Semiconductor company Wiliot has demonstrated the first battery-free Bluetooth sticker sensor tag.
Shown at NRF 2019 in New York, the Bluetooth sticker sensor tag incorporates an ARM processor powered solely by scavenging energy from ambient radio frequencies. A Wiliot chip glued to a simple antenna printed on plastic or paper can authenticate the proximity of a product by transmitting an encrypted serial number along with weight and temperature data from a device the size of a postage stamp.
Eliminating most of the components associated with traditional Bluetooth, these tags lower sale and maintenance costs to previously unachievable levels, the company stated. The tags use Wiliot’s breakthrough in nanowatt computing to communicate with any device enabled by Bluetooth low energy, such as smartphones, Wi-Fi access points and Internet of Things (IoT) devices that can connect to digital displays, Wi-Fi and LTE cellular networks.
Real-life applications for Wiliot tags include:
- Embedded in the production phase of consumer goods, allowing real-time tracking throughout the manufacturing process, to the warehouse and from the store to the end consumer – all while being sensed for critical information;
- At the retail level, the Wiliot transponder can overcome the limits of human-readable product information on tags or packaging, and providing interactive engagement through the consumer's own phone or displays;
- At home, consumers can communicate with their products to get instructions and reminders of when and how to use them, and Wiliot-enabled containers can automatically reorder themselves when empty;
- Tracking of valuable goods in case they are lost or stolen without having to add a dongle with limited battery life; and
- Clothing with Wiliot tags can communicate with washing machines to ensure garments are washed correctly.
Tal Tamir, Wiliot CEO and co-founder, said: ‘We believe that disposable electronics based on battery-free, low-cost systems are the foundation for future IoT systems. 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.
‘Recycling 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 IoT.’
On the heels of the first successful tests, Wiliot has closed a series B round of funding with Amazon Web Services, Samsung Venture Investment and Avery Dennison to raise an additional $30 million USD of funding. These organizations have joined Norwest Venture Partners, 83North Venture Capital, Grove Venture Partners, Qualcomm Ventures, and M Ventures for a total of $50 million USD in funding.
Francisco Melo, vice president and general manager, global RFID, Avery Dennison, said: ‘Wiliot’s strategy for battery-free Bluetooth transponders, which sense and communicate without needing specific action by consumers, is very relevant to Avery Dennison’s intelligent labels strategy.
‘We believe in a future where every item will have a unique digital identity and a digital life, benefiting both consumers and brands, with relevant and contextual information. We see this as an extension to our world-leading RFID solutions, enabling consumers to connect with products through multiple smartphone and IoT devices from end to end.’