Matthew Chandler 24 / February / 21

How do apple airbags work? what is uwb and u1 chip? analysis

How do apple airbags work?

What is an ultra-wide band and why is it cool?

we understand how and you know that your iphone, even when you turn off bluetooth, doesn't actually turn it off. What's more, it continues to work even if your iphone just sits down.

and what if i tell you that your iphone is a locator that is constantly in contact with other devices. you are part of a huge network of apple devices!

all this is necessary to keep the find my function or the locator in russian working, so that if you lose your device, there is a great chance to find it or at least block it!

Apple has finally introduced the long-awaited airtag, which allows you to find things with an accuracy of a few centimeters! I wonder how it all works?

we begin to analyze the coolest system for finding devices. let's find out what the main feature of apple airbags or galaxy smart tag from samsung is. and most importantly-what does ultra band have to do with it, and how this technology will change our lives.

introduction

in case you didn't know, the find my iphone feature has been around for 11 years, even if it was called something else. It was introduced back in 2010. In the beginning, it just played music from a device that was connected to the network. a year later, with the release of ios 6, it became possible to remotely lock the device, and a year later, it became possible to remotely delete data from the phone.

Over the years, the app has been constantly changing and supplemented with various features, such as sending a message to the screen or generally finding the location of your friends. but the application changed not only in the software part!

iPhones were getting harder and harder, and Apple was adding new chips to all of its devices! starting with the iphone 4s, bluetooth 4.0 modules appeared in cupertino devices, which began to support the bluetooth le protocol, that is, low energy

in fact, in your iphone, and in any modern smartphone, in principle, there are 2 types of bluetooth:

1. bluetooth classic, that is, normal, fast, which is needed for example for communication with headphones, voice transmission, communication with an external speaker or connecting to a car.

2. but when there is no need to transfer a large amount of data, bluetooth le comes into play. Most often, it is necessary to work with smart home sensors or, for example, fitness trackers!

and it is low energy precisely because it consumes almost no energy compared to the usual one: 1 watt for normal, and for low energy, this parameter is up to one hundredth of a watt. The difference is 100 times. Therefore, smart home sensors can live for a year without the need to replace the battery.

but back to apple. as it turned out, they systematically and for a long time went to build the world's largest network for finding devices and it seems that they succeeded.

imagine that there are a billion apple devices in the world-phones, tablets,watches, laptops — and each device acts as a small locator, because each has bluetooth le.

and, starting with ios 13, apple has expanded the functionality, allowing you to not only detect and block devices, but even do it when your lost or stolen device is turned off. Moreover, even when it is set! After all, bluetooth le consumes almost no power.

I tested this feature when I fished my dead iPhone 12 mini out of the water. then the completely disabled device first sends me the location in the locator or finds my app.

 

but back to apple. as it turned out, they systematically and for a long time went to build the world's largest network for finding devices and it seems that they succeeded.

imagine that there are a billion apple devices in the world-phones, tablets,watches, laptops — and each device acts as a small locator, because each has bluetooth le.

and, starting with ios 13, apple has expanded the functionality, allowing you to not only detect and block devices, but even do it when your lost or stolen device is turned off. Moreover, even when it is set! After all, bluetooth le consumes almost no power.

I tested this feature when I fished my dead iPhone 12 mini out of the water. then the completely disabled device first sends me the location in the locator or finds my app.

airtac mini review

The apple tablet connects to the iphone just as we used to do with airpods. After connecting, you can name the label, and then put it in your wallet, attach it to your keys or backpack, then imagine yourself.

airtag runs on a 3-volt cr2032 tablet battery. you need to change it about once a year, it is done simply. Also inside there is a speaker for audio signals.

but as you understand, this is not just a bluetooth beacon, it also supports uwb, now we will explain in more detail.

apple airtag and uwb

starting with the iphone 11, the u1 chip appeared in smartphones. Apple didn't really say anything about it, only explaining that it would improve file transfer via airdrop. but journalists and enthusiasts immediately understood what apple was leading to.

and since 2019, there have been persistent rumors about airtag, a label that will allow you to accurately determine your location based on uwb technology. technology that was used by the military back in the 60s and that has not required certification by the US federal communications commission since 2002.

In general, uwb (ultra-wide band) is the transmission of a weak radio signal in an ultra-wide frequency range! What is it? Let's get this straight!

all of you have heard such designations as am and fm, and maybe other abbreviations. These are all methods of radio signal modulation.

Let's say there is some signal, say a sine wave. It can be transmitted in two different ways — the first is based on amplitude modulation, that is, when we change the amplitude of the signal, while keeping its frequency unchanged.

The second method is the one that most modern radio stations use — this is frequency modulation. when the signal is transmitted with the same amplitude, but its frequency changes. the receivers record the change in frequency and convert it into a digital signal, in the case of radio-the signal passing through the converters and amplifiers is eventually played in our speakers

There are of course other methods of modulation, or rather a lot of them, and they can be combined, but now we are not talking about this. Basically, all of our technologies such as wi-fi or bluetooth are based on a different combination of these types of modulation.

But what's so special about uwb technology?

instead of different modulation of the sinusoidal signal, which is necessary to transmit information, pulses are used! It is the time between these short pulses that is crucial here. the signals are sent at approximately 2 nanoseconds each. That is 2 billionths of one second!

This is the key feature of how uwb allows you to get so accurate information about the location of your airtag or any other device where there is a uwb chip!

and since the pulse is sent incredibly often, the accuracy of the measurement increases! It's just like a hot-cold game. the time decreases when you get closer to the object or increases accordingly when you move away! as a result, positioning accuracy is achieved up to several centimeters!

By the way, if you didn't know, then using wi-fi, for example, you can also position devices, but the problem is in accuracy — an error of about 1.5 meters.

In general, there are three different location options using uwb, but Apple and Samsung use two-way ranging or, in other words, time-of-flight measurement.

you may ask, where is this ultra-wide band anyway?

The system uses frequencies from 3.1 to almost 11 gigahertz. pay attention to the picture, our usual technologies, such as wi-fi or gps, have a very narrow frequency band. For example, wi-fi 2.4 gigahertz does not use the entire frequency range, but only a band with a width of only 22 megahertz.

while uwb uses a channel width of 500 megahertz, up to 1.3 gigahertz. This allows you to transmit large amounts of data while using the small power of the antenna itself!

in theory, uwb can transmit files at a speed of up to 480 mbps over a distance of up to 200 meters, while having a transmitter power of only 1 milliwatt. and this is 10 times less than the most economical version of bluetooth low energy, which has a speed limit of 2 megabits per second! of course, this is all in perfect conditions, but still impressive.

The modern uwb standard allows you to transfer files at a speed of up to 27 mbps, and for example, in the United States, devices with uwb do not require certification from the federal communications commission at all because of their low power!

In Russia, the frequencies are still assigned to the ministry of defense of the russian Federation and are closed for general use. but apple managed to reach an agreement and they are already testing the u1 chip in closed mode with us. We hope that soon everything will work as it should!

In addition, low power, actually close to noise, allows you to forget about the frequency conflict and for health: uwb is absolutely harmless. we get perfect local positioning with minimal power consumption! After all, the same airtag lives for a year on a regular tablet battery!

application

Now let's imagine what Apple, Samsung and other manufacturers will do with these features. After all, just searching for keys is just the beginning, and they clearly have high hopes for uwb.

The technology itself is already actively used in production and warehouses, for accurate positioning of goods, various equipment and people. and in America, in professional leagues such as the NFL and NHL, they are used to collect team and individual statistics in real time for coaches, media and fans, and for subsequent tactical analysis!

This technology will become the basis for smart home systems, and in general for the internet of things. your car will know exactly who is coming to it and automatically adjust the mirrors, seat, turn on your favorite music: volkswagen has already announced this in their cars. and apple itself, talking about u1, has already opened cars with the iphone using uwb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Matthew Chandler
Matthew Chandler
Matthew Chandler 33 years old Born in Edinburgh. Married with one child. Graduate University of Cambridge, Psychology course 2011. Works at Acclaim Studios London.

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