Social Awareness – NoCamels – Israeli Innovation News is the leading news website on Israeli innovations. We cover all the latest innovation in the fields of technology, health, environment and lifestyle. Mon, 23 Jan 2017 10:45:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Picture Perfect: Israeli Photographer Captures Unique Beauty Of Albino People Mon, 23 Jan 2017 10:37:48 +0000

The odds are that you’ve never personally met someone with albinism, an inherited genetic condition that causes a reduction of the amount of melanin pigment formed in the skin, hair, and/or eyes. Because the condition is so rare, people with albinism often face prejudice, and in some parts of the world, even violence.

Albino Dog

Israeli photographer Yulia Tates is on a mission to change such negative perceptions and show the true beauty of those with albinism in a photo series entitled Porcelain Beauty

SEE ALSO: Facetune Will Touch Up Your Portrait Photos Automatically

Albino, Albinism, Yulia Tates, girlA hypnotic beauty

In order to find models for her project, Taits, who was born in Russia and immigrated to Israel in 1995, reached out via a local Israeli albino forum.

“For some time I’ve had the idea to create and photograph a project featuring albino people or people with Albinism,” Tates writes on her website, where her photos first appeared. “Their unique beauty hypnotizes me. This beauty is so pure and amazing for me, as if it was taken from fantasies and fairy tale legends.”

Albino, Albinism, girl, Yulia Tates

A rare condition

According to NOAH, the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation, although albinism occurs in all racial and ethnic groups throughout the world, in the U.S., only one in approximately 18,000 to 20,000 people has some type of albinism. In other parts of the world, the occurrence can be as high as one in 3,000. Interestingly, most children with albinism are born to parents who have normal hair and eye color for their ethnic backgrounds.

Albino man, Albino

“Beautiful photography without photoshop”

“As a photoshop artist, I have a passion to create fantasy worlds through my work and artistry,” Taits writes on her website. “This series was an amazing experience for me because I could create this beautiful photography without photoshop. What transpired was pure natural beauty.”

baby albino, albino

Many shades of white

Tatis says the photographs were taken in white tones with no additional coloring. “I’m excited to prove that white is not just one color! It has many tints, shades and beautiful tones.”

Inspired by her subjects

The general public fell in love with her mesmerizing photos after Tatis posted her work on Bored Panda, a leading art, design and photography online community for creative people. So far, her post has received over 576,000 views.

Albino with mouse, Albino, Albino mouse

Summing up the experience, Tatis says the models were the ones who inspired her. “While creating this photo project, I was fortunately blessed with meeting amazing people. I was highly motivated from the support of the models and parents to create this project. Their passion and encouragement attributes to this amazing project. I am very proud of the results this experience has brought.”

Beautiful lbino boy

Photos: Yulia Tates

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Mission To Mars: Israeli Scientist Prepares To ‘Live’ On Mars Tue, 10 Jan 2017 11:33:42 +0000 In the 2015 blockbuster movie ‘The Martian’, Matt Damon’s character is left stranded on Mars, struggling to remain alive on the barren planet. While the film is science fiction, the prospect of humans actually living on Mars is currently being actively pursued by an Israeli scientist.

SEE ALSO: Buzz Aldrin Wows Israel With His Vision Of Mars Landing

For two weeks at the end of January, Weizmann Institute of Science research student Roy Naor, representing the Israel Space Agency, will be living in a simulation of a Mars Research station together with a team from five other countries. The group will be living inside an isolated “capsule” in the Utah desert, carrying out studies similar to those that humans might conduct in the future on Mars.


Roy Naor next to a sign in Hebrew which reads “To Mars”

The Mars Desert Research Station is run by the Mars Society. In the 172 team “missions” executed so far, members worked in the arid, Mars-like environment developing new technologies and gaining insight into how humans will live on Mars. In addition to Naor (the Crew Geologist), the current mission, Prima Crew 173, will include the head of the Slovakian Space Agency (SOSA), a French mechanical engineer, an aeronautics and space engineer from Spain, an Australian astrobiologist and an Irish artist.

“This program involves simulated Martian research, and working for several years with researchers from various fields,” Naor told Walla News in an interview. “Eighteen months ago, when I was in a program of the International Space University in collaboration with NASA, I met five special researchers. We became a team, submitted the idea of simulation studies we would do, and ultimately we were accepted to the program. ”

SEE ALSO: Life on Mars? Israelis Design 3D-Printed Space Home For NASA

Searching for proof of liquid water on Mars

Naor, a student in Dr. Itay Halevy’s group at Weizmann’s Earth & Planetary Sciences Department, has studied carbonate minerals, which have been found on Mars and could provide evidence for liquid water in the planet’s past.

“Carbonates need flowing water to form, and if we can show that water once existed for a long period of time there, we lend support to the idea that life could once have arisen on Mars,” Naor said in a statement. At the station, Naor will sample and analyze the geology of the analogue environment and its vicinity, including bringing some samples back to Weizmann’s labs for further analysis.

Among their many experiments, the team will be investigating the possibility of using the local soil for the 3-D printing of building blocks for permanent structures on Mars. Naor will be participating in these experiments to see if this material has the required strength to withstand the radiation on the surface of Mars.

All under one roof – with no cell phones

To simulate living in a Mars space station, the group will live together in cramped conditions, eating, working and sleeping in a single structure, with showers limited to once every three days. Going outside the station will only be done in groups, in full suits – including helmets and facsimile oxygen tanks. Fortunately, the suits designed for Mars are lighter and more flexible than those worn by astronauts today. Communication with “Earth” will take place once a day – with a delay of several minutes – and no cell phones are allowed. The team will also have to ration the food they bring with them to make it last the whole two weeks.


Earthlings can vote on music & food, follow space log

The Israel Space Agency is also inviting the public to participate in Naor’s misson. Supporters can vote on the type of Israeli food that Naor will bring with him to the Mars station, as well as on what kind of Israeli music he should play for his team. Members of the public can also follow his “space log” on the Israel Space Agency Facebook page, and on the Weizmann Institute of Science Facebook page.

“Mars is definitely the future in terms of research,” Naor told Walla News in an interview. “Research has increasingly become more relevant, and the goal is to reach a manned mission to Mars by 2030”.

Israel’s Science Minister Ofir Akunis congratulated Noar before his departure saying, “The journey to Mars now seems closer than ever and we should begin to prepare for it in Israel as well so that future generations will be able to travel to Mars. As Israelis, we pride ourselves on the ability of our researchers to contribute to research on Mars and are confident that Roy will have much to contribute to the mission.”

Life In The Power Lane: These Roads Wirelessly Charge Your Car As You Drive Mon, 09 Jan 2017 05:44:38 +0000 We’ve all heard of electric cars, but how about electric roads?

While driving an electric car has many advantages; it’s 100 percent emission-free so it promotes clean air and costs less than fueling a regular car, the need to charge it often is a major drawback. Most fully electric cars on the market today offer a range of 75 to 100 miles, which is fine for most typical driving situations, but does not allow for longer trips.

Rather than simply attempting to solve this problem with larger, heavier batteries or by adding more charging stations, Israeli startup ElectRoad is taking a novel approach by creating special roads that charge your car while you drive over them.

SEE ALSOStoreDot, Which Charges Smartphone Battery In 30 Seconds, Will Soon Charge Cars In 5 Minutes!

ElectRoad: Let the road charge your car

Using specialized electromagnetic induction technology, the same basic principle behind wirelessly powering smartphones, ElectRoad powers electric cars with renewable energy while you drive. By supplying electricity to the car wirelessly from the road, ElectRoad removes the energy source from the vehicle, reduces the cost and weight of the car, and eliminates concerns about driving distances of battery-operated vehicles.

How does it work? Electric cars fitted with the company’s technology have contacts fitted onto their undercarriage that receive electricity when driving over the smart road. The smart road is designed to give the vehicles enough energy to power them, as well as to charge their batteries.

First priority: Buses

ElectRoad is initially targeting the public transit market. According to the company, a bus will be able to travel for up to 5 kilometers (3 miles) on a regular road after being charged on the electric road. In many European city centers, buses use special lanes. These lanes could then be fitted with ElectRoad’s technology to become smart electrical charging langes for electric public transportation vehicles.

“The electricity will come from renewable energy transferred to the road,” Electroad’s CEO Oren Ezer told Inhabitat in an interview. “This is a really sustainable solution. A battery for an electric bus can cost $300,000 and weigh 5 tons. If you remove the battery then the bus is much lighter and requires less energy. This technology is cost saving. If you compare it to diesel buses, it’s half the price. If you just start with public transportation it will save money and then you can open it up to taxis and trams. Payback is very fast.”

Testing in Tel Aviv

Founded in 2013 with the goal of reducing global emissions and offering a more cost-effective, efficient and cleaner way to travel, ElectRoad initially plans to target highly trafficked routes in dense city centers and on university campuses.

In May, ElectRoad announced it was partnering with the city of Tel Aviv to test their under-the-road electric charging beds. Together with the city’s municipality, the company embedded a strip of a road in northern Tel Aviv. They then carved into the asphalt and a chain of copper loops was inserted. The chain was connected to a power converter on the side of the road. The trial will test how the technology stands up to vehicle traffic and weather over time.

This year, ElectRoad also intends to test its technology on a public electric bus that will operate on a set route.

Electroad, Electric car, charging, wireless charging

Powering a vehicle in real time

In an interview with Haaretz, Erez explained that while other electric road technologies are only capable of charging batteries, ElectRoad can actually power a vehicle in real time, enabling electric cars to have smaller batteries, thereby making them less expensive and lighter.

Charging, wireless charging, electric car, bus, electroad

Photos and videos: ElectRoad

Laughter Is The Best Medicine: PowToon Brings Cartoons And Doctors To Remote African Tribe Wed, 04 Jan 2017 11:26:53 +0000 To children, animation is a universal language. Put a child in front of a cartoon in Chinese or French, and they somehow still manage to get the message and giggle at the gags.

So why is animation such a powerful tool? Are we brought up to love cartoons through countless hours of watching Saturday morning TV, or is it truly a universal language that everyone can instinctively relate to? To answer those questions, one would need to show a cartoon to someone who had never seen one before and observe the effects. But where in this day and age can you find a person who didn’t grow up watching the likes of Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny or Dora the Explorer?

A delegation from PowToon, the creator of software that lets anyone create their own animated videos and presentations, recently traveled to a remote African tribe in Tanzania to introduce the locals to animation for the very first time.

PowToon CEO Ilya Spitalnik, COO Daniel Zaturansky and Marketing Manager Talia Finn-Jakar, met the Hadzabe Tribe, who are technologically isolated and have never seen cartoons before.

SEE ALSO: Spreading Israeli Tech Throughout Africa, Sivan Ya’ari Transforms The Lives Of Millions

Animation & laughter: Universal languages

“From the first moment we opened PowToon, and they saw cartoons for the first time, the entire tribe was in fits of laughter,” Spitlanik wrote on the company’s blog. “It turned out that I was now their designated entertainer and stand up comedian. I made a Powtoon about a Hadza man making fire in the middle of the screen. One of the members of the tribe pointed out that the fire was burning the man’s legs. In response, I made the fire huge! This was met with raucous laughter from everyone. We were literally rolling on the ground laughing. The adults were cracking up, and the children wanted to know how they could get inside the screen. The connection was instantaneous, the laughter was infectious. Even though the members of this tribe did not grow up with Saturday morning cartoons – they immediately connected to this form of art.”

After making another Powtoon about the tribe’s coming of age ritual, Akko, one of the younger members of the tribe, wanted to try PowToon out for himself. He had seen Spitalnik use the touchpad to move the mouse on the screen and copied his movements. “The gentleness with which he manipulated the touchpad on my Macbook was extraordinary,” Spitalnik wrote. “He was adding assets to the stage, and created a scene where a Hadza girl is picking berries, and a hunter shoots arrows at a target. In the final scene, Hadza children are waving goodbye to us.”

“We were way beyond the scope of our mission,” Spitalnik wrote. “We only really wanted to see if cartoons would resonate with people who didn’t grow up with them. But this was truly incredible! Forget about watching animation, here was someone who had never seen a computer in his life, creating a Powtoon within minutes.”

Biggest medical need: Eye doctors

The PowToon team also learned that the main medical ailment afflicting the tribe is that many of them have sensitive eyes due to the dust and lack of clean water. The visitors requested if they could bring doctors to the tribe to treat them. Fortunately, the bonding experience they just had with the tribe helped build enough trust to allow the team to bring in much-needed medical aid to the tribe in the form of local eye doctors.

Although reluctant at first, slowly, individual tribe members allowed the doctors to treat them. When the doctors examined Akko, they noticed that he had some scarring and a damaged cornea. He had scratched his cornea on a branch on one of his hunting trips and was now unable to see well, especially in daylight. Within minutes, the doctors had treated him, prescribed glasses and ointments, and Akko’s face lit up. “I can see! I can see! I’m going to be the best hunter that ever lived!!” he exclaimed.

By the end of the day, many Hadza were walking around with glasses and eye medicine.

As a result of their emotional experience, PowToon has committed to continue to care for the needs of the Hadza tribe by working with local doctors to deliver ongoing medical care and food.

Powtoon, Africa

Anyone can create an animated video

Launched in 2012 by co-founders Spitalnik and Zaturansky, PowToon’s mission is to make it possible for everyone to feel like an animator by creating simple animated videos. In just four years, over 34 million Powtoons have been created for use in business presentations, product launches, digital and broadcast ads, education materials for the classroom, explainer videos, and much more. According to the company, over 11 million global users, including major companies, small and medium businesses and and leading universities, use PowToon.

PowToon is a U.K. Company, with its headquarters in London and R&D centers in Israel, the Ukraine and the Philippines. The company is planning to open a U.S branch in 2017. PowToon currently employs nearly 70 employees and is looking to expand in all departments within their Tel Aviv office.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Technologies Transform Africa, Save Lives

The power of laughter 

“It’s safe to say that when we started this journey it was a crazy idea and we truly didn’t know what to expect,” PowToon’s Founder & CEO Spitalnik said in a statement about their African adventure. “Our time together with the Hadzabe was truly unforgettable. It’s difficult to put into words how humbled we felt by their warmth and hospitality.”

“We accomplished what we set out to do,” Spitalnik said in a statement. “We proved that cartoons are a fundamental form of communication, instinctively understood by everyone across boundaries, borders, and cultures, regardless of whether you grew up watching Mickey Mouse or not. But beyond that, we learned that no matter how far apart we might be from one another geographically, people are all connected, and the power of laughter and a little open-mindedness can bring us all together.”

Powtoon, Africa

The PowToon Team (left to right: Talia Finn-Jakar, COO & Co-Founder Daniel Zaturansky, and CEO & Co-Founder Ilya Spitalnik) with some of the Hadzabe children.

Videos and photos: Powtoon

Spreading Israeli Tech Throughout Africa, Sivan Ya’ari Transforms The Lives Of Millions Mon, 19 Dec 2016 10:56:53 +0000 It’s not every day that a young Israeli entrepreneur accompanies the prime minister on his visit to the United Nations. Sivan Borowich-Ya’ari recently presented her organization ‘Innovation: Africa’ to the UN’s general assembly, alongside Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and African leaders.

Providing African villages with Israeli solar, water and agricultural technologies, the nonprofit organization, founded eight years ago, has so far completed 128 projects in seven countries, transforming the lives of more than one million people.

Using Israeli technologies, Innovation: Africa harnesses the power of solar energy to pump water from aquifers, providing clean water to villages for the first time; its drip-irrigation installations allow villagers to grow more food with less water, even in times of drought; and its solar panels power medical centers, providing light inside and outside, as well as refrigeration to store medicines and vaccines. The same solar-generated energy powers schools and orphanages.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Firm AlefBet Partakes In Ethiopia’s Initiative To Build 2.4 Million Houses In Five Years

“Our goal isn’t only to bring solar energy to rural communities, but to transform rural healthcare and education, and provide rural communities with tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty,” says Ya’ari, a soft-spoken 38-year old.

Nearly 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity, according to a recent report by consulting firm McKinsey & Company. “We offer some of the world’s poorest, most remote communities in sub-Saharan Africa with a cost-effective, sustainable and most importantly, successful solution to alleviating poverty, hunger, thirst and disease,” Ya’ari tells NoCamels. “In many parts of Africa, there’s no potable water because there’s no electricity to pump it. We generate solar energy to power the pumps and provide water for drinking and for agriculture.”

Since its inception eight years ago, Innovation: Africa has completed 128 projects, bringing light, access to clean water, improved education, refrigeration for vaccines and medicines, proper nutrition and food security to Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal.

Innovation: Africa

One recently completed project involved the installation of solar energy panels, light and a solar-powered refrigerator in Bulumbi, Uganda. “For the first time, women can now give birth under the light of solar energy and people now have access to vaccines and medicines properly stored in a vaccine refrigerator,” says Ya’ari.

SEE ALSO: By Improving Access To Basic Necessities, Israeli Technologies Transform Africa, Save Lives

Each of the projects is connected to an Israeli developed remote-monitoring system that “allows our team and our donors to track in real time the energy produced, energy consumed and water flow,” Ya’ari tells NoCamels.

Israeli technologies installed in these remote villages also better Israel’s perception around the globe, she says: “Many Africans we have helped never heard of Israel before, but now they’re so thankful – they’ll never forget us.”

An award-winning organization led by an acclaimed entrepreneur 

In 2012, Innovation: Africa was granted a Special Consultative Status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In 2013, the organization was awarded The United Nations Innovation Award for its efficient and sustainable technology. In addition, CEO Ya’ari was recently named by Forbes Israel as one of the 50 most powerful women in Israel.

SEE ALSO: Tel Aviv Helps Kenya Build $14.5B ‘Silicon Savannah’ City

innovation-africaYa’ari has been working in Africa for nearly 20 years. Following two years in the finance world, she worked with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on diesel energy development. During this period, she identified an opportunity for a more sustainable energy solution, and developed the groundwork for what would become Innovation: Africa.

Armed with a Master’s degree in international energy management and policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Ya’ari has received countless awards for her work on behalf of Innovation: Africa, from The United Nations, The Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and the Young Professionals Organization (YPO), to name a few.

In November 2016, Ya’ari was awarded the “Circle of Excellence Award” by the Israel Bonds National Women’s Division. Two months earlier, she addressed the United Nations General Assembly session on “Israeli Innovation in Africa and Developing Countries.”

“Your vision, of getting this innovative technology into the hands of those who need it the most, is changing the lives of millions of people across the continent,” Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, recently wrote in a thank-you letter to Ya’ari, which she shared with NoCamels.

In a letter to donors and volunteers, Ya’ari recently said: “Day in and day out, our team of passionate problem solvers are collectively working toward a common goal we so strongly believe in. We’ve accomplished a lot, but we know there’s a long road ahead. And we’re ready.”

Ya’ari tells NoCamels her goal is to help another 120 villages in the next four years. She’s leaving for Uganda soon, with plans to spend about three weeks in one of its poorest, hungriest regions. When she returns to her home in Israel – where her family obviously enjoys running water – “the hardest thing for me will be to shower,” she says. “We take water for granted, but nearly 360 million Africans have no clean water.”

Innovation: Africa

Photos and video: Innovation: AfricaSivan Ya’ari

Karate Kids Kick Cancer By Channeling Stress, Fear And Pain With Martial Arts Thu, 15 Dec 2016 08:44:10 +0000 Having lost his own two year-old daughter, Sara Basya, to leukemia in 1981, Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg has a strong bond with children with cancer. A first degree black belt in the Korean art of Choi Kwon Do, Goldberg’s life took an unexpected turn when he began teaching breathing techniques to kids at an oncology camp he directed.

It all started when Rabbi Goldberg (or ‘Rabbi G’, as the young patients affectionately call him), a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Department of Pediatrics at the Wayne State School of Medicine and a 2014 “Top 10” CNN Hero , walked into a room where a five year old child was undergoing treatment and was being held down while screaming. Goldberg stepped in and asked the nurses to give him a few minutes alone with the boy. In an effort to calm him, Goldberg decided to demonstrate some breathing techniques that are used in martial arts. “In martial arts, you learn that pain is a message that you don’t have to listen to,” Goldberg explains.

Within five minutes, the boy had learned a simple breathing technique and twenty minutes later he looked up at the nurse and asked her when she would do the procedure. However, she had already finished and the child had hardly noticed.

SEE ALSO: Program Promotes Arab/Israeli Peace Through Martial Arts

Not just for cancer patients

Goldberg’s commitment to ease the pain of very sick children, and his dream of bringing healing through the empowering focus of the martial arts, resulted in the creation of Kids Kicking Cancer (KKC) in June of 1999. A non-profit organization, Kids Kicking Cancer provides weekly classes for both inpatient and outpatient children in the mind-body techniques found in the martial arts. Despite the word ‘cancer’ in the organization’s name, the program offers help and services, not just to cancer patients and their families, but to any child dealing with the challenges of serious or chronic illness.

Free of charge

Through an innovative program, also known as the Heroes Circle, which merges modern integrative medicine with traditional martial arts, Kids Kicking Cancer addresses the overwhelming needs of children with illness. Specially trained black belt martial artists, some of whom were once in the Kids Kicking Cancer program when they were children, go through an intensive 10-hour training course. They then go on to teach breathing, visualization, and relaxation techniques, in addition to traditional martial arts moves to help empower the children and provide them with a sense of Power, Peace and Purpose, which is KKC’s mantra. Martial arts classes, support during hospital and clinic procedures, uniforms, and transportation to and from classes are all provided to families at no cost. Children three and older, and their siblings, are eligible for the program.

From Detroit to Israel

Founded in Goldberg’s home city of Detroit, Michigan, Kids Kicking Cancer launched in Israel in 2013. The program has now expanded to 28 hospitals in the US & Canada, 15 in Italy, and six in Israel. The participating Israeli hospitals are: Shaarei Tsedek, Hadassah Ein Karem, and Alyn Hospitals in Jerusalem, the Sheba Hospital at Tel Hoshomer, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov) and Schneider’s Children Medical Center in Petah Tikvah. In total, Kids Kicking Cancer is working with 3,000 children worldwide and 80 children in the six Israeli hospitals.

SEE ALSO: Israeli App Belong Helps Cancer Patients, Families Through Healing Process

The chairman of Kids Kicking Cancer Israel is Danny Hakim, a seventh degree Karate black belt with over 30 years teaching experience. Hakim has represented Australia, Japan and Israel in numerous international karate tournaments. His ability to see martial arts as a tool to empower children to create inner peace and universal focus led to his founding Budo for Peace in 2004. When he learned about Kids Kicking Cancer, he decided to bring it under the umbrella of Budo for Peace, which is funded by Israel’s Bank Hapoalim and a number of private foundations. KKC Israel’s instructors come from all sectors of the public, both Jewish and Arab. Hakim views the program as a model of coexistence.

Kids, Cancer, Kids Kicking Cancer, Danny,

Danny Hakim, Chairman of Kids Kicking Cancer Israel

A CNN Hero

Kids Kicking Cancer has been widely lauded in the press. In March 2012, Goldberg was featured in People Magazine in their “Heroes Among Us” feature. In August 2013, Kids Kicking Cancer was featured on Good Morning America and this year was the subject of an article in USA Today. In 2014, Rabbi Goldberg was recongnized as a “Top 10” CNN hero, a global program which honors individuals who make extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid and make a difference in their communities.

Study: 85% feel less pain with KKC’s method

A new study from the Wayne State University School of Medicine found that Kids Kicking Cancer was effective for the vast majority of patients they studied.

“The martial arts have often been known to be invested in Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee types of activities,” Dr. Martin Bluth of the Wayne State University School of Medicine said in a statement. “So what we did is assess whether or not martial arts intervention using the meditative capacities and empowerment capacities … can have an effect on moderating or reducing childhood cancer pain.”

The research team worked with 64 children of varying ages to test their pain levels before, during and after their martial arts training. The study found that 85 percent of the students reported feeling less pain, thanks to Rabbi G’s method.

Sold-out charity benefit

A week ago, Kids Kicking Cancer Israel hosted a special benefit evening in Ra’anana, a central city in Israel, with all proceed going directly to KKC. Hundreds packed the municipal hall to watch Hollywood comedian Elon Gold perform his hilarious stand-up act, but not before two inspirational Israeli KKC kids, sisters Kayla and Gefen Feiler, stole the show when they demonstrated what they had learned from Kids Kicking Cancer. At one point the entire crowd stood up and following the girls’ lead, practiced the Breathe Break, a stress-relieving breathing technique trademarked by Kids Kicking Cancer. When they finished, the girls’ instructor told the crowd that Gefen, the younger sister who had cancer, is now in full remission.

Kids Kicking Cancer, Girls cancer, karate, cancer

Kayla (left) and Gefen (right), from Kids Kicking Cancer Israel

Not about learning, but teaching

Kids Kicking Cancer has already helped thousands of children around the globe deal with their pain in a more managable way and regain a sense of control over the chaos of their lives. The potential to reach millions of young patients is vast, but Goldberg insists that it’s not about teaching the children, but about “empowering kids to be partners in their own healing”. Goldberg’s aim is for the kids to see themselves as victors, not victims and for those same kids to provide ispiration and light to others facing life-challenges.

“It’s all about the children becoming teachers,” Rabbi Goldberg told the Detroit Free Press. “When children know they have a purpose — it changes everything.”

Photos and Video:, CNN

Nice Women Earn Far Less Than Assertive Ones, Study Shows Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:36:26 +0000 Ladies, stop being so nice! A new Israeli study finds that the more agreeable you are at work, the lower your salary is likely to be.

Conducted by Tel Aviv University researchers, the study examined status inconsistencies between men and women through the lens of traditional male and female characteristics. It found that dominant, assertive women, who clearly express their expectations and do not retreat from their demands, are compensated better than their more accommodating female peers.

SEE ALSO: These Five Female Tech Leaders Inspire Innovation In Israel – And Beyond

business women

According to the researchers, the same goes for dominant men versus their more conciliatory male counterparts — but even dominant women earn far less than all of their male colleagues, dominant or otherwise.

The study, recently published in The European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, was conducted by TAU‘s Prof. Sharon Toker, Dr. Michal Biron of the University of Haifa, and Dr. Renee De Reuver of the Tilburg University in The Netherlands.

Financial retribution: Women are punished for being pleasant  

“We have witnessed dramatic changes in the definition of traditionally male and female qualities over the past several decades. But some people still really cling to the idea that some qualities are exclusively male and exclusively female,” Toker said in a statement. “Some professional women are still afraid to exhibit a trait that’s incongruent with presumed notions of female character. The result is financial retribution.”

According to Biron, “agreeable women are being punished for being nice. The nice women we polled in our study even believed they were earning more than they deserved.”

SEE ALSO: Women Entrepreneurs Are More Successful Than Men In Crowdfunding Campaigns

For the purpose of their study, the researchers surveyed 375 men and women at a Dutch firm. The subjects were randomly selected from all 12 of the company departments. The researchers used criteria such as tenure, education, performance, income, and promotion statistics. They also examined how the individual perceived the fit between their education, experience, and performance on the one hand, and their income and rank on the other.

More effort for less return

“We found that women were consistently and objectively status-detracted, which means they invest more of themselves in their jobs than they receive; and are compensated less than their male colleagues across the board,” Biron says.

However, dominant women were not punished for assertiveness. “In fact, we found that the more dominant a woman is at work, the less likely she is to be status-detracted. We found a similar pattern among men — the more dominant a man is, the more likely he is to be better compensated. But alarmingly, dominant women were still found to earn less than even the most agreeable men who aren’t promoted,” De Reuver said in a statement.

Nearly all the employees responded that they felt dissatisfied with their input-compensation ratio, but agreeable and non-dominant women said they felt they earned too much.

“This blew our minds,” Toker says. “The data show that they earn the least — far less than what they deserve. And they rationalize the situation, making it less likely that they will make appropriate demands for equal pay.”

woman on phone

Photos: Nick Karvounis

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Not Chickening Out: Israel’s Novatrans Could Save 7 Billion Male Chicks From Unnecessary Slaughter Wed, 23 Nov 2016 12:39:24 +0000 Every year, the poultry industry kills up to 7 billion male chicks simply because they do not produce enough meat (or eggs) to justify raising them to adulthood.

While the female chicks are spared for egg laying, the male chicks are eliminated and disposed of by hatcheries through suffocation, maceration – a process that involves a conveyor belt and a giant blender – or other methods in a procedure known as male chick culling. The male chicks are generally killed soon after they hatch and shortly after their gender has been determined.

Now, a technology called TeraEgg developed in Israel by Novatrans, can determine whether the egg will hatch into a male or female chick before incubation, preventing the hatching of eggs containing male chicks.

SEE ALSO: Eating A Steak Could Cost Us Our Planet, Researchers Find


TeraEgg: putting an end to male chick culling

Vital Farms, a leading American brand of pasture-raised eggs, raises healthy egg-laying hens on fresh pastures where they can be outside year-round and conditions are regularly inspected and approved as humane. Vital Farms’ new subsidiary, Ovabrite, in partnership with Israeli company Novatrans, recently introduced TeraEgg, a new non-invasive technology designed to end the culling of male chicks.

Novatrans, the Israeli startup providing the technology behind the initiative, was founded in 2003 by Oren Sadiv and raised $50 million from investors in 2010.

TeraEgg, which recently completed its early testing phase, analyzes organic compounds to identify the gender and fertility of eggs before incubation through a non-invasive process that uses terahertz spectroscopy (electromagnetic waves). This technology is able to determine whether it is male, female, or infertile through the detection of gasses that leak from the pores of the egg within seconds, rather than allowing the chicken to hatch – a process that otherwise takes around three weeks.

In other words, TeraEgg detects gender and fertility in the chicken embryo development process, allowing hatcheries to remove male and infertile eggs before they enter incubation, so they can be re-purposed for human consumption rather than destroyed post-incubation.

SEE ALSO: Vegetarian Meat Eaters: Israeli Startup SuperMeat Grows Chicken Meat In A Lab

By eliminating the egg industry’s practice of chick culling, TeraEgg hopes to reduce energy costs and labor without disrupting hatchery operations, as well as to create new revenue streams for egg hatcheries.

The demand for cage-free eggs is growing

According to the USDA, in order to meet current and future demand for cage-free eggs, farmers will need 175 million cage-free hens in the coming years, but there are currently only 18 million. As the worldwide demand for cage-free eggs continues to grow, so does the demand for hens. Every increase in egg demand means a two-fold increase in hatched chicks, since half those chicks will be male.

Building a product “solely to destroy half of it before it ever ships” makes little sense

“Animal welfare groups have long decried chick culling, but it makes a lot of sense to end the practice from a hatchery’s perspective, too,” Ovabrite’s President, Paul Knepper, said in a statement. “We estimate the value of wasted eggs – male and infertile – to be at least $440 million annually, with an additional $70-plus million in labor and energy to incubate and sex those eggs. I can’t think of another industry where you build out a product solely to destroy half of it before it ever ships. TeraEgg is giving these hatcheries a way to eliminate all that waste and produce additional revenue off of all their eggs, instead of just half.”

Successful completion of the early testing phase represents a major milestone for TeraEgg. Ovabrite is expected to begin commercial product development in late 2017.

According to Matt O’Hayer, Founder and CEO of Vital Farms, “TeraEgg has the potential to be one of the greatest advancements in the recent history of animal welfare.”


Photos and video: Vital Farms

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Who Are You? MyHeritage Launches DNA Testing Kit To Reveal Your Ethnic Roots Tue, 22 Nov 2016 13:26:45 +0000 “Who are you?” British rock band The Who asked in one of their hit songs of the late 1970s. It’s a question that’s been asked since the beginning of time.

While there are countless genealogy services that focus on tracing your family’s history, an Israeli company has now launched a new DNA testing service to help you discover your genetic history.

SEE ALSO: Genealogy Giant MyHeritage To Map Every Tombstone In The World

The company behind the new DNA test is genealogy giant MyHeritage, which is known for its popular platform for preserving and sharing family ancestry. The company boasts 85 million users worldwide, 2.1 billion family tree profiles, 7 billion historical records and is available in 42 languages. Its global community enjoys access to a vast library of historical records, an internationally diverse collection of family trees and innovative search and matching technologies.

DNA: Uncovering unknown relatives, finding biological parents

The company’s new do-it-yourself DNA kit reveals valuable information about their family history and ethnic origins. DNA can be used to prove or disprove a documented family tree connection, or answer the question of whether two people sharing the same rare last name are actually related.

DNA is also indispensable for overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles in traditional research, as in the case of adoptees searching for their biological family without access to their adoption records. On the other hand, when DNA locates a match between two people who have the same ancestor or ancestors, family trees and historical records are often essential for piecing together the exact relationship path between them.

Do-it-yourself DNA swab: No blood needed

DNA is the hereditary material in the cells of the human body and it carries within it a unique genetic record. The $79 MyHeritage DNA kit consists of a simple inner-cheek swab that takes only a minute to complete, with no need for blood. The sample is then mailed to MyHeritage DNA’s lab for analysis, after which the user can view the results on the MyHeritage website.

In its initial version, MyHeritage DNA provides two main features: detailed ethnicity reports that map the user’s ethnic and geographic origins, and DNA matches for finding relatives. Additional features and capabilities are planned for the future.

25 ethnicities – and counting

MyHeritage DNA results include ethnicity reports, showing the percentage of the user’s DNA that come from different populations around the world. The reports currently include 25 ethnicities, but this should improve dramatically thanks to MyHeritage’s new unique Founder Population project — the largest of its kind ever conducted. More than 5000 participants were handpicked for this project by MyHeritage from its 85 million members, by virtue of their family trees exemplifying consistent ancestry from the same region or ethnicity for many generations.

In the next few months, the project will be completed, resulting in a rich DNA data set of more than 100 ethnicities that the company believes will show ancestral roots with far greater resolution than other services. To this end, the company has been sending its DNA kits to project participants far and wide, from Uzbekistan to Fiji, from Greenland to South Africa, and every corner of the globe. Standard ethnicity reports are currently available, with the expert reports to be released at no additional cost to users following the completion of the Founder Population project.

dna testing kitComplementing family trees and historical records

DNA test results complement MyHeritage’s core offerings, including family trees and historical records — the tools traditionally used by family history enthusiasts. MyHeritage DNA is integrated with the other services provided by MyHeritage on all web and mobile platforms, as well as offered on the new standalone mobile app MyHeritage DNA.

According to the company, thanks to its expertise in family trees and its vibrant community, MyHeritage provides its DNA customers with features not offered by most competing services, such as viewing family trees of the majority of their DNA matches to pinpoint the connection path, and automatically identifying which surnames and geographical locations they have in common.

“The future of family history”

Founded in 2003 by CEO Gilad Japhet, MyHeritage raised $49 million in several funding rounds between 2004 and 2012.


MyHeritage’s management team

According to the company, the kit is “simple, affordable and offers some of the best ethnicity reports in the world”. The company views the launch of the kit as a major turning point for the DNA industry. “DNA can be a fascinating introduction to the world of family history, and customers who embark on this journey by taking a DNA test can easily use MyHeritage’s tools to further explore what made them what they are,” the company said in a statement.

According to Japhet, “DNA testing is the future of family history. We see DNA as a natural evolution of our business and look forward to harnessing it to reunite families, engage in new pro bono projects, and enrich the lives of millions of users.”

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Swimmers Brave Salty Dead Sea Waters For Seven Hours To Raise Awareness For Its Dire State Thu, 17 Nov 2016 12:04:03 +0000 In an effort to draw attention to the environmental deterioration of the Dead Sea, on Tuesday a multinational group of 25 swimmers swam seven hours through the thick, salty, soupy waters of  Israel’s legendary lake in the first-ever international Dead Sea Swim Challenge.

SEE ALSO: International Photographer Spencer Tunick Undresses Israel To Save Dead Sea

As the lowest point on earth, 423 meters (1,388 feet) below sea level, and the deepest hyper-saline lake in the world, the Dead Sea is a natural and historical wonder. Tourists flock to the Dead Sea to float on the water thanks to the lake’s high salt concentration. It also attracts people from around the world who believe the water’s high mineral content is beneficial for skin conditions.

Tragically, however, the Dead Sea is disappearing before our very eyes. Over the last 30 years, the Dead Sea’s water level has dropped by more than 25 meters (80 feet). Environmentalists blame this phenomenon on unsustainable water management and over-exploitation of the lake’s minerals. Due to heavy industrialization, the Dead Sea’s southern basin, disconnected from the shrinking northern side, has seen flooding in recent years.

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, the 25 swimmers boarded boats and sailed from Israel’s Ein Gedi to Jordan’s Wadi Mujib, which was the swim’s starting point. Then, wearing special protective masks and snorkels to shield them from the briny water, which is painful to the eyes and can be deadly to ingest, the swimmers swam for seven hours through the salty waters in a 17-kilometer (11-mile) swim from Jordan to Israel.

Although floating on the Dead Sea is common, swimming in it is both unusual and potentially dangerous. The swimmers were therefore accompanied by support vessels with medical equipment and food. Despite the very difficult conditions, only three swimmers failed to finish — two who suffered from dehydration and another who complained of chills. Four swimmers took breaks on the medical boat, including Yussuf Matari, a 61 year-old lifeguard, who was treated with an IV on the medical boat before resuming his swim.

The group included local swimmers from Israel and others who came from as far away as New Zealand, South Africa and Denmark. “This is really important because it’s disappearing fast,” British long-distance swimmer Jackie Cobell told the AP, calling the Dead Sea swim “historic and iconic.”

Those who reached the shore first patiently waited, so all the swimmers could finish the race together while loudspeakers blared the iconic hit by British rock band Queen, “We are the Champions.”

Raising awareness for a historic, but shrinking, body of water

“We’re here for the first ever Dead Sea swim challenge with 25 swimmers who come from all over the world to send out a clear message to save the Dead Sea, which is shrinking today at an alarming rate,” Mira Edelstein, a spokesperson for the environmental group EcoPeace, one of the swim’s organizers, told the AP. Jean Craven, the founder of Madswimmer, a South African charity that participates in open-water swims around the world to raise money for children’s causes added: “This was a challenge, not a race.”


Pictures and Video:

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Landslide Victory? Viber Users Vote Hillary Clinton For President Mon, 07 Nov 2016 14:13:38 +0000 The votes are in: Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United Sates. That is, if a poll bot developed by Israeli company Viber especially for tomorrow’s election in the Land of the Free can accurately predict the real results.

SEE ALSO: Meet The Top 5 Israeli Apps Revolutionizing Civic Engagement

Last week, popular call and messaging app Viber launched a global election poll bot. The poll bot asked Viber users who they would vote for in the November 8 US presidential elections.

Recent US polls, including the one conducted by Reuters and Ipsos, predicted that Clinton will become the next president of the US – in line with Viber’s poll results.

election poll bot-viber

Viber‘s unique experiment provided insight into the preferences of its user base. “While Viber’s election bot wasn’t a scientific poll, it was nevertheless able to reach over 170,000 users in the US who voiced their opinion about the elections,” the company said in a statement today. “Viber was able to achieve this result in just a few days, demonstrating the platform’s ability to quickly reach a massive audience, far bigger than most election poll samples.”

Viber users in the US selected Clinton over Trump by a margin of 98,100 to 51,301; about 20,000 participants replied “I don’t care.” Additional figures from the poll show that iOS users were slightly more likely to vote for Clinton. She won iOS users by 18 points and Android users by 14 points. In addition, Clinton won female Viber users by 22 points.

SEE ALSO: Why Do Successful People Become Corrupt? Winning Leads To Dishonesty, New Study Finds

In this whirlwind of an election, there has been a whole lot of talk about polling, with a large portion of the political discourse surrounding whether polls are rigged, inaccurate, or unbalanced.

“While a global poll bot may not follow the scientific methodology of old-school election polls, bringing polling into the social messaging sphere has the potential to reveal interesting information,” Viber said in a statement.

How did it work? The bot began by asking the user who they would vote for, providing the following options: 1. Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2. Donald John Trump, and 3. I DON’T CARE. Once they voted, the bot asked the user whether they are an Android or iOS user, their gender, and the age range they belong to.

“A new standard for political discussion”

“This election season has been unique, to say the least, and the engagement on social media by both the candidates and the voters has set a new standard for political discussion,” Michael Shmilov, Viber COO, said in a statement. “We hope this brand new method of polling will encourage new involvement of social platforms in political dialogue.”

Founded in 2010 by Talmon Marco and Igor Megzinik, Israeli company Viber allows people to connect through individual messaging, video calls and group chats, using Wi-Fi networks or mobile ones. In 2014, it was acquired by Japanese commerce giant Rakuten for a whopping $900 million.


Photos: Viber, Tom Arthur

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Dog Poop? It’s In The Bag! Israeli Invention ‘Piqapoo’ Collects Dog Droppings, With No Mess Sun, 06 Nov 2016 13:05:20 +0000 Having a dog can be wonderful, except when it comes to cleaning up their poop. Most dog owners just use their hands and a plastic bag to clean up after their dogs when on walks. Sadly, many dog owners don’t clean up after their dogs at all, because it’s simply too disgusting. On top of all that, sometimes the dog’s droppings aren’t as solid as they should be, making cleaning up the mess virtually impossible.

Dog poop isn’t just a harmless nuisance, left alone it can have a significant environmental impact. Studies have shown that 20% of water pollution is caused by pet waste not picked up by the pets’ owners. Additionally, fines for leaving your dog’s poop on the ground can be hundreds of dollars in the US and up to 1000 pounds in the UK.

Eliminating the “ick” factor from your dog walks

Seeking a better, more sanitary, solution, a group of Israeli dog owners developed Piqapoo, a simple hands-free device for collecting dog poop. Piqapoo consists of a soft clip with a durable collection bag beneath it that comfortably attaches to a dog’s tail. When your dog does its business, all the poop falls directly into the bag with no mess or leakage. With just a press of a button, dog owners can release the bag directly into the trash, making cleanup quick, easy, and sanitary.

Designed with the dog’s well-being as the top priority, the team spent three years refining its design and searching for the best materials that are both durable and provide maximum comfort for their pets.

SEE ALSO: New ‘Pooper-Scooper’ Turns Dog Droppings Into Ash

piqapoo, dog, dog poop, piqapoo device

Piqapoo clip and bag

$15,000 raised in two hours

Piqapoo is run by CEO Gideon Hazan and Co-Founders Re’em Hazan, Erez Barr, and Eli Dotan. Piqapoo launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter last week and quickly surpassed their goal of $15,00 in just two hours. For just $29, contributors can purchase one Piqapoo clip with 60 collection bags.

SEE ALSO: The High-Tech Dog-Walking Service That’s Taking Manhattan By Storm

Piqapoo comes in a variety of sizes to fit most dogs. The device itself is made from cushioned lightweight silicone. Piqapoo has already been tested on over 100 dogs and the makers claim it has been proven to be effective (NoCamels wasn’t able to ask the dogs what they thought). According to the company, your dog can walk and run as normal while wearing Piqapoo, and won’t even notice it’s there.

“We love our dogs,” Gideon Hazan, CEO of Piqapoo said in a statement. “The only thing we didn’t like was using our hands to pick up our dogs’ poop. The reason we’re so passionate about Piqapoo is that we all use it! It works, and it has made dog walking a way more enjoyable part of our day.”

piqapoo-dog Also works for dogs of the visually impaired

Additionally, Hazan says Piqapoo is a great solution for individuals with disabilities. “People who are visually impaired can easily feel where to attach the Piqapoo to their dogs. For others who have a hard time bending down to clean up after their dogs, they can now simply detach the device from their dogs tail and throw out the disposable waste bag,” he says.

No more pooper scoopers

Other dog waste collection devices currently on the market are riddled with problems. Scoopers are big and clunky, and don’t work for the runny kind of poop. Fitted devices are often uncomfortable for the dogs, and can be extremely time-consuming for the owners to put on their dogs. Although there are modified bags on the market, they are quite expensive and can leave traces of poop on the ground.

Piqapoo is hoping its solution will be the one that sticks – literally.  In other words, it could cut out the crap of picking up poop.

Photos and video: Piqapoo

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Help From Above: First-ever VC Fund For Israeli Ultra-Orthodox Entrepreneurs Launched Mon, 31 Oct 2016 10:13:39 +0000 The Ultra-Orthodox, or “Haredim”, Hebrew for “those who fear God”, are the fastest growing sector in Israel. They currently make up about 11 percent of Israel’s 8.5 million citizens, with the majority living beneath the poverty line, according to a recent study by the Israel Democracy Institute, an independent think tank. With a growth rate four times that of the general Jewish population, their numbers are expected to rise to 14 percent in 2024, 19 percent in 2039 and 27 percent in 2059. This huge growth of Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox population – characterized in part by its low levels of workforce integration, secular education, and technological skills – presents a vast macro-economic and social challenge.

Against this backdrop, KamaTech, a nonprofit organization working to integrate Haredim in Israel into the high-tech industry, and iAngels, a leading Israel-based angel investment network, have announced the launch of ’12 Angels’ Venture Capital, the first-ever VC fund dedicated exclusively to entrepreneurs from the Ultra-Orthodox community.

SEE ALSO: Technion’s Pre-University Program Gets Ultra-Orthodox To Study And Join The High-Tech World

The 12 Angels early-stage investment fund will invest up to $5 million in approximately 30 Ultra-Orthodox startups over the next three years, focusing on EdTech, e-Commerce, artificial intelligence, cyber security and fintech. Investors include some of the most prominent names in the Israel high-tech sector, including Chemi Peres (Co-Founder of Pitango Venture Capital), Adi Soffer Teeni (General Manager of Facebook Israel), Dov Moran (Managing Partner of Grove Ventures), Gigi Levy-Weiss (Founder of the NFX Guild, and one of Israel’s most successful angel investors) and many more.

“A Landmark Moment”

“12 Angels marks a landmark moment in the integration of Ultra-Orthodox Israelis into the high-tech workforce,” KamaTech CEO and Co-Founder Moshe Friedman said in a statement. “For the first time, investors – not philanthropists – are putting their faith in the talent and commitment of Haredi entrepreneurs.”

iAngels co-founder Mor Assia said in a statement that she felt privileged to be able to support the 12 Angels fund, which offers a “scalable platform for supporting this growing, ambitious and courageous base of entrepreneurs, who often face unique obstacles in building their companies.”


iAngels co-founder Mor Assia

Integrating the workplace

With its flagship accelerator program for Haredim in Israel, KamaTech helps members of the Haredi community who have a good business idea but few technical or business skills. Founded by Haredi entrepreneur Moshe Friedman, together with Zika Abzuk (Cisco Israel VP), and with the guidance and support of Israeli entrepreneur and investor Dr. Yossi Vardi (Chairman of the Advisory Board), KamaTech operates a number of programs for the training and placement of Haredim, along with a coalition of tech companies, including Cisco, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and others. According to KamaTech, the organization has helped more than 6,000 individuals from the Haredi community obtain skills and qualifications in hi-tech, find work in the sector and launch businesses. According to Friedman, KamaTech is helping some 500 Haredi startups, versus the mere five they sponsored when the organization was founded four years ago.

Benefits for those who participate in their accelerator include working with leading entrepreneurs in the Israeli high-tech industry as personal mentors, help from law and CPA firms on copyright, financing and other issues, a free project development team, and assistance in hiring, financing and presentations.

KamaTech’s flagship project is its accelerator program, which provides an array of advisory services without charge to haredi entrepreneurs and startups, including connecting them to investors, providing business mentorships, as well as legal and accounting advice.

SEE ALSO: High-Tech Center In Southern Israel To Employ Orthodox, Ethiopians, Arabs

iAngels is a leading Israel-based angel investment network, leveraging due diligence to enable accredited investors around the world to gain access to the most-exclusive early-stage technology deals in the market. In less than three years, iAngels has raised over $50 million, invested in over 60 Israeli startups, and built a full-service in-house investment team, led by founders Shelly Hod Moyal and Mor Assia.

 On October 19th, KamaTech hosted a launch event for 12 Angels at the “Startup Sukkah,” a joint initiative of angel investment network iAngels and The Israel Project, at the Tel Aviv offices of iAngels, their key partner in the launch and management of 12 Angels. The event brought together entrepreneurs from the Ultra-Orthodox community with investors, entrepreneurs and partners from Israel’s tech community. The guest of honor at the event was Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv-Yafo, who addressed the gathering.

Left to right: KamaTech CEO Moshe Friedman; Tel Aviv-Yafo Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau; investor Dov Moran; iAngels Chairman David Assia; iAngels Founding Partner Mor Assia; and iAngels Head of Partnerships & Legal Lilach Danewitz

Array of startups helped by KamaTech

Among the startups that have been funded and supported by KamaTech are: Cognilyze, which uses big data for targeted advertising;, which provides drag and drop WordPress themes for websites; Bontact, a platform combining several ways of communication so your users can contact you via their channel of choice; and English On which encourages English learners to improve their language skills at their favorite content websites.

A win-win proposition

“12 Angels will enable investors to access new companies, and entrepreneurs with a fresh mindset,” Dov Moran, a serial entrepreneur and investor, best known for inventing the USB memory stick, said in a statement. “On the other side, it will enable many Haredim – who want to continue a spiritual Torah life alongside technology and innovation, to generate interesting applications and developments. It’s win-win.”

“12 Angels offers both a practical platform to create social and economic change, as well as a powerful symbol of collaboration and partnership,” Freidman said in a statement. “The initiative will help entrepreneurs establish their businesses in the rapidly growing ultra-Orthodox start-up scene.”

Photos: KamaTech

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Free Clinic Aims To Help Startups Tiptoe Through Legal Quicksand Sun, 16 Oct 2016 09:20:13 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Israel may be one of the best places in the world to create a new startup, yet it can be very hard for entrepreneurs to deal with bureaucracy and legalities. A tiny detail or a small mistake can cost thousands of shekels.

For this reason, the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, a private university north of Tel Aviv, has set up a free legal clinic to help new startups wade their way through legal quagmires and bureaucracy.

SEE ALSO: Tel Aviv Engineering Students Bring Clean Water Solution To Tanzania

“Our legal clinic is a unit within the IDC Herzliya that wants to make social impact involving students, who can in the process also get practical legal experience. They get real legal experience, perhaps even more than some interns,” said Assaf Ben David, a lawyer with international, commercial and high-tech experience, who was recruited to establish the clinic two years ago.

Startups that wish to become clients of the clinic must be technologically related: they must produce apps, software, websites or physical products that do something unique. In addition, they must be social ventures.

“Dan Nir and Roger Gladstone, the people who donated money to open the clinic, had a dream to create social change. Due to their social awareness, and the IDC’s focus on social involvement alongside entrepreneurship, we decided to choose only this type of startups,” said Ben David.

Nir is an American private investor and a philanthropist who managed hedge funds for 25 years. Gladstone founded the Gladstone Law Group and is a board member of numerous organizations.

SEE ALSO: Startup Incubator Embraces New Immigrants To Israel

The clinic is the first of its kind in Israel, said Ben David. The free legal service is exclusively provided to help women, new immigrants, Arab-Israelis, ultra-Orthodox Jews, the Druze, residents of Israel’s periphery and individuals with disabilities.

To read the full article, click here

women talking

Photos and video: IDC Legal Clinic for StartupsWOCinTech Chat

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Children Have An Especially Hard Time Crossing The Street When On Their Mobile Phones Tue, 11 Oct 2016 06:20:28 +0000 Pedestrians who talk on the phone put themselves in danger, but the risk is even greater when it comes to children. Now that the summer holiday is over, millions of kids are roaming the streets while talking or texting on their mobile devices.

A study conducted by researchers from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University unequivocally shows how a child pedestrian’s ability to safely cross the road is hindered more during a cell phone conversation than an adult’s.

SEE ALSO: Teens Listening To Their Favorite Tunes While Driving Commit More Errors And Violations

smartphone users crossing street

83 percent of middle school students carry mobile devices

Crossing the road is not an easy task. According to the study, “it demands pedestrians to integrate cognitive, attentional and motor control abilities.” In order to safely cross the road, “pedestrians must look for approaching traffic, signs, signals, and listen to auditory cues indicating of approaching vehicles.”

Pedestrians are also required to complete several cognitive tasks, such as: estimate the speed and distance of traveling vehicles and assess their arrival. Thus, “visual, auditory or cognitive based distractions, which may draw attention from the crossing task, can cause pedestrians to miss critical information from the environment, and as a consequence, make wrong assessments and be exposed to higher risk of collision,” according to the study.


Furthermore, US statistics show that 20 percent of the third-graders (aged 8–9) own cell phones, 40 percent of fifth-graders (aged 10–11) do, and 83 percent of middle school students (aged 11–14) carry mobile devices.

“Although many children carry cell phones, the effect that cell phone conversations have on children’s crossing behavior has not been thoroughly examined,” BGU‘s Prof. Tal Oron-Gilad said in a statement.

According to the researcher, one-third of the road traffic fatalities in low- and middle-income countries are among pedestrians. “This high level of involvement is particularly meaningful for child pedestrians as the proportion of child pedestrian fatalities is significantly high relative to adults,” she adds.

SEE ALSO: It’s Official: Prolonged Cell Phone Use Leads To Lower Sperm Count

The study, which was published recently in Safety Science, was conducted at the BGU Virtual Environment Simulation Laboratory, one of the world’s most sophisticated traffic research facilities, which enables researchers to measure pedestrian reactions to virtual reality scenarios. BGU’s pedestrian dome simulator consists of a 180-degree spherical screen aligned with an accurate three-projector system large enough to immerse a participant within its circumference, according to the university.

The simulator experiment was conducted in a virtual city environment with 14 adults and 38 children who experienced street-crossing scenarios paired with pre-determined cell phone conversations. The subjects were requested to press a response button whenever they felt it was safe to cross, while the researchers tracked their eye movements.

“The results showed that while all age groups’ crossing behaviors were affected by cell phone conversations, children were more susceptible to distraction,” Oron-Gilad says. “When busy with more cognitively demanding conversation types, participants were slower to react to a crossing opportunity, chose smaller crossing gaps and allocated less visual attention to the peripheral regions of the scene.”

children crossing street

In addition, the researchers found that the ability to make better crossing decisions improved with age. The most prominent improvement was shown in the “safety gap” – each age group maintained a longer gap than the younger one preceding it.

According to Oron-Gilad, it’s important to take the new findings into account when training young pedestrians for road safety and “increase public awareness with children going back to school.”

texting no texting crosswalk

Photos: Einat Paz-Frankel, team klzwick, NHTSADun.can

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Israeli Study Shows Female Oncologists Feel More Burnout Mon, 03 Oct 2016 16:56:41 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

The tough act of balancing work and home life, along with other domestic and professional challenges, may be a contributor to the higher burnout rates found among female oncologists compared to their male colleagues. And by reducing these outside stresses, oncologists may be able to cope more effectively with patient death.

A Ben Gurion University study set out to look at gender differences in grief reactions, burnout and emotional distress among clinical oncologists, their reactions to patient deaths and emotional distress.

SEE ALSO: Research: Doctors Should Be Trained To Talk About Death


The results, published in the journal Cancer, found that women reported significantly more grief over the death of their patients, more emotional distress and more burnout. While overall women reported more burnout, they reported emotional distress and grief responses only when they reached relatively higher levels of burnout compared to their male colleagues, who experienced these feelings even with moderate burnout.

For both men and women, however, higher levels of grief and emotional distress were felt among those who reported high levels of burnout.

SEE ALSO: Study: Doctors Should Set Personal Example With Medical Procedures

Burnout is a type of psychological stress in which sufferers feel exhaustion, lack of enthusiasm and ineffectiveness, and it can lead to people leaving their jobs earlier than retirement age. The condition is a big issue among oncologists and many studies have documented its prevalence, yet few have attempted to determine what is associated with the high burnout rate. Gender is an important variable to examine in this context, primary investigator Dr. Leeat Granek of BGU’s Department of Public Health said.

The researchers surveyed 178 oncologists from Israel and Canada, 100 of whom were women.

The study results indicate that the medical system should look at the cumulative stressors oncologists face on a day-to-day basis, Granek said in a statement, and take into account gender differences when helping the physicians cope with patient death and dealing with burnout.

Health News: female doctors more tolerant than male counterparts

To read the full article, click here

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Safe & Sound: AngelSense’s GPS Tracker Gives Parents Of Autistic Kids Peace Of Mind Mon, 19 Sep 2016 12:10:54 +0000 Do you know where your children are? For parents of autistic children, knowing that their child is safe at all times, even when they are indoors or at school, is a dire necessity.

Like all children, autistic kids are naturally curious, and have an intense desire to explore the outside world. The National Autism Association calls this phenomenon “wandering”. Sadly, many of these wanderers get lost. More than a third of them can’t communicate their name, address or phone number, and most of them have had a close call with traffic.

SEE ALSO: Understanding Gender Differences Could Improve Autism And Alzheimer’s Treatment

Seeking a better way to keep track of their own autistic children’s whereabouts, in 2013 Israelis Doron Somer and Nery Ben developed AngelSense a GPS and voice monitoring solution designed exclusively for children with special needs. Consisting of a child GPS tracker along with an app for the parent, AngelSense provides peace of mind knowing exactly where your child is at every moment of the day. Also, with AngelSense, parents instantly get alerted as soon as their kids are on the move, so they can see online if they’ve gone into an area of the school building where they are not supposed be.


Built for children with autism
Although there are many GPS trackers on the market geared to keeping track of kids, the AngelSense tracker is specifically designed to meet the needs of autistic children. For example, the device that is attached to the child’s clothing can only be removed by the use of a special key, which the parents keep. This ensures that the child won’t damage or take off the tracker during the day.

SEE ALSO: New Study Examines Autistic Brain Function, Finds Every Brain Unique

To help better serve their customers’ needs, AngelSense’s support line is staffed with parents of special needs children. Their representatives are all expert users of AngelSense who understand what their clients are going through and are passionate about helping parents in similar situations.

According to the company, over 3000 users worldwide currently use AngelSense to monitor their children. The Guardian Kit, which includes the GPS tracker, costs $149 and the AngelSense service, which includes special monitoring features such as ‘listen in’ and other alerts and updates, is $39.99. The company declined to comment on how much money they have raised to date.

In explaining the drive behind the founding of the company, Somer told NoCamels, “I tried to find a solution that will let me, as a parent to a child with special needs, understand what’s going on with my child. That’s all I really want.”

For parents of autistic children, AngelSense may indeed be heaven-sent.

angelsense2Video production: Hoff Reshef (Executive Producer & Director), Brandon Barry (film), Maya Shechter (editing)

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Trump Card: Beyond Verbal’s Technology Interprets Trump’s Real Emotions Wed, 14 Sep 2016 11:28:04 +0000 How can you tell when politicians are lying? Their lips are moving.

It’s a joke of course, but what makes a joke funny is that it has elements of truth. After all, can we really know what a politician, or anyone for that matter, is really thinking?

Israeli company Beyond Verbal says it can. Its cutting-edge technology deciphers people’s moods, emotional characteristics, and attitudes in real-time, as they speak.

The company has already tested its technology on the likes Barack Obama, Donald Trump and even Steve jobs.

In a recent video that Beyond Verbal analyzed, Republican presidential nominee Trump answers questions from Megyn Kelly of Fox News during a televised debate last August. Beyond Verbal’s algorithm detected characteristics such “arrogance” and “intolerance” inTrump.

Emotions behind the words

Having already analyzed 2.3 million voice samples from 170 countries, Beyond Verbal’s technology decodes human vocal intonations into their underlying emotions. In a video of one of the late Steve Jobs’s last interviews, in which he talks about how he came up with the idea for the iPad, Beyond Verbal detects “loneliness, fatigue, emotional frustration” and also “sadness mixed with happines” from Apple’s legendary founder.

SEE ALSO: Mobile Is About To Get Emotional With Beyond Verbal’s ‘Moodies’ App

$3 millon Chinese investment

Last week Beyond Verbal announced it had raised $3 million in series A funding led by Chinese investor Kuang-Chi Science. Founded in 2012, the company has already been granted eight patents and more are pending.

According to the company, Beyond Verbal’s technology is applicable in mobile applications, voice assistants, wearables, and a variety of other settings. Beyond Verbal’s software can also be integrated into existing products, helping devices and applications envision not just what users type, but also how they feel and what they mean.

“We envision a world in which personal devices understand our emotions and well-being, enabling us to become more in tune with ourselves,” Yuval Mor, CEO of Beyond Verbal, said in a interview with Tech in Asia. “Understanding emotions can assist us in finding new friends, unlocking new experiences and, ultimately, helping us understand better what makes us truly happy.”

Video: Beyond Verbal

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Young Israeli Instagram Stars Wow Germany With Stunning Photos, 1 Million Followers Mon, 12 Sep 2016 11:50:46 +0000 Two Israeli Instagram stars are about to become even more famous: The Insta pages of ballet dancer Neta Meir and yoga guru Talia Sutra will be featured this week at the annual digital marketing Dmxco convention and expo in Germany, considered one of the most influential in the industry.

The two, who have a combined 1 million followers on Instagram, will soon feature advertisements on their pages, after attracting followers from all over the world with their stunning images.

Meir, a 17-year-old professional ballet dancer who runs Instagram page WorldWideBallet (which is also linked to an online ballet gear store), has more than 683,000 followers; Sutra’s page, “Love and all is coming,” is followed by 300,000 yoga enthusiast from all over the globe.

While Sutra’s Instagram page features seemingly impossible yoga poses, pictured with spectacular views of Israel in the background – including the Negev desert and the Mediterranean coastline – Meir’s photos and videos of male and female ballet dancers feature the world of classical dance and all its facets. “There’s so much talent in the world that needs to be shared,” she says.

SEE ALSO: Perfecting ‘Foodography’: Tel Aviv Restaurant Offers Instagram-Ready Dishes

These Instagram pages will be presented to some 90,000 convention guests, mostly European digital advertisers.

SEE ALSO: Cakes And Shoes: Israeli Instagram Star Photographs Both In Paris

According to digital marketing expert Eran Nizri, CEO of LDRS, which connects social media influencers to advertisers, social media stars are perceived as authentic and relevant to followers, and that’s why advertisers are increasingly trying to hop on the “insta-blog” bandwagon. “Israeli bloggers generate quality content and a significant number of followers, so it’s time to give them an international jumpstart,” he says.

Tapping into the $600 billion international advertising industry, social media stars like Meir and Sutra are just two of the new players who increasingly shift advertising budgets away from traditional media. According to research firm emarketer, about 40 percent of advertising budgets currently go towards digital and mobile marketing.

Meir, who started her Instagram page in 2014, is already reaping the benefits of her popularity with a line of warm-up outfits for ballet dancers, which she sells on her website.

Photos: Neta Meir, Talia Sutra, Kristopher Allison

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Leaving The Comfort Zone: One Brain Molecule Controls Anti-Social Behavior Tue, 30 Aug 2016 12:41:00 +0000 Meeting new people can be stressful or rewarding, depending on your personality. A new Israeli study suggests that one molecule involved in regulating stress in the brain may help determine how willing we are to leave the comfort zone of our social group and strike up new relationships.

SEE ALSO: ‘Big Brother’ Study Sheds Light On Social Hierarchy In Mice

In the Weizmann Institute study, published recently in Nature Neuroscience, the researchers identified a stress mechanism in mice that appears to act as a ‘social switch.’ It caused mice either to increase interactions with ‘friends’ and ‘acquaintances’ or, in contrast, to reduce such interactions and seek instead to meet strangers. Since an analogous stress system operates in the human brain, the findings suggest that a similar mechanism may regulate coping with social challenges in humans. Disruptions in this mechanism might be responsible for difficulties with social coping in people affected by social anxiety, as well as in autism, schizophrenia and other disorders.

brain molecules

Stress-coping molecule Urocortin-3 (green) and its receptor, CRFR2 (red), expressed in the mouse brain region responsible for social behavior [viewed under a microscope]

Conducted by Prof. Alon Chen, Dr. Yair Shemesh and Oren Forkosh, the study suggests that “most social contacts involve a certain level of social stress or anxiety, even when we interact with people we know well, for example, during a holiday meal with extended family,” Shemesh said in a statement. “In fact, from the point of view of evolution, moderate levels of social apprehension are essential for safe and successful social engagement.”

According to Chen, “in social environments, an individual’s interests often clash with the group’s needs and expectations. So, the individual must maintain what’s known as a socio-emotional balance, between the processing of social signals and his or her emotional response to such pressure.”

SEE ALSO: Only 50% Of Your Friends Actually Like You, Study Shows

The scientists used two behavioral setups to study how mice cope with the challenge of interacting with other mice. One was a ‘social maze,’ in which a mouse can choose whether to interact through a mesh with familiar mice or with strangers, or even to avoid interaction at all. The other was a special arena, in which a group of mice was tracked with video cameras and the observations were analyzed with a computer algorithm created for this purpose. This setting enabled the researchers to quantify various types of interactions – such as approach, contact, attack or chase – among individual mice within the group over several days.

A molecule responsible for decisions such as switching jobs or apartments 

The results revealed that a molecular mechanism involved in stress management in the brain of mice determines their behavior toward other mice. The mechanism involves a small signaling molecule, Urocortin-3, and a receptor on the surface of neurons to which this molecule binds. Both Urocortin-3 and the receptor are part of the corticotropin-releasing factor, or CRF system, a hormone that plays a central role in coping with stress. Both are prominently expressed in a brain region called the medial amygdala, known to be associated with social behavior in mice.

Mice that had high levels of Urocortin-3 in the brain actively sought out contacts with new mice behind the net, even ignoring their own group. But when the activity of Urocortin-3 and its receptor was blocked in their brains, the mice chose to socialize mainly within the group, avoiding contacts with strangers.

According to Forkosh, “in nature, mice live in groups, and the social challenges they face within the group differ from their relationship with intruders. It therefore makes sense for a brain mechanism to produce different types of social coping in these two situations. In humans, this mechanism might be involved whenever we consider moving out of our parents’ home, getting a divorce or changing jobs or apartments.”


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Mini-Amphitheaters Clean Up Noise Pollution, Give Street Bands A Stage Thu, 25 Aug 2016 08:00:15 +0000 Life in the city can be wonderfully exciting – unless you happen to have an aversion to noise. Construction, honking cars stuck in traffic and airplanes flying overhead are just some of the contributors to the noise pollution which significantly harms the quality of life in otherwise beautiful urban landscapes.

SEE ALSO: Street Philharmonic Puts Street Musicians On Stage

Added to the mix are the sounds of street performers—musicians, actors, artists—all trying to ply their trade in the midst of the hustle and bustle of major cities worldwide.

To combat this problem, Aviv Even, a student at Israel’s Shenkar School of Engineering and Design , came up with an innovative solution called a “mini-amphitheater”. The structures are aesthetically pleasing, sidewalk-size-appropriate amphitheaters, which can be used not only to block out unpleasant street noises, but also to provide a venue for street musicians to perform, thereby enhancing the cultural landscape of a city.



A Tel Aviv native, Even had enough of the irritating sounds which accompany life in a big city. Seeking to make a positive impact by both reducing noise pollution and improving the quality of life for the city’s residents, she came up with the idea of mini-amphitheaters.

SEE ALSO: Stunning Hanging Garden Will Cover Israel’s Busiest Highway


Sound map of Ben Gurion Blvd. in Tel Aviv. The blue represents sources of noise pollution.

“I sought to determine which sounds were more pleasant for people and which were more grating—what caused people to want to be in an area, and what caused them to want to leave. Something that I discovered is that noise pollution is just as effective at deterring people from being in an area as is physical pollution,” she told Ynet News.

Mapping city sounds

Aviv stood on the corner of a major downtown intersection in Tel Aviv and used a decibel reader to determine where the loudest sounds on the street were coming from and what was causing them. She mapped those areas out and used her maps to determine the best way to reduce the sounds.

The mini-amphitheater is able to direct the sounds of the people who are performing in it—whether they be street musicians performing musical instruments or street actors giving a performance—to an audience without disturbing the other people living or walking in the surrounding area.

“Sound naturally goes up, so by performing inside of these mini-amphitheaters, the sound is able to be directed towards an audience more fully. This also eliminates the need for speakers, as the sound is naturally amplified,” she explained.

To design the structure, Even spoke to street performers to determine their needs, thereby creating the ideal size and depth of the shell so that it would be not only comfortable for the street musicians to perform in, but also disrupt the surrounding foot traffic as little as possible.

Even has already sold one of her portable mini-amphitheaters, but she hopes that in the near future the city of Tel Aviv and other cities around the world will use her design not only to beautify their cities visually, but also provide a way to mitigate noise pollution and increase their good vibrations.

Tel Aviv: Skyline (night)

Tel Aviv night skyline

Photos: Aviv Even

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Israeli, Indian Entrepreneurs Join Forces To Tackle India’s Healthcare Challenges Wed, 03 Aug 2016 11:40:44 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Amid Bollywood music and dancing, mouthwatering curries and masalas, more than 600 innovators, entrepreneurs and healthcare professionals in four cities, in Israel and India, took part in a hackathon aimed at resolving health challenges for India’s poor.

SEE ALSO: In Face Of Water Crisis, Indian Minister Praises Israeli Technologies: “Israel Is My Guru”

Some 100 teams in Tel Aviv, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore spent 36 hours together, face-to-face and online, and came up with ideas including a toothbrush that detects anemia, mobile phone applications to monitor the food intake of infants, and a smart pillbox to remind patients to take their tuberculosis medication.

The India Israel Affordable Healthcare Hackathon, which ran for three days in the four cities and ended recently, was organized by the Pears Program for Global Innovation, which is run by the Tel Aviv University. The program is a partner of OLAM, an organization promoting global Jewish service and international development.

The aim of the hackathon was to expose Israeli technology to the challenges of developing markets and turn the attention of Israeli entrepreneurs to the potential that Africa and India hold for their products. There are over 1,000 startups in the healthcare sector in Israel but most of them target the US and European markets.

“The best teams of the hackathon will be invited to join the Pears Challenge year-long fellowship program for outstanding Israeli innovators who want to develop technologies to address the health care needs of poor people in India,” Aliza Belman Inbal, director of the Pears Program, said by phone. “The hackathon was an amazing first step in this journey. We hope to create a pipeline of commercial ventures that deal with these problems.” The Indian winning teams will get placed at a parallel program in India.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Pesticide Company That Fights Pests With Bumble Bees Now Launches In India

The teams had to tackle pressing health problems by finding, among other challenges: an anemia diagnostic test for young girls; a technological solution to monitor food and milk intake among infants; screening and diagnosis solutions for hearing impairment; real-time monitoring devices for pregnant women in remote areas; a way to manage the side effects of chemotherapy in remote areas; improved access to funding for cancer treatments and a technology driven-solution to give psychological counseling for cancer patients by connecting them to doctors and counselors.

taj mahal

To read the full article, click here

Photos and video: Pears Program

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Baby On Board? Waze Reminds Parents Not To Leave Kids In Cars Mon, 01 Aug 2016 08:34:48 +0000 You can hear every parent think it when they read someone else’s kid was left in a car: “I’d never forget my kid in the car!” That is, until they do.

The numbers paint a grim picture: Every year, an average of 37 children die in the US alone because they are left behind in burning hot vehicles.

And while cars now have features that remind drivers to buckle up, remember their keys in the ignition or turn their headlights off, no driver reminder chimes in to tell you your baby is snoozing in the back seat.

To fill this gap, the creators of the popular Israeli GPS app Waze decided to add a new feature to remind parents to check everyone has exited the vehicle.


SEE ALSO: GPS App Waze Announces New Alerts On Kidnappings, Hit-And-Runs

The feature, still in beta, provides a customizable notification when users arrive at their intended destination. Users can choose to enable or disable the warning and customize the message.

Numbers of incidents of kids left in cars rises

Without air conditioning, temperatures in cars can rapidly skyrocket. On a hot 32 degrees day (90 °F), the temperature inside a car can soar to a life-threatening 42 degrees (109 °F) degrees in just thirty minutes. Within an hour, a car can reach over 54 degrees (130 °F) and after that will surpass 65 (150 °F). And that doesn’t mean it’s safe to leave your child in the car on cooler days! Even then, cars can absorb sunlight very rapidly and heat up internally.

According to – the only American nonprofit child safety organization dedicated solely to preventing injuries and deaths of children in and around vehicles – since 1990 more than 775 children have died in these preventable tragedies. This year, four children died over the July 22-24 weekend in the states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Texas.

In Israel, where Waze was created, 400 incidents of children left in cars occurred between the years 2008-2016, with an actual total of 449 children involved, according to the Beterem-Safe Kids Israel organization. Of these incidents, 23 resulted in the death of the child. In the past two months alone, five toddlers died in Israel after being left in hot cars.
Could you last 10 minutes in a hot car?

In an experiment conducted this week in Israel, entertainers and politicians were asked to sit inside a locked parked car in 37 degree (98.6 °F) heat for 10 minutes. With paramedics standing by, the celebrities gained real appreciation for what children left unattended in parked cars experience.

Gathering user feedback

Waze, which was founded by Uri Levine, Ehud Shabtai and Amir Shinar in 2007 and was acquired by Google for $1.3 billion three years ago, has not said when they will be rolling out this new feature to non-beta users. However, they are currently asking users to leave feedback that they will gather to become a part of the standard version of the app that everyone has access to. Anyone can sign up to be a part of the Waze beta community, which gets them access to new features, like the child reminder app, while they are being tested.

SEE ALSO: Waze Acquired By Google For Over $1B

While the initiative by Waze is a welcome one, the danger, of course, is that if people are forgetting their kids in cars, nothing can fully ensure that they will be paying attention to their notifications. So the safest route is still the oldest: Keep your heads firmly strapped on!

waze community

Photos: Courtesy

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New Peres Center To Showcase Israeli Technology, Inspire Dreams Sun, 24 Jul 2016 11:53:41 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Former Israeli president Shimon Peres, together with President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, laid the cornerstone Thursday for the Israeli Innovation Center, which aims to be a visitors center as well as a source of technological innovation.

SEE ALSO: Record Quarter For The Startup Nation

The new center, planned to open in 2018, will be located at The Peres Center for Peace on the Jaffa coast in the south of Tel Aviv. It aims to draw guests from around the world to learn about Israel’s achievements in the high tech sphere.

Peres Center for Peace

The Peres Center for Peace

At the event, attended by leading figures of the high tech industry, including Check Point Software Technologies founder Gil Shwed and Yossi Vardi, Peres unveiled his aspiration to use the center to close the gaps between the Arab and Jewish populations, and between rich and poor, and lead to regional innovation collaboration.

“We will prove that innovation has no limits and no barriers. Innovation enables dialogue between nations and between people. It will enable all young people – Jews, Muslims and Christians — to engage in science and technology equally. Here we will emphasize that we can promote peace from childhood, and we will spark the imagination of every boy and girl and enrich their dreams,” Peres said, his 93-year old voice at times feeble, other times resounding. “We must open our doors to all the populations, ultra-Orthodox and Arabs, so they too can enjoy the fruits of this innovation. But together with technology, children must also be instilled with values, “because without values, technology threatens the world,” he said. “Technology must be used for both social and economic growth.”

SEE ALSO: BriefCam’s Instant Video Surveillance Helps To Quickly Catch Terrorists, Criminals

Peres, who was the orchestrator behind Israel’s air force and nuclear reactor, and an architect of Israel’s peace accords with Jordan and Egypt, called on Israel’s neighboring countries to join forces and to create a “startup region.” “Peace, innovation and science must be the realm of all. Not only Israel should benefit from the fruit of innovation, but the whole region,” he said. “Let us adopt the road to peace and innovation, which will always be better than war and terror,” Peres said.

The center will showcase the story of Israel as the Startup Nation; it will contain a kinetic exhibition of thousands of interactive screens planned to display the best of Israel’s technology; host a digital library where visitors can ask questions and get answers about the history of Israel’s innovation; and host an entrepreneurial hub to enable meetings, hackathons and courses in a multitude of languages for students, entrepreneurs and innovators.


To read the full article, click here

Photos courtesy of the Peres Center for Peace

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Afterlife Messaging: SafeBeyond Allows You To Communicate With Loved Ones After You’re Gone Sun, 10 Jul 2016 12:42:11 +0000 “The regret of my life,” artist/singer Yoko Ono once said, “is that I have not said ‘I love you’ often enough.”

Tapping into that sentiment, a new Israeli app gives everyone an opportunity to communicate with their loved ones from the great beyond.

SEE ALSO: Vidoco: Turn Your Life Into A Documentary

With SafeBeyond, you can decide when you want those messages released to your loved ones. It could be on a specific date like a 21st birthday, or a special wedding anniversary. The recipient is then notified through a push notification on their smartphone that they have a message waiting for them.

A digital inheritance

Israeli entrepreneur Moran Zur created SafeBeyond, as a ‘digital inheritance’ after doctors diagnosed his wife with brain cancer.

“We had a three-year-old kid at the time,” Zur tells NoCamels. “We wanted to make sure that he would get the chance to know his mother for many years to come, no matter what happens.”

This turn of events prompted Zur to leave his job of five years as CEO at one of the leading and largest investment houses in Israel, and to found SafeBeyond in 2014. The startup has already raised $1.5 million from investors. To date, the company has some 20,000 users and expects to grow further as they begin to collaborate with family-oriented websites. Though the app is free, SafeBeyond charges $3.99 a month for extra storage space (for messages, videos and photos, etc.) over 1 GB.

SEE ALSO: Research: Doctors Should Be Trained To Talk About Death

According to Zur, “there are so many things we don’t plan for in life, and things we don’t think to discuss with our loved ones while we are with them – SafeBeyond will change that. SafeBeyond was established to ensure that users could be both in control of their digital legacies, and be there, in a virtual way, for the people they care about, at the times when they are needed the most.”

To be prepared

SafeBeyond’s unique technology and service “redesigns” the perception of death, empowering all people to better prepare for the eventualities of life. Users can assign a trustee, who will be responsible for their digital will, and heirs, who will receive the components of the digital time capsules.

The interface is user-friendly and messages are sent based on unique dates, events and geo-based triggers. This means the user can schedule birthday messages that are date-based or a wedding message which is event-based. Geo-based triggers will send a loved one a message when they are at a location. For instance, you can send your spouse a message every time they are at “your place” or send a video of a cherished memory.

Unsettling or comforting?

Some digital experts say people may be unsettled by receiving messages from loved ones years after their death. On the other hand, some may view SafeBeyond’s service as comforting, as if the dearly departed is reaching out to them on their special occasion.

No matter the situation, Yoko Ono was right. We don’t tell our loved ones we love them often enough.

Photos and videos: SafeBeyond, Leah Tardivel

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Charity Begins On Your Phone: PocketCause Makes Mobile Donations Fun And Easy Sun, 26 Jun 2016 11:08:31 +0000 Donating to a noble cause is always good, but it’s not always easy, especially on your mobile.

While communication between charities and supporters has become simpler thanks to email, social media and other technologies, the challenge of making donations from mobile devices has dissuaded many donors from giving. Filling out long online donation forms is time consuming enough from a desktop, but even more frustrating from a mobile device, causing many would-be mobile donors to simply give up.

SEE ALSOMoolta: Challenge Your Friends To Do Crazy Stunts For Charity

PocketCause, an Israeli start-up launched by the founders of, one of the main websites for charitable giving to Israel, has released what the company is calling “the first mobile network for social good”. Built by experts in both philanthropy and technology, PocketCause aims to meet the unique needs of both donors and non-profit organizations by making it easy to connect and donate to any nonprofit organization in the world through a smartphone by pushing just a few buttons – and without pushing your buttons!

Hassle-free mobile donation

“Although 50% of donation requests today are read on smartphones, donors are three times less likely to make a donation, simply because it’s too difficult and inconvenient to donate through a smartphone,” PocketCause CEO Yonatan Ben-Dor tells NoCamels. “In 2015, this hassle caused nonprofits to lose over $6.5 billion in donations.We developed PocketCause to help organizations stop losing so many donations, and to make it easier for mobile donors to give to an organization that they care about.”

SEE ALSO: Israeli To Cycle Across North America For Cancer Charity

Donor social network

PocketCause also provides updates from all social causes so users can follow, share and see the causes their friends are sharing and supporting.

The app allows users to safely store their payment method and donate to more than 2 million non-profit organizations in just a single click. It uses gamification and rewards to encourage users to support and promote the causes of their choice. By sharing a charity’s posts, users earn CauseCash—an app currency that can be redeemed or donated to any organization. Users also get 1 percent in CauseCash whenever they give to their TopCause, their favorite non-profit organization.

‘Startup nation’ donation

PocketCause has partnered with national foundations in the US, Canada, the UK and Israel in developing the application.

“Israeli start-ups have developed ideas and products that have changed the way that people throughout the world do things. What our startup scene has yet to do is to truly impact the social sector. PocketCause plans to revolutionize the way that people connect to their social causes and change the way that people give to charity,” Ben-Dor said.



Photos: Courtesy

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Robots Can Fill Humans’ Emotional Needs, Israeli Study Shows Sun, 12 Jun 2016 07:58:24 +0000 In the movie “Her”, Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson portray a human being and a robot who develop an intimate, emotional relationship. But can intimacy between humans and robots actually happen? According to new Israeli research, some robots do in fact generate strong emotional responses in the people they interact with.

In a new study by IDC Herzliya researchers, participants told a personal event to a small desktop robot. For 50 percent of the participants, the robot was responsive and supportive of their emotional needs, using gestures and on-screen text. The other 50 percent were met with an unresponsive robot.

SEE ALSO: This Robot With ‘Soul’ Gets Frightened When You’re Angry

The people who interacted with a responsive robot had more desire to use the robot as a companion in stressful situations, like visiting the dentist, and their body language exhibited more emotion towards the robot, like leaning in, smiling, and having “eye contact.”

Moreover, when participants had to undergo a stress-generating task (introducing oneself to potential romantic partners) after interacting with the robot, the participants who interacted with the responsive robot had improved self-perception.

“Our study suggests that the way a robot responds to a person can evoke some of the same feelings and behaviors that occur when the response comes from another human,” IDC’s Dr. Guy Hoffman, a world-renowned robotics expert who co-authored the study, tells NoCamels.

robot idc, Guy Hoffman

Travis, the robot used in the experiments

This means that people can find robots compelling and respond to them in ways in which they typically respond to social partners, for example seeking the robot’s psychological proximity through their body language. In addition, people can leverage responsive social interactions with a robot to become more confident and appealing to romantic partners.

SEE ALSO: Robotics Star Guy Hoffman Talks To NoCamels About Robots With ‘Soul’, ‘Poor’ Career Choices And His TED Talk That Went Viral

Overall, the study indicates that a responsive robot could be reassuring and compelling enough to build a sense of security that then leads to better functioning under threatening circumstances.

“This can have outcomes on how robot developers will design a robot’s response to their users, in order to gain these kinds of social and emotional benefits,” Hoffman explained.

For example, when designing a robot that listens to a patient in a hospital, the robot’s behavior can be programmed to make the person feel more secure and confident.

However, films like “Her” and “Ex Machina” paint “a fictitious, distorted and exaggerated picture,” Hoffman says. “People are not, and will not be confused about the nature of the entity they are interacting with.”


Since manufactured objects (including food, clothes and cars) are known to have emotional effects on some people, humans might also “get attached to their robots, enjoy their company, and feel less lonely while interacting with them,” IDC’s Prof. Gurit E. Birnbaum, the study’s co-author, tells NoCamels.

Still, “most people do not blur the line between their relationships with other humans and with objects,” Hoffman says. “Similarly, even when robots will respond in ways that affect people’s wellbeing, it will be clear to them that they are interacting with an object, and I sincerely doubt many will fall in love with a robot or artificial intelligence software.”

The research was conducted by Prof. Gurit E. Birnbaum, Dr. Guy Hoffman, and Dr. Moran Mizrahi of Israel’s Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, along with Prof. Harry T. Reis of the University of Rochester, Dr. Eli JFinkel of Northwestern University, and Omri Sass of Cornell Tech. It was recently published in the scholarly journal Computers in Human Behavior.

Photos: IDC Herzliya, Her, Honda, Kobi Zholtack

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Can Israel Lead The Way On Sharing Economy? Wed, 01 Jun 2016 12:49:26 +0000 The Israeli phenomenon of the Kibbutz – a collective community traditionally based on agriculture – taught Israelis how to share everything from food and clothes to sleeping quarters. Now, the Startup Nation is poised to become a major player in the sharing economy, which is based on sharing information and resources with one another for the benefit of everyone.

SEE ALSO: From Agriculture To High-Tech: Meet Five Kibbutzim That Became Global Powerhouses

Many companies offering shared-resources have popped up in recent years, and some are now worth billions of dollars. WeWork, for example, co-founded by Israeli Adam Neumann, provides shared working spaces around the world, and recently started offering shared living spaces in the US, through its subsidiary WeLive. Another giant in this sector is Airbnb, which allows people to share their houses with tourists for a fee. Ride-sharing services offered by Israeli firms Gett, Via, Juno and Get Around, as well as by their global rivals Uber and Lyft, have gained tremendous popularity in recent years thanks to their ease of use and relatively low fees.


The sharing economy is expected to be worth $20 billion a year by 2020, according to a recent report by Juniper Research, more than three times its worth in 2015 ($6.4 billion). According to Juniper, the following sectors are expected to drive the sharing economy in the next four years: Transportation, goods, services, music and video, space, and finance. These will in turn become the basis for the learning, municipal, health, logistics, and food sectors to grow.

Ride-sharing alone will account for $6.5 billion of the sharing economy by 2020, according to the research firm, and “space-sharing” firms such as Airbnb and WeWork could surpass that amount.

In a conference dedicated to Israel’s role in the global sharing economy trend, held in Tel Aviv yesterday by financial newspaper TheMarker, industry leaders said that despite regulatory and infrastructure challenges, Israeli startups are at the forefront of the sharing economy.

via suv

Via co-founder Oren Shoval said the hefty prices of cars in Israel made it a good country to test their platform, which books multiple passengers headed in the same direction and drops them off within a block or two of their requested destination.

Just recently, Via raised $100 million in a single financial round, “a huge achievement for the Israeli high tech,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Ride-Sharing Startup Via Raises $100M; Revs Up Competition Against Uber, Lyft

Founded in 2012 by Shoval and Daniel Ramot, Via enables tens of thousands of passengers each day to share their ride with others headed the same way. Via has so far provided more than four million rides, and is growing rapidly.

The eBay of hotel rooms 

In the fields of hospitality and dining, Israel is also on the forefront of the sharing economy: Israeli startup EatWith connects tourists to families who provide an authentic home cooked meal, replacing expensive, touristy restaurants; and Roomer, which connects tourists looking for hotel deals with other tourists who had to cancel their hotel reservation and cannot get a refund.

“We’re like the eBay of hotel rooms,” Ben Froumine, founder of Roomer, said at the conference. According to EatWith general manager Noam Klinger, “we provide gourmet meals at chefs’ houses starting at $15 a person; it’s a great way to personally meet chefs and local hosts.”


“Israel serves as the proving ground”

Conference speakers said that the success of Israeli-developed ride-sharing platforms such as Gett, Get Around, Via and Juno, was in many cases built on the pilot tests they ran in Israel, which is a small, densely populated country that suffers from traffic jams around major metropolitan areas.

Chen Herzog, ‎Chief Economist and Partner at Israel’s BDO Consulting Group, said at the event that “Israel’s density helps its startups become world leaders in the sharing economy. Israel serves as the proving ground for startups in this sector to move forward.”

He added that Israel’s Mobileye, which is developing driverless car technologies, is poised to become a major force behind any shared-vehicle platform. Also, Internet of Things (IoT) and FinTech technologies – which are also developed locally by many startups – will become key components of the sharing economy.


Photos: WeWork, EatWith, Via, GotCredit

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For Obese Airplane Passengers, Shaming Is Worse Than Tiny Seats, Study Shows Thu, 26 May 2016 09:49:40 +0000 The obesity epidemic is one of America’s greatest health concerns: Roughly 79 million American adults are obese – more than one-third of adults in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In addition to related health issues obese people have to deal with, such as diabetes, they also have to deal with how society views them.

SEE ALSO: Study: Overweight Teens Are At Increased Risk For Life-Threatening Heart Disease In Adulthood

Now that the summer travel season is about to begin, overweight people must also consider small airplane seats and airlines’ policies towards the obese (some require to order and pay for two seats). But according to a new Israeli study, inconvenience is not their biggest problem; feelings of shame and humiliation bother obese travelers more than tight seat belts and tiny seats.


Researchers at Israel’s Ben Gurion University recently published An Exploratory Study About Obese People’s Flight Experience in the Journal of Travel Research, where participants recounted the typical challenges they encounter while boarding, in-flight and deplaning.

The researchers interviewed passengers deplaning direct and connecting flights in Virginia. The survey included 11 men and 13 women, ages 22 to 64, who had been on short (less than two hours) and long (more than two hours) flights. 16 of the 24 passengers self-identified as obese, with a body mass index of 30 or above. Eight considered themselves morbidly obese.

SEE ALSO: Dreaming To Lose Weight? Sleep Could Be The Answer!

“We assumed that the greatest difficulties obese people faced on planes were caused by tight, confined spaces,” BGU’s Prof. Yaniv Poria, who led the research, said in a statement. “We were surprised to find that the way other people reacted to them was so unpleasant and embarrassing, causing them to feel universally uncomfortable and uneasy.”

A ‘chosen’ disability?

He adds that “obese people think that others regard them as individuals who intentionally decided to be disabled. Moreover, obese people feel that they are perceived as thieves, since their ‘chosen’ disability increases costs for other people. Obesity is a social disability as it prevents obese people from feeling safe in public.”

Study participants agreed that the way people stare at them during boarding and deplaning is “humiliating, and at times even shameful,” Poria says, but at the same time indicated that African American female crew members seemed to be generally less judgmental and more helpful.

Board first, deplane last 

However, squeezing down aisles and into the seats remains troublesome, the participants said, because they are unable to avoid inadvertently touching other passengers. “Many attempted to be first in line to board, so they could easily find their seats and ‘disappear,’” Poria says.


He suggests allowing obese people to board first and deplane last, and making design changes to restrooms and seat trays, which would make everyone more comfortable. Additionally, he argues for the need to offer different-sized seats.

The researchers note that crew members can respectfully and discreetly make everyone’s flight experience more comfortable by moving a passenger sitting next to an obese person to another seat.

The study was conducted by Poria in collaboration with Jeremy Beal of Virginia Tech’s Hospitality and Tourism Management Program.

Health News: Study: Want To Lose Weight? Get Off Your Butt!

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Do We Choose To Erode Our Own Privacy? 73% Of Smartphone Users Willingly Share Their Location Tue, 24 May 2016 10:13:49 +0000 Among the many things people cherish is their privacy. “Privacy is not something that I’m merely entitled to, it’s an absolute prerequisite,” actor Marlon Brando once said. Of course, he said it long before smartphones, GPS and social networks came into existence. These days, privacy is indeed a valuable commodity.

In our information-saturated technological world, it is often hard to separate the public from the personal. How, when, and where do we choose to share information about ourselves? How do we perceive public space and virtual space? And how do these perceptions influence our practices of seeing and being seen?

SEE ALSO: Can Hackers Stalk You On Google’s Popular Navigation App Waze?

A recent Tel Aviv University study published in the journal Urban Studies maintains that “dynamic visibility” – in which technological surveillance is combined with personal information volunteered by individuals online – has led to diminished overall privacy. In other words, your location-enabled smartphone erodes your personal privacy in more ways than you think.

Smartphones - Technology News - Israel

“Technology is not only used top-down but also bottom-up, with individuals using their own technological devices to share and enhance their visibility in space,” TAU’s Dr. Tali Hatuka, who led the study, said in a statement. “Whenever we use ‘location-aware’ devices, or tap on Waze or dating apps like Tinder, or check in on Facebook, we are really diminishing our own privacy. This combination of secret surveillance and voluntary sharing contributes to a sense of ‘being exposed’ in a public space that normalizes practices of sharing personal data by individuals. The result is diminished overall privacy.”

Overwhelming willingness to share location on social networks

A survey conducted in 2013 by Google and Ipsos MediaCT in dozens of countries found that the Israeli population had the world’s highest smartphone saturation (57 percent) and some of the highest rates of mobile internet usage and mobile email usage. The new TAU study found some differences among sharing preferences in different types of spaces, but these paled in comparison to the overwhelming willingness of participants to share their locations on social networks.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Company Tracks Your Online Behavior To Protect Your Privacy

The researchers developed an Android application called Smart-Spaces to collect information for the study. The app combines smartphone-based surveys with the online tracking of locations and phone application usage. The Smart-Spaces application was installed for 20 days on the phones of TAU students, who answered context-based surveys in the course of their daily routines. Each participant was interviewed before and after the installation of the app.

“More than 73 percent of the participants shared their locations as they answered the surveys,” Hatuka says. “Moreover, there was a correlation between the kind of space they were in — private home, library, street, square etc. — and their willingness to provide information, with a higher willingness to share location and other information when the subject was in public spaces.”

The results were analyzed according to different activities, locations and number of people present at the time.

man with smartphone

The researchers are continuing to study the link between smartphones, urban space and social behavior to develop a comprehensive picture of current practices and produce concrete suggestions on how to approach emerging challenges.

Hatuka co-authored the study with Dr. Eran Toch, co-director of the Interacting with Technology Lab of the Department of Industrial Engineering at TAU’s The Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering.

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Is Excessive Daydreaming A Psychological Disorder? Thu, 19 May 2016 06:21:15 +0000 Daydreaming can be a fun, momentary escape from reality and could also enhance brain performance, according to recent research. But excessive daydreaming could signal the onset of a psychological disorder, Israeli researchers warn.

SEE ALSO: Dreame: The Startup That Sketches Your Dreams Into A Beautiful Reality (Literally)

Researchers from Israel’s University of Haifa, Fordham University in New York, and the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, have found that people who spend an average of 60 percent of their waking time in an imaginary world could have a disorder they call “Maladaptive Daydreaming.” The newly discovered disorder involves creating an imaginary world while realizing it is a fantasy, and without losing contact with the real world.



“Daydreaming usually starts as a small fantasy that makes people feel good, but over time the process becomes addictive until it takes over their lives. At this stage, the disorder is accompanied by feelings of shame and a sense of lack of fulfillment, but because until now the disorder has been unknown, when they come to receive treatment, therapists usually dismiss their complaints,” according to Haifa University’s Prof. Eli Somer, who’s considered the first to identify the disorder and describe it in a series of studies.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Photographer Ronen Goldman’s Surreal Images Bring Dreams To Life

Wandering of thoughts, fantasies and daydreams are part of the inner world of almost everyone, and they are depicted in popular culture – in literature and film (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is one example). However, until now science has not addressed the pathological aspects of this otherwise normal mental activity.

Now, a series of studies published recently in leading journals in psychology and psychiatry shed light on this psychological disorder.

In 2002, Somer was treating adults who had been sexually abused as children. He identified six survivors who used to escape regularly into a world of imagination, where they fantasized compensatory empowering stories in which they enjoyed traits and life experiences that were missing in their real lives.

Since then, Somer and his team conducted additional studies and interviewed dozens of individuals who claimed to be suffering from the phenomenon. The researchers discovered that although maladaptive daydreaming first started as a positive experience providing pleasure and relaxation, it quickly developed into an addictive habit that took over their lives and impaired their functioning.

“Maladaptive daydreaming naturally necessitates isolation from others and is almost always accompanied by repetitive body motions, such as pacing or rocking,” Somer said in a statement. “About a quarter of these individuals had endured childhood trauma and many suffered from social anxiety.”

One of his most recent studies reported the development and validation of a maladaptive daydreaming scale (MDS) using a large sample of 447 individuals. The MDS was shown to differentiate between normal and maladaptive daydreaming and offered diagnostic and research instruments for the newly discovered disorder.

An ability to feel fully present in a self-directed imaginary plot

In another study, 340 participants ages 13–78 from 45 countries were tested. The data showed that individuals affected by the disorder spent about 60 percent of their waking time daydreaming, and more than half said that the disorder disrupted their sleep and that the first thing they are aware of when they wake up in the morning is their urge to daydream.

Respondents reported having rich fantasy worlds with complex story lines. They tended to daydream significantly more about fictional tales and characters, in contrast to the daydreaming among the control group, whose members’ daydreams were anchored in reality (e.g., the desire to earn more money, to find an attractive partner, etc.). Of the participants with MD, 97 percent reported different levels of distress.

“People with this disorder have developed an extraordinary ability to become completely immersed in daydreaming, to such an extent that their daydreams can make them laugh or cry,” Somer explains. “This ability to feel fully present in a self-directed imaginary plot is not only a powerful source of the attraction, but it also makes it difficult to disengage from it, creating a mental addiction. When people spend about 60 percentof their waking time daydreaming, it’s no wonder that they feel frustrated that they can’t achieve their goals in life.”

The next step in his research will focus on developing an effective treatment for sufferers.


Somer conducted the studies with Jayne Bigelsen and Jonathan Lehrfeld of Fordham University in New York City, along with Prof. Daniela Jopp from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and Liora Somer from the the Bnai Zion Medical Center in Haifa, Israel.

Photos: Zach BettenYanko PeyankovJaime Handley

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The Oscars Of The Culinary World: ‘Shaya’ Named America’s Best New Restaurant Tue, 17 May 2016 12:28:13 +0000 Israeli chef Alon Shaya continues to garner top awards: His New Orleans restaurant ‘Shaya’ has been named ‘Best New Restaurant’ by the prestigious culinary organization The James Beard Foundation.

SEE ALSO: Israeli-American Chef Alon Shaya Wins Top US Culinary Honor

He won the award – considered by many to be the Oscars of the culinary world – earlier this month, when some 2,000 industry leaders from across the US attended the 2016 James Beard Awards ceremony, which “honors the country’s top culinary talent,” according to the foundation.

Chef Alon Shaya

Opened in February 2015, Shaya serves sophisticated versions of Israeli dishes in the heart of the Garden District in New Orleans, which is famous for its own cuisines: Cajun and Creole. Despite that, in recent years Shaya’s restaurants have taken The Big Easy by storm while serving dishes that are worlds apart from the traditional New Orleans cuisine.

More specifically, Shaya’s new restaurant serves such Israeli platters as hummus, falafel, pita bread, shakshuka and tahini. “Who would have thought: Hummus and New Orleans?” Shaya asked in his James Beard acceptance speech.

shaya restaurant

Last year, Shaya was named the best chef in the southern region of the US by the James Beard Foundation. He was also named one of the 50 people changing the South by Southern Living magazine; and Esquire recently named Shaya the best new restaurant in America.

SEE ALSO: Perfecting ‘Foodography’: Tel Aviv Restaurant Offers Instagram-Ready Dishes

Shaya discovered his passion for cooking at an early age, spending most of his time in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother in Philadelphia, where he grew up. He later attended the Culinary Institute of America. In 2009, the former Tel Avivian founded Domenica, a popular rustic Italian restaurant located inside New Orleans’ Roosevelt Hotel, together with culinary personality and TV chef John Besh.

After Besh and Shaya opened up Pizza Domenica, a more casual take on their popular restaurant, Shaya finally ventured out on his own when he opened up his own contemporary Israeli restaurant fittingly named “Shaya,” which is “inspired by his Israeli upbringing and New Orleans’ local ingredients.”

baking pita bread at Shaya's

Baking Israeli pita bread at Shaya’s

Israelis win big at the Oscars of the food world

Shaya is not the only Israeli receiving the James Beard award this year. Israeli-American chef Michael Solomonov won the prize for best international cookbook with Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, which is based on the food served at his critically acclaimed restaurant Zahav in Philadelphia. The book was co-authored by Steven Cook.

In addition, London-based Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi won the award for Cooking from a Professional Point of View for NOPI: The Cookbook, which he co-wrote with Ramael Scully.

shaya restaurant

Photos: Alon ShayaMDHawk, Shaya Restaurant

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Only 50% Of Your Friends Actually Like You, Study Shows Thu, 12 May 2016 07:37:53 +0000 You may have hundreds of friends on Facebook, but have you ever considered how many ‘real’ friends you have? A real friendship, outside of social networks, is a two-way street — but that’s true only half the time, according to a new study.

Conducted by researchers from Israel’s Tel Aviv University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), this joint study shows that only 50 percent of your buddies would actually consider you their own friend.

A friend indeed?

People have a very poor perception of friendship ties, and this limits their ability to influence their ‘friends,’ according to the research, recently published in PLoS One. If researchers can understand this limitation, companies and social groups that depend on social influence for collective action, information dissemination and product promotion, could improve their strategies and interventions.

SEE ALSO: Men With A Peer Support System Live Longer, Study Shows

“It turns out that we’re very bad at judging who our friends are,” TAU’s Dr. Erez Shmueli, who led the study, said in a statement. “And, our difficulty determining the reciprocity of friendship significantly limits our ability to engage in cooperative arrangements.”

Additionally, the research team claims that “we can’t rely on our instincts or intuition. There must be an objective way to measure these relationships and quantify their impact.”


The researchers conducted social experiments and analyzed the data from other studies to determine the percentage of reciprocal friendships and their impact on human behavior. The team also examined six friendship surveys from some 600 students in Israel, Europe and the US to assess friendship levels and expectations of reciprocity.

They then developed an algorithm that examines several objective features of a perceived friendship (that is, the number of common friends or the total number of friends) and is able to distinguish between the two different kinds of friendship: Unidirectional or reciprocal.

SEE ALSO: Away From Friends And Family? ‘Rounds’ Provides Group Video Chats For Up To 12 Participants

“We found that 95 percent of participants thought that their relationships were reciprocal,” Shmueli says. “If you think someone is your friend, you expect him or her to feel the same way. But in fact, that’s not the case — only 50 percent of those polled matched up in the bidirectional friendship category.”

A matter of influence

Why is this important? According to Dr. Shmueli, influence is the name of the game: “Reciprocal relationships are important because of social influence.” For example, friendship pressure far outweighs money in terms of motivation. “Those pressured by reciprocal friends exercised more and enjoyed greater progress than those with unilateral friendship ties.”

The researchers found that their “friendship algorithm” determined with a high level of accuracy the reciprocal or unidirectional nature of a friendship. Says Shmueli: “Our algorithm not only tells us whether a friendship is reciprocal or not. It also determines in which direction the friendship is ‘felt’ in unilateral friendships.”


Shmueli conducted the study with TAU‘s Dr. Laura Radaelli, in collaboration with Prof. Alex Pentland and Abdullah Almatouq of MIT.

Photos: Ben Duchac

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Be My Guest: Photos Of Airbnb Hosts, Not Apartments, Affect Renters’ Decisions Tue, 10 May 2016 06:20:03 +0000 The popular expression “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” is generally associated with job interviews, first dates, and business presentations, but it may even extend to your Airbnb profile.

SEE ALSO: Leave The Mess To ‘Guesty’: Israeli Startup Manages Your ‘Airbnb’ Property For You

The prominence of sellers’ photos on sharing economy platforms such as Airbnb – on which people offer short-term rentals – triggered a team of Israeli researchers to investigate whether and how consumers’ decisions are affected by personal photos of Airbnb hosts. As it turns out, profile pictures have a greater impact on potential renters than the images of the properties up for rent.

The Seashell House ~ Casa Caracol Isla Mujeres (Airbnb)

The Seashell House, Isla Mujeres, Mexico (offered for rent on

“While the effect of product attributes such as apartment size and location is rather obvious, consumers’ responsiveness to seller attributes such as reputation and personal photos has yet to be studied,” Prof. Aliza Fleischer of Israel’s Hebrew University, who led the study, said in a statement.

The research, which was recently published in the journal Tourism Management, is comprised of two complementary studies. In the first study, researchers collected the public data of all Airbnb’s listings in Stockholm, Sweden, including property size and location, pictures of the property, price, and customer reviews.

They presented the personal photos of the Airbnb hosts to 600 research participants and evaluated their first impression of the photos. They performed a hedonic price analysis – a model that estimates the extent to which each of the factors comprising the selling good affects the price – combined with ratings of the hosts’ trustworthiness and attractiveness as perceived from their personal photos.

Renters are willing to pay more if the host looks trustworthy

The study found that hosts who are perceived from their photos as more trustworthy enjoy a price premium over their counterparts who are perceived as less trustworthy.

Surprisingly, the research also found that online review scores had no effect on listing prices or the likelihood of the consumer actually booking the property. The researchers suggested this may be the result of exaggerated reviews that neutralized their effect.

“Profile pictures of the hosts are critical to their business success”

“Unlike Facebook or LinkedIn, the person is not the ‘selling product’ here,” Dr. Eyal Ert Of the Hebrew University said in a statement. “On Airbnb, the focus is on the property and its attributes, but even so — we found that the profile pictures of the hosts are critical to their business success.”

SEE ALSO: Meet The Top Israeli Startups That Make Travel So Much Easier

In the second study, researchers conducted a controlled experiment, where participants were presented with a series of made-up Airbnb profiles, using photos of actors. The study found that the level of hosts’ perceived trustworthiness, mainly as inferred from their photos, directly affects consumers’ choices. Its effect is stronger than that of other visual attributes, and visual-based trust has a stronger impact on consumers’ choice than reputation (which is based on reviews).

Another interesting finding is that the participants were not aware of the important role the photos play in their choice. When asked what the important factors affecting their decision were, very few mentioned the profile photographs of the hosts.

The swimming pool of an Airbnb villa near Athens, Greece

The swimming pool of a villa near Athens, Greece (offered for rent on

A pictures is worth a thousand… Airbnb guests? 

With the rapid growth of the sharing economy, especially in tourism-related services, there is a need to further investigate the trust mechanisms upon which this economy is built, the researchers say.

“The results of our research imply a strong need for trust in sharing economy platforms,” Fleischer concludes. “Different rules and consumer decision-making are at play here, and a fuller examination of these is still needed to shed light on how this economy really operates.”

airbnb hostPhotos and video: Airbnb

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Expressions Can Make The Difference Between A Strike And A Home Run, Baseball Study Shows Wed, 20 Apr 2016 09:08:45 +0000 Spring is in the air. For many sports enthusiasts that means but one thing – baseball is back. With the recent opening of the Major League Baseball season, expectations of baseball fans are high, hoping that maybe this year will be the one their team wins it all.

Of course, anything can happen over the course of a 162-game regular season. Although one cannot predict the outcome of a given game, a joint study by researchers from Israel’s University of Haifa and the Netherlands’ University of Amsterdam, found that the expression of emotions serves as a source of information and provides clues about what is likely to happen in social situations in general, and in baseball in particular.


“You can observe a lot by just watching”

“Other peoples’ emotions provide information,” Dr. Arik Cheshin of the University of Haifa , who led the study, said in a statement. “The expression of emotions can mark for us what the person is thinking and what they are about to do. If we read others’ emotions well, we will be better able to anticipate their behavior and to adapt our behavior to that of others.”

Or in simple terms, to quote the late great Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra, “you can observe a lot by just watching.”

SEE ALSO: Replay Technologies ‘freeD’ To Deliver Real-Time 3D Sports Replays To Mobile Devices

Emotions influence the human environment. When people express emotions, others can identify how that person feels according to facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and so forth. Past studies have proven the interpersonal impacts of emotions. An emotion can be contagious, can pass from one person to another, and therefore can influence group performance. An expression of anger during negotiations, for example, may be strategic, symbolizing threat and implying that the other side should move toward the angry person.

In the current study, published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Psychology, the researchers sought to examine the interpersonal ramifications of emotions in the context of baseball. Do the gaze and body language of the batter influence the pitcher? “The players stand opposite each other in one of the most famous duels in all of sports. The two athletes look each other in the eye; one makes a move, and the other responds to it. We wanted to see whether the expression of emotion offers a clue about this move – and we found that it does,” Dr. Cheshin noted.

SEE ALSO: The Top 10 Israeli Startups Changing The World Of Sports

In the present study, three games that determined the identity of the World Series champion from two different seasons were chosen, 92 instances were selected from these games, in which it was possible to see the pitcher before the throw. The clips were edited so that it was only possible to see the pitcher’s preparations before the pitch, and the picture was frozen once the ball left the pitcher’s hand. The video clip did not show the outcome of the game nor provided any additional information about it. The length of each edited clip was approximately two seconds.

In the next stage, 213 study participants were asked to evaluate the pitcher’s emotions. The participants reached agreement regarding three key emotions shown in the clips: Anger, happiness, and worry. The 30 clips with the highest level of agreement regarding the expressed emotions were chosen, and another group of 34 respondents was then asked to predict the outcome of the pitch concerning speed, accuracy, level of difficulty, and whether or not the batter would attempt to hit the ball. None of the Dutch participants identified the baseball players shown in the clips, or the teams, so that the external influence on the participants was very limited.

The results of the study show that expression of emotions serves as a source of information and provides clues about what is about to happen in the baseball game, thus identifying an additional social situation in which emotions convey critical information that influences preparations and reactions.

“The participants predicted various properties of the pitches according to the pitcher’s emotion. When the pitcher showed anger, this led to the prediction of faster and more difficult pitches. The expression of happiness led to predictions of more precise pitches and a higher probability that the batter would attempt to hit the ball. The expression of worry led to predictions of imprecise pitches and fewer attempts to hit the ball,” according to Cheshin.

Will the batter hit or miss? 

The researchers found that the chances of the batter trying to attempt to hit the ball were greater when the pitcher was identified as happier. This is an important finding, since the expectation in baseball is that if the pitcher is happy just before and during pitching, he is liable to execute some kind of scheme or trick. “It is possible that the batter’s reaction is not conscious but evolutionary. There is a lot of pressure and tumult around the batter, and accordingly, the batter sees the pitcher’s expression of happiness as a positive sign that encourages him to try to hit the ball,” Cheshin says.

In summary, “whether this is an authentic emotion or a strategy, the expression of emotions has a social impact in sports as in other areas,” he says. “Controlling the expression of emotions and the ability to read emotions in order to predict behavior can make the difference between a strike and a home run.”

However, as far as predicting baseball outcomes go, Yogi said it best, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

baseball by Gary Shear

Photos: Gary Shear

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A New Kibbutz? WeWork’s Urban Community WeLive Could Revolutionize City Living Mon, 11 Apr 2016 10:23:08 +0000 Six years after founding shared office space startup WeWork, now worth $16 billion, Israeli entrepreneur Adam Neumann is launching WeLive, an urban co-living community. Neumann, who grew up on a kibbutz, and WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey recently opened two such residential buildings in New York City and in Arlington, Virginia, (near Washington, D.C.).

SEE ALSO: From Kibbutz To Empire: WeWork Building Global Startup Community

“Just as WeWork changed the way people work through its philosophy of shared space, services, community and social interaction, WeLive offers a disruptive alternative to the way people live,” according to a company statement.

welive communal area

Founded in 2010, WeWork is now the largest shared office space community in the world. With 40,000 members in 60 locations around the world (including Israel, the US, UK, Netherlands, and China), WeWork is home to hundreds of startups that share everything from business ideas to dining areas.

Early last year, it was reported that Neumann also plans to launch WeLive, presenting the concept of the collective community (the first kibbutz, an Israeli phenomenon, is now 107 years old) to the urban residential sector. Essentially, WeLive offers affordable housing of sorts, which might appeal to young people in sought-after, expensive cosmopolitan cities like New York and Tel Aviv.

Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann, founders of WeWork

Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann, founders of WeWork and WeLive

WeLive challenges traditional living with flexible housing solutions, a dorm-style building, or an urban kibbutz, if you will, where members can share everything from beer to showers. This urban co-living enterprise is the brainchild of both Neumann and McKelvey, who also grew up in a commune-like environment. Implementing their WeWork model into a residential environment, they state that people should now have “more freedom and flexibility in how they live their lives.”

According to WeLive, “life is better when we are part of a community that believes in something larger than itself. From mailrooms and laundry rooms that double as bars and event spaces to communal kitchens, roof decks, and hot tubs, WeLive challenges traditional apartment living through physical spaces that foster meaningful relationships. Whether for a day, a week, a month, or a year, by joining WeLive – you’ll be psyched to be alive.”

SEE ALSO: Israeli Architect Eran Chen Is Transforming The Face Of New York

Some claim that WeLive feels like a hotel. There are no long-term leases, no credit checks and no broker fees. Each unit has a kitchen and a bathroom and is fully furnished with linens, towels, cable, wifi, and utilities, all of which are included in the monthly fee. In addition to private units, one can also rent a bed (much like a desk at WeWork) and share his or her living space with other WeLive inhabitants. And, there are unlimited coffee, beer and yoga classes for everyone!

Why would adults want to share their life with strangers? “Connecting with people in ways formerly unattainable in apartment buildings, this ‘We’ community is finding friendships and more with the people they now call neighbors. WeLive replicates the security and comfort of a suburban neighborhood but with the energy and vigor of a major city,” the company states.

WeLive dining room

A dining room at WeLive. Reminiscent of the kibbutz?

Living in Manhattan for $1,375 a month

In the New York building, located on Wall Street, prices start at $1,375 a month per person in a two-bed, shared studio; studios in the same area of Manhattan rent for roughly $3,000, according to local real estate brokerage firm MNS. WeLive prices in the Arlington building, which is still in beta phase, are expected to be lower.

Neumann and McKelvey have stated that WeLive is an experiment whose results are expected to unfold in the coming months. But if this experiment proves to be as successful as WeWork – when the duo started renting out office space through Craigslist in 2008, they surely didn’t envision that by 2016 they would own a $16 billion empire – this urban kibbutz could prove that large metropolitan areas crave a sense of community.


Photos courtesy of WeWork/WeLive

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International Day Of Happiness: Five Israeli Startups That Aim To Make You Happier Sun, 20 Mar 2016 07:51:00 +0000 Disneyland may proclaim itself as ‘the happiest place on earth’, but Israel is not that far behind. According to the most recent UN World Happiness Report, Israel is the 11th happiest country in the world, ranking behind Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, and Canada, but ahead of the US, which ranked 15th. It’s no wonder, then, that some of the coolest apps that aim to make us happier, were created in Israel. 

SEE ALSO: What Top Israeli Studies Say About What Makes Us Happy

In honor of International Day of Happiness (also known as Happiness Day), which is celebrated on March 20, here are five Israeli startups that aim to bring more happiness into our daily lives:

Serenita: Don’t stress, relax

In our busy, fast-paced world, one of the biggest obstacles to happiness is stress. Serenita, a new relaxation app created by Israeli startup Eco-Fusion, aims to reduce stress. Available for free on both Android and iOS, Serenita assesses your stress level and provides you with personalized breathing instructions to reduce stress within minutes.

The mobile app acquires data from the user’s finger by turning the mobile phone’s camera lens into a sensor (where you place your finger), and uses it to peer into the user’s bloodstream. It then extracts biomedical markers regarding heart rate, heart rate variability and blood flow, and finally processes the data to assess the user’s stress and focus level. Based on the data, Serenita provides exercises to treat the stress, especially breathing exercises. 

“Yoga and meditation are both great for stress reduction, but most stressed people do not practice them,” Eco-Fusion founder Dr. Oren Fuerst tells NoCamels. “Serenita provides easy and effective ‘bite-size treatment’ for stress. As it is well documented that stress management is crucial to the path to happiness, using Serenita for just five minutes a day will certainly make you happier.”

Happify: Think positive, be happier

As its names suggests, Happify is another Israeli startup seeking to make our lives happier. After entering your basic information: Gender, age, occupation, as well as your ability to cope with hardships and your level of life satisfaction, the app creates a personalized “track” for you to follow, which it says will lead to a higher level of happiness.

Each track consists of a series of games, such as “Uplift,” where you get points for clicking on positive words, and lose points when selecting negative emotions. “Today’s Victories”, another Happify exercise, involves listing the highlights of your day and how they positively affected you.

SEE ALSO: To Be Healthy, All You Have To Do Is Be Happy

These activities are all aimed at boosting users’ optimism and helping them focus on positive emotions. According to Happify, happiness is something that can be taught – a habit that the brain can be trained to maintain. The founders also claim that 86 percent of the app’s users become happier within two months.

O’Daddy: Put down your phone, spend time with your kids

Most parents know the feeling of guilt when they come home late from work or answer emails on their smartphones when their kids are around. Work-life balance is already challenging enough and smartphones have made the line nearly disappear.

“My kids are an infinite source of happiness for me and spending quality time together fills us with joy,” Oded Israeli, co-founder and CEO of Israeli startup O’Daddy, tells NoCamels. “But working as a high-tech executive for many years, I saw how my work and smartphone were keeping me away from this happiness. That’s why I decided to create a solution that helps working parents become more effective in their parenthood and enjoy a healthier work-life balance.”

Enter O’Daddy, a new app that helps parents in four main ways: Making time for their kids, suggesting activities, helping them focus on the child, and tracking quality time. O’Daddy sends you intelligent notifications such as “leave work now so you can read Sarah a bedtime story,” or “how about playing checkers with Benjamin today?”

It also suggests ideas for quality-time activities based on your kids’ age, location, and preferences. Once you’ve found an activity, O’Daddy urges you to put your phone down, so you can enjoy more time with your kids. The app also provides suggestions to improve your family happiness.

TalkSpace: Unhappy? Talk to a professional online

If you’re unhappy, often the best course of action is to talk to a trained professional. Talkspace, founded by Israelis Roni and Oren Frank, provides on-demand help or advice from a licensed therapist via a live online chat feature. Simply type in your question and a Talkspace therapist will write back to you within minutes. The process is anonymous, so you’ll feel secure conversing with your counselor and participating in optional group chats. Round-the-clock access your shrink is also available. Weekly rates start at $25. 

Talkspace also provides couples therapy via its web and mobile platforms, eliminating “the powerful stigma that is still associated with therapy” through anonymity, according to the company. In addition, its members don’t need to wait for an appointment, and they can request to change therapists at any time.

talkspace therapy

Vitalitix: Volunteering gives a sense of meaning

One sector of the population that is often ignored is seniors. Vitalitix is a social responsibility platform that connects seniors, caregivers and social angels, following a new phenomenon called “crowd-caring.”  This app enables members to stay connected to their loved ones in times of crisis and also sources volunteers from an existing network to help out. Vitalix also acts as a record-keeping system and as a means for three-way communication between the senior and other parties. With Vitalitix, community members care for other people living near them with whom they have no connection.

Vitalitix enhances seniors’ quality of life by reducing their sense of loneliness, improving their safety and allowing them more freedom to stay independent both at home and out.

There are many ways to become happier. You can spend more time with your kids or connect with a senior. Or you can simply learn to relax – with or without an app. In short: Don’t worry, be happy.

Photos and videos: Courtesy of the companies

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Prone To Stress? Soon, There Will Be A Blood Test For That Tue, 15 Mar 2016 12:23:18 +0000 Is your life stressful? A breakthrough Israeli study could lead to the development of a blood test that would tell whether you’re prone to stress. The results could facilitate preventive or early intervention in professions prone to high stress or trauma, such as combat soldiers, firefighters and policemen.

SEE ALSO: Let’s Relax: Researchers Show Stress Leads To Increase In Autoimmune Diseases

Through genetic research and brain-imaging technologies, researchers from Tel Aviv University have determined that the brain function responsible for regulating our stress response intertwines with molecular regulatory elements to produce a personal profile of resilience to stress.

New York Fire Department Deputy Chief Joseph Curry

New York Fire Department Deputy Chief Joseph Curry calls for rescue teams at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks

Our ability to cope with stress depends on how efficiently our body and mind regulate their response to it. Poor recovery from extremely stressful encounters can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or even chronic somatic dysfunction (such as pain and fatigue) in some people. Insight into the multi-level sequence of events — from cellular changes to brain function, emotional responses, and observed behavior — will help medical professionals make more informed decisions concerning interventions.

The biological complexity of stress

“We can’t look at one measurement at one point in time and think we have the whole picture of the stress response,” TAU’s Prof. Talma Hendler, who led the study, said in a statement. “This is perhaps the first study to induce stress in the lab and look at resulting changes to three levels of the stress response — neural (seen in brain imaging), cellular (measured through genetics), and experience (assessed through behavioral report).”

Brain - Technology News - Israel

According to TAU’s Dr. Noam Shomron, “vulnerability to stress is not only related to a predisposition due to a certain gene. The relevant gene can be expressed or not expressed according to a person’s experience, environment, and many other context-related factors.”

This type of interaction between the environment and our genome has been conceptualized lately as the ‘epigenetic process.’ “It has become clear that these processes are of an utmost importance to our health and wellbeing, and are probably, in some cases, above and beyond our predispositions,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Mom’s Stress During Pregnancy Affects Baby’s Iron Levels

The research for this study was conducted on 49 healthy young male adults. Researchers integrated the analysis of fMRI images of brain function during an acute social stress task and also measured levels of microRNAs — small RNAs that exert potent regulatory effects — obtained in a blood test before and three hours after the induced stress.

According to TAU’s Dr. Sharon Vaisvaser, “20 minutes after the stress drill ended, we had two groups: The sustainers, those still stressed, and the recovered, those no longer stressed. The sustainers either didn’t go back to baseline or took much longer to do so.”

The researchers found that a specific alteration in the expression of miR-29c, a certain microRNA, was greater among the stress sustainers, implying a marker of slow recovery. Intriguingly, this change corresponded with modified connectivity of a major stress regulation node in the brain, the vento-medial prefrontal cortex.

Brain-guided treatment based on a blood test

“We all need to react to stress; it’s healthy to react to something considered a challenge or a threat,” said Hendler. “The problem is when you don’t recover in a day, or a week, or more. This indicates your brain and/or body do not regulate properly and have a hard time returning to homeostasis (i.e., a balanced baseline). We found that this recovery involves both neural and epigenetic/cellular mechanisms, together contributing to our subjective experience of the stress.”

Health News - Genome Compiler: Designing Life On your Computer

According to Hendler, “knowing the brain metric that corresponds to such genetic vulnerability will make it possible to develop a personalized plan for brain-guided treatment based on a blood test.”

Added Shomron: “If you can identify through a simple blood test those likely to develop maladaptive responses to stress, you can offer a helpful prevention or early intervention.”

The study, recently published in the scientific journal PLOS One, was led by TAU’s Prof. Talma Hendler and Dr. Noam Shomron. Research for the study was conducted by TAU’s Dr. Sharon Vaisvaser and Dr. Shira Modai.

Photos: Preston Keres

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Missbeez To Bring On-Demand Beauty Services To Your Home, Office Tue, 08 Mar 2016 14:07:37 +0000 On average, American women spend seven hours a week on beauty. However, many businesswomen and working moms don’t have enough time to pamper themselves, and many other women simply cannot afford the luxury of beauty salons.

Enter Missbeez, an Israeli startup that allows the busy women of today to order beauty services to their offices or homes, so they don’t have to put their packed schedules on halt.

SEE ALSO: The Most Powerful Women Engineers In The World


To start using Missbeez, simply download the free mobile app, choose the beauty service you need, as well as the time and location that fits your schedule. Instead of needing to schedule an appointment way in advance and then spending time to get to and from the salon, users are able to have the magic of a salon sent right to their door. Missbeez currently offers nail and hair treatments but is expecting to add makeup and hair design in the coming weeks.

But the benefits of Missbeez are not limited to career women – the cosmeticians gain something as well. “We have a community of busy women who are our customers and a community of independent women who are our suppliers,” CEO Maya Gura tells NoCamels.

SEE ALSO: International Women’s Day: Are Women Equal In The Startup Nation?
misbeez nail service in office

Turning female inmates into independent businesswomen 

After working for several startups, female entrepreneur Gura decided to take a break from the rat race and spend a few years working as a prison criminologist with female inmates who were looking to rebuild their lives and find stable jobs.

Gura tried to raise funds to help these women, but was unable to raise enough to truly make a difference and help them gain the independence they needed to make it on their own. She wanted to create a business that would allow women to have flexibility in their work schedule, while making a respectable living to care for themselves and their families. Shortly thereafter, in 2015, she started her on-demand beauty service, now known as Missbeez.

The cosmeticians who work for Missbeez not only have a flexible schedule but are also able to profit much more than if they worked in a salon, according to the company. Due to overhead expenses, the profit margin for a beauty salon owner is roughly 15 percent, whereas Missbeez cosmeticians earn 80 percent of the gross revenue, according to Missbeez.

What makes this new enterprise special is that it is “entirely focused on women,” Gura says, “unlike other startups, dominated by men.”


Connecting women with no time to women with no resources

According to Gura and CTO Gil Bouhnick, their startup simplifies life for busy businesswomen but also helps women who struggle to make ends meet. “It connects people who have time but no resources to people who don’t have time but have lots of resources,” Gura says.

The budding startup has already received $1.3 million in funds from private investors, according to Gura; currently available in Israel, Missbeez will soon be available in major European cities starting with London and Barcelona.

Hope your city is next!

Photos and video: Missbeez, Norwalk Hospital

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Even On eBay, Women Earn Less Than Men, Study Shows Mon, 29 Feb 2016 11:01:06 +0000 Women earn less than men, and this sad fact of life – that undoubtedly needs to change – also applies to the earnings of women sellers on the popular e-commerce website eBay.

SEE ALSO: Are Women Equal In The Startup Nation?

A new Israeli study shows that even the newest, most democratic way to make money online is flawed when it comes to gender equality. The findings reveal that, on average, a female seller receives about 80 cents for every dollar a male seller receives when selling an identical new product through an eBay auction. When selling the same used product, women receive 97 cents on the dollar.

Ebay headquarters

eBay’s headquarters in San Jose, California

Analyzing several product categories, the researchers also found that in some categories women earn even less than 80 cents on the dollar: Jewelry and watches; gift cards and coupons; and sports memorabilia, to name a few.

SEE ALSO: These 10 Female Israeli Tech Leaders Will Blow You Away

Conducted by Tel Aviv University‘s Dr. Tamar Kricheli-Katz and Dr. Tali Regev (also a lecturer at IDC Herzliya), the study examined transactions conducted on eBay from 2009 to 2012, in order to see whether male and female sellers on the site made the same amount of money when selling identical items. The researchers examined over 630,000 auction transactions.

In line with the general inequality

Although gender inequality is a well-documented, widespread phenomenon, little is known about gender disparities in product markets. This study is among the first to use actual market data to study the behavior of women and men as sellers and buyers and differences in market outcomes. The findings were recently published in the scientific journal Science Advances.

The pay gap found in the TAU study is similar to the overall earnings ratio among men and women in the US; according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, men earn 25 percent more than women.

Discerning the gender of the seller

It’s important to note that as a policy, eBay does not reveal the gender of its sellers. The researchers attribute the price differences to “the ability of buyers to discern the gender of the seller.”

The study presents results from an experiment that shows that people accurately identify the gender of sellers on the basis of typical information provided in postings, such as the name of the seller. The researchers supplement their analysis with an additional off-eBay experiment showing that, in a controlled setting, people are willing to pay less for money-value gift cards when they are sold by women rather than men.

An unconscious buying decision

Kricheli-Katz believes this bias doesn’t stem from any conscious decisions on the part of buyers. “We actually think that most of it is unconscious,” she said in a statement. “The fact is that most of us have biases. We hold them unconsciously, and it makes it difficult to change.”

Equality scales weigh gender justice and sex issues


As technology and e-commerce advance, we can only hope that democratization processes in the online marketplace will eventually help close the gender gap.

Photos: Coolcaesar

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Why Do Successful People Become Corrupt? Winning Leads To Dishonesty, New Study Finds Mon, 08 Feb 2016 12:30:33 +0000 This week, US presidential candidates are battling out the last days before the New Hampshire primary. Ironically timed, a new Israeli study shows that winning a competition may encourage dishonest behavior, “stemming from an enhanced sense of entitlement among competition winners.” And they said you were a sore loser.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Study Busts The Myth: Male And Female Brains Are The Same

When researchers Dr. Amos Schurr and Prof. Ilana Ritov asked the question: “How could it be that successful and distinguished people turn corrupt?” they hypothesized that social comparison would be the influencing factor. “What does it mean to win a competition?” Dr. Schurr asks NoCamels. “If you win a competition, it’s because you came first; you were better than the person who came second.” This kind of social comparison — as opposed to achieving a goal for which there could be not one but many winners — is what the researchers believe leads to dishonesty.

8448086741_88d163febd_k copy

A game of craps

To test their hypothesis, Schurr and Ritov invited students into their lab to compete in games of dice. Players were randomly paired, and one person, the “thrower,” was told to take money from an envelope according to the sum of the numbers on the dice and leave the remainder for the “receiver.” However, only the thrower could see the dice, allowing them to cheat and claim more than they should have. In other words, if the thrower cheated, it was at the expense of the receiver. For full disclosure, the envelope contained one-shekel coins ($0.25) — not dollar bills — but the small amount was enough to create a morally compromising scenario, as the results show.


In a separate trial, the researchers randomly mixed up the paired players so that the throwers did not know whether their new partners won or lost the first competition. The results of the second competition showed that “those who won [in the first round] over-claimed money, and those who lost did not over-claim,” Schurr explains.

SEE ALSO: Train Your Brain To Be Happy With New App Happify

To further investigate the social dynamics, the researchers set up another experiment, this one with Trivial Pursuit. Players who answered more than 10 “very hard” questions were given a pair of JVC earbuds (arguably a better incentive than a few shekels), and then paired randomly to play dice. The researchers found that players’ individual performance on the trivia task, in which there was more than one winner, was unrelated to their claims in the dice game.

Dishonesty unpacked

Schurr’s and Ritov’s conclusion, in no uncertain terms: “Winning a competition engenders subsequent unrelated unethical behavior.”

“Winning a competition increases the likelihood of winners to steal money from their counterparts in a subsequent unrelated task… The effect holds only when winning means performing better than others, but not when success is determined by chance or in reference to a personal goal,” the authors of the study wrote.

What can explain the results? Schurr and Ritov suspect entitlement is at play. “When you think you’re better than others, you think you deserve more than others,” Schurr says. Their analysis shows that participants who recalled winning a match felt more entitled than participants who had recalled achieving a personal goal. So it’s not greed or ambition that engenders dishonest behavior; rather, it’s the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment — even above the law.


To mitigate the problem, Schurr suggests doing away with social comparison. If the 100 meter dash record is 9.58 seconds, then create a race in which the goal is to run it in 9.40 seconds. “When you achieve this goal, you think about the goal rather than being better than others.”

Ok, so we’ve reduced doping at the Olympics. Now, how about the presidential race?

Ben Gurion University’s Dr. Amos Schurr and Hebrew University’s Prof. Ilana Ritov recently published their study in the scientific journal  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

Photos: National Archieves and Records AdministrationChris PotterDisney | ABC Television GroupSebastian David Tingkær

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Does Social Impact Investing Pay Off? Israeli Investors, Entrepreneurs Weigh In Mon, 18 Jan 2016 11:01:59 +0000 Is impact investing more than just a buzzword? The term has been tossed around in the media as a hybrid between investment and public service — but this definition can be contested.

SEE ALSO: These Israeli Companies Fight World Hunger With Innovative Technologies

In his recent visit to Israel, veteran venture capitalist Sir Ronald Cohen explained at the inaugural Impact Investing Israel conference that social outcomes could be tied to financial returns. “If in the 19th century and before investors measured financial return, and if in the 20th century they measured risk and return, [then in] the 21st century, we’re already measuring risk, return, and impact.”

Sir Ronald Cohen

Sir Ronald Cohen

The jury is still out as to whether social impact necessarily correlates to net positive financial returns. However, Cohen seems to be aiming for a more basic point. If investors can consider their social impact alongside their profits, then they should – what in the economic literature has been termed the “double bottom line.”

Social impact champion

Cohen has championed the model of social impact bonds (SIBs), which like traditional bonds, are issued by governments and offer financial return to investors at a relatively low risk. Yet, unlike traditional bonds – the return of which depends on interest rates at the date of maturity – SIBs are correlated to the achievement of pre-agreed social outcomes.

In November 2014, Social Finance Israel (a branch of Cohen’s London-based advisory firm Social Finance) and the Rothschild Caesarea Foundation announced the creation of Israel’s first SIB, which will aim at reducing the dropout rates of computer science students from Israel’s University of Haifa and from the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yafo. Although the rate of return was not yet disclosed, it is expected to range between five and 10 percent, similar to the 50 SIBs in the UK and the US.

More than one model

While Cohen continues to advocate the public-private partnership that social impact bonds foster, other venture capital funds have been crafting their own model of impact investing. “There is a huge leverage on every dollar you invest in technology,” according to Chemi Peres, founding partner in the Israeli venture capital fund Pitango. The return on investment (ROI) could be higher than other industries (if the startup succeeds), such as retail or healthcare (30 percent higher by some estimates), but more importantly, if the technology is adopted, it scales quickly.

The speed of change that technology facilitates is key to social impact, argues Eytan Stibbe, founder and board member of the Centre for African Studies at Ben Gurion University. “The biggest cost for housing is the speed,” he said at the conference. “If you succeed in building fast, you can save the majority of your costs.”

Kora Housing in Angola, funded by Vital Capital

Kora Housing in Angola, funded by Vital Capital

Also a founding partner in Vital Capital, a $350 million private equity fund that invests in Sub-Saharan Africa, Stibbe has led a $92 million dollar investment to build 40,000 affordable, high-quality housing units in urban areas in Angola. The sale of the first 15,000 houses has exceeded $2 billion, and the fund has already recouped over half of its initial investment.

Peres has championed a similar model of investment in Impact First, a social impact investment fund, which he leads with Yair Safrai. The fund has already invested in five companies, including Catalyst AgTech, an Israeli company that has developed a technology that minimizes the environmental impact of agrochemical products, without reducing crop yields.

“We’re acting like a venture capital fund,” Peres said at the conference. “We conduct due diligence at every company we’re looking at. We want to know that the impact comes first and that making money is just an ability, because if you cannot sustain that business maybe we shouldn’t really get involved.”

Peres’ point is not uncontentious, and begs the question: Are entrepreneurs and investors in it for profit or impact? Renowned economist and former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has repeatedly argued that the government’s job of ensuring its citizens’ social welfare cannot be left at the doorstep of private companies. “To credit these corporations with being ‘socially responsible’ is to stretch the term to mean anything a company might do to increase profits if, in doing so, it also happens to have some beneficent impact on the rest of society,” he writes in his book Supercapitalism.

Community based savings bank in Cambodia

Grounded optimism

Entrepreneurs, however, have not been warded off by the unconventional paradigm of private investment for public good. Yossi Pollak is a case in point. When he set out to create a faster, more accurate malaria test, he not only had to engineer a superior test; the INSEAD graduate also had to ensure that the company he founded, Sight Diagnostics, would be profitable in Sub-Saharan Africa — a region most startups would not even consider when drafting their five-year growth plan.

SEE ALSO: Israel’s SightDx Detects Malaria In Blood In Only Three Minutes

However, Sight Diagnostics (SightDx) is one Israeli company that understands its value not only in terms of revenue and market share, but also in light of its impact on society. That is, they believe that their company should make profit and bring about a positive social change.

“A lot of Israelis are looking to work and to create a change,” says Ronny Faivelovitz, founder of Impact Investment Israel, an advisory firm that helps entrepreneurs and investors break into the field of impact investing. “Before, they would have had to stop working and go to the nonprofit sector. Now, there is a way that they can do things they like, earn money, and create a change.”

Most entrepreneurs don’t think of designing a product that has a social impact, but SightDx has been able to develop a sustainable, scalable business model for a malaria test kit. And so did Israeli startup Breezometer, which aims to raise awareness to and reduce air pollution around the globe.

Sight Diagnostics’ computer vision blood test platform

However, these startups don’t pretend to be nonprofit organizations, says Revital Hendler, co-founder of Breezometer, which has developed an app that measures pollution. “In the end, you have to be like an ordinary startup.” Breezometer’s lead investors Entree Capital and Launchpad Digital Health are not charities, she stresses; rather, the founders won the investment by presenting a “sustainable and scalable” business model.

It seems that even if it’s the responsibility of the government to tackle social issues, it’s hard to ignore the work of companies like Sight Diagnostics, which in the footsteps of the Gates Foundation, is working to eradicate a disease that traditional charities and global health organizations have so far been able to slow, but not end.

Here’s to many more Israeli social startups!

Photos: Brett Matthews (via Wikipedia Commons), Sight Diagnostics, UK Cabinet Office, Crown Copyright, Shiri Paamony Eshel, Vital Capital

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Israeli Non-Profit Ofanim Turns Old Buses Into High-Tech Classrooms On Wheels Mon, 21 Dec 2015 11:17:00 +0000 Quality education is one of the most important foundations upon which people build their futures. And yet, in Israel, like in many other countries, there is an educational gap between rural and metropolitan communities. According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, 83 percent of children who live in Tel Aviv and the surrounding area matriculate, compared to only 62 percent of children who live in the periphery.

Enter Ofanim, a non-profit organization established in 2004 to bring education to the places that need it the most. Using buses that have been retrofitted into mobile study labs, Ofanim runs educational enrichment programs for hundreds of children living in Israel’s northern and southern regions.


In these classrooms on wheels, instructors are paired together and teach small groups of children ranging from third to sixth grade about science and technology. During the academic year 2014-2015, more than 1,200 children took part in the program covering a broad range of subjects, including medicine, comics, computerized animation and robotics.

SEE ALSO: Israeli High-Tech Method Revolutionizing US Education?

Funded by Israeli and US donors, including Friends of Ofanim, Bank Hapoalim, The Ted Arison Family Foundation, Applied Materials, and Israeli telecommunications company Bezeq, Ofanim maintains an annual budget of approximately $1.5 million to run six buses and a fleet of vans that transport the equipment from one town to another.


Children who have participated in the program have described it as “a small place with big dreams,” and several independent evaluation reports show that the program positively affects children’s self-image, self-confidence and motivation to succeed. Their work has had such a wide-reaching impact that the Israeli Ministry of Welfare granted the organization its Excellence Award in 2009.

Most of the instructors are undergraduate and graduate students who “go through a strict and demanding process of simulations and preparations before being selected,” Adir Kan, CEO of Ofanim, tells NoCamels. “They are socially oriented and very dedicated to the children and our cause.”

Ofanim was founded by Israeli entrepreneur Haim Dahan, who grew up in Neighborhood D, a deprived neighborhood in the Southern city of Be’er Sheva. While raising him and his nine siblings, his mother was a cook at a local community center. There she met Madeline Bergman, the wife of Prof. Samuel Bergman, the founder of the first computer science department at Ben Gurion University. When Dahan’s mother invited the professor and his wife for lunch, Prof. Bergman asked Dahan if he knew anything about computers. Dahan, who was in his first year of high school, replied that he had no clue.

“A sense of direction”

Soon thereafter, the professor invited Dahan into the university and provided him with the tools needed to acquire a basic education in computers. This experience forever changed Dahan’s life; it opened up doors that may have been closed had he not met the professor. According to Dahan, Prof. Bergman is “a person who gave me a sense of direction, and who ignited my imagination and hope for a better future.” As a result of Bergman’s influence, Dahan wanted to give other children the opportunity that he was given.

SEE ALSO: Education Is The Name Of The Game

Now in its 11th year, Ofanim is experimenting with a new educational model recommended by Prof. Gad Yair, head of the education department at the Hebrew University. “There are three main changes we are going to implement into the organization: Accompanying children from third grade until high school, integrating children’s parents and teachers into the program, and including additional programs for building up personal development skills such as debate and ‘out of the box’ thinking,” says Kan.

… More like ‘out of the bus’ thinking in this case!

Photos: Courtesy

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Train Your Brain To Be Happy With New App Happify Mon, 14 Dec 2015 15:29:22 +0000 Does your everyday routine stress you out? Do you happen to feel frustrated, angry or depressed? In recent years, a slew of apps have sprung up to target the millions of users who feel their lives could be just that little bit more happy. Now an Israeli team has developed yet another cool app that trains your brain to think positively and become happier.

Following the STAGE model, which stands for Savor, Thank, Aspire, Give and Empathize, the Happify app first asks you to insert basic information like gender, age, occupation, as well as your ability to cope with hardships and your level of life satisfaction. Then, the app creates a personalized “track” for you to follow, which it says will lead to a higher level happiness.

SEE ALSO: What Top Israeli Studies Say About What Makes Us Happy

The tracks range from “find more ‘me’ time”, to “cope better with stress,” and “mindfulness for beginners.” Each track consists of a series of games, such as “Uplift,” where you get points for clicking on positive words, and lose points when selecting negative emotions. Also available are exercises like “Today’s Victories,” where you list the highlights of your day and how they positively affected you.

SEE ALSO: To Be Healthy, All You Have To Do Is Be Happy

These activities are all aimed at boosting users’ optimism and helping them focus on positive emotions. The app’s creators claim that completing the different activities can help you release tension and relax, and allow you to just stop for a minute and think of the moments you spent with others, encouraging the development of compassion and kindness.

“What happens is, you develop these habits to become more aware, to become more grateful, to really focus on what drives you,” Happify co-founder Ofer Leidner recently told the New Yorker. He noted that every exercise proposed by the app includes a section dedicated to the scientific explanation of why such activity works.

happify app

According to Happify, these are all key steps in the educational process to become a happier individual who leads a more fulfilling, meaningful life. In their opinion, happiness is something that can be taught – a habit that our brain can be trained to maintain. The founders also claim that 86 percent of the app’s users become happier within two months.

100,000 users – and counting

The project was developed in New York by two Tel Aviv University alumni, Leidner and Tomer Ben-Kiki, together with entrepreneur Andy Parsons. The startup includes a team of six, assisted by an advisory board of four scientific advisers, three medical practitioners and five strategic advisers, mainly psychologists, neuroscientists, life coaches and business experts. Currently, Happify has 100,000 users.

The games and exercises proposed by the app were developed by experts in gaming with collaboration from experts in positive psychology, a discipline that focuses on personal growth and self-improvement with the aim of achieving a better quality of life. This branch of psychology has gained immense popularity thanks to Israeli researcher Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, a former lecturer at Harvard and a professor at IDC Herzliya.

Entering a crowded arena 

Founded in 2011, Happify has so far raised nearly $12 million from Bridge Builders Collaborative, Mangrove Capital Partners and other investors. The hefty investment could possibly go toward competing with a growing number of applications in this arena: Happier, MoodKit and Happy Habits.


Can your smartphone become your shrink? 

Testing the app, NoCamels found that the track “overcome negative thoughts,” actually helped us focus on the positive aspects of life through exercises. However, a few minutes spent playing over a couple of days will not necessarily make you happier; only time will tell whether or not our positive thinking will increase in the long run. According to Happify, most users become happier after a couple of months.

Despite the buzz surrounding the app, some critics doubt that positive thinking and psychological wellbeing can actually be taught through smartphones. Still, you might want to give it a try – the app is free, fun to use and available both for iOS and Android. Plus, it’ll take you away from your Candy Crush addiction and force you to take a deeper look into yourself!

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Photos: Courtesy

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Grandparents Who Were Stressed As Adolescents Tend To Have Daring Grandchildren, Study Shows Wed, 09 Dec 2015 12:37:47 +0000 As we all know, children inherit physical traits from their parents. But a new Israeli study suggests that stress experienced by the parents may be passed down not only to their children, but also to their grandchildren, a surprising conclusion considering the fact that the stress experienced is not part of the parents’ or children’s DNA. Or is it?

A team of researchers led by University of Haifa’s Dr. Inna Gaisler-Salomon found that exposing female rats to stress during adolescence, before they ever become pregnant, causes behavioral changes among their direct offspring when the latter reach adulthood. The effects vary, and include a more daring, adventurous behavior in grandchildren.

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The researchers also found that stress-reactive hormone Corticosterone (corresponding to Cortisol in humans) expresses itself differently in those animals whose parents were exposed to stress.

In their latest study, the researchers examined whether the effects of stress could affect not only children but also grandchildren. The researchers exposed young female rats to changes in temperature and in their routine for a week, elevating their level of stress.

It’s important to note that their direct offspring grew up without any stress-inducing intervention, as did their grandchildren. The third generation of rats (the grandchildren) underwent tests that measured anxiety-like behavior and the acquisition of fear. In addition, the levels of Corticosterone were measured, as well as the expression of its gene, CRF1.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Scientists Help Create First 3D Map Of The Brain

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The findings indicate that the effects of stress on the first-generation mother rat continue to influence her grandchildren on all three levels: Behavioral, hormonal, and the manifestation of the CFR1 gene.

On the behavioral level, the third generation descendants (mainly females) were, perhaps surprisingly, more daring, spent more time in the frightening parts of their maze, and exhibited less anxious behavior in various tests when compared with the offspring of rats that were not exposed to stress. In addition, the offspring of the rats exposed to stress demonstrated a more rapid acquisition of fear relative to the descendants of the control group.

“The rats whose grandmothers were exposed to stress displayed more adaptive behavior to their surroundings,” Gaisler-Salomon said in a statement. “Wherever greater curiosity was needed to improve their chances of survival, they displayed curiosity, but the moment they were exposed to a frightening event, they learned quickly and reacted more extremely to this event.”

However, it is impossible to talk in a dichotomous fashion about the positive or negative impact of the stress their grandmother was exposed to. “This is a complex effect that depends on the context of the situation,” she says.

Each generation is affected differently 

The study also found that behavioral differences among the first generation of rats which were exposed to trauma were different from those found among the second generation. In other words, the effect of the trauma is transmitted between generations, but it affects each generation differently.

SEE ALSO: Revolutionary: Israeli Researcher Says He Can ‘Erase’ Memory Of Addiction

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“Adolescence is a very sensitive period, and our studies show that exposure to stress at this stage of life affects not only the affected female, but also the behavior and stress hormone levels of her first and second-generation offspring,” Gaisler-Salomon says. “Our studies further suggest that there are processes unrelated to maternal care that can explain how information is transmitted from generation to generation. The exciting new field of epigenetics can explain some of the findings.”

Epigenetics is a sub-specialty of genetics that examines how genes and their expressions are affected by environmental factors. Initially studied by psychologists and developmental biologists in the first half of the 20th century, the field has garnered renewed attention now that scientists have genetic mapping capabilities and the computing power that enables researchers to analyze millions of genetic data points. Though the field is still relatively nascent, the growing body of research is beginning to shed light on how individual genes may be manipulated by environmental factors, thereby leading to depression, addiction and a host of other neurological disorders yet to be fully understood by scientists.

Photos: Eric Wienke; Jean Pierre Gallot

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