Wiliot, an Israeli startup which harnesses electromagnetic energy in nanowatts from Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular networks to work without any battery or other wired sources has announced that it has secured funding of $30 million from a bunch of companies.
The investors are some of the biggest names in financial and strategic venture capital investment which include Samsung, Avery Dennison and Amazon. Previous investors are Qualcomm Ventures, M Ventures, Grove Venture Partners, 83 North Venture Capital and Norwest Ventures. A retail giant with an undisclosed name is involved in the investment round. With $50 raised up till now the startup is valued at $120 million.
The chip basically is supported without any battery, which can measure air pressure, location and temperature and transmits the information to cloud. The chip is useful for in tagging, logistics and manufacturing for transmitting data about any non-electronic object. It will be a boon for internet of things devices and applications.
The senior vice president of the marketing and business division, Steve Statler said that the initial applications of the chip could be adopted in apparels industry. The chips could be integrated into care labels both manufacturing to sale and will help in providing services to the buyer. The other applications include wardrobe recommendations to washing instructions. The chip although has not been rolled out commercially but the CEO and co-founder of Williot, Tal Tamir said that the new series B funding will be used to find large scale chip production methods as well as sell the chips to its first customers.
The latest bunch of investors may be looking at the investment in strategic point of view. As Avery Dennison is world’s biggest RFID tags and label maker, Qualcomm and Samsung are semiconductor giants while Amazon has been planning to AI based fashion recommendations as well as apparels through its Alexa platform. Its platform Amazon Web Services can aid Williot for the cloud computing part of the chip.
Williot wants tap into the huge amount of electromagnetic energy that gets produced as part of wireless services like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The technology can only work where wireless networks are readily available. One significant limitation is that it cannot be used in regions of low and zero connectivity. Another challenge is to ensure energy efficiency for devices to operate on nanowatts instead of watts of power.
The other key players in the field are Sigfox in France, these budding startups with their innovations could open doors for more ambient and sophisticated power solutions. For Williot CEO Tal, this is just the tip of an iceberg who believes that the coming age of edge computing will bring devices using energy from radio frequency. Amazon has also recently acquired another Israeli startup which offers edge computing solutions CloudEndure.