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, 26 Jun 2017 12:07:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Forget Classroom Discussions: WhatsApp Is Better At Allowing Kids To Express Themselves Sun, 28 May 2017 11:32:41 +0000

Many parents are concerned about cyber-bullying on social media and in WhatsApp groups. But researchers claim that the popular texting app actually provides a more intimate forum than school for youths to communicate and openly express themselves.

According to Israel’s University of Haifa, class WhatsApp groups allow young people to express themselves in ways they cannot at school, helping them develop closer and more open relationships that allow them to express themselves in ways they couldn’t in the non-virtual domain.

The participants in the study described WhatsApp as “a place where there is respect for language and where all those involved share common terms and signs,” Dr. Arie Kizel, the author of the study, said. “The group chats are based on trust among the members of the group, and this enhances the possibility to be in contact.”

Young people across the world use the WhatsApp application as a means of interpersonal and group communication. Most of them spend many hours in this virtual world, particularly in the evening and at night when they are alone in their room. The study sought to examine the way young people experience this virtual space.

It included two groups of eight youths aged 16-17 and two groups of eight youths aged 14-15. The groups included equal numbers of boys and girls. The participants functioned as a philosophical inquiry group, a familiar method used around the world in which children and young people sit in a circle and engage in the philosophical analysis of text. In this study, the participants analyzed texts taken from the class WhatsApp group (their classmates agreed to this, and the texts appeared without identifying details).

The philosophical inquiry group examined the following questions: “What do you feel about the relationships that were created in the virtual domain?” “What did the group give you?” “What didn’t the group give you?” “How was this group different from groups that don’t operate online?”

iPhone apps

“I expose myself more”

An analysis of the conversations shows that the participants in the study regarded the virtual domain as somewhere where they can have a special intimacy that is not possible in other domains, and that facilitates informal relationships. “On WhatsApp, I usually feel that I am not being judged, particularly because there isn’t any eye contact or physical contact, only words and signs. So I feel more intimacy and security. I expose myself more, but it isn’t embarrassing, maybe because I don’t see people’s physical reactions,” one participant in the study explained.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Firm ‘Check Point’ Discovers ‘Killer’ Breach On WhatsApp

Another participant commented that the WhatsApp group she belongs to is mainly active late in the evening. “It’s more intimate and personal. Why? Because we usually hide things from the people we live with – our parents and siblings. The group is somewhere where I can write without anyone hearing me, so it’s intimate… I often go to sleep with the feeling that I had very close contact with my friends. It sounds strange, because I’m not actually with them, and yet I am.”

The young people perceive the WhatsApp group as a space that breaks down the hierarchical division created at school. As the study shows, the school domain often divides the class into fixed groups and friendships, created on the basis of socioeconomic status, common activities or study tracks, and so forth. The WhatsApp groups break down these divisions and make the class a single, homogeneous group.

Breaking down the walls

“In class, I don’t just walk up to everyone. I don’t feel I can do that. In class there are clearly-defined groups and sub-groups. There’s a clear order among the groups, and children very rarely move from one group to another. It’s been like that since we started studying together three years ago. In fact, within a few months of starting our studies, everyone already knew which group they were in and what their status was within the group… In the WhatsApp group, everyone can talk to everyone else. WhatsApp breaks down the walls we put up between us in class. The WhatsApp group is like a class team-building day,” one participant commented. He added: “You have the class, which is closed and fixed, with clear boundaries, and you have the WhatsApp group, which is a real home for me where everyone gets on great with each other.”

SEE ALSO: Israeli Non-Profit Ofanim Turns Old Buses Into High-Tech Classrooms On Wheels

School Children In Classroom

The study also found that the use of icons and emojis is richer than physical gestures. “When we’re at home, we can’t always be hugging and kissing, because it’s very intimate and exposes you to the other person. On WhatsApp, boys and girls use icons to indicate physical gestures we wouldn’t dare to use in everyday life… like hugs or kisses. This sign language is a quick one – you don’t think too much, you just pick an icon and that’s it. It’s spontaneous. I feel that I’m more direct,” commented one of the participants in the study.

The study shows that the virtual domain offers young people a chance to show intimacy in a setting beyond the classroom. Says Kizel: “The discussions enable the development of a social environment that is warm and human.”

Photos: Pixabay, Bigstock

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Israeli Robots, Apps Aim To Make Aging Easier Thu, 25 May 2017 06:28:34 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission. 

“Grow old along with me,” crooned John Lennon. “The best is yet to be.” But in reality growing old can be a painful, lonely journey.

Now, however, digital and robotic technologies being developed around the world bring the hope of making aging if not actually fun, then at least a lot easier, allowing elderly citizens to stay at home longer instead of being moved into an old age home and enabling families and caregivers track the health and whereabouts of their loved ones even from a distance.

SEE ALSO: Meet ElliQ, The Robot Even Your Grandparents Will Love

Elderly couple

“Aging is happening everywhere,” he said. “And 65-year-olds today are still active and independent and want to enjoy quality of life. Providing them with the services they need to do this is a huge opportunity for technology and healthcare companies and also for governments and municipalities.

SEE ALSO: Meet Eddy The Robot

“Because Israel is strong in digital technologies and digital health, it is in a good position to tackle challenges on this front as well, putting together its knowledge of sensors, artificial intelligence and big data, and channeling these into life sciences for the elderly. The idea is for technology to help keep you active and secure while you are alone at home.”

According to the United Nation’s 2015 World Population Aging Report, “virtually every country in the world is experiencing growth in the number and proportion of older persons in their population.” And this increasing share of older persons in the population is set to become “one of the most significant social transformations of the twenty-first century,” impacting nearly all sectors of society, including labor and financial markets, demand for goods and services, health and family structure.

From 2015 to 2030 the number of people in the world aged 60 years or over is projected to grow by 56 percent, from 901 million to 1.4 billion, and by 2050 the global population of older persons is projected to more than double its size in 2015, reaching nearly 2.1 billion, according to data from World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, also of the United Nations.

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Intuition Robotics / ElliQAlex Knight

Top Chef: Israeli Michael Solomonov Awarded America’s Culinary ‘Oscar’ Thu, 04 May 2017 08:01:30 +0000 Israeli chef Michael Solomonov has been named “outstanding chef” by prestigious culinary organization The James Beard Foundation, the highest award bestowed on a chef in the US.

He won the top award – considered by many to be the Oscars of the culinary world – on Monday night in Chicago, when hundreds of industry leaders from across the US attended the 2017 James Beard Awards ceremony, which “honors the country’s top culinary talent,” according to the foundation.

Israeli chef Michael Solomonov at his signature restaurant Zahav

Last year, a cookbook he co-authored, entitled Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, won the prize for best international cookbook. It’s based on the food served at his critically acclaimed restaurant Zahav in Philadelphia. In 2011, he won the James Beard Award for Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic.

SEE ALSO: Tel Aviv’s Pastel Brasserie Is Voted World’s Most Beautiful Restaurant

Solomonov, who accepted the award on Israel’s Independence Day, said in his acceptance speech: “To the State of Israel, the place of my birth: happy birthday – this award is for you.”

“The genius of Jewish cooking”

Dubbed “the genius of Jewish cooking,” Solomonov was born in Israel in 1978, and raised in Pittsburgh. His Philadelphia restaurant Zahav has become renowned for serving modern Israeli food. According to Solomonov, the Israeli cuisine “is full of delicious contradictions… A succulent array of dozens of distinct cuisines,” he says in the new documentary film In Search of Israeli Cuisine, which recently debuted.

SEE ALSO: The Oscars Of The Culinary World: ‘Shaya’ Named America’s Best New Restaurant

Over the past years, Solomonov has been recognized for his accomplishments by The New York Times, Esquire Magazine and Condé Nast Traveler, to name a few. In 2014, he was named Eater’s National Chef of the Year.

With his business partner Steven Cook, Solomonov owns several Philadelphia restaurants, including Abe Fisher, which serves Eastern European Jewish dishes; and Dizengoff, which serves popular Israeli dishes like shakshuka and pita bread. Their flagship restaurant, Zahav (“gold,” in Hebrew), serves Israeli, Jewish and Middle Eastern dishes with a modern twist, including chicken shishlik, stuffed grape leaves and laffa bread with hummus and salads.

Opened in 2008, Zahav is designed like the hidden courtyards of Jerusalem, with golden limestone floors and walls, hand-carved tables, and soaring ceilings.

Some of Solomonov’s culinary creations

Another nod to Shaya

In addition to Solomonov, The James Beard Foundation has named a chef from the Israeli restaurant Shaya, Zachary Engel, this year’s “Rising Star Chef of the Year.”

Opened in February 2015 by Israeli chef Alon Shaya, Shaya serves sophisticated versions of Israeli dishes in the heart of New Orleans. It serves such Israeli platters as hummus, falafel, pita bread, shakshuka and tahini. Last year, Shaya was named America’s Best New Restaurant by The James Beard Foundation.

Photos and video: Zahav, In Search of Israeli Cuisine

Jerusalem Slam Dunk: NBA Star-Turned-Entrepreneur Amar’e Stoudemire Is Living Inspired In Israel Wed, 03 May 2017 11:45:20 +0000 Standing tall at a height of 6 feet, 10 inches (2.08 m), six-time NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire cuts an imposing figure. But when the 34-year-old power forward sat down with NoCamels a few weeks ago to talk about what brought him and his family to Israel, one quickly realizes that size doesn’t matter.

In 2016, Stoudemire left the glamour of the NBA to play basketball for Hapoel Jerusalem, a team he partially owned. Flashing a broad smile, he feels very at home living in Israel, a place he had visited often and with which he’d long felt a strong spiritual connection.

Identifying himself as a Hebrew Israelite, he views the land of Israel as part of his religious and ancestral heritage. “My mother instilled it in us, as youth, about us being Israelites, being from the ancient children of Israel,” he tells NoCamels. So, as a family, we started to follow all the laws of Moses, and we just kept growing from there.”

Amare Stoudemire, NBA, shuk

Stoudemire (left) poses with a wall-sized illustration of himself, the latest addition to an ongoing art project where portraits of contemporary and historical figures are painted on the metal shutters of Jerusalem’s central market. (Photo Credit: Amareisreal, Instagram)

Israel: Love at first site

As far as Israel is concerned, for Stoudemire it was love at first site. “I loved Israel, my first time coming,” he tells NoCamels. After that initial visit in 2010, he made annual trips, coming every summer with his family before settling in Jerusalem last year.

Stoudemire also sees himself as an unofficial ambassador for Israel, a mission for which he often teams up with Omri Casspi, the first Israeli to play in the NBA. “I also invited celebrities and athletes to come here to visit Israel,” he tells NoCamels, “and their first impression was the same as mine. They loved it once they got here. From the outside, looking in, sometimes they’re not totally sure, but once they travel here, they have a whole new perspective on Israel.”

SEE ALSO: Find Out Which Hollywood Celebs Are Betting Their Money On The Startup Nation

Talking about his detractors, Stoudemire says, “I get some comments on my Instagram, but I put that aside, because I have a spiritual connection to Israel.”

Stoudemire, who was was recently filmed exploring Jerusalem’s famous Mahane Yehuda market (know by Israelis simply as the shuk), is going further than settling in the Land of Milk and Honey; he’s also learning its famously difficult tongue, Hebrew.

And the athlete’s devotion to the country seems to be more than a passing phase. Sports Illustrated recently reported that Stoudemire and his wife, Alexis, bought a four-story stone house in Jerusalem’s Old City, relocated their four kids (and personal chef) from Miami and made a commitment to stay in Israel for at least two years.

Forbes: “The most creative man in the Middle East”

After earning nearly $200 million from his NBA career, Stoudemire continues to pursue other interests. Aside from playing basketball, he also calls himself a fashion entrepreneur; art consultant; winemaker; published author and a promoter of interfaith cooperation. With so many ventures, it’s not surprising that Forbes dubbed Stoudemire “the most creative man in the Middle East.”

“I have a passion for each and every venture I’m involved in,” he told Forbes.

Stoudemire is also the owner of the Melech Collection, an online platform that advises celebrities on purchasing art that is likely to appreciate in value. Although they may have plenty of wealth to spend on cars and jewelry, Stoudemire says they often “don’t pay attention to their money.”

From humble beginnings to NBA stardom

Stoudemire overcame what was by all accounts a rough childhood to become one of the world’s most famous basketball players. A native of central Florida, he grew up poor, his parents divorced when he was young, and his father died of a heart attack when Amar’e was only twelve. His mother, a migrant agricultural worker, was in and out of jail for petty crimes, and his older brother had several run-ins with the law.

Stoudemire attended five different high schools, but did not go on to college. Instead, the talented teenage basketball star went directly from high school to the NBA. Stoudemire was the only high school player chosen in the first round of the 2002 draft (by the Phoenix Suns with the ninth pick overall). He was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 2003 and went on to play 14 seasons in the NBA, with four different teams: the Suns, New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, and Miami Heat.

SEE ALSO: NBA All-Star Game And Dunk Contest To Use Israeli Tech For Real-Time 3D Replays

Through all the adversity, Stoudemire remains humble, attributing his success to the people around him.

“When I was drafted at 18 to the Phoenix Suns, I was fortunate to have veteran players around me,” Stoudemire told the crowd at Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit in Tel Aviv last month, an event which drew hundreds of young entrepreneurs from around the globe to Israel for the second year in a row. “I was learning from great veteran players and I happened to take on that positive influence and apply it to my professional life.”

Peace though basketball

This summer Stoudemire will again be holding his Amar’e Stoudemire Basketball Peace Camp, a program that brings together players from all of Israel’s diverse cultures.

Omri Casspi (far left), the first Israeli in the NBA, joins Amar’e Stoudemire (3rd from right) at the Amar’e Stoudemire Basketball Peace Camp

Advice to youth: Be yourself – and stay positive

Stoudemire, who cites basketball icon Michael Jordan, the late rapper Tupac Shakur, and legendary musician John Lennon as his idols growing up, sees himself as a role model to his own kids first, then to his throngs of loyal young fans.

“All the lessons I learned as a youth, growing up, I try to instill in them (my children). I always take them back to my humble beginnings, where my family lives,” he tells NoCamels. “I take them back there to hang out with the uncles and cousins in Florida so they get an understanding of what a humble beginning is about. It’s a little bit different from my upbringing, but they still get a taste of it.”

As far as advice for the Israeli youth who dream of playing in the NBA, he says, “For me, I’m just being myself. I’m being who I am, and I think for them, it’s really about being who they are. But they should have some positive affirmations. Taking the positive from certain leaders that they follow, and applying it to themselves, which is the model that I took.”

Amar’e and friends at the Forbes 30 Under 30 Jerusalem Market Walk (Photo Credit: Sasson Tiram)

Startup Nation: Meeting of the minds

Stoudemire is also getting involved in Israeli innovation and startups, telling NoCamels, “There are a lot of great people doing amazing things here in Israel. Now that I live here, I’m learning more and more about it.” Asked what he believes makes Israel the “Startup Nation”, he cites the collaborative brainstorming which he finds inspiring.

“I think it’s just a matter of the meeting of the minds. People here are constantly trying to wrap their mind around a better way to improve, so that’s great to see.”

Photos and videos: YouTube,,, Sasson Tiram (via GKPR), Amareisreal (Instagram)

Innovation Nation: Twelve Israeli Inventions That Are Changing The World Mon, 01 May 2017 08:55:50 +0000 As the country with the highest number of startups per capita in the world, Israel has truly earned its nickname, “The Startup Nation”. In just a few decades, thousands of Israeli startups have given rise to innovations in a wide range of fields, from agricultural irrigation and GPS navigation to life-saving cancer treatments.

So which Israeli startups and technologies are truly changing the world? In honor of Israel’s 69th Independence Day, NoCamels highlights twelve Israeli innovations impacting the world for the better and changing lives forever.

Israeli inventions collage

Mobileye: Using technology to prevent car accidents

One Israeli company making making major headlines recently is Mobileye, which was just sold to giant chip maker Intel for a whopping $15.3 billion – the largest acquisition deal in Israel’s history, far surpassing Warren Buffett’s $6 billion acquisition of Iscar in 2006.

Mobileye, which develops driver assistance technology to prevent accidents, is also one of the major developers of autonomous car technologies. Its systems use video cameras and advanced algorithms to identify and respond to other vehicles, bends in the road, pedestrians and traffic signs, providing advanced warning for drivers and thereby preventing road accidents. Mobileye has already embedded its technology into cars made by Audi, Tesla Motors and others.

Founded in 1999 by Ziv Aviram and Amnon Shashua, the Hebrew University professor who developed the technology, Mobileye made history twice in the past three years: it went public in 2014, marking the largest Israeli IPO (initial public offering) in the US; and the record acquisition of the company by Intel was announced last month.

Waze: Saving you time on the road

Speaking of driving, no list about life-changing Israeli startups would be complete without mentioning Waze.

Launched in 2008 in Israel, and now owned by Google, this navigation app uses a complex algorithm and the real-time speeds of its users to determine the best driving routes. Waze’s strength is its crowd-sourced reports. It’s stronger in denser areas than in rural ones and has the advantage of using both human and machine knowledge. Waze’s initial mission was simply to save five minutes a day for every motorist, but now it has become a must-have app for any driver.

As the world’s attention focuses on news of self-driving cars, Waze’s innovative technology will certainly play a major role in their development.

waze carpool google navigation

UPnRIDE: Helping paraplegics stand tall

If driving is something most of us take for granted, walking is even more so. But in the US alone, there are nearly 250,000 individuals with spinal cord injuries that partially or entirely inhibit regular motor functions. For them, standing and walking around freely remains the stuff of dreams.

UPnRIDE, a revolutionary new Segway-like device that allows quadriplegics to stand up and move around almost anywhere, is poised to change the life of thousands of paralyzed people around the globe.

The Israeli device was developed by Dr. Amit Goffer, who already founded the revolutionary exoskeleton ReWalk, which enables paraplegics to walk and climb stairs. His new device will help quadriplegics (people paralyzed from the neck down) to stand and be mobile.

Goffer, who is himself confined to a wheelchair, has been working on a more comprehensive solution over the past three years. Similar to a stand-up Segway or an electric scooter, the patented UPnRIDE moves over different kinds of terrains with the user’s guidance, using a joystick operated by hand or by mouth. Automatic balancing assures a safe ride uphill, downhill, and on slanted surfaces, in both standing and sitting positions.

“Being able to stand and move is extremely important for people’s physiological health and their dignity,” Goffer says. According to him, the UPnRIDE reduces secondary complications of long-term sitting, lowering the need for hospitalization, medications and physiotherapy.

Prepex: Circumcising millions to cut HIV risk

According to amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, more than two-thirds of all people living with HIV, some 24.7 million in total, live in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one of the benefits of circumcision, the removal of the foreskin of the penis, is a lower risk of HIV transmission. “There is compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60 percent,” the WHO states.

PrePex, a non-surgical circumcision unit and the first medical device in Israel’s history to be approved by the WHO, allows for the performing of circumcisions on a mass scale, with no incisions, bleeding, or injected anesthesia.

SEE ALSO: Israel’s PrePex Device Will Circumcize Millions To Cut HIV Risk By 60%

PrePex has already been used in more than 250,000 procedures in 13 countries in Africa and Asia. In total, the company has delivered more than 1 million devices which, according to mathematical models, would prevent approximately 150,000 new HIV cases. In addition, there are currently over 1,000 PrePex trained healthcare providers, 16 PrePex training centers and the company is collaborating with more than 45 NGOs on the ground.

“PrePex provides an easier, more convenient and cost-effective way of conducting male circumcision, both for patients and for healthcare providers,” Eddy Horowitz, CEO of Circ MedTech, the developer of PrePex, said in a statement. “With our introduction of the non-surgical device for infants and children, PrePex will improve the male circumcision experience for men, boys and infants worldwide.”

Bonus BioGroup: Lab-Grown Bones Successfully Transplanted In Jaws

Israeli biotech company Bonus BioGroup is growing live bones from patients’ own fat cells. In December, the company reported that it successfully injected its lab-grown, semi-liquid bone graft into the jaws of 11 people in an early stage clinical trial evaluating bone loss repair.

The material, grown in a lab from each patient’s own fat cells, was injected into and filled the voids of the problematic bones. Over a few months it hardened and merged with the existing bone to complete the jaw, the company said.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Company Grows New Bones From Patients’ Fat

The transplant “was 100% successful in all 11 patients,” Ora Burger, the VP of regulation affairs, told Reuters. “Now we are going to conduct a clinical study in the extremities, long bones.”

Bonus BioGroup’s CEO Shai Meretski, who previously founded Pluristem Therapeutics, an advanced Israeli biomedical company that works with stem cells, told Reuters, “For the first time worldwide, reconstruction of deficient or damaged bone tissue is achievable by growing viable human bone graft in a laboratory, and transplanting it back to the patient in a minimally invasive surgery via injection.”

PillCam: The Disposable Capsule That Films Your Gastrointestinal Tract

To screen for colorectal cancer, both men and women over 50 are advised to undergo a colonoscopy every 10 years. Unfortunately, because of the sometimes uncomfortable nature of the procedure, many people choose not to do it.

Given Imaging, an Israeli medical technology company, pioneered a non-invasive method of detecting disorders in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. PillCam, the aptly named product, is a pill-sized camera ingested by patients, which allows physicians to visualize the esophagus, colon, and areas of the small intestine.

Loyola Medicine gastroenterologist, Dr Mukund Venu, recently told WGN in Chicago that Pillcam, “allows us to get an almost 360 degree view of the colon as the pill tumbles through it.”

“There’s a lot of fear about sedation,” Dr. Venu told WGN, “There’s fear of the procedure itself and the discomfort associated with it. There are about 20 million Americans who are not getting screened for colon cancer, and that’s a number we’d like to see reduced.”

SniffPhone: Detecting deadly diseases on the breath 

Speaking of disease detection, two years ago, Prof. Hossam Haick of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology introduced a device that can sense disease on the breath, much like a breathalyzer test. What Haick calls the SniffPhone uses nanotechnology sensors to analyze the particles on the breath and is able to pinpoint exact diseases, including certain kinds of cancer.

Professor Hossam Haick

The SniffPhone, Haick’s new mobile device, contains his previously-developed ‘NaNose’ breathalyzer test, which “sniffs out” lung cancer before it spreads. The smartphone device is a vehicle for the NaNose technology that’s mobile and thus can be taken anywhere, including rural areas.

SkySaver: Life-saving technology

In 2015, Israeli startup SkySaver released a brand new emergency backpack that’s designed to help residents escape from high-rises when fire breaks out. This lifesaving kit comes equipped with a cable cord that, in case of an emergency, is attached to a pre-installed anchor located near a window.

When fire breaks out, the emergency device is strapped on with buckles that wrap around the waist and between the legs. Then, the individual starts rappelling down the side of the building.

Founded in 2012 by Eli Gross, Jerusalem-based SkySaver has so far raised an undisclosed amount from private investors.

Reporty: Live-Streaming Emergency Situations From Your Smartphone To First Responders

During an emergency, it’s not always easy to call 911 and explain the dire situation. Now, Israeli startup Reporty provides rescue teams with the precise location and real-time information from your smartphone, including live video.

Reporty is a free app that facilitates the communication between people in emergency situations and public safety agencies, live-streaming video from your smartphone’s camera to the applicable authorities. Once contacted, the dispatcher will also have access to relevant information, including the person’s name, location, needs, and more. Using the power of the crowd, Reporty is revolutionizing the way first response and public safety agencies manage events in the field.

Since its launch, Reporty has raised $8.4M and attracted roughly 100,000 users in recent months. In June, the startup won the Tel Aviv Startup Challenge competition run by StarTAU, Tel Aviv University’s entrepreneurship center.

Reporty was founded by CEO Amir Elichai, Alex Dizengof, Lital Leshem and Yoni Yatsun; its chairman is former Israeli prime minister and defense secretary Ehud Barak, who also invested in the startup; former secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, is on Reporty’s advisory board.

SCiO: Revolutionizing Our Interaction With The Physical World

Three years ago, a Tel Aviv-based company Consumer Physics shattered all expectations with the launch of its cutting edge pocket spectrometer named SCiO. SCiO is basically a tiny spectrometer, a device that measures the intensity of physical elements. These readings can then be classified into more useful molecular information about the object in front of you, like for example the number of calories, sugar, carbohydrates, proteins in your meal; or the freshness of your apple; or the water levels of your plant.


“This device makes it simple to find out exactly what you are eating or what you’re about to buy. It’ll be as easy as taking a photo, uploading it to your smartphone and sharing it with your friends,” Dror Sharon, co-founder of Consumer Physics said, explaining the potential real-world applications for his product which syncs with a special Apple and Android app that keeps track of what users scan.

Hisense: Saving babies from SIDS

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death in infants under one year old with an average death toll reaching 5,600 babies per year in the USA and Europe alone. In 1992, Israeli company Hisense developed the first-to-market non-touch breathing movement monitor for detection of apnea in infants, known under the trade mark Babysense. Since then, the company has gained expertise in developing and producing quality breathing movement monitors, meeting the stringent requirements and needs of both the institutional and private market.

The Babysense breathing movement monitor is used in hundreds of hospitals and have helped protecting over 600,000 infants from SIDS. Hisense is present in 35 countries through its subsidiaries and exclusive international distributors.

SkyTran: A new way to travel

SkyTran, an innovative company with Israeli roots, is promising to change the way people get from place to place. Headquartered at the NASA Ames Research Center near Mountain View, California, SkyTran is developing a patented, high-speed, low-cost, elevated Personal Rapid Transportation (PRT) system. The SkyTran network of computer-controlled, 2-person “jet-like” vehicles employs unique, state-of-the-art, SkyTran Magnetic Levitation (STML) technology. SkyTran moves passengers in a fast, safe, green, and economical manner.

With its NASA relationship, SkyTran has access to a wide range of cutting-edge technologies and capabilities. It is able to combine NASA expertise, assets, and information with its own core competencies.

After years of groundbreaking R&D and perfecting its proprietary technology, SkyTran recently partnered with a leading aerospace company for the construction of a full scale SkyTran Technology Demonstration System (TDS). The TDS will incorporate SkyTran’s salient features and will provide a platform for SkyTran vehicles to travel at high speeds, with full payloads while levitating. The TDS will enable testing, refinement, and validation of SkyTran’s technology in a controlled environment.

So, whether it’s helping paraplegics stand tall, making driving safer or saving lives in Africa, Israelis will continue to innovate to make our world a better place, for the next 69 years – and beyond.

Photos and videos: PrepexMobileyeUPnRIDE, SniffphonePillCamBonus BioGroupWazeSkySaverReportySkyTranHisenseSCiO, OurCrowd (featured)

Keeping Your Cool: Looking At Photos Of Cold Scenes Can Improve Self-Control Thu, 27 Apr 2017 09:51:21 +0000 We’ve all told ourselves to “keep our cool” or “not get overheated” at some point or another, but can simply looking at a photograph of a cold, wintery scene do the trick?

Researchers at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University (BGU) have demonstrated that the perception of cold temperatures elicits greater cognitive control, even from a photo.

SEE ALSO: New Device Destroys Breast Tumors With Extreme Cold

winter, snow

Cognitive control allows your mind to override your impulses and helps you make decisions based on your goals, rather than your habits or reactions. Cognitive control enables you to make choices that maximize your long-term best interests. For example, when a person is very hungry and sees a sandwich but does not eat it, they are exhibiting cognitive control.

Measuring the effects of the perceived temperature

Metaphorical phrases like “coldly calculating,” “heated response,” and “cool-headed” actually have some scientific validity, according to lead researcher Dr. Idit Shalev of BGU. “Previous research has focused on the actual effect of temperature on the psychological phenomenon known as ‘cognitive control,’ but this is the first time we were able to measure the effects of perceived temperature,” she said in a statement. 

The study, entitled Keep it Cool: Temperature Priming Effect on Cognitive Control Research, was recently published in the journal Psychological Research.

Imagining yourself in a cold climate

In the study, Shalev and her team of researchers conducted two experiments. In the first, 87 students performed an “anti-saccade task” (saccade is a rapid movement of the eye between fixation points), which requires looking in the opposite direction of a moving object and measures cognitive control.

In the second experiment, 28 female students were asked to perform the same anti-saccade task, but this time were asked to physically imagine themselves in a picture of winter scenery, a temperature-neutral concrete street or a sunny landscape depicted as the background image in the test.

Example of a screen in the anti-saccade test

The results indicated that those viewing the cold landscape did better, and that even without a physical trigger, cognitive control can be activated through conceptual processes alone,” Shalev says. 

The researchers also examine the possibility that there is a common explanation for the relation of temperature and cognitive control with social proximity. “While warmth signaling promotes a relaxed attitude, cool signals alertness and a possible need for greater cognitive control,” the study concludes.

Photos: Ben-Gurion University, Pixabay

Bad Influence? Mischievous Kids Actually Teach Their Siblings How NOT To Behave Wed, 12 Apr 2017 12:45:20 +0000 Many parents are concerned that the rowdy behavior of one child could negatively affect the behavior of their sibling. But a new Israeli study has found that such behavior does not encourage similar behavior in their brothers and sisters. In fact, disruptive kids teach their siblings how NOT to behave.

SEE ALSO: Study: Hypersensitive Children May Develop OCD In Adulthood

The study, led by Dr. Ella Daniel of Israel’s Tel Aviv University, has found that siblings of young troublemakers, tend to show less disorderly behavior over time. The research, conducted in collaboration with the University of Toronto, examined disruptive behavior during early childhood and concluded that it produces greater disparity — rather than resemblance — among siblings.

Two little displeased child boy brothers in family conflict quarrel

“Disruptive behavior starts early in life and behavioral patterns may become stable and resistant to influence later on,” Daniel said in a statement. “We found that in early childhood, children do not learn from each other how to be disruptive, violent or disobedient.”

In fact, they are “more likely to learn what not to do, or how not to behave,” she stresses. “The older siblings of young children who are disruptive tend to become less disruptive themselves over time, creating a polarizing effect on their behaviors.”

“Let each child develop his or her individuality”

Existing research on disruptive behavior is largely focused on adolescents. The new study harnessed data assessing the rate of disruptions as witnessed by both parents to track 916 toddlers and their preschool- and school-aged siblings in some 400 families in and around Toronto.

SEE ALSO: Kid Country: Israel Rated Third Best Country To Raise Children

The families had a child born between 2006 and 2008, and had at least one other child (younger than four years of age) at home. The researchers conducted observations and interviews all members of the family every 18 months.

The scientists collected information when the youngest child in the family was 18, 36 and 54 months old. On these three occasions, both parents reported the disruptive behaviors of each of their children.

Using statistical models, the researchers identified the role of siblings in the development of each child’s disruptive behavior over time, taking into account heredity, parenting, social environment and shared history.

“The study teaches us that we have little to worry about one sibling being ‘a bad influence’ on their brothers or sisters,” Daniel says. “Instead, we should be more worried of pigeon holing: that one child will be labeled as a ‘black sheep,’ and that all children in the family will develop based on pre-assigned roles. We should let each child develop his or her individuality, which naturally changes over time.”

Photos: Brandon Morgan

Meet ElliQ, The Robot Even Your Grandparents Will Love Tue, 04 Apr 2017 09:43:21 +0000 A new robotic companion named ElliQ could soon transform the lives of the elderly.

Developed by Israeli startup Intuition Robotics, ElliQ is a two-piece companion for the elderly: one part tablet computer, and one part little robot that looks like a desk lamp. The small robotic creature and the separate screen are designed to create human-robot interactions that can make aging a lot easier.

ElliQ can play music, remind you to take your medicine, call friends and family, suggest activities that might be relevant to you, track your health, your house, and alert loved ones and health professionals of any medical emergencies.

SEE ALSO: Robotics Star Guy Hoffman Talks To NoCamels About Robots With ‘Soul’

The robot even exhibits some cute “human-like” traits. When it shows you a photo, ElliQ may tilt its head to view the photo with you, thus creating interaction. ElliQ can look at you, hide behind the screen, make various sound effects with different tones, and use different lights – all of which make for a natural experience, according to co-founder Dor Skuler.

High social impact

Founded in 2015 by Itai Mendelsohn, Dor Skuler and Roy Amir, Intuition Robotics develops technologies that emotionally connect people with devices, and enables the devices to make autonomous decisions and to adapt to the people they serve.

“We all wanted to do a project with a high social impact, and we all have aging parents – it just came together,” Skuler tells NoCamels. “The issue of loneliness among the older adult population and bettering their quality of life isn’t addressed much in the startup scene. That’s what drove us to research and develop the idea that eventually led to ElliQ.”

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


Collaborating with award-winning Swiss designer Yves Behar, and American tech guru Dr. Don Norman, the company wanted to create a slick robot using the latest technology in artificial intelligence and machine learning, allowing ElliQ to make its own decisions, and learn from its experiences.

Granted, no one expects people to fall in love with their robot like in the movie ‘”Her,” but ElliQ can create a sense of interaction and fill some emotional needs, as was recently shown in a study conducted by IDC Herzliya.

The company insists the device’s simple design is intentional, so as not to “scream ‘technology'” and be less intimidating for the older population,” Skuler says. “We don’t want a device that looks like it came out of a movie.”

“Real human behaviors”

According to Skuler, ElliQ can help families include their older loved ones in their lives, through video chats performed by the robot, for example. ElliQ “brings families together in a natural way that allows advanced technology to build a bridge and remove the friction that comes with the growing generational gap,” he says, adding it “exhibits real human behaviors.”

Proactively suggesting engagement opportunities

Instead of being a reactive assistant like Apple’s Siri, for example, ElliQ aims to be proactive and to suggest content and engagement opportunities to its users in order to help them reach their goals. It may ask your permission to play some music in the morning, maybe suggest going for a walk, all of which create a more authentic relationship and promote a healthier lifestyle.

Monitoring is another feature ElliQ provides: it can keep track of when the user wakes up, whether a stranger is walking around the house, what the temperature is, and more. The information is then shared with the person that you pre-designated.


It’s no wonder this elder-care assistant recently raised $6 million from robotic vacuum cleaner giant iRobot and Israeli crowd-funding firm OurCrowd. According to a new study published in the British medical journal The Lancet, life expectancy is on the rise in many parts of the world. And as the population grows older, people are left with many more years of retirement – and possibly loneliness.

With no official launch date as of yet, the company recently performed a live demonstration at the OurCrowd Summit in Jerusalem. “Seeing people interact with the product and hearing their reactions has been a very humbling experience,” Skuler says.

He declined to disclose the cost of the gadget, but says it is expected to match similar products on the market in price. Popular robotic companions Amazon Echo and Alexa cost about $180.

“We have a waiting list from hundreds around the world – older adults who would like to try it, grandchildren wishing to get it for the grandparents,” Skuler says. “Though we have a lot to learn, I think we hit a nerve in the community.”

Elderly couple

Photos and video: Courtesy

A Fear-Free World? Israeli Scientists Succeed In Erasing Memory Of Fear In Mice Sun, 26 Mar 2017 12:24:38 +0000 Erasing traumatic memories sounds like science fiction, but Israeli scientists have now managed to erase the memory of fear in mice. If humans erase unwanted memories from their brains in the future, films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind could become reality.

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

In a study conducted at Israel’s Weizmann Institute, researchers succeeded in shutting down a neuronal mechanism by which memories of fear are formed in the mouse brain. After the procedure, the mice resumed their earlier fearless behavior, “forgetting” they had previously been frightened.

“This research may one day help extinguish traumatic memories in humans – for example, in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” the researchers said in a statement.

Cognifit Is A Gym To Train Your Brain

According to lead researcher Dr. Ofer Yizhar, “the brain is good at creating new memories when these are associated with strong emotional experiences, such as intense pleasure or fear. That’s why it’s easier to remember things you care about, be they good or bad; but it’s also the reason that memories of traumatic experiences are often extremely long-lasting, predisposing people to PTSD.”

SEE ALSO: The Memory Of Starvation Stays In Your Genes For Three Generations

In the study, Yizhar’s team examined the communication between two brain regions: the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. The amygdala plays a central role in controlling emotions, whereas the prefrontal cortex is mostly responsible for cognitive functions and storing long-term memories.

Previous studies suggested that the interactions between these two brain regions contribute to the formation and storage of averse memories, and that these interactions are compromised in PTSD; but the exact mechanisms behind these processes were unknown.

In the new study, the researchers first used a genetically-engineered virus to mark those amygdala neurons that communicate with the prefrontal cortex. Next, using another virus, they inserted a gene encoding a light-sensitive protein into these neurons. When they shone a light on the brain, only the neurons containing the light-sensitive proteins became activated.

These manipulations, in the field of optogenetics – a technique extensively studied in Yizhar’s lab – enabled the researchers to activate only those amygdala neurons that interact with the cortex, and then to map out the cortical neurons that receive input from these light-sensitive neurons.

Once they had achieved this precise control over the cellular interactions in the brain, they turned to exploring behavior: Mice that are less fearful are more likely to venture farther than others. They found that when the mice were exposed to fear-inducing stimuli, a powerful line of communication was activated between the amygdala and the cortex. The mice whose brains displayed such communication were more likely to retain a memory of the fear, acting frightened every time they heard the sound that had previously been accompanied by the fear-inducing stimuli.

“Alleviating the symptoms of fear and anxiety”

Finally, to clarify how this line of communication contributes to the formation and stability of memory, the scientists developed an innovative optogenetic technique for weakening the connection between the amygdala and the cortex, using a series of repeated light pulses. Indeed, once the connection was weakened, the mice no longer displayed fear upon hearing the “scary” sound. Evidently, “tuning down” the input from the amygdala to the cortex had destabilized or perhaps even destroyed their memory of fear.

Yizhar says his research, recently published in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience, is focused on a fundamental question in neuroscience: How does the brain integrate emotion into memory? “One day, our findings may help develop better therapies targeting the connections between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, in order to alleviate the symptoms of fear and anxiety disorders.”

Now let’s just hope these brain-erasing capabilities won’t fall into the wrong hands.

Photos: Coral Gables Art Cinema/Universal Studios

Happy Nation: Israel Ranked 11th Happiest Country For Fourth Year In A Row Mon, 20 Mar 2017 11:21:10 +0000 Disneyland may proclaim itself  ‘the happiest place on earth’, but Israel is not that far behind. According to this year’s World Happiness Report, Israel is the 11th happiest country in the world – for the fourth year in a row. 

Although Israel ranks behind countries like Norway (1st), Denmark (2nd), Iceland (3rd), Switzerland (4th) and Canada (7th) on the list, it placed ahead of the US (14th), Germany (16th) and the UK (19th). When the report first launched in 2012, Israel was ranked at number 14 out of the countries surveyed, but has held firm on 11th place since then.

In honor of International Day of Happiness, celebrated annually on March 20th, the World Happiness Report 2017 was released today by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) for the United Nations. The report, a worldwide survey of the state of global happiness, ranks 155 countries by their happiness levels.

SEE ALSO: International Day of Happiness: What Top Israeli Studies Say About What Makes Us Happy

The report is based on an annual survey of 1,000 people in more than 150 countries that simply asks them to rank, on a scale of 0 to 10, whether they are living their best life.

happiness, world happiness

World Happiness Report 2017 Rankings (1-53)

Researchers then use six measures to try to understand the results: gross domestic product per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity/charitable giving, and perceived levels of government and corporate corruption.

“The lowest countries are typically marked by low values in all six variables,” the report noted.

SEE ALSO: Five Israeli Startups That Aim To Make You Happier

Happiest Country: Norway

After ranking fourth for the last two years, Norway jumped three spots and displaced three-time winner Denmark to take the title of “world’s happiest country” for the first time. Denmark dropped to second place this year, followed by Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand and Australia and Sweden. Denmark has won the title three of the four times the report has been issued, while Switzerland has won the title just once.

Meanwhile, the United States came in 14th place, dropping one place from last year.

According to the survey, people in Tanzania (153), Syria (152) and Rwanda (151), are are unhappiest with their lives.

Keys to happiness: Trust in society, strong social foundations

Director of the SDSN and a special adviser to the UN secretary general, Jeffrey Sachs, said in an interview that: “Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government.”

“As demonstrated by many countries, this report gives evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations,” Sachs said. “It’s time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let’s hold our leaders to this fact.”

Photos: SDSN, Pixabay
Bringing Pride To The Tribe: How Team Israel Hit It Out Of The Ballpark At The World Baseball Classic Sun, 19 Mar 2017 12:08:20 +0000 For years, rooting for Team Israel meant cheering for the country’s national soccer, basketball or Olympic teams. But this month, thanks to their surprising success at the World Baseball Classic (WBC), when sports fans talk about Team Israel, they mean baseball.

First played in 2006, and played every four years since 2009, The World Baseball Classic (WBC) is an international baseball tournament modeled after the FIFA World Cup. Professional players from the major leagues around the world, including Major League Baseball (MLB), also take part.

This year was the first time Israel had qualified for the tournament.

WBC, Team Israel, Israel baseball

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

Odds of Israel winning: 200 – 1

Before this year’s WBC began, American Sports network ESPN considered Team Israel, ranked 41st in the world, to be the biggest underdog in the 16 team tournament. They even went so far as referring to them as the “Jamaican bobsled team of the WBC”. Israel’s odds to win the WBC were set at 200-1, before the tournament started. But, as Team Israel began to win games at the WBC, the team’s scrappy performance began being described as “a Cinderella story” and a “David vs. Goliath tale”.

In the first round of the WBC, Israel stunned the baseball world by winning Pool A with a 3-0 record to advance to the last eight. Team Israel, which is built around MLB-affiliated Jewish Americans, defeated South Korea, Chinese Taipei and then the Netherlands in Seoul before surprising Cuba in its first game in the last eight in Tokyo, to improve their overall record to 4-0.

However, a 12-2 loss to the Netherlands on Monday complicated Israel’s situation. On Wednesday, in a must-win game for Israel, Japan and Israel were tied at 0-0 for five innings until the Japanese team scored five runs in the sixth inning, a deficit which the Israeli team was not able to come back from. The 8-3 defeat to Japan sealed Team Israel’s fate and ended their hopes of advancing to the final round of the WBC in Los Angeles.

On the positive side, the top three from each pool automatically qualify for the 2021 WBC, so thanks to their success this year, Team Israel has already locked up a spot to compete in the next WBC in 2021.

Team Israel: Jewish players from all over the world

Under WBC rules, any player eligible to be a citizen of a country is entitled to play for that country’s baseball team, even if the player has not obtained citizenship. Israel’s Law of Return gives anyone with a Jewish parent or grandparent, or who is married to a Jew, the right to return to Israel and to be an Israeli citizen. The WBC rules thus allow non-Israeli citizens of Jewish heritage to play for Team Israel.

“We had to hunt far and wide and find the best guys who could potentially be eligible,” Peter Kurz, president of the Israel Association of Baseball, told USA Today Sports. Many of the players have had some major-league experience, with virtually all being Americans of Jewish heritage.

Israel’s roster included 20 MLB-affiliated minor leaguers, making up 86 percent of the team, more than any other team in the qualifiers, even before including recent Major Leaguers Craig Breslow (an 11-year MLB veteran), Ike Davis, Sam Fuld, Josh Satin, catcher Ryan Lavarnway, former 15-year MLB veteran All Star pitcher Jason Marquis, Cody Decker, Nate Freiman, and Josh Zeid.

WBC, Israel, Team Israel, Israel baseball

Members of Team Israel remove their caps and put on their yarmulkes for the Israeli national anthem.

One of the team’s oldest players is pitcher Shlomo Lipetz, 37, who grew up in Israel and lives in New York. Lipetz is also the only player on the team with no MLB affiliation. Team Israel’s youngest player was pitcher Dean Kremer, 20, a Californian drafted by the Dodgers whose parents are Israeli expatriates.

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

A visit to Israel

“Playing for Israel is the last thing I thought I would be doing,” Ty Kelly, a utility player in the New York Mets farm system, said in an interview. “And there is nothing I would rather be doing. It really does have a deep meaning.”

Kelly was part of a group of players to visit Israel in January on a promotional tour aimed at increasing baseball awareness and boosting the number of players from its current level of around 1,000.

“When we went to Israel we saw the pride they have in their country,” Kelly said. “To be able to give the people another outlet to express that pride, by supporting a team in a sport that Israel has never been known for, it just feels really cool.”

Mascot: The Mensch on the Bench

Cody Decker brought the team’s mascot with him to Asia from the United States for the WBC. The mascot is “Mensch on the Bench”, a five-foot-tall plush stuffed toy that looks a bit like a rabbi or Hasidic Jew with a long beard and mustache who is wearing a tallit (prayer shawl) and holding a candle.”Mensch”, in Yiddish, means a person of integrity or honor.

Mensch on the bench, masot

Team Israel’s Mascot: The Mensch on the Bench

Decker said he tried getting the mascot a first-class ticket, but that didn’t work, so he was put in a duffel bag and checked. The mascot proved to be a big hit, and the team takes him everywhere they go. He has his own locker, sits on Team Israel’s bench in the dugout during every game, and even sat alongside Decker at a press conference in South Korea.

“He’s a mascot, he’s a friend, he’s a teammate, he’s a borderline deity to our team,” Decker explained in a recent interview. “He brings a lot to the table. He had his own locker, and we even gave him offerings: Manischewitz, gelt, and gefilte fish.”

Team Israel’s Manager Jerry Weinstein added: “He’s on the team. Everybody brings something to the team, and certainly The Mensch is a unifying factor for the ball club.” Pitcher Gabe Cramer added: “The Mensch on the Bench is … a symbol we can rally around as a team. We are proud to be Jewish, but we know how to make and take a joke, something Jews have a long history of doing. The Mensch is a great way to have fun in the dugout while reminding us of why we’re here and who we’re representing.”

Making a difference in Israel

Team Isreal’s manager Weinstein is also hopeful that the team’s display will help the growth of baseball in Israel.

“My hope is that by virtue of playing in the World Baseball Championship and doing well it heightens awareness worldwide, but especially in Israel, so it can get more government support, build fields, hire staff,” he said.

“There’s a lot of American Jews that follow baseball and maybe they will sign up to support and donate money so that we can grow the program in Israel so the next time a manager sits in front of you, he’ll be talking about Israeli national players playing in the WBC. Not a group of American Jewish players who are identifying or connected to Israel. But players that were born in the State of Israel and compete in this tournament.”

Inspiring Jewish-American kids to play ball

“I think that there are Jewish kids in the United States that maybe wouldn’t play baseball, but as a result of seeing this Jewish team, who are made up mostly of Americans, they will,” he said. “I think everybody has recognized what they have done and I think that will inspire all young kids, but especially young Israelis and young Jewish kids in the United States.”

Photos and Video: WBC Israel

cap, baseball cap, team Israel, WBC, Israel baseball
Bridges For Peace: Can The Startup Nation Be An Incubator For Palestinian Tech Entrepreneurs? Sun, 12 Mar 2017 07:09:41 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

When Sari Taha, 28, began his mechanical engineering degree at Birzeit University in the West Bank city of Ramallah, in the back of his mind he knew this would mean he’d be looking for a job in Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates four years later.

Taha did not manage to land a job in the Gulf. Instead, he worked for a short stint in a local construction company before landing a job for six months in Nigeria. Afterwards, he returned home, to work in the restaurant management business. Finally, he decided he was going to go back to school to study business at the Technion Institute in Haifa.

SEE ALSO: Unique MIT-Backed Program Uses Technology To Bridge Gaps Between Israeli And Palestinian Youths

The city of Rawabi has been earmarked to host a new tech park.

Sari’s troubles are part of a much larger challenge for young Palestinians looking to break into the tech market.

Palestinian universities produce around 2,000 IT graduates annually, according to a 2014 Paltrade report. But there are not enough jobs for them in the West Bank, nor according to the report, are these graduates “adequately skilled” to work in the local Palestinian IT market. The result is that most grads need look for jobs in the Gulf. And competition there is fierce.

Fast-forward four years and Taha has sold his shares in a tech startup he cofounded and is now busy putting together the first-ever Palestinian tech park, which he hopes to transform into a Silicon Valley of the West Bank. The city of Rawabi — the first pre-planned Palestinian city touted as an example for what can be achieved in a future Palestinian state — has been earmarked to host the park.

SEE ALSO: Israelis, Palestinians Join Forces To Explore Local Flowers To Combat Cancer, Diabetes

The fortunes of Taha, an East Jerusalemite, were changed by the Palestinian Internship Program (PIP), a three-year old USAID funded initiative that handpicks Palestinian IT graduates and sends them on internships in multinational companies and Israeli startups.

The aim is for these Palestinian interns to soak up the knowledge of how to operate a successful and competitive tech startup and bring this knowledge back home to help build a Palestinian high-tech sector.

Palestinian Internship Program (PIP) interns

Palestinian Internship Program (PIP) fellows

To read the full article, click here

Photos: PIP, Rawabi City

Does Your Name Influence Your Looks? Survey Says: Yes! Mon, 06 Mar 2017 10:32:22 +0000 “What’s in a name?” William Shakespeare famously wrote. “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

No offense to Shakespeare, but a new study by Israeli researchers suggests that a person’s name can indeed influence how they look.

Led by Dr. Ruth Mayo and PhD candidate Yonat Zwebner, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem examined whether a person’s appearance can be influenced by their given name. To do this, they recruited independent observers and showed them color headshot photographs of complete strangers. Then they presented them a list of names and asked them to choose the stranger’s real name based on his or her facial appearance.

In a series of studies reported last week in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the participants repeatedly beat the odds of correctly identifying a person’s name based on their facial appearance alone. For example, upon looking at one particular face and considering four possible name: Jacob, Dan, Josef or Nathaniel, the observers correctly chose “Dan” 38 percent of the time, significantly above the 25 percent chance level of a random guess. This effect held true even when the researchers controlled for age and ethnicity, implying that something more than simple socioeconomic cues are at work.

Photo: Hebrew University/Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

A self-fulfilling prophecy

“Our research demonstrates that indeed people do look like their names,” Dr. Ruth Mayo, senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem said in a statement. “Furthermore, we suggest this happens because of a process of self-fulfilling prophecy, as we become what other people expect us to become.”

SEE ALSO: Study Reveals You May Be Much Younger (Or Older) Than You Think

Supporting the notion of a self-fulfilling prophecy, the researchers found that observers beat the odds of correctly guessing a person’s name even when they were only allowed to see their hairstyle. This suggests that people may choose the hairstyle that fits a stereotype associated with their name.

Tougher to match: Other cultures, nickname users

The researchers confirmed that observers in a second country and culture were also able to beat the odds. However while observers were good at matching faces to names in their own culture, they were not good at doing so in a foreign culture. This supports the idea that name stereotypes are important when matching faces with names.

The researchers also found that observers are less good at guessing the given name of people who use a nickname exclusively. This indicates that a person’s appearance is affected by their name only if they use it, and not if it simply appears on a birth certificate.

name, names, bill

Computers can match names to faces too

In one study, the researchers completely removed the human factor from the matching process. Using a computerized paradigm, they found that computers were able to beat the odds when asked to choose the correct name for 94,000 different faces. This further supports the idea that our faces contain relevant information related to our names.

The Dorian Gray effect?

The researchers have suggested that the “Dorian Gray effect,” cited in previous research on how internal factors like personality can influence facial appearance, may apply here as well.  Dorian Gray was the protagonist of an Oscar Wilde novel whose actions affected his portrait.

Dorian Gray

“We are familiar with similar processes from other stereotypes like race and gender, where many times the stereotypical expectations of others affect who we become. We hypothesize that there are similar stereotypes about names, including how someone with a specific name looks, and these expectations really do affect our facial appearance,” Dr. Mayo said in a statement.

Social structuring begins when you are given a name

According to the researchers, the possibility that our name can influence our look, even to a small extent, suggests the important role of social structuring in the complex interaction between the self and society. The research suggests that we are subject to social structuring from the minute we are born, not only by our gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, but also by the simple choice that others make in giving us our name.

“A name is an external social factor, different from other social factors such as gender or ethnicity, therefore representing an ultimate social tag. The demonstration of our name being manifested in our facial appearance illustrates the great power that a social factor can have on our identity, potentially influencing even the way we look,” added Dr. Mayo.


SEE ALSO: Your Body Reveals How You Feel Better Than Your Face

Future research could examine the precise nature of the mechanism leading to the emergence of this face-namematching effect, for example how a person’s name matches his or her face at different stages of life. Another question worth exploring is why some people have a very high face-name match while others have a low match.

In any case, following this study we may have to reconsider Shakespeare’s question, “What’s in a name?” Apparently, the answer is – everything.

Photos: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Pixabay

Traders’ Increased Testosterone Levels Can Cause Stock Market ‘Bubbles,’ Israeli Study Suggests Thu, 02 Mar 2017 09:57:15 +0000 High levels of testosterone could lead to stock market ‘bubbles,’ Israeli researchers say, and suggest that male-dominated financial markets should include additional women.

Research conducted at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University (BGU) has determined that psychological momentum significantly affects performance among male stock traders but not among women, which may account for exaggerated risk-taking in financial and business endeavors among men.

the New York stock exchange NYSE

Psychological momentum is defined as a state-of-mind where an individual or a team feels things are going unstoppably their way, and is known to be caused, among other factors, by shifts in testosterone levels.

According to BGU researcher Dr. Danny Cohen-Zada, the purpose of the study was to estimate the causal effect of psychological momentum on performance in real tournament settings, and to examine whether there are any gender differences in the corresponding response.

Testosterone affects male performance in sports and finance

First, the researchers analyzed two different samples of men’s and women’s judo competitions from 2009 to 2013. They looked at the bronze medal fights of each tournament, and found that those who reached the bronze medal fight following a win have a potential momentum advantage.

men's judo

The authors examined this unique setting to determine whether the contestants with the momentum advantage had a higher probability of winning the fight. Based on an analysis of 106 men’s and 111 women’s fights from eight major annual judo events, having a psychological momentum advantage significantly increases the probability of winning in men’s contests but not in women’s.

SEE ALSO: Competitive Athletes Are More Prone To Gambling Addictions, Research Finds

The same psychological momentum was found in another experiment they conducted, based on 225 men’s and 231 women’s fights.

Taking exaggerated risks creates price bubbles

The researchers believe that their findings have implications for business. “We can connect our findings to the effect of psychological momentum in financial markets, where 90 percent of traders are men,” study co-author Dr. Ze’ev Shtudiner of Israel’s Ariel University, said in a statement. “Such an effect may lead male traders, driven by an increase in testosterone due to a successful investment, to take exaggerated risks, which, in turn, create price bubbles.”


By increasing the number of female traders in financial markets, “it may be possible to stabilize these markets since women have less dramatic shifts in testosterone levels, which can make them less prone to the momentum effect,” he adds. “This argument is consistent with our results that momentum effects are generated only among men, since it is only among them that testosterone levels increase after success.”

SEE ALSO: Even On eBay, Women Earn Less Than Men, Study Shows

Given these findings, additional research focusing on the role of psychological effects on performance in male-dominated positions, such as stockbrokers and military commanders, would be beneficial, and could hopefully contribute to the inclusion of additional women in high-profile professions.

The study, titled “Psychological Momentum and Gender,” was published in the March volume of the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Photos: Gotcha2

Kid Country: Israel Rated Third Best Country To Raise Children Wed, 15 Feb 2017 13:03:02 +0000 We all want the best for our children, including living in a kid-friendly place. According to a recent survey, Israel is one of the best countries in the world to raise a family.

InterNations, the world’s largest network for people who live and work as expats abroad, ranked Israel third on their list of 19 countries for raising a family. First place was Finland, with the Czech Republic taking second place. Just behind Israel, placing fourth and fifth respectively, were Austria and Sweden. The other countries, in descending order, were: Norway, Australia, Taiwan, Belgium, Germany, France, Poland, Netherlands, Luxembourg, South Africa, Singapore, Philippines, Mexico and South Korea. The UK and US were not on the list.

The InterNations survey rated 43 different aspects of life abroad on a scale of 1-7. One of the sub-indexes is the Family Life Index, which consists of 45 countries. Expats were asked to rate everything from childcare and education, to children’s health and safety. Each country had to have at least 31 respondents raising dependent children abroad, for the nation to be included in the index.

The Samid family

Made In Israel: SodaStream Now Proudly Labels Its Products With The Israeli Flag Tue, 07 Feb 2017 08:22:36 +0000 Sodastream International, a company that distributes seltzer-making units and syrups in 45 countries around the world, is taking a bold move to ensure that all their customers know exactly where their products come from – Israel.

From now on, the company will be displaying a large Israeli flag with the words “MADE IN ISRAEL” on all of its packaging. Below the flag a note reads, “This product is made by Arabs and Jews working side by side in peace and harmony.”


SodaStream, which produces easy to use carbonation machines for consumers to make their own soft drinks at home, took the step of adding the Israeli flag to its packaging voluntarily, despite the risk of backlash from the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement. Sodastream CEO Daniel Birnbaum said the company has been the target of boycotts numerous times in the past, and it was common knowledge that the product was made in Israel, so there was no reason to hide the fact.

“The company management wants to send a message of national pride, particularly in days when many of us hide our Israeli identity from the world,” the company said this week in a statement.

SEE ALSO: SodaStream Launches Slick Cocktail Shaker To Prep Cosmos At The Push Of A Button

The Scarlett Johansson stir

SodaStream was the subject of a fierce BDS campaign following the hiring of American film actress Scarlett Johansson as an ambassador for the organization. Johansson submitted her resignation to Oxfam, a British NGO for which she also served as an ambassador, after the latter demanded that Johansson cut all ties with SodaStream over a factory it operated in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone of the settlement Ma’aleh Adumim.

Mishor Adumim is at the edge of the Judean Desert, and the factory employed hundreds of Palestinian Arabs, but BDS caused Sodastream to close that factory and move to the Negev desert area instead, where it now employs hundreds of Israeli Bedouin instead. Oxfam later admitted that it had lost “thousands of donors” over its quarrel with Johansson.

“Being an ambassador for Israel”

“Israeli industry is a symbol of entrepreneurship, innovation and technology,” Birnbaum said in a statement. “As a proud Israeli company, we make sure to keep our Israeli identity at a high profile, even if it means fighting on the home front across the EU and against the economic terrorism of the BDS movement. In recent years, we Israelis have found ourselves attacked, forced to apologize, and [our products] seized around the world. We Israelis may not be perfect, but we have much to be proud of, and we decided to show it – both for ourselves and for the world.”

Birnbaum said that the Israeli flag would be placed on all of the company’s products, 50 million of which are on store shelves worldwide at any given time. “We hope that every Israeli company does the same for the products they sell, whether it is a microchip, a tomato, or a watering system. We wish that everyone would feel comfortable being an ambassador for Israel.”

Photos and videos: SodaStream

Decriminalization Of Cannabis In Israel To Boost Medical Marijuana Research Sun, 29 Jan 2017 14:57:31 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

The decriminalization of cannabis in Israel, endorsed Thursday by the public security minister, will help boost medical cannabis research and technologies, said Saul Kaye, a co-founder of ICAN: Israel Cannabis, a private equity fund with a focus on the weed.

“It will help in the general story of de-stigmatizing cannabis,” Kaye said. “Today’s news will help open the door to larger players, including the big pharma companies, seed growers and genetic researchers, who realize this is going to be big.”

SEE ALSO: Turning High-Tech Into ‘High’ Tech: Behind Israel’s Blooming Medical Cannabis Industry
marijuana, weed, cannabis, scale - by

In a move seen as paving the way for marijuana to be decriminalized, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Thursday he plans to dramatically change the way the Israeli penal code treats private, recreational use of the drug.

Speaking at a press conference to announce his decision, Erdan said he will be accepting a proposal put forward by the Anti-Drug Authority recommending the adoption of the “Portugal Model,” in which possession and use of the drug would be decriminalized and treated largely as a health issue.

“This would mean moving to administrative fines, and criminal prosecution would only be a last resort,” Erdan said.

The new tack will need to clear the cabinet, but with many lawmakers backing decriminalization, the move is seen as likely to gain ministerial approval.

SEE ALSO: Meet The ‘Designer’ Strains Of Marijuana Bred In Israel To Treat A Wide Range Of Illnesses

Israel is well-known as a pioneer in medical cannabis. Last summer, the government approved a Health Ministry plan to relax some of the medical cannabis requirements. The plan aims to expand the number of doctors who can issue cannabis prescriptions, remove limits on the number of marijuana growers, make cannabis available at approved pharmacies, and possibly eliminate the requirement for a permit from the Health Ministry, so that just a doctor’s prescription will be sufficient.

Last week, Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said it will finance research in the field of medical cannabis.

“Once the government gets on board, the industry will follow, and it has a lot of money to spend,” said Kaye.”The industry today in Israel is worth a few hundreds of million of dollars. I believe we will see $1 billion invested in startups, R&D and technologies in Israel over the next 24 months.”

Health News - Study: Cannabis May Relieve Parkinson's Related Pain

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Get Budding

Microsoft, HP Team Up For Social Impact Hackathon In Israel Tue, 24 Jan 2017 11:47:48 +0000 This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Israel (JDC-Israel), a humanitarian assistance organization, teamed up with tech giants like Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard (HP) for a first JDC Social Impact Hackathon to help vulnerable Israelis. The hackathon was held in Israel earlier this month.

Bringing together 100 programmers and designers, as well as 30 mentors from seven global tech companies, the Social Impact Hackathon used technology to create apps and programs to solve the challenges faced by at-risk Israeli populations like the elderly and people with disabilities.


Out of nearly 100 social impact ideas that were put forward, 21 were chosen to be developed, with three receiving top prizes. Participants worked in teams on tech solutions evaluated by judges from JDC, the tech industry, and the NGO sector.

“One of the hallmarks of JDC’s work in Israel is channeling cutting-edge innovation in a variety of sectors, like the booming tech industry, to ensure a better life for Israelis whose needs aren’t met by established social services,” said the CEO of the JDC, David Schizer. The aim, he said, was to work with tech leaders, the Israeli government and hackathon participants to “make Israel a better place for those living on the edges of society.”

SEE ALSO: Karate Kids Kick Cancer By Channeling Stress, Fear And Pain With Martial Arts

First prize went to Connected Community, an app for managers of senior communities to efficiently follow up with clients, prioritize goals, and manage emergencies. Second prize went to Yad2All, a platform for people with disabilities to access rental apartments via the web. And third prize went to IRemember, an app to help the elderly track daily medication schedules and family members’ birthdays.

The winning groups will continue the development process via a new social entrepreneurship hub set up by JDC-Israel and Israel’s National Insurance Institute.

SEE ALSO: This Segway-Like Vehicle Will Help Quadriplegics Stand Tall

Elderly couple

“We saw some great ventures that hold potential for serving populations in need and can truly become valuable tools for JDC professionals in their work at the Social Impact Hackathon,” said Elion Tirosh, an early stage investor, tech entrepreneur, and JDC Board member, who served as a judge. “The atmosphere enabled everyone to engage in open, non-formal efforts to identify real life needs and find matching solutions that can solve their target population’s needs.”

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Courtesy

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 Taits 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,” Taits 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

Taits 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 Taits 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 Taits

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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