Apple Acquires Low-Energy Chipmaker Passif, Could Boost Passive Communication Efforts

Apple has recently bought Passif, a Silicon Valley-based low-energy chipmaker, according to a new report from Jessica Lessin and confirmed by Apple. The company works on communication chips that practically sip power, and offer up radio communication using tech like Bluetooth Low Energy, which is good indicator of why Apple probably came calling.

Apple’s iOS 7 contains a new feature called that uses low energy tech to enhance location awareness, and could potentially make it possible for Apple devices to talk to receivers and transmitters installed in museums, shops and other locals, to call up contextually-relevant apps, Passbook passes or other information (Computerworld has a good overview of its potential here). It could work with systems like those described in Apple’s patent filing this morning regarding adjusting in-car and at home environment settings automatically.

This kind of tech is also very useful in providing power savings benefits while devices like the iPhone are connected to and communicating with devices like fitness trackers and other wearable tech. That means a Passif purchase could help with the development not only of future smartphones and tablets at Apple, but also potentially still-unannounced devices like the rumored iWatch.

Apple has purchased chip engineering firms in the past, including Intrinsity and PA Semi, and this purchase also might fit with its recent buy of  indoor positioning company Wifislam. It’s a tantalizing acquisition indeed, especially as iOS 7’s launch and the wide availability of its new location beacons tech is set for this fall, and CEO Tim Cook and other Apple execs have teased big releases through the end of 2013 and into next year.