Wiliot gets $200 million led by SoftBank for product-tracking chip tags

Startup’s tiny, inexpensive, self-powered computerized tags are made to be attached to products or packaging and convey data on their physical and environmental conditions

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Wiliot chips can tag onto crates and products to provide info about their environment and location (Courtesy)
Wiliot chips can tag onto crates and products to provide info about their environment and location (Courtesy)

Wiliot, a maker of battery-free Bluetooth-based chips to tag onto consumer-packaged goods, said Tuesday it has raised $200 million in a Series C funding round led by SoftBank’s Vison Fund 2.

The company, which calls itself a “sensing-as-a-service” and an internet of things (IoT) firm, has developed low-cost, self-powered stamp-sized computerized-tags, that can be attached to any product or packaging, to get a sense of its physical and environmental conditions. The data gets sent to the cloud, where machine learning algorithms translate the information into insights for businesses across a range of industries, while at the same time making sure the data is secure and private, the company said in a statement.

“For decades, there has remained a massive gap as trillions of products travel billions of miles without any data being available as to their status, whereabouts, or situation,” the statement said. “Lacking this information, global supply chains have been generally in the dark.” This is why many makers of consumer-packaged goods, pharmaceuticals, furniture, and apparel have been working with Wiliot to add sensing capabilities, intelligence and connectivity to their products, the statement said.

Wiliot’s technology allows for products that were traditionally offline during their manufacturing, shipping and consumption journeys to be now online, a reality that is changing the way products are made, distributed, sold, used, reused, and recycled, the statement added.

Adding the Wiliot tag to the products and packaging enables access to their temperature and fill levels, motion and location changes, humidity, and proximity to one another. The tags can also be integrated into vaccine vials and food packaging.

This data can then be used by manufacturers and suppliers to glean information about usage and waste, while also enabling consumers to get fresher, safer products, foods and medication.

Wiliot founders (from right): Alon Yehezkely, Tal Tamir, Yaron Elboim. (Titan Branding/Nimrod Genisher)

“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,” said Tal Tamir, Wiliot’s CEO and co-founder.

The company hopes to expand the use of internet of things to include everyday products, adding intelligence to plastic crates, pharmaceuticals, packaging, clothes, and any other product that can be connected to the internet.

Wiliot will use the latest funding round to grow its team of employees and prepare for the imminent rollout of its next generation technology, the company said.

Wiliot chips can be used by the pharmaceutical industry to get data about the status and environment of medications (Courtesy)

“By inventing the first hyper-scalable, self-powered computer that uses AI to sense the world, Wiliot is positioned to bring together the digital and physical,” said Yanni Pipilis, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers. “We have always believed that with IoT and AI, people will live better and healthier lives — where any food or medicine has the ability to understand if it’s safe to use and communicate seamlessly with people.”

Investing in Wiliot will help to “dramatically scale the ever-expanding application of IoT globally,” he said.

SoftBank joins existing investors that include 83North, Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), Avery Dennison, Grove Ventures, M Ventures, the corporate VC of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Maersk Growth, Norwest Venture Partners, NTT DOCOMO Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures LLC, Samsung Venture Investment Corp., Vintage Investment Partners, and Verizon Ventures.

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