It’s long been rumored that Apple has been working on AirTags, which could take on the best key finders and product finders like Tile. But even after two recent product launch events we’ve yet to see them materialize as an official product,
While Apple may not be ready to show us what AirTags can do, new patents reveal that they’re built for a lot more than just finding your keys. They might even help save your life one day.
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Patently Apple has come across two new AirTag patents, and it seems Apple may have plans for AirTags beyond just finding your own personal property. In fact, the patents detail using these devices to help locate people and emergency equipment, among other things.
As detailed by the patent, the core functionality of AirTags is keeping tabs on all your stuff. These patents have extra details on how this can be accomplished, using AirTag-specific fasteners, mounting bases, specialized Apple Watch bands, and the ability to track and triangulate things using other Apple products.
But what about the rest? Finding emergency equipment is fairly self-explanatory really. The AirTag is fitted to something like a defibrillator or fire extinguisher, so someone could easily locate them in an emergency using their phone. Finding people is a bit different, but the patent features the illustration of a bracelet that a person could wear if they aren’t able (or willing) to use a more advanced device.
Of course, there are issues with those ideas as well. The patent seems to detail an interface that will direct you directly to the nearest emergency equipment, rather than a less helpful dot on the map, but there’s more to it than that. Whether it’s server issues, unfamiliarity with the area, or the fact not everyone has an iPhone, it’s probably not a great idea to put all your faith in a piece of fallible tech. Likewise, tracking a human being has all sorts of privacy and security implications, especially if kids are involved.
The patents also detail using AirTags for other less important things, like using AirTags in combination with a precise Ultra Wide-Band radio-powered positioning system to improve posture, and controlling a video game by attaching multiple AirTags to your person.
While it’s not clear when we’ll be able to actually buy AirTags, it’s clear Apple wants them to be more than just a Tile clone. Though patenting an idea is one thing, actually implementing it is another. Who knows if and when any of these hypothetical AirTag uses will see the light of day.