SoftBank backs sensing start-up Wiliot

  • August 11, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

SoftBank is backing Israeli sensing-as-a-service company Wiliot, developer of a self-powered, stamp-sized computer that is changing the relationship between manufacturers and their products.

The start-up has received $200m in a series C funding round led by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank.

The platform is built on Wiliot IoT Pixels and the Wiliot Cloud. IoT Pixels are tiny low-cost, self-powered tags that attach to any product or packaging to sense a range of physical and environment data that are then fed into the Wiliot Cloud, where machine-learning algorithms translate data into actionable insights for businesses across a range of industries. The Wiliot Cloud also ensures data remain secure, private and authentic.

For decades, there has remained a massive gap as trillions of products travel billions of kilometres without any data being available as to their status, whereabouts or situation. Lacking this information, global supply chains have been profoundly, and vulnerably, in the dark.

Recognising this, many in consumer-packaged goods, pharmaceuticals, furniture and apparel have been working with Wiliot to add its sensing capabilities, intelligence and connectivity.

Effectively, products that were off-line during their manufacturing, shipping and consumption journeys are now online, a reality that is changing the way products are made, distributed, sold, used, reused and recycled.

Wiliot-enabled products and packaging can sense temperature, fill level, motion, location changes, humidity and proximity. 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 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.

This omniscient view of the supply chain built on people’s usage allows a paradigm called demand chain, which promises to slash the required capital that’s non-productively tied up in inventories. Products will be able to self-reorder based on usage, accelerating the adoption of the subscription economy as brands transform their business models.

All this will provide consumers with increased convenience, fresher safer food, less waste, lower medical costs and a lower environmental impact.

“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,” said Tal Tamir, Wiliot’s CEO. “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.”

Yanni Pipilis, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, added: “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. 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. We are pleased to play a part in helping Wiliot dramatically scale the ever-expanding application of IoT globally.”

SoftBank joins existing investors including 83North, Amazon Web Services, Avery Dennison, Grove Ventures, M Ventures, the corporate VC of Merck KGaA, Maersk Growth, Norwest Venture Partners, NTT Docomo, Qualcomm, Samsung, Vintage Investment Partners and Verizon. As part of the investment, Amit Lubovsky, investor for SoftBank Investment Advisers, will join Wiliot’s board of directors.

Wiliot will use the latest round of capital to grow its team and scale its channels for the forthcoming launch of its V2 product, which it says offers performance that will help accelerate its vision for a new IoT.