Let’s be clear: despite the concept of Internet of Things slowly taking over many of our lives, it’s a downright horrible umbrella term that refers to far too many Wi-Fi-enabled products.
Nevertheless, the prospect of a device that aims to connect billions of ordinary devices to the internet without the need for an additional battery is undeniably innovative and exciting.
This is exactly what Wiliot aims to do with its postage stamp-sized chip. The device harvests energy from ambient radio frequencies, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and even cellular signals. It then uses that energy to power its Bluetooth-enabled ARM processor. The company says that this processor can then, in turn, be connected to a wide variety of sensors.
“The tags use Wiliot’s breakthrough in nanowatt computing to communicate with any device enabled by Bluetooth Low Energy, such as smartphones, Wi-Fi access points and Internet of Things (IoT) devices that can connect to digital displays, Wi-Fi and LTE cellular networks,” writes Wiliot in a recent press release focused on the chip.
What makes Wiliot’s technology different from similar currently available chips is the fact that it can be produced cheaply and added to almost any device, says the company. For example, Wiliot says the chip could be embedded in a consumer product in order to give users access to the device’s digital manual.
Another possibility is embedding the chip in clothing in order to provide a washing machine with the optimal settings for how to clean a particular garment.
Other sensor combinations with Wiliot’s chip include a pressure sensor or a temperature sensor, expanding the technology’s capabilities significantly.
Though Wiliot’s innovative sensor is likely still a ways off, the company recently received $30 million USD (roughly $39 million CAD) in funding from Amazon and Samsung. The company hopes to release the chip in a limited capacity in 2019 before making it more widely available in 2020.