RETHINK Retail Solution Spotlight
Stephen Statler, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Wiliot joined the RETHINK Retail team during the National Retail Federation Big Show 2022 to discuss an innovative technology that can help retailers with reducing food waste, extending shelf life and so much more.
The Wiliot Platform combines cloud services and IoT Pixels, computing elements that can power themselves by harvesting radiofrequency energy.
My name is Steve Statler. I host the Mr. Beacon podcast where we study IoT. I’m also the senior vice president of marketing at Wiliot.
Wiliot was founded with the intent to dramatically increase the size of the Internet of Things from a few tens of billions of devices, which is where it is at the moment, to trillions of devices to connect everyday things to the Internet of Things using tiny postage stamp-size computers that power themselves by recycling radio energy that harvest the Bluetooth energy and other radio waves that surround us so that we can connect any item, a cardboard box, a plastic pallet, a vial of vaccine, to the internet and give it intelligence.
We’re very lucky. We have been well-funded by a range of great companies, Amazon, Alibaba, Verizon, NTT, DoCoMo, Maersk, Merck and some amazing financial investors. That’s allowed us to design a semiconductor from scratch that can operate on tiny amounts of energy that is super efficient at capturing the energy and radio waves that surrounds us. It’s also a sensor. It’s a full computer. It runs on an ARM processor, which allows it to be very flexible and programmable.
The way it works is it can be applied to everyday things, and it will broadcast private encrypted information over Bluetooth, standard Bluetooth, that allows it to communicate with phones, WiFi access points, smart speakers and all sorts of IoT devices. There’s a cornucopia of IoT radios in everything from fridges to washing machines and very versatile IoT devices that can pinpoint the location of one of our tags in three dimensions to great accuracy.
Actually, we give all of that away. We don’t monetize the chip designs and the tags. We license that for free to third parties who make and sell the tags. What we do is we have a SaaS platform that extends down into edge processing and into the cloud and provides the security and the sensing that allows these deployments to scale to very large sizes.
Now you can do all sorts of things with these tags. We have, literally, tracked COVID vaccine vials, measured their temperature fill level, the dilution of the serum.
But one of the sweet spots for us is putting these tiny computers onto the humble plastic crate that is used to move all sorts of products through the supply chain, but most notably produce, fruit and vegetables. By having this connectivity added to things that were normally offline and in the dark, we can do all sorts of things like reduce shrinkage, the loss of these crates, for a very simple ROI.
But in a more compelling way, we can also reduce the waste of food, and we can extend shelf life. We do that by allowing the operators of these pools of pallets and crates to see when they’re spending too much time in the wrong place at the wrong temperature. Very often a FIFO, a first in, first out, queue can devolve to a LIFO and product can sit sometimes for hours, or even days, in the wrong place. That can result in that food going bad and having a shorter shelf life. Having fresher produce, it’s a major profit center for grocery stores, and it’s also an anchor product that can drive better loyalty so it drives all sorts of KPIs.
As I say, the technology can be used for many, many other things and can really transform the way products are made, distributed, sold, used, reused in the circular economy and then, finally, recycled.
If any of this sounds interesting, then do reach out to us. Actually, you can buy a starter kit for $500. Up until now it’s cost 50 or $100,000 to engage with us, and we’ve been limited to just working with a few of the largest companies in the world. But now it’s available to anyone with a good idea, with an app, to a partner. What we’re doing we can’t do on our own so we do invite you to reach out and try the technology. Thanks for listening. I hope this is a bit of interest.