When designing Wiliot solutions, one important piece to consider is the material that the Wiliot IoT Pixel is applied to. The materials present in the environment can affect transmission performance. As a radio frequency (RF) based technology, the same materials that affect other RF technologies like RFID can also affect a Wiliot IoT Pixel.
Wiliot’s standard IoT Pixels are optimized for plastic and cardboard. When adhered to an item of these materials, your IoT Pixel will be at maximum performance, as radio frequencies are able to pass more freely through these materials and the IoT Pixels are specifically tuned for operation on these materials today.
Just as with other RF-based technologies, a Wiliot IoT Pixel’s operation is affected by the materials in their environment, some of which can affect the performance of your standard Wiliot IoT Pixel.
Materials like ceramic, glass, and wood can affect the performance of your IoT pixel to varying degrees depending on the application.
Liquids absorb radio signals, while metal surfaces act like a reflector that can block the signals. In some cases when working with metal signals can bounce and may still find their way to their destination, but if the Wiliot IoT Pixel is applied directly to the metal surface then performance can still be affected.
Working with Non-Ideal Materials
In order for your IoT Pixel to work while being in contact with one of the materials that affect the IoT Pixel's performance, a custom Pixel design may be required. In the future, Wiliot’s inlay conversion partners will be supporting the creation and design of custom IoT Pixels.
For testing your IoT Pixel on non-ideal materials in the short term, users can leverage cardboard or plastic spacers to improve performance. Depending on the non-ideal material present, a spacer of up to 8mm thick may be required.
For example, here we have an IoT Pixel on a metal table. The IoT Pixel being applied directly to the metal table limits its operability due to the RF-reflecting nature of metal.
However, a spacer made of cardboard or plastic 8mm thick (as pictured) can separate the tag from coming into direct contact with the metal. In doing so, we are separating the IoT Pixel from the RF-reflecting surface, creating a large enough space between them for energy harvesting and transmission.
This spacer method is typically employed for use case testing purposes today, but in the future, our inlay conversion partners will enable custom Wiliot IoT Pixel antenna designs for optimization on additional materials.
The materials present are one of the key aspects to think about when designing a Wiliot solution, as this factor will affect the IoT Pixel energy harvesting and broadcasting performance. Today our focus is on applications on cardboard and plastic materials, while others like metal and liquid may require custom antenna designs, but can be tested with spacers.
In addition to materials, the IoT Pixel’s orientation also plays a part in its operability. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out our Orientation Guide for more information.