Israeli Tech: Pixie Technologies
Pixie Technologies, a startup co-founded by two Israelis and currently based in Los Altos California, is hoping to create a product and network to ensure that no one loses anything ever again. They are pioneering a technology that matches location trackers (they call them Pixie Points) that can be attached to items, with a mobile app that directs the user to the item’s location, using walking instructions and augmented reality video. According to their website, Pixie’s technology is accurate to a measure of inches, and this is clearly visible in their demo videos where one can see the app giving the user instructions to turn right after walking for a certain number of inches.
These Pixie Points operate through Bluetooth technology and look like large guitar picks. As these Pixie Points will ultimately determine how useful the technology is, specifically in terms of how many Pixie Points users purchase, how they’re priced is a critical question. Currently, Pixie is pricing them at one pack of four Pixie Points for $69.95. This pricing strategy compares very favorably to some of the competing technologies in the market. Settings such as factories and hospitals, which need to track people or high-value equipment, often use RFID (radio frequency identification) or clusters of Wi-Fi transmitters and receivers, but these trackers can cost $50-$80 according to a Wall Street Journal article that profiled Pixie.
Once Pixie Points are attached to multiple objects, they create a network, with the different sensors talking to each other. Where this can be really useful is in creating kits of things. For example, you can put sensors on your computer, homework folder, and pencil case to ensure that these items are always together in your bag. If one of these objects is removed from the bag, you can receive an alert on your phone through the app.
While they’ve filed eight patents around their technology, Pixie is also taking steps to open their technology for others to use by creating developer API’s (programming instructions for accessing application software) . Pixie envisions creating an open ecosystem where developers and manufacturers, can build their own location-based apps utilizing the technology and Pixie Points.
As an established start-up with over $6 million raised in two rounds of venture funding, Pixie employs over 20 people. Among these are the two co-founders, CEO Amir Bassan-Eskenazi, and CTO Ofer Friedman. Bassan-Eskenazi received a degree in Electrical Engineering from the Technion Institute of Technology, and proceeded to co-found BigBand Networks Inc. in 1998. BigBand revolutionized a new platform of digital video networking, and Bassan-Eskenazi helped take the company public in 2007 and remained at the company through its acquisition in 2011. Friedman holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Tel Aviv University. He spent 13 years working at Texas Instruments in Ra’anana before leaving to co-found and be CTO of Pixie.
One of the most popular areas that startups are innovating in is known as the Internet of Things (IoT), which creates a network between different objects, allowing them to send and receive data. Pixie aims to take the IoT to the next level in what they call the “Location of Things - a technology platform that knows where everything is, all the time,” according to their website.
While one could debate how much the “Location of Things” actually differs from existing Internet of Things technologies, and it’s clear that Pixie is by no means the limit to connected devices technology, Pixie certainly does showcase some cool innovation in this space. How Pixie is able to continue connecting people’s devices behind the scenes, what this will look like from the user’s perspective, and how the industry as a whole continues to evolve should be exciting to monitor in the years come.