Apple Patent reveals the use of new Doublet Antennas that deliver Ultra-Wideband Connectivity for 'Car Keys' & Other Applications
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to iPhones, beginning with the iPhone 11, that delivers Ultra-Wideband communications using doublet antennas to improve communication circuitry. Wikipedia describes Ultra-Wideband in-part as having traditional applications in non-cooperative radar imaging. Most recent applications target sensor data collection, precision locating and tracking applications.
For Apple, Ultra-Wideband (UWB) is used in the Apple-NXP Car Keys feature to unlock BMW car doors. Neil Shah, an analyst at Counterpoint Research believes UWB that Apple could use in future financial transactions with other devices such as ATMs, point-of-sale terminals and more.
It's very possible that UWB will be used in iPhones that provide an indoor navigation feature for malls and airports. It will also be used with smart home and future office door systems beyond vehicle doors.
Below is chart from a UWB Consortium that presents an overview of where UWB could be used in the future that includes AR and VR Gaming; Gesture-based control; Presence activation of devices; social distancing measuring; Patient tracking; indoor parking systems and more. Just click on the image below to enlarge the graphic.
While the patent filing covers all of the possible antennas that could be used in an iPhone, at the heart of the patent they describe the use of new doublet antenna structures supporting UWB that could be set into the sides of the device hidden behind various materials including glass of the iPhone 11. Apple's patent is focused on the technology of antennas and doublet antennas specifically and doesn't discuss future consumer applications.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below presents an iPhone and FIG. 9 an iPad where doublet antennas could be located on each side of these devices. This may allow the doublets of antennas to collectively cover all angles around device creating a full sphere around the devices.
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Apple's patent FIG. 10 above provides us with a perspective view showing how one doublet of antennas may be mounted within a corresponding region #96 of device 10. As shown in FIG. 10, peripheral conductive housing structures #12W may include a dielectric antenna window #98 that overlaps a given doublet #72 (e.g., antennas 40-1 and 40-2 of doublet 72 may be aligned with dielectric antenna window 98). Dielectric antenna window 98 may be filled with dielectric material such as plastic, ceramic, glass, or other dielectrics that serve to protect antennas 40-1 and 40-2 from damage and to hide antennas 40-1 and 40-2 from view.
Apple notes that antennas #40-1 and #40-2 in the doublet may each include a corresponding slot #76 (e.g., for covering the 6.5 GHz UWB band) and a corresponding slot #78 (e.g., for covering the 8.0 GHz UWB band) in conductive structure #74.
Apple's patent application 20200259258 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q1 2019.