Semiconductor startup Wiliot recently announced it had gained 430-million in series B funding ($50 million total) to continue its development of battery-free Bluetooth Sensor Tag, which siphons electromagnetic energy from RF sources, including Wi-Fi, cellular, and Bluetooth networks for power. Financial backers include Amazon, Samsung, and Avery Dennison, among a host of others.
At this point, it should be noted that the Israeli-based company has yet to manufacture or commercialize their Tags, which were only recently publicly unveiled at NRF (National Retail Federation) 2019. With that said, Wiliot’s miniature Bluetooth Sensor Tag features an Arm processor, temperature and pressure sensors, and is glued to an antenna that can be printed on either plastic or paper.
The Tag functions using two primary technologies, with the first known as wave computing — a form of processing that intelligently prioritizes computing and data storage applications when it encounters an RF signal. The second tech relies on backscattering, which remodulates that RF signal piped-through one channel, siphons a bit of energy from it, and then sends the collected data from the Tag back out through a different channel.
Wiliot describes real world applications for their Bluetooth Tag as being employed for real-time monitoring of consumer products during the manufacturing cycle, garnering increased product information from retail stores, communicating with appliances at home, and tracking stolen property.
“We are on the edge of dramatically changing the way products are made, how they are distributed, where and when they are sold, and how they are used and recycled. Re-cycling the radiation around us to power sticker-size sensors can enable new ways for consumers to interact with products that were previously not feasible. Products can share when they are picked up, their temperature, or when they need to be replenished. Without batteries or other high-cost components, tags have unlimited power and lifespan, so can be embedded inside of products that were previously unconnected to the Internet of Things.” —Tal Tamir, Wiliot CEO