AirTags (1/3). A concept more powerful than the product will ever be

Forkbeard Technologies
Feb 9 · 4 min read
Image from Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report

This article will feel like a déjà-vu if you have seen Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report. However, don’t worry, Apple will not kick-off a dystopia in which we can see our future play out on a screen. Quite the opposite actually. The concept underlying Apple’s AirTags, which we will call ‘’, will enable us to replay and analyze the past. In essence, it will go far beyond the intended use case of recovering lost items. We expect the Digital Twin to enable an entire range of sci-fi B2C and B2B products. But it all starts with the AirTag and its underlying concept, so here we go.

What is an AirTag?

Apple accidentally leaking AirTag development

Apple’s AirTag can be attached to a handbag, backpack, keys or other valuables. When the item is missing, one would use the Find My functionality in the iPhone to retrieve the lost item. For short distances that fall within the Bluetooth®- range of the AirTag, the tag would emit a sound in order to help the user locate the item. It’s the same principle as to how Apple users locate their iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch today, except that it can be expanded now across low-tech items.

A hypotential design for an Apple AirTag

For long distances where the missing item is truly lost and not just hiding below the couch or in a cupboard, it is rumoured that Apple will use other iPhones to locate the item’s position. As soon as another iPhone receives the Bluetooth® signal of the AirTag that is attached to the missing item, it will notify the item’s original owner.

Alternative products exist already (e.g. Tile or Samsung’s Galaxy SmartTag). However, given Apple’s dominant smartphone market share they will be able to leverage their network effects to provide an unparalleled value proposition.

Digital Twin Enablers

1. We can establish interactions between a person and an object (high- or low-tech) by attaching a tag to it. We can even establish the interaction between a person and a location if the tag is static and assigned to a permanent location. The industry term for a static tag is ‘beacon’, however for simplicity reasons we will refer to them as tags since they are the same device as the mobile tags.

2. To understand an interaction between two parties, for example between an object and a person, we do not need a direct interaction with the object. Instead, we can rely on another person who had a connection with the object if he/she is on the same network or platform. This significantly increases scalability and accuracy of mapping interactions between people, objects and locations.

Digital Twin — A powerful concept

So for now we can take Steven Spielberg’s idea in Minority Report and reverse it to look into the past. Doing that will enable a variety of novel use cases (which we’ll cover in-depth with another blog post). It will allow us to understand complex relationships and interactions between humans, objects and locations across time in a cost-efficient and scalable manner. I guess we will also be interested in using the Digital Twin to optimise our present interactions based on past ones. And in the future we might even try to predict some of the interactions. So really different to Spielberg’s dystopian movie, or maybe not after all?

Originally published at https://forkbeardtech.com on February 9, 2021.

The Great Indoors

Exploring the Last Navigational Frontier

Forkbeard Technologies

Written by

Forkbeard is building the world’s leading indoor positioning platform by combining Bluetooth Low Energy and ultrasound technologies.

The Great Indoors

Pioneering thoughts and strong visions around indoor positioning technology and its use cases.

Forkbeard Technologies

Written by

Forkbeard is building the world’s leading indoor positioning platform by combining Bluetooth Low Energy and ultrasound technologies.

The Great Indoors

Pioneering thoughts and strong visions around indoor positioning technology and its use cases.

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