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Category: RFID, Automated Data Collection, and Internet of Things


RFID, AIDC and IoT News: Israeli Company Claims Breakthrough in Low Cost Passive Bluetooth Chip and Sensors


New Tags Harvest Energy from Ambient Wi-Fi and Cellular Signals


Jan. 30, 2019
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Israeli semiconductor startup Wiliot recently announced it had gained $30-million in new funding (making it $50 million total) to support development of its battery-less Bluetooth Sensor Tag, as it unveiled its new RFID-like solution at the National Retail Federation trade show in New York City in mid-January.

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The company adds that without batteries or other high-cost components, tags have unlimited power and lifespan.

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New investors in Wiliot include some heavy hitters, including Amazon, Samsung and Avery Dennison, as the company announces what it says is world’s first passive Bluetooth sensor.

Wiliot (note the play on IoT in the name) says its tag somehow harvests electromagnetic energy right out of the air, if you will, from a variety of ambient RF sources, including Wi-Fi, cellular, and Bluetooth networks.

Wiliot calls this "re-cycling the radiation around us," in a clever line.

The tag functions using two primary technologies. The first is known as "wave computing" - an approach that intelligently prioritizes computing and data storage applications when it encounters an RF signal.

The second technologies uses a form of backscattering, which remodulates that RF signal piped-through one channel, siphons away some of its energy, and then sends the collected data from the tag back out through a different channel.

At the NRF show, Wiliot said the chip is paper-thin and about the size of a postage stamp. It can sense weight and temperature and is able to send encrypted information including an EPC number via Bluetooth a distance of about 2-3 meters – a distance that is likely to increase over time, Wiliot claims.

As a result of this approach, the chips can be made very cheaply, allowing far more items to be tagged than today, the company says.

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The tags are glued to an antenna that can be printed on either plastic or paper.

Williot Claims Breakthrough in Passive Bluethooth Tags and Sensors


Wiliot describes real world applications for their Bluetooth Tag as including 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.


It is making some bold claims.

"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, said Tal Tamir, Wiliot CEO in a press release. "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."

The company adds that 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.

However, it is all a concept more than a solution at this point, as the company has yet to manufacture any tags. It says it expects to start producing the tags in 2020.

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