Wiliot, a fabless semiconductor start-up company, has closed an investment round with Qualcomm Ventures, the investment arm of Qualcomm Incorporated, and M Ventures, the strategic, corporate venture capital arm of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company. The announcement was made in conjunction with the opening of the Active & Intelligent Packaging Industry Association (AIPIA) Conference in Amsterdam where the company will make its first public presentation to leaders in the packaging industry.
The latest investment round comes on the heels of a Series A Round financing effort that yielded $14m with forward-thinking strategic technology investors Grove Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, and 83North Venture Capital. This first round closed in January, the month Wiliot was founded. In all, Wiliot has raised a total of $19m in its first 10 months as a semiconductor company.
Wiliot, whose research and development arm is based in Israel, is on course to develop a wireless technology that will eliminate a reliance on batteries or wired power to vastly accelerate the Internet of Things with the vision of creating a world of “Smart Everything.” The new technology, which powers itself by harvesting energy from radio waves, enables a sensor as small as a fingernail, as thin as a sheet of paper, and an order of magnitude reduction in price and cost of maintenance.
“This new technology will allow a sensor/radio/processor combination to be embedded in products, packaging, walls and furniture so that these things can be smarter and communicate with other Bluetooth devices, including smartphones,” said Tal Tamir, CEO and co-founder of Wiliot. “We will enable everything to be intelligent and every place we go and anything we wear, touch or use will include sensing, connected, passive devices with an unlimited lifetime.” The possible applications are wide-ranging in scope, including but not limited to connected packaging and products such as apparel, more accurate indoor location and affordable Real Time Location Systems that will revolutionize asset tracking.
“Wiliot’s passive semiconductor technology under development could disrupt the marketplace, highlighting the vast potential of passive Bluetooth’s low cost, size and long-term cost of ownership in a variety of applications,” said Samuel McLaughlin, Research Analyst, ABI Research.
With proof of concepts scheduled to start in 2H 2018, and a delivery to market date in early 2019, Wiliot’s technology will revolutionize the current Bluetooth beacon marketplace which after more than five years has reached a floor on reductions in cost, size and ease of maintenance that have hindered their widespread adoption.
“The range of new applications is endless given the level of miniaturization and lack of power dependency,” said Boaz Peer, Director, Qualcomm Ventures Israel. “As we look at the IoT space, we see battery-free Bluetooth technology as the next great leap, driving exponential growth for the entire IoT ecosystem, from smartphones and Wi-Fi hubs to battery powered beacons.”
Wiliot was formed by a group of wireless engineers experienced in building new products and the ecosystems required for their success. The group’s previous start-up, Wilocity, was acquired by Qualcomm in 2014 and was a Gigabit Wi-Fi pioneer, pushing the boundaries in terms of power consumption and connectivity.
“The quality and experience of the founding team at Wiliot, coupled with their passion to envision a more pervasive IoT, gives us the comfort that Wiliot will significantly change the game, particularly in the medical field, while expanding use and acceptance at a far larger scale,” said Edward Kliphuis, Investment Director New Businesses, M Ventures.