‘World’s lowest power wireless chip’: UW spinout Jeeva unveils new sensor data streaming tech

Jeeva’s Parsair wireless chip. (Jeeva Photo)

The news: Jeeva, the Seattle startup founded by University of Washington researchers, has developed what it’s calling the world’s lowest power wireless chip for streaming real-time sensor data, the company announced this week.

Why it’s a big deal: According to Jeeva, its Parsair chip “consumes 100 times less power than typical Bluetooth and enables many novel use cases previously out of reach due to cost, size and power constraints.” The low power nature of the chip “can enable densely deployed sensors to communicate at unprecedented scale.”

CEO Scott Bright called the chip a game changer “because it combines the range and data streaming capabilities of technologies like Bluetooth and WiFi with the ultra-low power consumption and low endpoint cost of technologies like RFID tags.”

That unique set of capabilities unlocks numerous supply chain optimization, asset tracking, and product consumption monitoring use cases that have previously been impossible due to cost, size, power and range constraints, according to Bright.

How it works: The Parsair chip enables communication using reflections rather than generating a radio signal of its own, Jeeva says.

A nearby wireless router transmits radio signals which the chip reflects to communicate data. Since reflecting energy consumes significantly less power than emitting energy, this approach can enable wireless communication with decades-long battery life. Using Jeeva’s pioneering technology, the reflected signal is made to look exactly like a standard radio packet in one of several supported radio protocols, making it possible to easily integrate with commodity hardware and existing product ecosystems.

Use cases: Bright said Jeeva’s edge-to-cloud connectivity platform is in pilot-testing stage with a number of “global product brand customers” that it can’t yet disclose, including consumer packaged goods brands, global technology companies, a Fortune 500 industrial manufacturing company, and a large university.

Some of the applications Jeeva has developed include:

  • A connected insulin pen that monitors usage and shares data with caregivers.
  • A connected CPG product that wirelessly monitors remaining product capacity and can re-order itself over a local WiFi network.
  • An asset tracking solution that enables asset owners to be notified when required conditions like temperature, humidity, or movement are not being met.
  • A vaccine cold chain tracking application that improves demand planning accuracy and improves supply chain optimization by monitoring the location and temperature of vaccines in-transit from origin to the point of injection.

Startup traction: Jeeva was co-founded by Shyamnath Gollakota, an associate professor in the UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. Other co-founders include Joshua Smith, a UW professor of computer science and engineering and of electrical engineering; Aaron Parks, a graduate researcher at the UW’s Sensor Systems Laboratory; Bryce Kellogg, a graduate researcher at the UW’s Mobile Systems Lab; and Vamsi Talla, a research associate at the UW computer science and engineering school.

Bright previously co-founded Synapse Product Development before joining Jeeva in 2019.

Jeeva originally raised $3 million in seed financing and has since received an additional $2 million in grant funding from the National Science Foundation and NASA. Over the past two years Jeeva has been self-funding with NRE revenues from corporate customers and will soon be opening a new investment round to accelerate growth.

Jeeva employs 13 engineers, headquartered in Seattle.

Last word: “This chip provides low-latency, item-level data from places and things that were never before possible,” Bright said. “It shows the industry that it’s possible to sidestep conventional tradeoffs and get fully-featured wireless connectivity at very low power, and extremely low cost.”

Previously: Jeeva Wireless, founded by UW researchers, raises $1.2M to develop ‘breakthrough’ passive Wi-Fi system