updated 12:20 pm EDT, Thu October 23, 2008
Apple PAN extender patent
Apple may be seeking to implement a form of personal-area networking (PAN) technology as a boost to some of its devices, a patent application suggests. Newly published by the US Patent and Trademark Office, the filing describes the concept of small RF modules which would bridge devices without long-range communications technology -- such as MacBooks, iPods and car stereos -- with those that do, namely the likes of the iPhone or a specially-designed transmitter.
The long-range formats would likely include cellular ones, such as GSM, EDGE or CDMA. The RF modules would be low-cost items, and most likely without an interface, serving only to send and receive through protocols such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or generic RF bands. Modules could be kept alongside other objects, such as in a bag or on clothing, but could also be spread throughout homes or office buildings for constant Internet access.
Such a scheme could similarly be used to create VoIP networks, or enable telephony and SMS functions on otherwise incompatible hardware. By extension, it could be used to seamlessly transition calls between PAN and cellular networks.
Apple has in the past expressed interested in having location-specific services for Apple hardware, such as restaurant menus tailored to each user, or schedules and ticket sales at concert venues. The proposed RF modules could in theory simplify the execution of the concept.