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Apple submits mysterious 'wireless device' for certification

By James Walker     Feb 13, 2017 in Technology
Apple has submitted a mystery product identified only as "wireless device" for testing by the FCC. It's the third time the company has filed the item in the regulatory database but details on what it is remain elusive.
Apple first submitted its "wireless device" to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) back in September. It reappeared last month and has now cropped up again in a third listing in the FCC's database.
Little is known about the device except that it has a compact form factor and support for different types of wireless connectivity. The regulatory label location image included with the initial filing showed a small back plate responsible for holding the product together. Later versions of the image have been revised to suggest a smaller footprint.
Apple has requested absolute confidentiality, withholding all other documents and schematics from the public domain. However, the FCC's test reports reveal the device features Bluetooth Low Energy and NFC connections. It has been tested for RF radiation produced by wireless connectivity signals.
The only other fact known about the product is its power draw, peaking at a low 700mA with a minimum of only 100mA. The device described in the latest filing is model number JR1A. JR1 and JR2 have previously been passed to the FCC, suggesting this could be a variation of the first device.
With not a lot to go on, Apple fans have been left to speculate on the identity of the "wireless device". Some have suggested it might be the next-generation Apple TV because the back plate design is similar to that of the current version. The apparent lack of Wi-Fi connectivity makes this unlikely though.
It's also possible the device is Apple's long-rumoured Amazon Echo rival, a Siri-powered smart speaker for the connected home. The absence of Wi-Fi is also a sticking point here as with only Bluetooth and NFC available, the device could not directly connect to the Internet. Other plausible explanations include some form of Internet of Things device, such as a smart thermostat, or a new kind of accessory for Apple's existing line-up.
Needless to say, this product may never see the light of day. It's unclear whether it's intended for consumer use, particularly as Apple intends to etch lengthy regulatory text directly onto the casing. In any case, the design and features suggested in the filing don’t seem to align directly with any of Apple's current or rumoured products.
It could turn out to be a device for internal usage at its new campus or in Apple retail stores, potentially leaving the mystery unsolved indefinitely. Apple's confidentiality letters to the FCC advise photos and documents can be revealed after 180 days though, implying we may get more information in the summer.
More about Apple, Devices, IoT, Fcc