On Jan. 14, a fabless semiconductor company called Wiliot unveiled its latest offering; a new Bluetooth sensor tag. However, what differentiates Wiliot’s tag from dozens of others on the market is that it doesn’t have a built-in power source. Instead, it draws power from ambient Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular radio waves. The firm’s incredibly small and paper-thin sticker has an ARM processor, a range of three meters, and can measure temperature, weight, and location.
Although it won’t be ready for release until 2020, Wiliot’s innovative new tag has already attracted the attention of a number of tech giants. Earlier this week, the three-year-old company secured $30 million in funding from a number of corporations and venture capital firms, including Amazon, Samsung, and Qualcomm.
Consequently, it’s clear that those companies believe Wiliot’s battery-free tags could have a big impact on the burgeoning Internet of Things market.
Possible Applications of Wiliot’s Tags
Although Wiliot’s announcement video did not showcase any particular uses for its latest product, its size, capability, and presumed inexpensive manufacturing cost mark it as a product with a host of applications. In terms of consumer products, it could be attached to a milk carton, track its dwindling volume and alert the purchaser when they need to buy more.
And once Amazon Go goes nationwide, a variety of empty food containers could be programmed to order their replacements.
Wiliot’s representatives have also stated that they expect to do business within the clothing industry. Steve Statler, the company’s senior vice president of marketing and business development, explained that the battery-free tags track the movement of individual items throughout a retail space and are encoded with cleaning instructions and pairing recommendations.
As such, they can be a powerful tool for both loss prevention and advertising.
And, given their low cost, lifespan and power efficiency, Bluetooth tags can handle product tracking in every sector with remarkable cost-effectiveness. By integrating the tags into an existing logistics infrastructure, a company could not only track the location of its products throughout the supply chain, but also track their freshness.
A Battery-Free Future?
Despite catching the eye of several major corporations with its new tags, Wiliot isn’t planning on resting on its laurels.
The startup’s CEO, Tal Timar, explained that he sees battery-free Bluetooth tags as merely the first step in an eventual ambient energy-powered electronics revolution. Though Tamir didn’t go into detail about what Wiliot is currently developing, he did imply that the creation of a battery-free smartphone is inevitable.
As lithium-ion battery production and disposal is a significant environmental issue, the ambient energy electronics revolution might also lead to a new green revolution.