology seems to be catching on, and they could make millions in selling to retailers, hotels, etc. Who knows, this may be Apple’s reach into commercial sales, moving from just consumer electronics goods.

    I wouldn’t worry about Apple not buying Nest. There are all kinds of home control devices Apple could create that would help to make home automation via iOS and Mac devices an elegant reality. Imagine a personal iBeacon being aware that you’re nearly home, knowing what room you’re in and being in communication with lighting, thermostat and other home devices. Voice control via Siri of appliances could become a reality with iBeacon.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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