Recently, Apple radiofrequency components supplier Qorvo announced it had acquired ultra-wideband (UWB) chipmaker Decawave for a reported $400 million. In a press release, Qorvo Mobile Products President Eric Creviston noted his firm would work with its new subsidiary to develop new UWB-based products. In particular, the executive highlighted development possibilities in the automotive, mobile, and Internet of Things (IoT) sectors.
Why Qorvo Bought Decawave
With the iPhone 11 series, Apple introduced a host of new hardware innovations, including better image sensors and battery life. The firm also embedded its latest line of smartphones with UWB chips for the first time. As such, the device maker effectively mainstreamed the cutting-edge millimeter wave technology.
UWB is a protocol that allows for ultra-secure, high-speed, and low-power data transmission. As such, the technology allows for incredibly precise distance ranging. Recently, automakers have teamed with semiconductor companies to create a new type of keyless entry system.
With it, users can protect their vehicles from unauthorized access via two-factor authentication. A UWB enabled car can detect the presence of its owner and verify their identity with a preset biometric gesture. As such, keyless entry systems utilizing the technology are not susceptible to relay station attacks.
Indeed, Jaguar used Decawave’s products in developing the keyless entry system for some of its vehicles.
Since the iPhone 11 features a UWB chip, it could perform the same function as a next-generation key fob. By purchasing Decawave, Qorvo can build UWB keyless entry systems for a host of automakers. Conversely, the manufacturer could utilize its new subsidiary’s technology to make components for a long-rumored Apple product.
A UWB-Enabled Apple Car
When promoting the iPhone 11’s UWB capability, Apple highlighted its ability to facilitate its AirDrop service. However, the device maker may have included the technology in its flagship device for another reason. Namely, the manufacturer might want to use its handsets as part of its long in development smart car offering.
Though it has never made an official announcement, Apple has reportedly been working on an automobile since 2014. The firm even got far enough in development to secure a self-driving car testing permit in 2017. But the corporation seemed to have de-prioritized “Project Titan” until somewhat recently.
Last June, the Silicon Valley giant purchased an autonomous vehicle startup called Drive.ai. Before being acquired, the firm received $77 million in funding to develop a high functioning driverless car system. Notably, the company touted the accuracy of its person recognition program.
In January, Apple bought an edge computing artificial intelligence (AI) developer called Xnor.ai. The firm specialized in developing highly sophisticated machine learning programs that can operate without an online connection. The startup also made AI with the ability to perform tasks related to voice recognition, image enhancement, and biometric validation.
Accordingly, it’s conceivable that Apple is gearing up to make its grand entrance into the automotive market. Moreover, the firm might use the iPhone as part of its keyless entry system. Having acquired a groundbreaking UWB startup, Qorvo has positioned itself as a potentially crucial supplier of Apple’s smart car components.