Apple launched AirTag a few months ago. The small tracking device can be pinned to your stuff, making it easy to locate them when lost. However, Israeli startup Wiliot didn’t wait for Apple’s release, and has used the last few years to develop its own battery-less tracking tags, which uses 1/100th of the energy used by BT chips.
The Israeli startup recently announced a massive $200 million Series C round, led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, which joins Wiliot’s current investors: PepsiCo, Verizon, Qualcomm, Samsung, AWS, and more. The company has yet to reveal its new post-money valuation, but estimates put it in Unicorn territory.
Micro computer in a sticker
Wiliot has developed a very small computer (about the size of a stamp). Based on ARM processors, the IoT device requires zero batteries or electric connection, but rather converts radio waves into energy. By incorporating AI algorithms, Wiliot-enabled products and packaging can sense temperature, fill level, motion, location changes, humidity, and proximity. Wiliot IoT Pixels can be integrated into vaccine vials, food packaging, and more, bringing real-time transparency to the supply chain, and the ability for brands for the first time to understand inventory levels throughout their retail channels. They can even understand how their products are used in customers’ homes through a highly secure, privacy-protected platform. Maybe as important, products with the smart stickers help ensure product safety from manufacturer all the way to the consumer.
While chatting with Geektime, CEO Tal Tamir, explains that unlike Apple’s closely related product, Wiliot’s sensor “costs less than 10 cents against $29”, adding that “we generate our own energy and are not reliant on batteries that sometimes last only a year.” Additionally, Tamir notes that Wiliot’s smart tag has been designed to be recycled.
According to Tamir, a big chunk of the raised capital will be put to company use, such as expanding into new international markets, like Japan and Europe. With $200 million in the bank, it appears now that Wiliot has all the “means to be competitive” in the Israeli talent hunting zone.
“Wiliot has created a vision of the future of AI-enabled IoT, and we are delighted that SoftBank is supporting us in making this future a reality,” says Tamir. “IoT is a vision created around Things and our mission at Wiliot is to use cutting edge hardware, AI-based sensing and an innovative business model to implement a safer and more transparent world, a world in which all the things around us help consumers use them better and suppliers avoid waste.”
Wiliot was founded by Tal Tamir, Yaron Elboim, and Alon Yehezkely -- the trio behind Wilocity, which developed WiGig technology and was acquired by Qualcomm for $300 million. The company’s R&D center employs a team of 60 and is located in Caesarea, along with offices in Germany and San Diego, California. To date, the company has raised $270 million.