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Thread: Apple Air Tag- who thought up this thing?

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt Harms View Post
    At least the stand-alone trackers seem to have an Achilles heel - power source. It seems unlikely to me that anything small enough to be not easily noticed will have enough battery capacity to transmit for too long without being replaced or recharged. A cell phone doesn't have that limitation.
    Curt,
    They should last a year or so. I worked on Bluetooth 4.0 or Low Energy. Their goal was to create a sensor that used so little power that the battery life in operation would be indistinguishable from the batteries shelf life.

    Beacons we’re a big deal for a while. The idea is that when you are in a target store, you run a target app. The app is constantly looking for beacons which are coated in strategic spots. By looking at relative signal strengths of various beacons, the app knows where you are in the store.

    There are some benefits:
    if you want to find something, the app will locate it and guide you to it.
    You can input your shopping list and the app will plan a route for you.
    If you and your spouse both run the app, it can guide you to each other.

    Theres also creepy stuff:
    The app can serve up targeted adds based on your location.
    The app can observe how fast you move and when you pause

    I don’t know of any implementations of beacons in stores. As I recall, Macys played around with them. Early on, someone realized that you could tag your luggage or your kid and that’s where most beacons are used.

    As I recall, a beacon is a Bluetooth chip that happily transmits a unique number when asked. All the brains are elsewhere.

  2. #17
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    I forgot to mention that there are now very limited range Bluetooth devices that harvest their energy from wifi. Also, someone played around with a Bluetooth chip that used the energy from the Bluetooth query to power a response. This is how RFID and near field communication (NFC) work.

    I’m not in the game anymore. Retired a long time ago. So my information might be a bit stale.

  3. #18
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    The creepy stuff isn't limited to when you're using an airtag. This is something that's done with every phones OS. The beacons just make things less fuzzy.
    ~mike

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  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt Harms View Post
    At least the stand-alone trackers seem to have an Achilles heel - power source. It seems unlikely to me that anything small enough to be not easily noticed will have enough battery capacity to transmit for too long without being replaced or recharged. A cell phone doesn't have that limitation.
    Bad news:

    Air Tag Battery Life.png

    That if from the Apple web site.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
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  5. #20
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    I don’t see a way an air tag could be of much help to a stalker. There three classes of Bluetooth transmit power
    Class 1 has a nominal range of 100 meters
    class 2 is ten meters
    class 3 is 1 meter

    More power means less battery life. I bet the air tag is class 2. So our stalker would have to be within 10 meters to get a hit. And then there’s the mater of direction. In most receivers, there’s no way to know anything other than proximity. But…

    one of the last things I worked on was “angle of arrival” where the Bluetooth chip could make a pretty good guess about where a frame came from. There was also “angle of departure” which gave the chip the ability to beam a frame back to the sender without annoying everyone else. As I understood it, these two features were going to be part of a new smarter adaptive cruise control.

    Another feature that was part of the cruise control was meshing. This is a way for your device to receive a frame and pass it along. Again, this was for cars but also for the internet of things. A hotel manager could control all the lights in a building from her desk without any control wiring. Every device just gets power and the control messages are passed from device to device until the right one is found.

    now for more creepy stuff. Imagine meshing in cars is ubiquitous. Imagine that the police need to find a certain car. Every cop car broadcasts a vin search and that search goes from car to car until the chip in the target car gets it. That chip now starts broadcasting its location which eventually gets to the authorities. How might that be abused?

  6. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Feeley View Post
    I don’t see a way an air tag could be of much help to a stalker. There three classes of Bluetooth transmit power
    Class 1 has a nominal range of 100 meters
    class 2 is ten meters
    class 3 is 1 meter

    More power means less battery life. I bet the air tag is class 2. So our stalker would have to be within 10 meters to get a hit. And then there’s the mater of direction. In most receivers, there’s no way to know anything other than proximity. But…

    one of the last things I worked on was “angle of arrival” where the Bluetooth chip could make a pretty good guess about where a frame came from. There was also “angle of departure” which gave the chip the ability to beam a frame back to the sender without annoying everyone else. As I understood it, these two features were going to be part of a new smarter adaptive cruise control.

    Another feature that was part of the cruise control was meshing. This is a way for your device to receive a frame and pass it along. Again, this was for cars but also for the internet of things. A hotel manager could control all the lights in a building from her desk without any control wiring. Every device just gets power and the control messages are passed from device to device until the right one is found.

    now for more creepy stuff. Imagine meshing in cars is ubiquitous. Imagine that the police need to find a certain car. Every cop car broadcasts a vin search and that search goes from car to car until the chip in the target car gets it. That chip now starts broadcasting its location which eventually gets to the authorities. How might that be abused?
    The air tag supports Bluetooth 5.0 so in theory the range should be about 800 feet. However air tags also use the Apple Find My network, which means so long as the air tag is within the vicinity of any iPhone on the Find My network, it's location will be detected. So the air tag could be hundreds of miles away and as long as someone with an iPhone on the Find My network is near it, it will be detected. The battery life is estimated to be about a year.

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edwin Santos View Post
    There are a couple of protections. If you have an iPhone, it will detect the nefarious AirTag and messages will start popping up on your phone to say "AirTag found moving with you". Apple offers a downloadable app that will do the same thing on an Android phone. I think there is also a way to disable the device that is tracking you, ..,.
    I just read an article that said, yes, your iPhone will alert you. However people reported getting the alert, i think, up to 5 hours later by which time they were already home. Said android app will not alert you unless you open the app and ask it to check for a tag.

    The advice, if you are alerted to a rouge tag, is to not go home but go to a police station or to a public place and call the police.

    Google tells me the battery in one of these is good for a year.

    I suspect you might disable one with a hammer. Or ask a long-haul trucker or police officer to take it for a ride.

  8. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by John K Jordan View Post

    I suspect you might disable one with a hammer. Or ask a long-haul trucker or police officer to take it for a ride.
    What I meant was you can disable the air tag electronically. Once you are receiving an alert on your phone that an air tag has been detected, you can select the air tag in the Find My app and disable it. This might be the thing to do if the air tag is hidden and you can't find it, like somewhere on your vehicle. If you can find the device, yes, a sledgehammer or simply removing the battery are definitely options.

    I think someone else mentioned it, but if stalking someone is the goal of a bad actor, the air tag joins a long list of other ways to do it.

  9. #24
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    Apple AirTags are at the heart of many discussions right now, but they didn't start this stuff. As someone pointed out earlier, there is a huge number of devices like this available on the market. In fact, I noticed that a while bunch of pitches in emails that hit my spam quarantine in the last week for for similar tracking devices. Tile was the big name prior to AirTags for many folks.

    As always, these devices can be very useful but can also be misused...

    One other thing about AirTags...they cost $26 each. Someone using them for nefarious purposes has to come up with a bit of money just to start. They are also serialized...meaning traceable.
    Last edited by Jim Becker; 01-12-2022 at 8:49 PM.
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  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edwin Santos View Post
    What I meant was you can disable the air tag electronically. Once you are receiving an alert on your phone that an air tag has been detected, you can select the air tag in the Find My app and disable it. This might be the thing to do if the air tag is hidden and you can't find it, like somewhere on your vehicle. If you can find the device, yes, a sledgehammer or simply removing the battery are definitely options.
    I don't use an iPhone or have the android app so a brute force method would be my choice. I actually searched a car for one a few weeks ago. A friend was concerned about an ex boyfriend who wouldn't take no for an answer so I crawled under the car and checked inside the bumpers and such. Didn't find anything. She didn't have an iPhone either. I should probably get the android app for cases like that.

  11. #26
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    According to this description it's completely anonymous. I saw before Christmas someone with a Dodge Challenger or Charger high performance car went to the mall shopping. 2-3 hours later they were at a friends and got a notification of the Air Tag. Obviously someone was trying to "tag" their vehicle most likely for theft later. It could easily have been enough time for someone to either locate the item or the residence of the object or person. Here's the bullet points in the description. I'll put the Amazon link for where it came from too.

    • Precision Finding with Ultra Wideband technology leads you right to your nearby AirTag (on select iPhone models)
    • Find items further away with the help of hundreds of millions of Apple devices in the Find My network
    • Put AirTag into Lost Mode to be automatically notified when it’s detected in the Find My network
    • All communication with the Find My network is anonymous and encrypted for privacy, Location data and history are never stored on AirTag


    https://www.amazon.com/Apple-MX532AM.../dp/B0933BVK6T

  12. #27
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    We put a Tile (same as AirTag) in my Mom’s purse so my Dad can keep an eye on her. She has short term memory loss so it’s helpful in case she gets lost he knows where she is.

  13. #28
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    If every new technology that could possibly be used by criminals was banned we wouldn't have the Internet or smartphones along with many other things we take for granted in modern society,

  14. #29
    As to bluetooth distance of airtags, the story I saw showed some news lady and a guy on his computer, she had the tag in her purse and went into the city, shopping, eating, etc, while the guy sat on his computer and tracked her every movement in real time. He eventually showed up that outdoor table she was dining at, which freaked her out... And they stated that if there's a cell tower within range, a tag can be tracked. I don't even remember them mentioning bluetooth....
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  15. #30
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    The Airtag is strictly Bluetooth. No cellular or WIFI. They depend on iPhones with data connections transmitting the data to Apple's servers. If the lady had an iPhone the Airtag would constantly be sending her location through her iPhone. I am not happy to hear that my limited data might be used for updating the location of Airtags belonging to others.

    It seems the only reason Airtags even work in the USA is because iPhones are 40% of the phone market here.

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