A new leak may reveal the full potential of Apple's upcoming AirTags
Apple has been rumored to release a new product called an AirTag for some time now. These accessories might have been on the market already were it not for possible delays imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, this may just be as well, as their maker has reportedly been granted new patents for them and their applications.
This intellectual property may at least imply many potential applications for these tags. The leaks on this subject to date may have helped build the idea that AirTags - depicted thus far as round puck-like objects in their renders - are to be new contenders in the consumer-grade property-tracking space. However, the new patents suggest that the OEM's plans go far beyond that.
The most recent tips on this upcoming product indicates that they will come in 2 different sizes, 1 of which could be small enough to fit into an Apple Watch band. According to one of the new patents, this is exactly where they are designed to go.
This leads into many possible ramifications for what they might be there for, which range from simply tracking the device to tracking the person wearing it. This may also feed into the use-case for which the Watch SE is promoted: the remote monitoring of children or vulnerable seniors on the part of care-givers.
However, it seems that AirTags might also function to simply track human motion and activity in general. One this note, they also now seem to have housings that can clip or stick onto clothing for these purposes. Apple's new patents seem to show that the tags wil support the data-sharing and near-field functions necesary to make all this possible.
Furthermore, the 'Tags may also become capable of sending, receiving and requesting information from the compatible devices around them, which may also include directing certain electronics to connect to servers via clouds, which may then send data back to them through the same or other devices.
This might have a number of real-world effects, which could include the identification and location of a lost device thanks to the ecosystem around it. Alternatively, AirTags could be installed in public or corporate spaces in order to automatically push documents such as building maps or directions to the phones (or watches) of guests.
The new US patents also suggest that AirTags might also be able to use or leverage edge computing to exert these effects. Needless to say, they are also described as containing the batteries, sensors and other components necessary in order to make all these potential use-cases happen. All in all, Apple may want these new accessories to become an ubiquitous, perhaps even default, solution for "smart" or "connected" environments.
Then again, as the patents in question were only just granted (on October 22, 2020), it looks like this hypothetical AirTag-powered future may be reserved for the second generation (at least) of these products. In the meantime, their first iterations are thought to arrive on the market in or around the first quarter of 2021.