Wiliot Expects to Harvest Even More RF Energy

Article By : Dan Jones

The best-funded energy harvesting startup will grab power from more than just Bluetooth with its next product.

Energy-harvesting IoT startup Wiliot says it is expecting to launch the second version of its tiny, self-powered chipset around October this year.

Steve Statler, SVP of marketing at Wiliot says that the next version of its postage-stamp-sized silicon will move beyond just capturing energy from Bluetooth radio waves. “With version two… we’ll harvest other bands as well,” Statler tells EE Times.

The company has not detailed which radio bands the new chip will harvest energy from yet. Other energy-harvesting companies have previously utilized unlicensed bands such as 868 MHz, 915 MHz, and 5.8 GHz.

The Wiliot SVP says that the original chipset can already harvest energy from very faint Bluetooth signals. “I think we’re unique in our ability to capture the weakest signals,” Statler states. The sensitivity of the Wiliot harvester is -35 dBm, he says. “Normally [in] energy harvesting and low-power computing, they tend to focus on things like solar and other energy sources which are much stronger power.”

Statler says that the first version of the Wiliot chip is a 3-core ARM processor that harvests energy from the 2.4 GHz Bluetooth band. This silicon is used to make flexible paper battery-free Bluetooth stickers that sense location, temperature, proximity, and more, and send that data to the Cloud

With the next version of the product, Statler says, Williot will increase the range of its unit. The current version harvests energy at a distance of a couple of meters.

The company will enable the next iteration of the design to use “a smart speaker or some other low-cost radio device that costs tens of dollars rather than thousands of dollars” as its power source, Statler states.

VC Ambitions

“We’re investing in space, tools, and people to go beyond the initial 30 or so very large brands that we have engaged with and are paying customers,” the Wiliot SVP says of the latest round of funding it received in July. Statler won’t name the customers yet but says that they are “some of the leaders” in the pharma, fashion, and food industries.

The startup raised $200 million in a Series C funding round that was led by Softbank Vision Fund 2. Existing investors include Amazon Web Services (AWS), NTT DoCoMo Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures LLC, Samsung Venture Investment Corp., and Verizon Ventures, among others. The startup has raised $269 million in funding so far.

Wiliot Ltd. was founded in 2017 by Tal Tamir, the CEO of the startup. Wiliot’s R&D arm is based in Israel, while its business development unit is located in San Diego. Tamir was previously the CEO of Wilocity, a millimeter-wave (60 GHz) gigabit wireless company, which was bought by Qualcomm for $300 million in July 2014.

This article was originally published on EE Times.

Dan Jones is a veteran reporter who has covered many segments of the communications market.

 

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