Ten years ago, the notion of a world run by touch-screen phones, wireless internet and battery-powered cars was reserved for fans of science fiction.
This light-speed pace at which technology is being advanced begs the inevitable, and sometimes worrying question of what the future has in store.
Get our weekly newsletter directly in your inbox!Sign up
Well, for answers to much of that question, look no further than Israel, the tiny country which seems to be on a perpetual step ahead of much of the rest of the world when it comes to futuristic technologies.
Here is a look at ten Israeli innovations whose futuristic outlook will shape days to come.
The irony of Israel’s terrible rush-hour traffic is that some of the country’s most innovative problem solvers have no choice but to squander their time commuting to work with the rest of us. However, Tel Aviv is soon set to become the world’s first city to have a mass-transit system based on the Maglev (magnetic levitation) technology, co-developed by NASA’s Ames Research Center. The SkyTran System will be comprised of two person pods that float down by means of overhead magnets. This electromagnetic mechanism ensures a virtually silent commute above bustling city streets, with zero emissions.
However, commuting in floating pods doesn’t come cheap. At an estimated cost of $50 million, the four-mile route, to be constructed during the coming year, will connect the Tel Aviv University train station with the nearby Atidim high-tech park and take about 18 months to construct. Further north, the coastal city of Netanya is also considering theconstruction of a SkyTran system.
Another important advancement being made in Israel is in the realm of alternative fuel. Israel is a world leader when it comes to oil-free energy innovation and Professor Moti Hershkowitz of Ben Gurion University is no different. Hershkowitz developed a “green feed” that replaces crude oil and is made from CO2 and water. Basically, it is a substance that can be refined using slightly-modified existing refineries and emits nothing but water vapors. While the technology is still a decade away from commercial application, the fuel that will power the cars of the future may very well come from Israel.
If someone told you that it was possible to do away with large tumors in just 15 minutes by turning them into balls of ice, you might just laugh at them. Yet Israel’s IceCure Medical has made this frozen miracle a reality. Following a successful clinical trial, patients diagnosed with benign and mildly malignant lung and breast tumors will be the beneficiaries of a new sub-zero procedure. The IceSense3 cryotherapy procedure utilizes liquid nitrogen to chill a needle to -274F (-170C), which is then inserted into the tumor. The extreme cold destroys the dangerous tissue in a procedure that takes just 10-15 minutes and is scar-free. If that doesn’t sound like the future of surgery and cancer treatment, we don’t know what does.
Blinds, billboards, and windows are about to get a serious makeover. The Israeli company Gauzy has an incredible patent-pending technology that will change the meaning of transparency. The Liquid Crystal Controllers, similar to what you would find in a LCD TV, enables users to control glass like never before with dimming functions and different levels of transparency, all with the flip of a switch. Gauzy also offers glass with optional implanted transparent solar cells, for the environmentally conscious. The technology is far-reaching and applicable to practically any surface made of glass. From vending machines to refrigerator doors, sunroofs to elevators, the world will be viewed in a different light, and under personalized settings.
Many have come and gone trying to produce the ultimate mode of sci-fi travel; the flying car, hovercrafts, teleporters—you name it. Nevertheless, when former IAF fighter pilots got together to create a “rotorless” vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) utility aircraft, it was bound to go places. Urban Aeronautics’s latest vehicle—the AirMule—is set to become the world’s first unmanned flying ambulances, thanks to its unique ability to land in crowded urban environments.
The applications for such an easily maneuverable vehicle are numerous, but the AirMule is likely to be put to first use by the sectors that need it most—the military and emergency medical responders. If any of us are going to fly to work in the near future, it may be thanks to Urban Aeronautics breakthrough technology.
Low battery got you down? Well, Wi-Charge’s futuristic infrared technology will charge you up, anywhere! Just as your smartphone, tablet or computer automatically recognizes internet hot spots, Wi-Charge’s technology will charge your device via harmless infrared beams transmitted from a device similar to a Wi-Fi router mounted on a ceiling. This means that wherever you are sitting, the wireless charge will follow you, making sure that you have all the juice you need to keep your busy schedule going. Wi-Charge is not the only wireless charge technology on the market, but it is a giantstep up from charge through magnetic induction (the notion of surface-to-surface charging) which is only able to charge devices at a short range. Although Wi-Charge’s technology is still in development, the company hopes to issue both the transmitter and receiver of their wireless charging technology within the next 12-18 months.
Night Vision Lenses
Night vision goggles are extremely cool. Whether used for sports, defense or just for fun, the green glow of an infrared-enabled image is something that excites many people. Now, Professor Gabby Sarusi of Ben Gurion University is working on a nano-material that can be placed on any lens – turning it into a night-vision apparatus. There’s no doubt that Sarusi, material can make sunglasses even more useful after sunset.
It might sound like something out of a Transformers movie, but there are cars that can see their surroundings and talk to one another. Israeli company Mobileye (that is reportedly planning the largest IPO ever by an Israeli company), has developed a system that enables a car to drive itself when the driver lets go of the wheel – and even break in face of danger. While being selected by top automotive companies such as Audi and BMW, the company is still working to improve its technology, eventually leading to a completely driverless car.
How often have you found yourself being delayed somewhere waiting for your phone to charge? Well, that (and many other charging-related issues) may very soon be a thing of the past with Israeli company StoreDot’s technology. The company developed an array of materials based on organic nanodots, which enable all sorts of great applications, such as a phone battery that charges in 30 seconds and data storage devices that are much more efficient than anything else currently on the market.
In the TV series Star Trek, the Enterprise’s crew would go to the holodeck to take a break from the woes of space travel, relaxing in various holographic environments. While full-room holographics are still a long ways away, Israeli company Real View has developed technology which enables projecting a real-life rendering of a patient’s heart directly in front of a surgeon. This way, the doctor can track the heart’s condition, without having to perform any invasive procedures.
Photo: Cronus Caelestis