updated 06:30 pm EDT, Mon July 14, 2014
Third-party companies previously made iBeacon devices, intent of device is unknown
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released documents on July 4 outlining a new device from Apple which point to a company-made iBeacon. The device was first spotted by router maker Securifi, which lists the new device seeking approval wireless certification from the FCC for the "Apple iBeacon." Previously, iBeacon hardware was only made by third-party manufacturers.
Apple's iBeacon technology is used to expand upon location services, starting with iOS 7 devices that utilized Bluetooth 4.0. The feature allows notifications based on context to applicable devices through third-party applications that utilize the technology. Location can be monitored with the use of Bluetooth Low Energy, including the proximity to a beacon or used tell others the user's location.
Information on the device paints it as a small, hub-like device with a micro-USB port and an on/off switch to the right of the port. The new device requires a power supply of 5V, 0.3A with a power rating of 3.7V, 15 mA. The iBeacon looks to be about 2.55 inches in diameter, if the scale of the drawing and provided measurements are accurate.
Inside the 57-page test documentation, the process of testing the 2.4 GHz band was only done in the presence of Bluetooth devices. This could indicate that the device will offer no connections to Wi-Fi, and only operate over Bluetooth.
Frequencies tested include channel zero at 2402 MHz, channel 19 at 2440 MHz and channel 39 at 2480 MHz. General information on the iBeacon places it at a highest working frequency of 2.4 GHz with a fundamental range of 2402 to 2480 MHz. Antenna gain is listed at 4.32 dBi.
It's possible that the iBeacon in the filing isn't intended for resale, but rather to be used as a replacement for third-party products inside Apple storefronts. Apple is notorious for wanting control at every level of their stores, so it could be the first step toward making their own internal-use hardware. However, it's also a possibility that the device could be the first foray into hardware for the HomeKit program, be it for resale, developers or retail applications.
AppleInsider points out that the hardware in the filing isn't consistent with a new product model number. The model number assigned to the iBeacon hardware is A1573, meaning that if it followed previous schemes, it would be an upgrade to an existing device. Otherwise, Apple may have simply elected to abandon the previous numbering method.