HAARETZ: Missing cat turns into a find-anything startup

By Amitai Ziv  Mar. 3, 2015 

This company was born to bridge the e-world, where you can find anything, and the real world, where you can't find a thing, from wallet to keys to that cat hiding in plain sight.

You're tired of misplacing your wallet, looking for your keys and wondering where the devil the cat got to. There is the "Internet of Things," which doesn't help you find the animal; and now there is the "Location of Things."

Not only can Pixie help find things. It can warn you if, for example, you get up to leave a restaurant and left your wallet behind, says its founder, Amir Bassan-Eskenazi.

"Pixie was founded exactly for you to find, organize and even protect objects in the real physical world," says Bassan-Eskenazi, who also founded BigBand Networks.

In fact, when BigBand was sold in 2011, at a cool company value of $172 million (or $53 million net of cash on hand), Bassan-Eskenazi was late to the closing meeting with representatives of the buyer, the Suwanee, Georgia- based company Arris. And why was he late?

"That morning the cat disappeared and for my 7-year old daughter, it was more important that we find the cat," he explains.

As cats do, the brute had been at home hiding the whole time. But Bassan-Eskenazi identified a need in the difference between the digital world and the real one.

In the digital world, "you can find anything," he says, at least if you remember a keyword. In the real one, you can't find anything and a pet cat can hide in plain sight. And he thought how to bridge between the two.

Pixies are really smart tags. Each is about the size of a 5-shekel coin and has a battery that lasts about 18 months. So far the company has applied for eight patents and assures that the tags will "constantly" get smaller, their energy efficiency will improve and new features will be added.


How it works

You, the locating-challenged user, buy a kit of four smart tags that the company calls "pixies" for $40. You glue or otherwise attach the pixies to the objects you don't want to lose, from keys to cat, and another to your mobile phone.

The pixies maintain contact between each other and with the phone too. The app can then locate them, relative to each other, up to a distance of 50 meters. What you see on your phone screen is a map of your immediate environment, with an X marking the spot of each pixie.

The more pixies you have on this private network, the greater its accuracy, says Bassan-Eskenazi. By the way, if the neighbor gets pixies too, you won't see them and he won't see yours. The network is private.

Why call these tags - a perfectly good word - pixies? A fan of the rock band by the same name, it was at their concert that Bassan-Eskenazi met his wife, he explains.

Founded in 2012, the company has 26 employees and has raised $7.8 million in capital, including from the Boston-based venture fund Spark Capital, which in its quest for disruptive technologies, has invested in the likes of Twitter and Tumbler, and in Israel, in eToro and Boxee.

The pixie app is presently only available on Apple, but should soon be coming to android, says Bassan-Eskenazi. The company means to open development to external developers because of the sheer volume of ideas for the "location of things" – and means to expand to the "Internet of things," too. For instance, Bassan-Eskenazi suggests, a pixie could be evolved to shut off the air conditioner automatically when you leave the house. Without letting the cat out.

Haaretz website