Apple Submits Mystery 'Wireless Device' With Bluetooth and NFC to FCC


macrumors member
Nov 22, 2015
San Jose, CA
Could be for internal use, maybe to check in to a meeting room using your Apple watch? Currently there are little touch-screen displays to "log in" to conference rooms internally at Apple. NFC also implies some kind of POS (Point of Sale) pay terminal.


macrumors newbie
Sep 23, 2016
RS-485 is a communications bus used for industrial controls. Typically there are many devices connected to a RS-485 bus and you send com packets down the wire serially to address each of the nodes.

A network of thermostats would be a good place to use this kind of thing....
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macrumors 6502
Aug 18, 2014
'In theatre and performance venues RS-485 networks are used to control lighting and other systems using the DMX512 protocol'


macrumors 6502
Apr 21, 2010
Considering RS-485 bus, NFC and the only wireless protocol filed for is BLE, it is not an very active device.


macrumors 68020
Aug 27, 2014
Charleston, SC and Everett, WA
You'll be out and about, and realise it's a chilly day. You'll be able to say "Siri, turn my heating on so it's 20ºC when I get home" and it'll happen. This kind of Siri integration seems obvious when Apple are also planning an Echo-like device. Mark my words there'll be loads of networked Siri-controlled Apple IoT devices within a year.
Like I used to do from my Windows Phone 11 years ago with Microsoft Voice Command and Homeseer?

I know the above sounds snarky towards you, but it's meant towards the home automation industry. I am glad that :apple: is doing this, and I do hope that there is one standard (vs. X10, Zigbee, Z-Wave, Insteon, and every other group that says, "I know how we can corner the market. We'll make our own standard, and everyone will BOW TO OUR WILL!") and it succeeds.

However, there has to be one last thing: Make it worth spending an extra $100 for a thermostat that'll make coming home to a warm (or cool) house, rather than having to wait an extra 15 minutes hovering over the vent for that warmth (or coolness).

In your scenario, I'd like Siri or the iPhone to be set so that as you leave work on M-Th, it figures you're coming home, and looks at traffic, and figures you'll be home in 20 minutes, so it starts warming the house for you. On Friday, Siri notices that you go out with friends, and starts looking at your movements at 11pm.


macrumors 6502a
Apr 21, 2004
Anyone else find it funny that a "wireless device" has a "wiring guide" printed on it? :)

But seriously, this sounds like a thermostat. Why they would make their own instead of just relying on third parties like Ecobee, who already have a very capable HomeKit compatible thermostat, I don't know.


macrumors 68040
May 29, 2003
Visit site
RS-485 is used in model railways according to Wikipedia... Apple model HO scale train set confirmed.
RS-485 is used in lots of places! It is a common low cost "networking" method in the industrial sector. The question is where will Apple use this capability.

Someone suggested thermostats which is possible though I've never worked with one supporting RS-485. It is possible though because the interface easily supports this use case. Frankly I don't see any value in this connected home nonsense, I don't see such nonsense being any more successful than the Nest solution.

So I'm still up in the air as to what this might be.


macrumors 6502a
Apr 21, 2004
Could be for internal use, maybe to check in to a meeting room using your Apple watch? Currently there are little touch-screen displays to "log in" to conference rooms internally at Apple. NFC also implies some kind of POS (Point of Sale) pay terminal.
NFC doesn't always have to deal with sales. LG has an NFC capable washing machine. Because you might want to program your washing machine from your smartphone..... for some reason.....

Seriously, you add new wash cycles to your washing machine with an Android phone. It just sounds weird.


Editor emeritus
Jul 10, 2003
Falls Church, VA
Lots of thermostats use RS485 control signals. I'm telling you all, it's a thermostat.
That would have to be one of the most narrowly targeted thermostats out there. Most thermostats still have separate wires for fan control, heating, cooling (or separate stages of cooling/compressor control), power, and common. Also, the voltage supplied to a thermostat is typically 24V AC. You can see that this isn't rated for anything more than 13.2V.

My money is more on this being something that used inside Apple right now rather than this going to market.

EDIT: The idea of this being an Apple Pay device for vendors is also an absolute possibility.
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Lord Hamsa

macrumors 6502a
Jul 16, 2013
Let me guess...

This device is wired to the wall just inside your front door. Home or office.

An invited visitor to your house/office taps their iPhone on it as they enter. They are then magically given permission to control your home automation devices from their phone. Perfect for friends, relatives, babysitters, pet-sitters, kid's friends, workmen, nannies, etc.

No more of this messing-around where you, the homeowner, have to act like a sysadmin and manually enter everybody's email address to grant them "permission" and all that nonsense. No, just a simple rule that if they're physically inside your house they can turn the light on. Just like a normal house! :)

And when they leave bluetooth range (i.e., they leave for the day) they automatically lose access until the next time you let them in and they tap their phone on this NFC gadget thing.
Oh, I doubt this is what they're working on, but it's a great idea. Even better if you replace (or extend) "home or office" with "hotel room".
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macrumors 68020
Jun 26, 2007
San Diego, CA
I'm thinking it's an Apple Pay device to compete with Square.
I hope it is a POS device to rapidly expand NFC usage to millions of small retailers.

The RS-485 reference makes sense for existing legacy register systems.

You may have something there.
It would promote their Apple Pay very well.
Apple hasn't gotten the necessary EMVco approvals for such a device, so this is unlikely IMO.

That said, they could easily have submitted it under a different name (or is still in the process of getting certification).


macrumors member
Aug 26, 2010
This is hardly thermostat, why thermostat even need NFC, doesn't make sense at all, also thermostat require much more cable than RS-485 protocol. It is also impossible for IOT since NFC is hardly required, and Apple will not design networking over RS485 bus, they rather use wireless solutions. There are no Wifi or Ethernet, so HomeKit Hub is also impossible.

It is more likely a NFC reader for POS system to accept Apple Pay, or door access card reader (less likely).

for example:
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