New battery-free Bluetooth sticker chip recharges via ambient radio waves

A new breakthrough in Bluetooth chip technology has shed the battery that typically comes with the small hardware component. Wiliot is seeing success with its paper-thin Bluetooth sticker chip that could land in devices later this year. The chip is able to be battery-free by harnessing the ambient radio waves to power it and has a lot of potential use cases.

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As reported by The Verge, one of the things holding back companies from making Bluetooth chips smaller is the need to include a battery. Wiliot looks like it has solved this problem by creating the first battery-free Bluetooth hardware.

It’s Bluetooth sticker chip is roughly the size of a postage stamp and includes an ARM processor, temperature sensor, weight sensor, and cloud-based decryption and authentication.

Based on the demo video below, it does look like it has a short range of 3m (10 feet), but it is cheap to produce and can be used in a multitude of applications.

We’ve seen companies like Energous share concepts for long-distance and short-distance wireless charging in the past. But it’s not ready for larger devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers yet. However, the wireless energy harvesting is a great fit for something like Wiliot’s Bluetooth sticker.

Wiliot is able to harvest energy from the ambient radio frequencies around us, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular signals, and use them to power a Bluetooth-equipped ARM processor that can be connected to a variety of sensors.

Wiliot shared a few use cases with The Verge:

For example, it could be embedded in consumer products to provide easy access to a digital manual when the original paper version is long lost, or it could be put on a clothing label and used to communicate the optimal settings to a washing machine.

The report also goes on to suggest some other slick use cases like the weight sensor notifying users when it’s time to order more of their favorite food, or the temperature sensor alerting restaurants or grocery stores when something is too cold or hot.

Wiliot is working with companies in a variety of industries to offer improvement to workflows with this Bluetooth sticker.

battery-free Bluetooth sticker chip

Both Amazon and Samsung have invested in Wiliot. The company thinks a limited release of its new Bluetooth sticker chips could roll out later this year, but 2020 will be the year for a wider release.

Check out the demo video below for a closer look.


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Avatar for Michael Potuck Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.