Bluetooth-enabled tags and trackers aren’t exactly new but they all have one limitation in common. Aside from the range limit of Bluetooth itself, of course. Because of the electronics required to make them work, they require energy sources, often the thinnest and smallest of batteries. But if semiconductor startup Wiliot successfully proves its new tech, they won’t have to. Bluetooth trackers can be as small and as thin as a postage stamp and get what little power they need almost from the air.
It’s not running on air power, of course. Instead, Wiliot is tapping on the holy grail of wireless charging technologies. That is, it the radio frequencies that are all around us anyway, from Wi-Fi to cellular to even Bluetooth itself, to power the small ARM processor on the tag. The whole setup, from the Wiliot chip to a simple antenna, could be printed on disposable and reusable plastic or paper the size of a stamp.
Make no mistake, the capabilities of such a sensor tag aren’t limited despite its simple appearance. For one, it can transmit an encrypted serial number to uniquely and securely identify itself with a receiver. But even more impressive, these tags can even transmit data like weight and temperature.
The practical uses for such an almost immortal Bluetooth sensor tag is almost limitless. More than just for keeping tabs on items so you won’t lose them, the tags can also be used for conveying additional information on products where text wouldn’t fit limited space. It can also be used on the growing number of Internet of Things devices to remind users how to use them.
Wiliot’s battery-free Bluetooth sensor tags can definitely be a game changer, removing the need for short-distance but limited technologies like NFC. That is, of course, if it becomes a commercialized product. But with companies like Amazon and Samsung investing in it, it could very well be the case.