Wiliot, a SaaS company whose cloud platform connects the digital and physical worlds using its Bluetooth® IoT Pixel tagging technology, strives to expand the internet of things (IoT) to include everyday products. By adding intelligence and automation to plastic crates, pharmaceuticals, packaging, clothes, and other products, and connecting them to the internet, Wiliot’s Bluetooth tags can change the way things are made, distributed, sold, used, reused, and recycled.
Steve Statler, Wiliot SVP of marketing, recently shared more about how Wiliot is using Bluetooth technology to expand the IoT.
Q&A With Steve Statler From Wiliot
What markets does your company support, and what are the solutions you provide?
Today, Wiliot is focused on North America, Europe, Israel, Japan, and Australia, enabling safer, more efficient supply chains for food, clothing, and pharmaceuticals. One of our first solution templates is to embed communication and intelligence into returnable transport items, such as plastic crates and pallets.
What does Bluetooth technology enable for your company, and why have you chosen to use it?
Infrastructure Free – The IoT has been limited by the cost of a dedicated infrastructure. Bluetooth® technology eliminates that constraint. For example, RFID readers can cost thousands, even millions of dollars to deploy. By contrast, Bluetooth devices are pervasive; they already exist throughout our homes, workplaces, and vehicles. By tapping into this, many use cases can be unlocked as the infrastructure investment has already been made.
The IoT has been limited by the cost of a dedicated infrastructure. Bluetooth® technology eliminates that constraint.
Bluetooth technology is a standard part of Wi-Fi access points and even appliances such as washing machines and fridges. So, embedding Wiliot Bluetooth tags (called IoT Pixels) and connecting to the cloud can bring intelligence to things like clothing, food, and medicine packaging.
Intervention Free – Unlike QR codes, NFC tags, and RFID tags, Bluetooth® tags don’t need to be tapped or scanned to be read. Due to the cost of the infrastructure and the fact that the Bluetooth radios are continually reading, we can implement the continuous tracking of things. These other technologies tend to deliver a snapshot in batch mode. Using Bluetooth technology, Wiliot tags can constantly measure temperature and fill-level, for example, as well as the location of inventory as it is moved around a store. This lack of reliance on operator intervention and the real-time view of where assets are is revolutionary in terms of the use cases it unlocks.
How does the Wiliot platform benefit the market?
The benefits impact everything from top line to bottom line, including the valuation of the companies adopting it as well as their sustainability goals. Continuous inventory and asset tracking reduce the capital employed as surplus inventory is reduced; by reducing the number of out-of-stock products, sales increase.
Having Bluetooth® connectivity in products in customers’ homes enables auto replenishment as a feature of food packaging or usage measurement in clothes which enables circular economy systems, such as the functionality of an Amazon Dash button without a button being necessary. Companies that had a transactional relationship with their customers can move to a direct subscription relationship, increasing loyalty, reducing the cost of acquisition, and better understanding the customer’s needs.
This paradigm shift is creating opportunities for an ecosystem of software developers, systems integrators, and device and tag manufacturers (Wiliot licenses its chip designs to third parties to make tags at no cost).
Can you explain the concept of the demand chain? How does it differ from the supply chain, and what role do Bluetooth Wiliot tags play in enabling it?
In a demand chain, the customer initiates the flow of goods, not the manufacturer. This gives sustainable companies the ability to match supply with demand and the opportunity to build lasting, profitable relationships with like-minded customers both before and after what used to be a one-off transaction.
Demand signals – such as an out-of-stock notice from a smart shelf in a remote store or even a customer picking up a product in a store, trying it on, or using it at home – can provide the information necessary to run a much leaner supply chain and avoid problems of product hoarding and surpluses.
Wiliot tags can provide a secure unique ID and sensing information that can flow through standard Bluetooth® infrastructure to feed those demand signals back to retailers or brands.