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A new proposal from Apple, highlighted today by AppleInsider, hints at their desire to provide ubiquitous connectivity to the internet through a series of tiny RF modules. At present, the only device in Apple’s lineup capable of providing wireless connectivity anywhere is the iPhone, supporting Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPRS, 3G and other wireless data technologies. An RF transmitter could — in theory — perform a very similar function, passing the connection on to all your nearby short range devices (such as laptops, iPods etc).
The vision is that these devices would be present in your home, car, clothing and workplace to ensure that you’re never without a connection to the internet. Apple suggest that “When the user moves from one location to another, the host device may determine which RF module to access when requiring use of a long-range communications protocol.”
One potential use would be to provide a robust VoIP network, passing your call data from one transmitter to another as you move around with no loss of connection. They won’t necessarily be simply inanimate network devices either — other proposed features include a microphone, display (an iPhone controlling watch anyone?), or the ability to control nearby devices.
The possibilities here do seem endless. It would provide a real new wave of innovation in terms of connectivity and re-write the book on how devices can interact with each other. That said, it’s also a very complex and ambitious technology to pursue — leading the field in a system such as this doesn’t fit with what Apple have done in the past. Their oft used approach favors watching other companies fumble around with a new technology before launching their own competition which alleviates all the problems posed by competing devices.
It’s a ground breaking concept, and a space worth watching, but I don’t foresee any physical products in the near future.