Ultra-Wideband (UWB) and Bluetooth Technology for Apple’s AirTags

What Technology Does AirTag Use?

Apple’s AirTags are a supereasy way to keep track of your keys, wallet, backpack or more. They use Ultra-Wideband (UWB) to help find items, and Bluetooth for communication with the Find My app.

Apple says it’s also working to prevent stalkers from using the device to follow their victims. The company has updated the U1 chip to make it less easy for bad actors to do so.

Ultra-Wideband (UWB)

Ultra-Wideband is a radio technology that provides extremely precise location tracking. It is based on pulse-based radio waves with a very wide bandwidth (at least 500 MHz or 20% of the fractional bandwidth).

AirTags and Galaxy SmartTags use this technology to enable precise location tracking. This technology has proven itself as energy efficient, versatile, and virtually immune to attacks and interference.

Unlike previous wireless technologies that had only limited uses for this purpose, UWB offers new possibilities such as keyless entry for cars and home doors, and seamless integration of warehouses, shop floors and process chains. UWB also enables smartphones to become people’s direct connection to their objects, and can support innovations like Augmented Reality.

Bluetooth

AirTags use Bluetooth technology to communicate with your iPhone. Bluetooth is a wireless protocol that provides short-range communication between digital devices like phones, computers, and speakers.

It operates in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) spectrum band and uses a spread-spectrum technique that allows it to operate without interfering with Wi-Fi equipment. Bluetooth devices can be connected to each other to form a network, called a piconet, with up to seven devices at once.

Each device has a unique 48-bit ID, which makes it easy to connect the right devices together. Bluetooth is used in everything from the wireless earbuds that many people wear on their commute to the smart home systems that are popular among early adopters of home automation.

Bluetooth devices send signals to each other by emitting radio waves that bounce off nearby objects. These radio waves are constantly changing frequency, making it difficult to eavesdrop on the signal.

Find My App

Apple’s latest tech, AirTag, allows you to track the location of your keys, wallet, or anything else that tends to wander away. The puck-shaped tracker uses Bluetooth to communicate with compatible iPhones, acting as a crowdsourced GPS.

Each AirTag sends a unique identifier over Bluetooth, and if any other iPhone that has the Find My app open on it comes within range, that device will relay that identifier to iCloud. The AirTag’s owner can then see its location on a map.

While this is an effective tool for finding your misplaced items, it can also be used to stalk someone, and Apple has addressed these concerns in the past. Some states have even banned the devices.

To locate an AirTag, you’ll need a compatible iPhone with iOS 14.5 or higher and the latest version of the Find My app. You can use the app to play a sound from the tracker or turn on Precision Finding, which will guide you to it with on-screen instructions.

Find My iPhone

AirTags emit a Bluetooth signal that privately and securely connects to other devices on Apple’s Find My network. iPhones and iPads are constantly listening for these signals, and if they hear an AirTag that’s not theirs, they upload the tag’s identifier and its last known location to Apple’s servers.

That information is then sent to whoever has their iPhone nearby, who can play the AirTag’s speaker to help them locate it. They can also see a map of its location to help them figure out where it is, learn who owns it (through its identifier), or disable the tag.

The AirTags are small enough to slip into keychains, backpacks, and other belongings. The problem is that a stalker could use the device to keep tabs on their victim’s movements. Apple is working to address this issue by instituting new safeguards and collaborating with law enforcement. It is worth noting that Apple has stated publicly that the AirTag is designed to track items, not people.

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