Apple Acquires ‘Passif Semiconductor’: Low-Power Design Chip Developer

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Apple Acquires ‘Passif Semiconductor’: Low-Power Design Chip Developer

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Apple seems to be on an acquisition spree lately. In another low-key acquisition, the company has bought Passif Semiconductor, a California based communication chip developer that specializes in low-power designs — technology that could be useful in developing a smartwatch-like wearable device.
Not a lot is known about the company, but what is known is that, the company has applied for a few patents, among them one titled ‘Autonomous battery-free microwave communication system’. The application describes a battery-free microwave frequency communication device which includes a capacitance, at least one antenna, a microwave energy harvesting system, a microwave frequency transceiver and a control system.

Details on the purchase were first reported on Thursday by Jessica Lessin, a tech reporter who formerly worked for The Wall Street Journal. Passif’s current products include wireless radios for Bluetooth Low Energy profiles.

It’s also unknown how much Apple paid for Passif, but according to Lessin, the iPhone maker attempted to buy the chip-maker years ago “a for a price in the mid-tens-of-millions of dollars.”

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Amy Bessette, a spokeswoman for Apple, has confirmed that the Cupertino giant has indeed acquired Passif Semiconductor. 

“Apple buys smaller technology companies at various times and it does not discuss its plans or purpose behind those acquisitions.” quoted Amy Bessette.

The acquisition may be linked to Apple’s rumored “iWatch” development, an anticipated wrist-worn device that is expected to connect with devices like the iPhone while also measuring biometric data for fitness and health purposes.

Apple has also been aggressively hiring personnel from the medical sensor field in an apparent attempt to bolster its team for the rumored “iWatch.”

In a rare move, Apple has even openly filed for ownership of the iWatch name in a number of countries around the world.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook revealed in May that his company had at that point acquired 9 companies since October of 2012. He also said that his company had picked up the pace since 2012, when Apple acquired companies at a rate of one every 70 days.

Since Cook’s comments in May, Apple has acquired three more companies. In addition to Passif, it bought public transit and navigation firm ‘HopStop’, as well as crowdsourced mapping data startup ‘Locationary’. While the buyout of Passif will help Apple’s future hardware, the benefits of the ‘Locationary’ and ‘HopStop’ purchases will most certainly be seen on the software front.

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Hitesh Arora
Hitesh Arora