Technology News – NoCamels – Israeli Innovation News http://nocamels.com NoCamels.com is the leading news website on Israeli innovations. We cover all the latest innovation in the fields of technology, health, environment and lifestyle. Thu, 21 Jul 2016 12:21:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Meet The Israeli Startups Digitizing The Art World http://nocamels.com/2016/07/israeli-startups-digitizing-art-world/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/israeli-startups-digitizing-art-world/#respond Thu, 21 Jul 2016 07:31:29 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46290

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When Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel in the 16th century, few people around the world had the opportunity to admire it, or even knew it existed. Now, with the digitization of the art world, there exists an endless number of ways to create, experience and interact with art.

From sketching and design software to online art auctions, dozens of artsy apps are now at our fingertips. And with the ever-booming global art market valued at $70 billion, a myriad of startups are looking to capitalize on that success.

SEE ALSO: From Art To Light Fixtures, Designer Ayala Serfaty Illuminates The World With Stunning Installations

Some of the most innovative apps and online platforms that are at the forefront of digitizing the art world were developed in Israel. NoCamels highlights five of them.

Artbit: The Shazam of artwork

Most of us know Shazam, the app that identifies the titles of songs simply by “listening” to them. Israeli app Artbit does the same for works of art. Just point to a painting hung in a museum or drawn on a wall, snap a picture of it using your smartphone, and voila: the app tells you everything about that piece, from the artist who painted it to their life’s work.

artbit

With its innovative image-recognition technology, Artbit bridges the gap between the physical and digital art world. It allows you to instantly recognize artwork using your smartphone, discover facts and stories behind a million works of art by 80,000 artists, find nearby art venues and exhibitions, and more.

It also enables galleries and artists to launch professional platforms for their businesses designed for art enthusiasts, and promote their art portfolio to a broad market of art enthusiasts – Artbit’s thousands of app users.

Founded by Aric and Yoram Ben Zvi in 2015, the company has raised $700,000 and is now in the midst of raising additional funds from investors, according to media reports.

ArtSetters: Create and share digital showrooms  

Israeli online platform ArtSetters allows artists to be discovered on a global scale, without needing to attend trade shows. The startup allows you to create shareable showroom collections, connect with industry leaders and manage orders seamlessly.

This super-trendy “community of leading young creatives,” where artists from all walks of life can share and sell their works with the world, was founded in 2013 by Alexandra Schinasi and Lee Rotenberg.

SEE ALSO: Faces Of The Startup Nation: Q&A With Alex And Lee Of ArtSetters

The startup has so far raised $1 million from Israeli venture capital firm Pitango.

Niio: Displaying and monetizing digital art

The world of art is increasingly becoming digital, from video art to interactive art. According to Israeli startup Niio, “this medium’s evolution and growth should be accompanied by the right standards, legal and copyright attribution and professional tools that allow artists and content owners to define terms for experiencing their work and methods for monetization.”

Niio‘s platform supports digital artists, allowing them to connect and collaborate with galleries, collectors, curators, organizations and art fans. It provides a set of professional tools for managing, distributing, monetizing and displaying multi-format artistic content.

The startup’s tools include a high-resolution art player, which can turn any screen or projector into a continuous art installation.

Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, the company was founded by Rob Anders and Oren Moshe in 2014. It has since raised $1.2 million, according to reports in the media.

Dreame: Painting your dreams

Dreame is an online platform for commissioning personalized artwork inspired by you and designed by artists around the world. It is a new way to capture a memory, thought or fantasy and make it tangible. “Frame, wear or hold anything you can dream up,” the Israeli company states.

Founded in 2014 by Sharona Karni-Cohen, this budding startup has sold some 1,500 pieces of art last year, for prices ranging from $10 to $300.

Taking roughly 14 days to create and deliver, the artist you choose on Dreame creates either a jpeg photo or an A3 print based on what you tell them: a childhood memory, a wild dream, or fantastic scenery. You can even order it as a gift.

"The Dream" by Henri Rousseau

“The Dream” by Henri Rousseau

ArtRunners: Fine art logistics managed online

ArtRunners is an online platform for contracting, monitoring and management of fine art logistics services. The Israeli startup has built a network of fine art logistics specialists offering services such as packing, transport and storage of fine art, which naturally needs to be handled with caution.

Founded in 2015 by art collector Serge Tiroche and entrepreneur Daniel Lev-er, ArtRunners relies on technological innovation, streamlined processing, resource optimization and a large community of users.

So, if you ever ship a $60 million Renoir piece over the ocean, make sure to put it in trusted hands!

European_paintings_at_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art_(NYC,_USA)

Photos and videos: ArtbitAndré Lage Freitas, Jeff Koons’ artwork courtesy of Beatrice Brandini

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Skin Deep: Temporary Electronic Tattoo Can Read Your Emotions http://nocamels.com/2016/07/electronic-tattoo-emotion-mapping/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/electronic-tattoo-emotion-mapping/#respond Tue, 19 Jul 2016 13:09:24 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45989

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A penny for your thoughts? Put your coins away. A new stick-on electronic tattoo could help reveal what people are really thinking.

Developed by Professor Yael Hanein, head of Tel Aviv University’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, the user-friendly electrode can be used to improve the therapeutic restoration of damaged nerves and tissue – and could even lead to new insights into our emotional life.

SEE ALSO: Light Beams, Not Pacemakers, Could Be The Future Of Heart Treatments

Stick-on monitoring

Consisting of a carbon electrode, an adhesive surface that attaches to the skin, and a nanotechnology-based conductive polymer coating that enhances the electrode’s performance, the tattoo records a strong, steady signal for hours on end without irritating the skin.

The tattoo allows users to continue on with their regular schedules, while monitoring their muscle activity for many hours, for a range of medical and other purposes. “Our tattoo permits patients to carry on with their daily routines, while the electrode monitors their muscle and nerve activity,” Hanein said in a statement.

Mapping of emotions

One major application of the new electrode, already under development, may be the mapping of emotions. “The ability to identify and map people’s emotions has many potential uses,” Hanein said. “Advertisers, pollsters, media professionals and others – all want to test people’s reactions to various products and situations. Today, with no accurate scientific tools available, they rely mostly on inevitably subjective questionnaires. To address this need, researchers worldwide are trying to develop methods for mapping emotions by analyzing facial expressions, mostly via facial photos and smart software. Our skin electrode provides a simple, convenient solution: monitoring expressions and emotions based on the electric signals received from facial muscles.”

SEE ALSO: Using DNA Nanotechnology, Israeli Scientists Develop The Future Of Flexible Display Screens

Conducted within the framework of an EU project, and partly supported by the BSMT Consortium of Israel’s Ministry of Economy, the study Hanein led was presented at an international nanomedicine workshop at Tel Aviv University in June.

Nanotechnology temporary tattoos

The new skin electrode is based on a fusion of nanotechnology with a very basic and commonplace product: the temporary tattoos that children love so much. “We used readily available materials and conventional industrial printing techniques, in order to simplify and speed up the development process,” Hanein explained. “Our ‘electric tattoo’ consists of three parts: a carbon electrode, an adhesive surface that sticks temporary tattoos to the skin and a nanotechnology-based conductive polymer coating, with special nano-topography, that enhances the electrode’s performance. The result is an efficient skin electrode that records a strong and steady signal for many hours, and does not irritate the skin. The user just fixes it onto the skin at the right spot and forgets about it, then carries on as usual while the little ‘tattoo’ measures and records muscle activity.”

TAU-Arm

Additional applications

According to Hanein, this is only the beginning. The new skin electrode has many more potential applications: a study initiated recently in collaboration with researchers at the Tel Aviv Medical Center uses it to monitor the muscle activity of patients with neurodegenerative diseases; physiological data measured in specific muscles may be used in the future to indicate the alertness of drivers on the road; patients in rehabilitation following stroke or brain injury may utilize the ‘tattoo’ to improve muscle control; and amputees may employ it to move artificial limbs with remaining muscles.

Photos: Tel Aviv University

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Pokemon Go Fever Sweeps Israel, With IDF And President Hooked http://nocamels.com/2016/07/pokemon-go-israel/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/pokemon-go-israel/#respond Mon, 18 Jul 2016 10:30:29 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46610

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From the hills of Haifa to central Tel Aviv, from the streets of the Jerusalem to the beaches of Eilat, young Israelis are roaming around with their mobile phones looking for virtual creatures to catch in a highly addictive augmented reality game.

Pokemon Go, the newest mobile gaming obsession sweeping the world, has also caught fire in Israel. The app challenges users to catch the creatures from Nintendo’s Pokemon franchise when they appear on their smartphone screens as if they were actually surrounding the player.

SEE ALSO: Scratch Teaches Kids How To Program Online Games

85 million players, 5 million new users a day

The free app, based on a Nintendo title that debuted 20 years ago, has been adapted to the mobile internet age to overlay play on the real world. The game uses GPS and mapping capabilities in mobile phones to let players roam the real world to hunt cartoon monsters. Over 85 million players worldwide have already downloaded the game since it launched in the US, Canada, and Europe just two weeks ago, making it the #1 app on both the App Store and Google Play. According to the company, five million new users download Pokemon Go each day.

Game finds shelters too

Pokemon Go has not only captured the attention of the Israeli public, it has even ‘joined’ the military. While Israeli soldiers from all battalions enjoy playing the game, the Home Front Command, responsible for preparing and protecting Israeli civilians in case of attacks, decided to harness the power of the Pokemon Go craze to assist in defense preparedness. The unit turned to Facebook and Twitter to ask Israelis to send in photos of Pokemon creatures located in home bomb shelters in order to raise civil defense awareness and ensure citizens know where the closest protected space is.

“Have you found Pokemon in your shelter?” the post asks. “If you are playing Go, send us a screenshot of the creature in your protected space.”

PokemonShelter

Pokemon monsters in bomb shelters

Pokemon a ‘no go’ on army bases

But not everyone in the military sees playing Pokemon Go as a harmless way to pass the time. The growing popularity of the game among Israeli soldiers prompted the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to issue a message that Pokemon Go not be used on military bases because the game requires access to the players’ location and camera in order for them them to play. The fear is that by downloading and playing the game soldiers might unwittingly reveal sensitive information about military bases and army operations.

SEE ALSO: Mossad: Use Your Smartphone To Become A Spy

“The game is a source for gathering information!” reads the warning, issued by the IDF’s Information Security Department, against the background of one of the Pokemon characters. “The game cannot be used on an army base!”

‘Startup nation’ goes Pokeman crazy

It comes as no surprise that Israelis have widely embraced Pokemon Go. Israel has one of the highest percentages of smartphone ownership in the world. Although the game has only been released in North America, parts of Europe and Australia, and is not available on the Israeli app stores, changing one’s phone region to download the game onto a smartphone makes it fully operational in Israel. Pokemon Go’s Hebrew-language  Facebook page already has over 3,500 members.

PokemonIsrael

Pokemon perched atop a major Israeli army base

But Pokemon Go is not only for young people. Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin joined in on the fun by posting a photo of a Pokemon cat creature in his residence and suggesting that someone should probably alert his security detail.

PokemonKotel

Pokemon monster hovering in Jerusalem

Asia and more European countries are expected to receive the game soon, but it is not clear when it will be released in Israel. To download Pokemon Go on the Android Play store, click here. For the iOS Apple store, click here.

Pictures and videos: Courtesy

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Your Personal TV Channel: TVibes Lets You Store, Share Unlimited Videos http://nocamels.com/2016/07/tvibes-app-unlimited-photos-videos/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/tvibes-app-unlimited-photos-videos/#respond Sun, 17 Jul 2016 08:55:34 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46497

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Many of us have hours of video sitting in our smartphones’ camera rolls, with no one to share them with. It may be a concert with friends or your baby’s first steps, but unless you decide to upload every video to Facebook, or share it through other social media channels such as Vimeo, no one is likely to see it.

Now, TVibes, a free Israeli app that serves as your personal TV channel, is planning to change that. The app allows you to upload infinite visual content and organize it, so that you and your followers can search by date, location, or hashtags. Followers can also have access to your videos in real time through live-streaming or go to a specific account to relive the memories.

SEE ALSO: Facebook Messenger Incorporates Slick Israeli Video App ‘Magisto’

TVibes

Although the app is for people of all ages and backgrounds, TVibes is mainly “targeting people with a lot of video produced in daily life: Parents and travelers, the type of people who want to record their experiences and share them from a specific place,” CEO and co-founder Uri Schneider tells NoCamels.

SEE ALSO: Photomyne Scans All Your Old Photo Albums Into Slick Digital Creations

TVibes users can decide whom they share their content with. If it is something more personal, they can choose to share it with “soul mates,” “family,” or “friends.” But if it is more public, they can choose to share it with “everyone” and allow the whole world to access their video content.

Luckily, users can constantly change who sees their content. “If you were drunk and regret posting a video, the next day you can easily change it from ‘everyone’ to ‘soul mate’ mode and it will disappear from everyone’s phones,” Schneider says.

Personal, social or experimental 

There are three main approaches to TVibes: Personal, social, and experiential. On the personal level, users can choose to keep their content private and use the app for organizing and storage purposes; all videos are stored on the ‘cloud,’ so there’s no limit to the number of videos and their lengths.

If users want a more social approach, they can follow friends and family and use the app to keep up with moments in their lives.

For the experimenting user, videos from all over the world are available on TVibes, namely sports events, concerts and rallies. The videos are curated in channels that can be discovered by hashtags or locations.

But while the app is colorful and pleasing to the eye, there are still a few glitches; when testing TVibes, some videos were not recognized by date and location. Acknowledging the need to improve, Schneider says the company is working on making the app more user-friendly.

Up against serious competitors 

Founded in 2014 by Schneider and Gilad Carni, TVibes has so far raised $1 million from entrepreneur and producer Damian Collier, together with other private investors. Clearly, it is up against several competitors in the live-streaming field. Periscope, which is Twitter’s live-streaming video service, also allows for the same kind of searches using hashtags. And Facebook’s recently launched live video option already engages millions around the globe.

Another challenge TVibes is facing is how to monetize the app. Currently available for iOS devices, the app is expected to remain free, but the company plans to market it to large businesses such as NBA teams, so they have their own channels. Another possibility is adding user-relevant advertisements in between videos.

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Feeding The World: Could Israeli AgTech Startups End World Hunger? http://nocamels.com/2016/07/israeli-agtech-startups-agriculture-technology/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/israeli-agtech-startups-agriculture-technology/#respond Thu, 14 Jul 2016 08:00:40 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46453

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As the world’s population grows far beyond the 7 billion mark, food and potable water are becoming scarce in several parts of the world. 795 million people around the globe do not have enough food to lead a healthy life, according to the World Food Programme, and 1.1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water, according to the World Health Organization.

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

In face of global food and water shortages, several Israeli AgTech startups and companies are working to meet the ever-growing demand of the world’s expanding population, through agricultural technologies that enhance crops, conserve water and soil, and keep produce pest-free. NoCamels highlights nine of the most intriguing Israeli AgTech companies working to maximize the world’s natural resources.

vineyards,

Sensilize: Making the most out of soil

Sensilize strives to make the most out of a soil’s potential. Based in Haifa, the startup gathers information about a plot of land with unique sensors that provide intricate data, allowing farmers to tailor their crops to the soil’s conditions. This method allows farmers to adapt the quantities of seeding, fertilizers and water to the quantities required by the land, thus cutting costs and producing more crops, according to Sensilize.

Founded by Yoav Zur and Dr. Robi Stark in 2013, the company has so far raised $1.5 million.

BioBee: Turning mites into natural pesticides

By unleashing predatory mites onto farmlands all over the world, BioBee has helped farmers get rid of harmful insects without the use of chemicals since 1984. Located in Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, BioBee breeds different kinds of spiders, bees and flies that prey on and eat harmful bugs. The technology helps farmers export their produce, since international regulations limit the commerce of crops that were sprayed with chemical pesticides.

The company has already exported its products to Colombia, Russia, South Africa, and India, among others.

spider by alex keda

miRobot: Robots can milk your cows!

miRobot has developed a multi-stall robotic milking system to make the milking of cows more efficient. Essentially, these automatic milking systems perform many of the duties usually executed by trained operators, such as cleaning, stimulating, and performing post-milking routines, among other tasks. By providing an alternative to human labor, miRobots cuts salary costs and increases milk production.

Founded in 2011 by Tal Bareket and David Rubin, the company has not disclosed its financial information.

cows

ROOTS Sustainable Agricultural Technologies: Temperature control that enhances crops

Israeli company ROOTS Sustainable Agricultural Technologies aims to yield more crops by keeping the soil at its ideal temperature. Its technology involves placing water-filled pipes in the soil, regulating its temperature to the optimal condition. In other words, if the soil is too warm, Roots can cool it; and if it’s too cold, Roots will make it warmer. This technology is said to yield better results for crops such as basil, strawberries and lettuce. The pipes can also dispense water, fertilizers and pesticides around the roots.

The company was founded in 2009 by Dr. Sharon Devir and Boaz Wachtel.

Tal-Ya: Capturing dew for agricultural irrigation

Following the trend of growing more food with less water, Tal-Ya manufactures reusable plastic trays that capture dew from the air. These trays, which are made of recycled plastic, reduce the water needed by crops by 50 percent, cost $3-$5 per piece and last for 10 years.

Tal-Ya, which means ‘God’s dew’ in Hebrew, has benefitted farmers in Israel, the US, China, Chile, Georgia, Sri Lanka and Australia ever since its founding in 2005 by Avi Tamir.

Morflora: A “vaccine” for plants

Morflora’s “flu shot for plants” technology called TraitUP, “vaccinates” plants and seeds against a variety of diseases while simultaneously injecting them with new traits. One of the upsides of Morflora is that these traits are not inheritable, so future generations can opt whether to employ TraitUP to other batches of crops.

Even though genetic modification of plants is a controversial issue, Morflora claims that its solution consists of a middle ground that provides a solution to feed the world’s ever-growing population.

The company was founded in 2008 and is supported by private investors; TraitUP is a patent-pending technology developed at Israel’s Hebrew University by Prof. Haim Rabinowitch and Prof. Ilan Sela.

Netafim: Implementing drip irrigation to save water

No AgTech review is complete without Netafim. This veteran Israeli company is a pioneer in the field of drip irrigation. Netafim is now helping numerous countries around the world conserve water and save money by supplying plants with just the right amount of water.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Experts Help California Grow More Rice With Less Water

Its drip irrigation technique was developed back in the 60s by Israeli engineer and inventor Simcha Blass, along with Kibbutz Hazerim, which later started manufacturing the original drip irrigation systems on site.

Today, Netafim is the world’s leading manufacturer of drip irrigation systems, which save 30-70 percent of the water used with overhead sprays, oscillating sprinklers or rotors.

drip irrigation

GreenWall: Vertical gardens save water and soil

By building vertical gardens in high-rise buildings all over the world, GreenWall takes self-sufficiency to a whole new level. With minimal amounts of water and soil, residents of these buildings can now grow their own food in built-in personal greenhouses, including staple foods such as rice, corn and wheat.

Thus, GreenWall saves considerable space when implementing small modular units onto a building’s sidewalls. Furthermore, the technology also helps save water through a drip irrigation system developed by Netafim.

GreenWall, which was founded in 2009 by engineer and gardening pioneer Guy Barness, has developed an advanced technology with which it erects gardens that line the walls, both inside and outside of buildings, taking up less space compared to conventional gardens.

GreenWall

EdenShield: Non-toxic bug repellent

EdenShield combats harmful insects with a natural, toxin-free extract that masks the odors of plants. The extract, based on desert plants that grow in Israel, leads these bugs to believe the crops aren’t where they actually are, so the pests leave them alone.

According to EdenShield, which was founded in 2012 by Yaniv Kitron and has raised $1M, “it’s like putting a ‘nose clip’ on bugs.”

Photos and videos: Courtesy of the companies

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Record Quarter For The Startup Nation: Israeli High-Tech Companies Raise $1.7B In Three Months http://nocamels.com/2016/07/israeli-startups-raise-1-7-billion-second-quarter/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/israeli-startups-raise-1-7-billion-second-quarter/#respond Wed, 13 Jul 2016 12:00:03 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46528

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187 Israeli startups raised a record $1.7 billion in the second quarter of 2016, a whopping 55 percent above the $1.1 billion raised by 174 companies in the previous quarter, according to a report released today by IVC Research Center and accounting firm KPMG Somekh Chaikin.

The figure is also 52 percent higher than the $1.12 billion raised by Israeli high-tech and startup companies in the second quarter of last year.

SEE ALSO: Volkswagen Invests $300M In Israeli On-Demand Taxi Service Gett

The largest deal during the three-month period ending June 30 – the $300 million raised by Israeli mobile taxicab service Gett – accounted for 18 percent of the total proceeds. Operating in 60 cities worldwide, Gett is one of the fastest-growing mobile ride-hailing providers in the world, rivaling $60 billion company Uber. The plan is for investor Volkswagen to offer on-demand ride services to its business customers, while Gett drivers will be offered discounted VW cars for their taxis.

via suv

According to IVC, even if you exclude Gett’s giant deal, the capital raised in the second quarter reflects a 27 percent increase compared to the first quarter of the year.

Another large financing round was that of Israeli ride-sharing startup Via, which raised $100 million in May. Headquartered in New York City, the company’s development center is in Tel Aviv, Israel, and it has an office in Chicago. Founded in 2012 by Israelis Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval, Via enables tens of thousands of passengers each day to share their ride with others headed the same way. Via has so far provided more than four million rides, and is growing rapidly. Via ride prices start at $5 plus tax for those who prepay on the app.

Average financing round peaks 

According to the report, the average company financing round peaked at $9.2 million in the second quarter of 2016, 41 percent higher than the average in the first quarter of the year, which indicates that investors increasingly believe in Israeli startups.

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

Overall, in the first half of 2016, Israeli high-tech capital raising reached $2.8 billion in 361 deals, 35 percent above the $2.1 billion raised in 327 deals in the first six months of 2015.

According to Ofer Sela, partner at KPMG Somekh Chaikin‘s technology group, “all indicators point to a healthy and vibrant ecosystem that continues to mature and generate new companies.”

ivc q2 2016The IVC-KPMG survey also reveals that the number of deals greater than $20 million accounted for $1.1 billion of the proceeds.

“The clear increase in large deals is driven by the enhanced activity of foreign investors – primarily corporate investors and venture capital funds – in growth-stage companies,” Koby Simana, CEO of IVC Research Center, said in a statement. “2016 will continue to be strong in capital raising, with a projected 20 percent year-on-year increase, or about $5.3 billion in total to be raised by the end of the year.”

hand money cash fundraising vc benjamins

Photos: VIA, Pikiwiki; infographics: IVC Research Center

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Fan-tastic Hacking: Israeli Researchers Hack Into Computers By Listening To Their Fans http://nocamels.com/2016/07/israeli-researchers-hack-computers-via-fans/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/israeli-researchers-hack-computers-via-fans/#respond Tue, 12 Jul 2016 12:06:09 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46460

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If you fear your computer may be getting hacked, disconnecting it from the internet is a good first step. However, that ‘air gap’ by itself is not necessarily enough to prevent data from being stolen from your PC.

lsraeli scientists have recently discovered a new way for data to be extracted from even air-gapped (physically isolated) computers, with a new malware attack that combs data from the whirring sound of your PC’s internal fan.

SEE ALSO: How Israeli Cyber-Security Startups Are Battling The World’s Riskiest Online Hacks

In a paper published by Ben-Gurion University, Researcher Mordechai Guri, head of Ben-Gurion’s Cyber Security Research Center (CSRC), along with his team, Yosef Solewicz, Andrey Daidakulov, and Prof. Yuval Elovici, presented how they were able to succesfully access data from an air-gapped computer, one without an internet connection and not networked with computers with an internet connection, which are used for the most secretive tasks.

Computers have two or more fans which revolve at an audible frequency. Guri’s team used the audible sounds of the computer’s cooling fans to steal its data. By introducing malware into the air-gapped computer, the team was able to take control of the fans and have them spin at varying frequencies and transmit data to a nearby device. The “fansmitter”, as the team calls it, even works on computers that have deactivated their speakers or do not have any speakers attached.

computerfan

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

While the method can only be used to steal small amounts of data, the team still managed to steal enough data to get usernames, passwords and encryption keys. So far the team has been able to steal data at a rate of 15 to 20 bits per minute, but they are working on finding ways to increase that speed.

Guri and his team have also proposed several other methods to penetrate air-gapped computers using elements like radio waves, electromagnetic waves and even the heat the computer generates.

Pictures and videos: Ben-Gurion University, Pixabay

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This App Turns Your iPhone Into An Intelligent Dash Cam To Avoid Car Accidents http://nocamels.com/2016/07/nexar-dashcam-app-road-safety/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/nexar-dashcam-app-road-safety/#respond Mon, 11 Jul 2016 11:39:03 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45846

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Few things are more maddening than reckless drivers getting away with it; especially when it’s your car they’re hitting! That’s why Nexar has launched the world’s first artificial intelligence dashboard camera app; one that turns your iPhone into a recording device that can track and report on bad drivers – and even give you advance warning.

The app recognizes traffic lights, remembers the license plates of bad drivers, notices if you break suddenly and records events for you to share them with insurance companies or police.

SEE ALSO: Curbing Distracted Driving: Cellepathy Keeps Drivers Focused

How does Nexar work? After downloading the app, prop your smartphone on your car’s dashboard, with its rear camera facing the road ahead. If someone cuts you off, forcing you to hit the brakes, Nexar asks you if “something happened?” If you confirm the occurrence by tapping a button on the screen, the app captures footage from 20 seconds before and 10 seconds after the incident and sends it to the company’s database for archival, therefore collecting factual proof of the event.

Blacklisting problematic drivers 

Nexar also says it can re-create a 3D graphic reconstruction of the car’s exact positioning during the accident by using the smartphone’s sensors, something that might prove incredibly helpful when attempting to settle disputes over who incited the collision.car accident two cars

SEE ALSO: No More Texting While Driving: Radiomize Keeps Your Eyes On The Road, Saves Lives

In addition, Nexar is able to “read” and identify license plates of problematic vehicles, those that have committed repeated traffic violations, warning you about who to avoid on the road. However, some users are pointing to the fact that the app could become a distraction itself, as it presents an overflow of information. Others are saying Nexar is like a “Big Brother,” collecting information on millions of drivers.

Nexar’s natural partners: Insurance companies 

Undeterred, Nexar follows the trend of driver assistance systems, started by Israeli company Mobileye, the pioneer in this field. Nexar also integrated with top Israeli navigation app Waze to provide real-time alerts of car crashes and other disruptions to the regular traffic flow.

To generate revenue, the company – which was founded by Eran Shir, former manager of Yahoo’s Creation Innovation Center in Israel, along with entrepreneur Bruno Fernandez-Ruiz – plans to work with insurance companies by providing documentation on car accidents.

Since last year, Nexar has raised $14.5 million from investors. As of now, Nexar is available on iOS devices in some areas in California as well as in Tel Aviv, with plans to expand into additional cities in the future.

Naturally, the budding startup still has a long road ahead of it, but at the price of saving lives, it is definitely worth the toll.

nexar Photos and video: Courtesy

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Afterlife Messaging: SafeBeyond Allows You To Communicate With Loved Ones After You’re Gone http://nocamels.com/2016/07/afterlife-messaging-safebeyond/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/afterlife-messaging-safebeyond/#respond Sun, 10 Jul 2016 12:42:11 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46239

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“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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Life-Saving Wearable Tech: This T-Shirt Monitors Your Heart And Vital Signs http://nocamels.com/2016/07/healthwatch-wearable-technology-monitors-heart/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/healthwatch-wearable-technology-monitors-heart/#respond Wed, 06 Jul 2016 10:46:14 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46149

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If you or a someone you care about has suffered from a heart condition, you know how important early detection is.

That’s why Israeli startup HealthWatch has developed hWear, a high ‘tech-xtile’ wearable technology that monitors ECG (the electrical activity of the heart) and vital signs in real time.

SEE ALSO: Light Beams, Not Pacemakers, Could Be The Future Of Heart Treatments

hWear by HealthWatch

hWear is a sleeveless shirt that can be worn under any blouse, shirt or dress. Its fabric is embedded with ECG sensors that monitor the patient’s condition. If there are any irregularities, the shirt will send immediate updates using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to both the patient and their doctor, so the situation can be promptly addressed and treated.

Oftentimes, patients aren’t aware that they are having a cardiac episode, as heart problems can appear in many different forms. When this happens, problems can be left unchecked, and therefore untreated, until the next doctor’s appointment – when it could be too late.

healthwatchcover

It’s important to note that hWear itself is not the solution to the problem. Should the wearer experience any heart problems, hWear will only notify them and not actually rectify the problem. Once the wearer receives a notification, however, they can quickly consult a physician. With hWear, patients are able to take care of medical issues before they become life threatening.

SEE ALSO: One Heart Sometimes Beats As Two Dozen: New Study Could Improve Heart Disease Treatment

HealthWatch, hWear’s developer, is located in Ra’anana, Israel. The company was founded in 2010 by CEO Uri Amir, who has spent the past few decades creating and manufacturing medical devices.

In an interview with NoCamels, Amir describes the company as “weaving health into everyday life.”

Washable and FDA-approved 

hWear is one of the first heart-monitoring shirts on the market. It has little competition; while some wearable technologies like the “D-shirt” and “NuMetrex” monitor people’s heart rates, hWear monitors all vital signs – pulse rate, temperature, respiration rate, and blood pressure – giving both doctor and patient much more information.

Despite the advanced technology of this potentially life-saving product, hWear is quite simple to operate. No skin preparation or shaving is needed. Just slip on FDA-approved garment, and you’re ready to go. You can even put it in the washing machine along with the rest of your clothes!

Making health awareness as simple as getting dressed in the morning

Wearable technology is a rapidly growing industry. According to research firm Gartner, the industry is expected to grow by more than 18 percent this year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 610,000 Americans die of heart disease each year. Fortunately, hWear can potentially save thousands of lives by making health awareness as simple as getting dressed in the morning.

healthwatch

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Israeli Startups Sell For $3.3B In The First Half Of 2016 http://nocamels.com/2016/07/israeli-startups-sell-3-3b/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/israeli-startups-sell-3-3b/#respond Tue, 05 Jul 2016 13:46:32 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46299

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Israeli startup companies were sold for a total of $3.32 billion in the first six months of 2016, according to the IVC-Meitar Exits Report released today by IVC Research Center and Israeli law firm Meitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal.

These ‘exists’ span 45 deals in which high-tech companies were either acquired, or merged with other companies. Four buyout deals (the purchase of a controlling share in a company) accounted for an additional $878 million, hiking up the total to $4.19 billion.

SEE ALSO: Meet The Winners: The Coolest Israeli Startups And Innovations Of 2015

hand money cash fundraising vc benjamins

The figure is 21 percent lower than the $5.3 billion reported for the first six months of 2015. In all, 2015 was a fertile year for mergers, acquisitions and IPOs (initial public offerings on the stock exchange), when Israeli high-tech and startup companies were sold for a whopping $9.02 billion.

Despite the sharp decline in overall proceeds from acquisitions, the average ‘exit’ deal in the first half of the year – that is, the average sale price of each company – was $86 million (including buyouts), nearly 12 percent above last year’s $77 million, which means Israeli companies are getting much higher valuations now.

SEE ALSO: The Most Active Venture Capital Firms Investing In Israeli Startups

h1 ivc report

The largest deal in the first half of 2016 was the $811 million acquisition of EZchip by Mellanox, both Israeli companies. Mellanox Technologies is a supplier of end-to-end connectivity solutions for servers and storage, which optimize data center performance. It was founded in 1999 by Eyal Waldman, Shani Cohen and Roni Ashuri.

Another significant deal was the $643 million buyout of XURA (formerly Comverse), an Israeli company that provides digital communications services, by New York-based investment fund Siris Capital.

The $430 million acquisition of Ravello Systems by software giant Oracle was the third-largest deal.  Ravello is an Israeli ‘cloud’ software startup founded in 2011 by Rami Tamir and Benny Schnaider.

2016 has so far seen only a single IPO – that of Trendit, which raised $5.9 million at a $17.6 million valuation on the London Stock Exchange. The data reflect a sharp drop compared to the $609 million in IPOs in 2015. According to IVC, “the international IPO markets have been unfavorable since late 2015.”

Capital raising expected to grow

It’s no secret that the exits market has slowed down in recent months; it is estimated that by the end of 2016, 100 exit deals, with a total of approximately $7 billion in proceeds, will have closed – well below the $9 billion proceeds generated in 2015.

According to Koby Simana, CEO of IVC Research Center, “our projections reflect a decline in exit volumes, since we believe companies are using the current market atmosphere to focus on growth rather than on exits.”

The good news is that capital raising in the first half of 2016 – a report due in the next few days – is expected to show increased investments in Israeli startups.

money

Infographics: IVC Research Center

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Israel’s ‘Arbe Robotics’ Uses Radar To Avoid Drone Crashes http://nocamels.com/2016/07/arbe-robotics-radar-avoids-drone-crashes/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/arbe-robotics-radar-avoids-drone-crashes/#respond Tue, 05 Jul 2016 07:37:07 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46222

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This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Commercial unmanned aerial vehicles – now used largely by hobbyists – are set to be a $4.8b industry by 2021

It appears that in just a couple of years, drones – unmanned flying craft – will be everywhere. They will be used by companies to deliver books and clothes, by governments to monitor borders and for military surveillance, and by farmers to keep tabs on their produce in distant fields.

But with so many drones buzzing around, the chances for these crashing into each other or into other objects rises significantly. So, Tel Aviv-based Arbe Robotics has developed a solution that uses radar technology — radio frequencies — to help drones detect objects and avoid collision.

drone in sky, in flight

“The drone market started only two or three years ago and it is still an emerging technology,” Kobi Marenko, the co-founder and CEO of the startup said in an interview. “Today, it is mainly a hobby market” for people who use drones for taking pictures and other fun activities. “But in the next three to five years, drones will be used in almost every area in industry.”

SEE ALSO: ‘Flytrex Sky’ Personal Delivery Drone Will Ship Goods To Your Location Within Minutes

Arbe Robotics’ product, which is a mix of hardware and software, can be connected to all kinds of existing drones. It will enable the craft to read the 360-degree space around it and will allow a visual range of up to 200 meters, Marenko said.

“Today drones are not allowed to fly in areas in which a collision could be dangerous,” he said. “Our system tells the drone to automatically avoid the obstacle,” and it can also include an alarm mode to alert the operator about an imminent danger, he said.

SEE ALSO: Zano’s Micro-Drone Follows You To Capture HD Selfies From The Sky

There are no other radar-based drone products on the market yet, Marenko said, and competitors are using sensors with vision technology, which is both costlier and has a limited 50-meter range, Marenko said.

Arbe Robotics' drone

Arbe Robotics’ drone

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Courtesy

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Wearable Device Livia Promises To ‘Turn Off’ Menstrual Cramps, Alleviate Period Pain http://nocamels.com/2016/07/wearable-technology-livia-turns-off-menstrual-cramps-alleviates-period-pain/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/wearable-technology-livia-turns-off-menstrual-cramps-alleviates-period-pain/#respond Mon, 04 Jul 2016 13:35:15 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46080

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Most women suffer pain during menstruation; oftentimes, the aches can get bloody awful. It happens every month, and painkillers don’t always alleviate the cramps.

Now, an Israeli device called Livia is offering a solution to these scheduled periods of discomfort, by sending weak electric pulses to your abdomen. This wearable technology, which clasps onto your pants and is hidden under your blouse, can be discreetly worn in public (it certainly doesn’t cramp your style!) and also helps women stay away from painkillers.

SEE ALSO: Medasense’s Pain Assessment Monitor Among Winners Of Prestigious Startup Competition

Livia is marketed as “the off-switch for menstrual cramps.” It consists of a small square device with two gel pads attached to it, which are placed on the affected area of the abdomen.

SEE ALSO: Music For Medicine: How Musicians Are Easing The Pain Of Patients

The device utilizes a technology similar to Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), usually employed in physical therapy, to block pain receptors from processing the hurtful sensation in the brain and thus work its magic.

Chen Nachum, co-founder and CEO of Livia, explains the technology through the gate control theory of pain, which hypothesizes that there are “gates” that can prevent pain sensation from traveling to the central nervous system.

“The nervous system can only handle one type of pain at a time, one type of signal,” he tells NoCamels. “So, if you create a signal that is not pain but a tingling sensation, and you transmit it to the body faster than the pain, then the nervous system will be busy with that signal and not with the pain.”

livia

However, Nachum explains that there is a specific difference between TENS and the technology behind Livia. “Livia’s  wave shape is different, making it so effective for pain,” he says. “So, if you use a physical therapy device and if you use Livia, it feels similar but the body is reacting differently to the pulses.”

He could not go into further detail at the moment, since the company is currently trying to patent its technology.

Raising $775,000 in just one month 

Over the past years, Prof. Bari Kaplan, an OBGYN at Israel’s Beilinson Hospital, has constantly been looking for an alternative to painkillers to help his patients. And so, in April 2015, he co-founded Livia, along with Nachum.

Livia recently raised nearly $775,000 on crowd-funding platform Indiegogo, 1340 percent more than its initial goal. According to the company, with additional funds from private investors, the company already has more than $1 million in funding.

Taking care of back pain  

Livia is also said to work for back pain in the lower abdomen area of the body, which can be an advantage to women who suffer increased levels of back pains during their periods.

But with all its alleged advantages, some have criticized Livia for not being very discreet: If you don’t wear the right shirt, the device could potentially draw unwanted attention to your abdomen.

Pending FDA approval 

The company is expected to officially launch its product in October, for $85-$149. In the meantime, Livia is working on obtaining FDA approval.

The feedback from women who tested Livia so far has been encouraging, saying the device has really helped them, according to Nachum: “The responses I get are amazing, way beyond what I imagined.”

livia

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Israel’s Mobileye Teams Up With BMW, Intel To Manufacture A Driverless Car By 2021 http://nocamels.com/2016/07/bmw-mobileye-intel-israel-driverless-car/ http://nocamels.com/2016/07/bmw-mobileye-intel-israel-driverless-car/#respond Sun, 03 Jul 2016 13:30:28 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46243

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Israeli company Mobileye, which develops vision-based driver assistance systems that help prevent collisions, has joined BMW and Intel on their quest to manufacture a driverless car by 2021. Test drives are expected to begin as early as next year.

With Mobileye contributing its cutting-edge autonomous driving technologies, and Intel Israel contributing the tremendous computing power needed for the future car, there’s no doubt Israel is playing a significant role in the emerging self-driving car industry.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Company Mobileye Gearing Up For Driverless Cars

mobileye bmw intel

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich (from left), Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG Harald Krüger and Mobileye Co-Founder, Chairman and CTO Prof. Amnon Shashua

“The computer processors for the car will most likely be designed in Israel, where we can collaborate with Mobileye,” Intel‘s Israeli director of sales (South Europe) Guy Bar-Ner tells NoCamels. “In the future driverless car, Intel’s processors will collect all data from Mobileye’s sensors and make real-time decisions. This requires a very powerful computer.”

Bar-Ner declined to comment on the future price of the car, but said it would likely cost about the same as other high-end luxury cars, and would not initially be mass marketed.

SEE ALSO: Why The World’s Largest Tech Companies All Want A Piece Of The Israeli Pie

Despite the recent fatal crash of a Tesla car, which was operating on autopilot mode, the three companies believe they can make a safe driverless car by 2021. According to a joint statement the companies released, “the future of automated driving promises to change lives and societies for the better. But the path to get to a fully autonomous world is complex and will require end-to-end solutions that integrate intelligence across the network, from door locks to the data center.”

We must keep in mind that in the US alone, some 90 people die in car crashes involving human drivers every day, so driving in general has its risks. “Car accidents happen because of humans,” Bar-Ner says. “Driving nowadays is a lot scarier. Autonomous cars may not be perfect, but they will be much safer.”

Taking your hands off the wheel and your mind off the road 

Called “BMW iNEXT,” this model will set the basis for fleets of fully autonomous vehicles, not only on highways but also in urban environments for the purpose of automated ride-sharing solutions, according to BMW.

The goal of this joint venture is to enable drivers to not only take their hands off the steering wheel, but also to reach the so-called “eyes-off” (level 3) and ultimately the “mind off” (level 4) level, transforming the driver’s in-car time into leisure or work time. This level of autonomy would enable the vehicle to achieve the final stage of traveling “driver off” (level 5) without a human driver inside.

“Trucks will be able to ship goods without a human driver,” Bar-Ner says. “It’s not a question of if – but when.”

According to Mobileye’s co-founder and chairman Prof. Amnon Shashua, “together with BMW Group and Intel, Mobileye is laying the groundwork for the technology of future mobility that enables fully autonomous driving to become a reality within the next few years.”

Intel, which develops technologies to power and connect billions of smart and connected devices, will now provide that same computing power – that is, extremely fast  processors – to autonomous cars. “Highly autonomous cars and everything they connect to will require powerful and reliable electronic brains to make them smart enough to navigate traffic and avoid accidents,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said in a statement.

According to Harald Krüger, BMW’s chairman, “the combined expertise of Intel, Mobileye and the BMW Group will deliver the next core building blocks to bring fully automated driving technology to the street.”

cars on highway

Photos: Intel, BMW

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Israeli Company Ayala Purifies Greywater Using Plants http://nocamels.com/2016/06/ayala-purifies-water-using-plants/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/ayala-purifies-water-using-plants/#respond Thu, 30 Jun 2016 07:47:55 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46194

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Israel is known for pioneering and perfecting water technologies – from drip irrigation to water recycling and desalination. But using plants to cleanse wastewater? Well, that might top it all.

Israeli company Ayala Water & Ecology provides a solution to water purification which lies within nature itself. Its flagship product, called Natural Biological System (NBS), provides efficient and sustainable purification of water, in what CEO Eli Cohen calls “active landscaping.”

SEE ALSO: In Face Of Global Shortage, World Leaders Praise Israel’s Water Technologies

water lilies

After inserting containers full of plants with remediation powers, sediments and purifying properties into an existing landscape, the plants degrade, accumulate and extract the contaminant particles from the water by way of natural processes, such as runoff and rainfall, acting as a biological filter.

“Modular treatment compartments are sewn into the natural topography to minimize energy requirements,” according to the company. “Inside the treatment compartments is a combination of biotic and abiotic components, plants and aggregates selected for their physical and chemical properties and varying internal hydraulic layouts.”

SEE ALSO: Indian Minister Praises Israeli Water Technologies: “Israel Is My Guru”

One of Ayala's qater purification sites

One of Ayala’s water purification sites

The system is also designed to function with minimal human and mechanical intervention, reducing maintenance costs. According to Cohen, construction costs of one NBS system are 20 percent less than those of a conventional wastewater treatment plant. This sustainable solution to water purification also uses minimal amounts of fossil-based fuels in order to operate.

However, the system requires twice as much land as mechanical systems in order to function. Still, “Ayala is trying to give a holistic solution to a paradox the world is facing,” Cohen tells NoCamels. “On the one hand, there’s great demand for better water; but recycling sewage water often comes with high energy use.”

And that’s why the company is using mostly plants found in nature to purify greywater. After the water is cleansed, it can be reused by factories and farms, as well as by parks and households. The company’s systems are already installed at hundreds of sites in Israel, Europe, and the US.

Some of Ayala’s clients include large manufacturers such as L’Oreal, and municipalities like Hyderabad, India. Cohen declined to discuss the company’s financial standing.

Founded by an engineer-turned-farmer

Ayala Water & Ecology was officially founded in 2002 by engineer-turned-farmer Cohen, who started developing the unique system some 26 years ago, when he moved to the Galilee, a rural area in northern Israel. “I pledged to live in the Galilee and fell in love with agriculture,” he says. “I was looking to create something new, and set my eyes on water plants.”

As for the future of Ayala, Cohen hopes it will help “change the world for the next generation.”

ayala infographic

Photos: Pamela Nhlengethwa, Ayala

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Brexit Strategy: British-Israeli Financial Expert Breaks Down UK/EU Vote Aftermath http://nocamels.com/2016/06/brexit-british-israeli-aftermath/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/brexit-british-israeli-aftermath/#respond Wed, 29 Jun 2016 10:44:44 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46170

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Daniel Abrahams, the British CEO of a Tel Aviv-based Fintech startup, has been riding an emotional roller coaster ever since the UK voted to exit the European Union (EU) last week.

As the UK’s tumultuous decision to ‘Brexit’ the EU wiped out trillions of dollars in global markets and sent the British pound spiraling downwards amid uncertainty about the future of the UK, EU and the wider world economies; Abrahams and his currency company found themselves in the eye of the storm.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Invents Complex Physics Model To Predict Global Economy

“I was a very vocal supporter of the UK remaining in the European Union,” Abrahams, an Anglo-Israeli entrepreneur, who was born and raised in North London and immigrated to Israel this year, tells NoCamels. “I personally voted for ‘bremain’ (to stay in), but unfortunately the majority (52%) voted to leave (‘brexit’).”

Brexit leaving the EU

Doom & gloom

The CEO of CurrencyTransfer.com, an award winning currency management platform with offices in London & Tel Aviv, Abrahams related that ‘doom and gloom’ is the prevailing sentiment among most of the business associates he’s spoken to and the fintech scene in general is feeling down.

“The general mood is subdued and I strongly believe that for the whole country to be in a state of limbo for an extended period of time isn’t healthy,” Abrahams laments. “I mean gosh, in the last week we’ve lost our prime minister, the opposition leader is about to go and, even our football manager is now gone! Many of my friends feel hurt and angry that the freedom of movement in the EU, once taken for granted, is now gone. I just hope the talent pool does not dry up.”

SEE ALSO: From Creative Spirit To Innovative Startups: What Makes Tel Aviv One Of The World’s ‘Techiest’ Cities

While Abrahams believes that his countrymen will respect the results of the vote and move on from it, there is a sense of worry as the UK enters what he refers to as ‘the high seas’.

“In times of huge uncertainty, less deals are done,” Abrahams added. “Mergers and acquisitions dry up. This cannot be good for the economy. The UK is a resilient nation and we can only hope now to do the best trade deals possible.”

At the same time, however, his currency management platform, which helps individuals and companies to transfer money internationally at a fraction of the cost of banks, recently hit a milestone of $100 million traded on its marketplace.

“With the sterling (pound) retreating big time, many of our clients who buy products from Europe and the US are suddenly facing a much more expensive cost of doing business,” Abrahams expalins. “Margins will suffer, profits will be squeezed and have an adverse effect on UK purchasing power. It’s a huge adjustment for the tens of thousands of small businesses who do business abroad.”

Hesitation can be costly

“Clients who held off making transfers and expected ‘bremain’ are now licking their wounds,” Abrahams said. “The strongest trend observed was that of clients with foreign currencies piling back into the pound to profit from the momentum of the drop. For example, Brits who owned houses on the continent and repatriating their Euros back home or the UK exporters earning revenues outside of the UK and bringing funds back home. These clients definitely benefited from the vote going in favor of brexit.”

On the other hand, Abrahams says that panic definitely set in for clients who don’t have the luxury of taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to their international transfers. As a result of brexit, his company has extended its office hours to deal with the much higher than normal volume of registration, activations, and first transfers, all in a very short period of time.

In fact, Abrahams reported that from the end of last week and the early part of this week, his platform has seen a 500 percent increase in transfers, helping clients move millions of dollars a day.

A cautionary tale

“We work a lot in the charity sector,” Abrahams said. “Prior to the vote, a CFO of a major UK charity spoke to us about booking a long-dated forward contact on CurrencyTransfer.com for his shekel exposure. He was generally getting nervous regarding the uncertainty and 5.72 seemed a strong rate [Now 1 pounds equals only 5.18 shekels]. Over the weekend, he was caught ill and was hospitalized for several days. He never had a chance to book his trade and he has now lost potentially a significant amount of resources for a particular project. The moral of the story? Companies, new immigrants and property buying clients now need to take a proactive approach and think carefully about currency planning. It can massively help to protect profit margins and help budgeting.”

Looking outside the UK

Turning to Israel, where Abrahams is now based, he says Israeli companies who previously looked at the UK for their European headquarters may now consider other cities, like Berlin. Although he says it’s extremely hard to call how this will play out, “Israel is definitely losing a good friend in the EU and on this level, we could be affected in Brussels.”

“Harmonization of financial regulation is now at risk for firms setting up in the UK. Right now, we all benefit from that one FCA regulation being passported across Europe. Sadly, unless some type of deal is done, entrepreneurs may now need to do a European tour getting regulated country by country.”

The biggest fear, in Abraham’s opinion, may be a domino effect, with other nations and their politicians now calling for similar referendums to the one in the UK.

A new low for the pound

“When the British pound hit a near 31 year low on Friday morning, it was violent and unexpected. One school of thought is that the market has fully priced the Brexit event, and its direct consequences. However, the worst could yet come. The economic loss caused by the referendum could trigger interest rate decreases, and further political instability could in turn devalue the pound against other major currencies. We need to understand better the length and breadth of economic uncertainty caused by Brexit.”

Still optimistic

Regarding the future of his own company, Abrahams puts an optimistic spin on things. “Whilst our roots are in the UK, we are building a global company in a multi trillion dollar a year market. We cover hundreds of different currency routes and are still very early stage in our journey. Our marketplace model allows us to scale fast, and allows us to evaluate different market entry projects.

If only I could shake my crystal currency ball, I’d be able to tell you which way we’re headed.”

Photo and videos: Courtesy

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The Heat Is On: These Foldable Hotplates Make Outdoor Cooking A Breeze http://nocamels.com/2016/06/lightweight-foldable-hotmat-hotplate/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/lightweight-foldable-hotmat-hotplate/#respond Tue, 28 Jun 2016 11:42:43 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46069

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Hotplates are not exactly sexy to begin with, and often they’re just downright dirty. So if you’re an outdoorsy type, you might want to check out HotMat, a slick, lightweight, foldable alternative to those heavy, old-school hotplates.

SEE ALSO: Triangular Foldable Barbecue To Revolutionize Campers’ Eating Habits

Contrary to traditional hotplates, HotMat has four round surfaces, and is split into two warm and two hot surfaces to warm up different plates and dishes.

hotmat

HotMat uses a third of the storage space of standard warming trays, thanks to its innovative design, which is easily foldable, and can be stored in RVs and cars.

And, unlike other warming trays, HotMat is made out of mica – a soft substance able to withstand very high temperatures – and is specifically designed to give concentrated and even heating throughout its surface. But buyers do have to take into account that all these perks come with a higher price tag: While HotMat costs $125, traditional hotplates usually range from $10 to $100.

SEE ALSO: Cook Like The Chef Of Your Dreams With Popular App ‘Look & Cook’

HotMat was developed by Israeli company Rolla RWT (founded in 2009), whose founders are industrial designer Rafi Gabbay and high-tech entrepreneur Yossi Tsuria. Gabbay came up with the idea to create a foldable hotplate when he was still a student and was sketching some ideas for a final project. His idea became reality when he founded Rolla RWT and enlisted additional help from advisers and engineers.

In recent years, thousands of HotMats have been sold in Israel, the US, UK, France, Italy, and Germany. The company is currently testing different ways to power the HotMat using batteries and car chargers. The company is also seeking funding to market to campers around the globe; it didn’t comment on how much it has raised so far.

Safe for 24-hour use 

HotMat is also ideal for the religious Jewish community that observes the Sabbath, when religious laws forbid turning on appliances. The company states it’s safe to leave it on for the day of Sabbath, since it has received a safety certification by Germany’s TUV labs.

So, next time you’re taking a road trip, don’t forget to pack up HotMat.

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Taking The Uncertainty Out Of Breastfeeding: MomSense Measures Breast Milk Intake http://nocamels.com/2016/06/breastfeeding-momsense-app-breast-milk-intake/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/breastfeeding-momsense-app-breast-milk-intake/#respond Thu, 23 Jun 2016 11:53:32 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45924

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While parents who bottle-feed their babies can measure exactly how much formula is given, nursing mothers never know how much breast milk their baby actually consumes.

Now, Israeli startup MomSense is offering a mobile app that monitors babies’ milk intake in real time, revealing how many cubic centimeters (cc) of milk are consumed during breastfeeding. The company’s patented Smart Breastfeeding Meter consists of a smartphone app and an $89 earphone set that contains a nursing sensor which is placed beneath the baby’s earlobe.

The goal of MomSense is to make mothers feel more confident that their infants are getting enough nutrition by allowing them to accurately measure and control the consumed quantities of breast milk. The app monitors and analyzes the baby’s gulping for factors such as intensity, speed and frequency, to approximate the amount of milk consumed.

50 percent of new moms give up on breastfeeding 

Research shows that the predominant reason women give up breastfeeding (50 percent of new nursing moms eventually give up) is the belief that they are not providing enough milk; so, they then turn to bottle-feeding, which can regulate how much their babies are consuming.

SEE ALSO: Researchers Discover Breast Milk Not Always Healthy

By continually keeping track of each nursing session with MomSense, the app – available for both iOS and Android smartphones – gradually builds an ongoing record of breastfeeding patterns by amalgamating detailed nursing reports collected over time.

This technology also allows mothers to listen to their babies’ gulping sounds, thus enabling caregivers to acquaint themselves with the child’s regular eating sounds, thereby being able to detect anything that might deviate from their daily routine.

Making sure your newborn gets sufficient nutrition 

MomSense advises against using the app on premature babies, and all babies weighing less than two kilograms due to the fact that their chambers might be weak or not fully developed. Furthermore, it is advised to only employ the device once the colostrum (the earliest form of liquid produced by the milk ducts) is replaced by milk, which usually takes a few days after childbirth.

The company has also addressed concerns regarding radiation and safety by advising mothers to put their phones on airplane mode when nursing in order to avoid emissions from their smartphones.

According to reports in the media, the startup, which was founded in 2013 by Dr. Osnat Emanuel, has had several funding rounds after its initial $1 million seed round; however, a spokeswoman for MomSense declined to comment.

momsense

Earlier this year, MomSense was awarded the “Top Choice of the Year” award by Baby Maternity Magazine in the Nursing Aids category. Before earning the award, the app was tested by 50 new mothers, pregnant women and caregiver professionals.

SEE ALSO: Study: Breastfed Babies Are Less Likely To Develop ADHD

Now, after almost four years of research and development, MomSense’s technology is finally available to reassure new moms around the world that their babies are getting sufficient nutrition. According to Emanuel, “breastfeeding is a significant period for both mother and baby. We want to create a breastfeeding experience that gives mother a sense of calm and confidence which encourages her to continue breastfeeding and benefit from it.”

momsense

Photos and video: MomSense

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Smooth Operator: Israeli Startup Airobotics Lets You Control Your Drone With One Click http://nocamels.com/2016/06/airobotics-operator-free-drones/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/airobotics-operator-free-drones/#respond Thu, 23 Jun 2016 10:06:24 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46052

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This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Israeli startup Airobotics has built a new kind of drone platform that will allow companies to operate drones without the need for expensive and skilled drone operators.

The Petah Tikva, Israel-based company said it has raised $28.5 million in funding from investors including California’s BlueRun Ventures; Noam Bardin, the former chief executive of Waze, the navigation app that was bought by Google; and Richard Wooldridge, Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects chief operating officer.

SEE ALSO: Pilotless Drones Take Water Meter Reading To New Heights

By taking the drone pilot and operator out of the equation, Airobotics removes the most expensive and hard-to-find component of industrial drone operations, the company said in a statement.

The system is made up of three major parts: a drone, which can fly 30-minute missions at a time while carrying a one kilogram payload and using videos to provide customers with real time aerial insight; the airbase, a completely automated base station from which the drone launches and lands on its own, without needing human intervention, and software, which enables users “to control and manage missions with one click.”

SEE ALSO: Zano’s Micro-Drone Follows You To Capture HD Selfies From The Sky

Airobotics is also creating an open ecosystem to allow other developers to come up with additional tools. Because the new drone has a payload mechanism design that can be swapped, partners can create new payloads that integrate new sensors and other tools into the drone. The Airobotics’ software is also both a complete operating system and an open platform, something that will allow third parties to build and customize the payloads and also provide the software apps to support and manage the various new missions. This will open up different and novel ways the drone can be used, the company said.

Airobotics’ drone platform

Led by co-founders Ran Krauss, the chief executive officer, and Meir Kliner who is in charge of research and development, the entire Airobotics’ 70-person team is made up of people who have technological and practical drone knowledge. Airobotics is Krauss’s third drone startup, the statement said.

To read the full article, click here

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Photomyne Scans All Your Old Photo Albums Into Slick Digital Creations http://nocamels.com/2016/06/photomyne-scans-digitizes-old-ohotos/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/photomyne-scans-digitizes-old-ohotos/#respond Wed, 22 Jun 2016 10:56:12 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=46005

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Most of us cherish our old family photo albums, however many of our priceless memories and Kodak moments are typically stuffed in the back of attics – barely accessible and almost forgotten.

Now, Israeli app Photomyne is helping people preserve their old photos by swiftly digitizing them and storing them in mobile archives and on the “cloud.”

SEE ALSO: Beamr: Sharing High-Res Photos Easily Without Losing Quality

Founded in 2014, Photomyne has so far raised $2.6 million and is approaching 1 million downloads (for the $4.99 paid version and the free one, combined).

Scanning a batch of photos at a time 

Photomyne simplifies the process of digitizing old photos by allowing users to scan multiple photos in a single shot. This means that users can flip through pages of their family photo albums and digitize the photos much more swiftly than if they scanned them without using the app. The app also auto-crops and color-enhances the scanned photos.

The user can arrange the scanned photos into digital albums or by year. Photomyne’s cloud backup saves both cropped and original photos, along with the details the user assigned to them on the app – such as description, location, and tagged friends.

In addition, Photomyne has a “discover” feature, an Instagram-like feed of photos shared with the Photomyne community, through which members can view photos dating back to the 19th century!

SEE ALSO: Imonomy Will Find Pictures To Match Your Content For Free

The app – currently available for iOS devices – also allows users to post the scanned photos on Facebook, with the original date, to fill the chronological gap between their birth date and when they joined Facebook.

Unlimited album space

The free version of the app allows users to scan an unlimited amount of photos on one album. The paid version, which requires a one-time payment of $4.99, allows users to fully unleash a range of capabilities, including unlimited scanning and album space.

With both versions, there is a premium option for a $12 annual subscription, which unlocks unlimited storage and backup, and allows users to sync and share scanned photos with other devices.

photomyne app

Some of the competing apps on the market include Unfade, for $4.99, and Heirloom, which is free; other apps offer variations on similar services for photo digitization. Of course, one can also manually snap photos of their old pictures using a smartphone one picture at a time.

Preserving memories from past decades for generations to come

According to Yair Segalovitz, co-founder and CFO of Photomyne, the idea for the app came after he had searched for a way to preserve his own photo albums. With young children at home, he wanted to find a way “to preserve our family’s history,” he tells NoCamels.

Preserving memories from past decades for future generations, Segalovitz believes that Photomyne could become “the largest digital archive of people’s histories. A unique place where people can share photos with others, but also discover treasures relating to their families.”

photomyne app

Photomyne was founded by Natalie Verter, Omer Shoor, Nir Tzemah and Yair Segalovitz.

Photos and video: Photomyne

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Five Super Cool Israeli Technologies Making Air Travel Safe And Smart http://nocamels.com/2016/06/israeli-technologies-safer-air-travel/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/israeli-technologies-safer-air-travel/#respond Tue, 21 Jun 2016 08:49:15 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45418

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Despite air accidents dominating the headlines when they occur, flying by plane is still one of the safest ways to travel. According to The International Air Transport Association (IATA) more than 3.5 billion people flew safely on 37.6 million flights in 2015.

And as far as airports go, Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport is considered one of the safest in the world, with layers of security, only partially visible to the 16 million passengers who pass through every year.

Israelis are also at the forefront of a slew of innovations that promise to make traveling a little easier and a lot safer.

Here are five of them:

1. X-Test: Training mice to sniff out explosives

Although some might see mice as pests, Israeli company X-Test is harnessing a trait that make rodents pretty extraordinary. These small mammals can sniff out explosives at airport security checkpoints, thereby protecting travelers while saving security authorities time and money.

Established by former Israel Defense Forces officers, X-Test has built its reputation on detecting and neutralizing explosives. Now, by utilizing mice’s keen sense of smell to detect drugs, explosives and foreign substances at border crossings and airports, the company is breaking new ground. The specially trained mice will be carried in cages to different checkpoints in order to discreetly smell people and their possessions, alerting officials when they smell a potentially lethal substance.

SEE ALSO: Gesture Recognition Is Not Just For Games: Israeli Tech Tracks A Skeleton For Biometric Authentication

mouse

Yuval Amsterdam, a former bomb-disposal expert who is behind X-Test, even claims the mice are more effective in distinguishing smells than explosive-detecting canines. “They’re as good as dogs as far as their ability to smell, but they’re smaller and easier to train,” Amsterdam told The Independent.  “Once they are trained, they become bio-sensors.”

2. Tracense – The five second security check

If the airport you’re flying out of or into doesn’t yet employ bomb sniffing mice, you’ll likely have to go through a time-consuming security check.

Fortunately, a team of Israeli university researchers has created a nanotechnology-based bomb detection chip that could make even the most rigid security inspections dramatically shorter.

The TESS prototype, created by Tel Aviv University researchers and the company Tracense, uses nano-sensors that can sniff out explosive, biological or chemical material, up to a few molecules per 1,000 trillion in the air and at about 16 feet away. The nano-sized sensors can detect which kinds of molecules the chip is “smelling” and analyzes them to see if they belong to known types of dangerous materials.

Tracense’s chip beats can catch TNT, RCX and HMX, which are chemicals usually used commercially and militarily, as well as TATP and HMTD, harder-to-detect explosives often used to in homemade expolosive devices. During the product trials, the team also discovered that the chip could sniff out explosive material in stuffy environments, even those “highly contaminated” by cigarette smoke, in just five seconds.

3. Faception: Facial profiling software to detect criminals

Israeli facial personality profiling startup Faception is the developer of software they believe can spot terrorists, criminals, pedophiles and other deviants.

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

Faception claims that just by using its software to scan the photographs of the 11 terrorist responsible for the Paris massacres last November, it could have identified nine of them as terrorists from their facial features alone. Although most of the perpetrators did not have prior criminal records, Faception argues that its software could provide a vital homeland security or police tool in identifying terrorists and criminals.

Founded in 2014 by CEO Shai Gilboa, CTO Dr. Itzik Wilf and chief profiler David Gavriel, the firm has developed a database of 15 classifiers, which the company says are used to determine personality traits with 80 percent accuracy.

Faception demonstrated its technology recently at an amateur poker tournament where it predicted which four competitors would have the upper hand by comparing their pictures with a database of professional players. Ultimately, two of those four ended up among the event’s three finalists, the “Washington Post” reported.

4. Xsight: Keeping airport runways clear
Not to be confused with X-Test, Xsight Systems is an Israeli company providing advanced runway sensor solutions chosen by leading airports worldwide. The technology allows constant command over airport runways and their surroundings.

Earlier this year the company announced their technology will protect planes at Seattle-Tacoma Airport from dangers on the ground and in the sky. After tests and evaluation by the Port of Seattle, the airport’s contractor Leidos will install Xsight’s RunWize – a system that automatically detects runway “junk,” also known as FOD (Foreign Object Debris) and alerts pilots. In addition, the system includes Xsight’s novel BirdWize system, which helps protect planes from birds that get sucked into jet engines (something that is apparently a serious and not uncommon occurrence).

FODetect is fully compliant with FAA/FCC regulations for FOD Detection Equipment, and is in use in airports like Boston Logan, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, and Tel-Aviv Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Xsight-FODetect-SDU6-3-635x357

5. Sensority -Smarter use of security cameras

There are around 200 million security cameras all around the world broadcasting pieces of information at any given moment. A young new Israeli startup wants to use these cameras in a smarter way.

Founded by Valriy Blyus and Dmitry Goldenberg, Sensority offers an interesting technology in the field of video analytics. Their software can connect to the existing cameras’ infrastructure, take the flow of recorded information and process it in real time. It allows monitoring a person’s physiological parameters using a simple camera: pulse, age, breaths per minute and so on, and analyzes the data received.

Their vision is to create a platform on top of which any application based on physiological parameters can be built and used in a range of fields: monitoring data for athletes; using the software for a quick external scanning of a body in order to receive a patient’s vital signs; biometric system for identification via pulse; predicting crime or terror using characteristics such as breathing rate, sweat etc. One could say that it is similar to polygraph machines which use similar parameters.

One fascinating idea was their suggestion to use this analysis done to detect infectious diseases and viruses such as the Ebola virus, which was recently a great concern at airports. Sensority believes that the long way from the airport to boarding the plane or from exiting it could be a goldmine of information and data.

Security checks are not going away, but the right technology will hopefully make getting through them easier for all of us – while also ensuring us a much safer flight.

Photos: Courtesy

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Tired Of Folding Laundry? Let FoldiMate Take Care Of Your Pile http://nocamels.com/2016/06/foldimate-machine-robot-folds-laundry/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/foldimate-machine-robot-folds-laundry/#respond Mon, 20 Jun 2016 12:59:59 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45965

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Can’t stand folding piles of laundry? Welcome to the club. According to home appliances giant Whirpool, 46 percent of homeowners dream of an appliance that can fold their clothes.

Enter Israeli-made FoldiMate, an invention dubbed as “your laundry-folding friend,” which simplifies and automates the folding process. Essentially, this robot de-wrinkles and folds your clothing within minutes.

SEE ALSO: Robots Can Fill Humans’ Emotional Needs, Israeli Study Shows

Starting at $700, the machine will be available for pre-order in 2017, with first shipments expected in 2018. To date, 108,000 people have already pre-ordered the device.

10 seconds to fold one garment 

Founded in 2012 by Israeli CEO Gal Rozov, FoldiMate is now headquartered in San Francisco. So far, the startup has received $500,000 in seed funding from Rozov, as well as from investors Robert Ford and Hillel Greenberg,

How does the machine work? After washing and drying your clothing, you clip 15-20 items into the integrated rack. Then, press a button to designate what kind of garment each piece is: a shirt, a pair of pants, etc.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Fashion Design Student 3D Prints Brilliant Collection At Home

FoldiMate will then fold the clothes in 10 seconds per item, and de-wrinkle them in 20-30 seconds per item. The device also comes with an option to perfume or soften clothes while they’re being folded.

However, there is a limit to what the FoldiMate can do; you still have to clip on the garments onto it yourself. Also, it is intended for standard sizes and cannot handle items such as towels, undergarments, or socks.

One of Foldimate’s competitors is Japanese company Laundroid. With a similar vision, Laundroid’s machine is still in development. The main difference is that it doesn’t require users to clip on the pieces of clothing, but takes longer to fold each item.

At an expected price of $700-$850, one FoldiMate unit costs roughly the same as a good-quality washer or dryer. The 32-inch tall, 28-inch wide device can fit into most laundry rooms and is designed to sit atop a normal washer or dryer.

So, if you want to stop staring at your pile of laundry and simplify your life, you might want to try FoldiMate.

foldimate

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Answering The Call: Yallo Aims To Revolutionize Phone Calls As We Know Them http://nocamels.com/2016/06/yallo-app-revolutionizes-phone-calls/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/yallo-app-revolutionizes-phone-calls/#respond Thu, 16 Jun 2016 08:59:27 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45876

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The phone has advanced tremendously since it was invented 140 years ago. Yet, the functionality of the phone call itself has seldom changed over the years. Despite the countless cellular and Wi-Fi platforms that exist today, the phone call has somehow remained the same one-size-fits-all utility service.

Now, Israeli startup Yallo is offering a more personalized and efficient phone call experience. The smart voice communication platform allows you to record calls and back up your phone data, among a dozen other innovative features.

For example, if you have no reception, you can use Yallo to make a phone call; you can record calls, save them, and listen to them later; if you want someone to know what you’re calling about, you may send them a “call caption,” a short message stating the reason for your call; and, if you lose your phone, you can use Yallo to make the call – using the same phone number, even though you don’t have your SIM card. Upcoming features include one-touch group calls and voicemail transcriptions.

Garnering roughly 200,000 downloads since its inception, Yallo first launched its mobile app last year in the US, UK, Singapore, Brazil and India; now, it’s available all over the world. To date, the company, which was founded in 2012, has raised $8 million.

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

There’s no doubt that Yallo entered a crowded arena, competing head-to head with popular apps such as Viber (also developed in Israel), Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger and Skype – which provide voice and video calls.

Nonetheless, Yallo claims it’s different because it reinvented the phone call itself, with a rich set of functionalities that can help people utilize their time better, Tal Elyashiv, CEO of Yallo, tells NoCamels.

Lost your phone? No problem 

The recording feature allows you to forward a recording to your email or a friend. There is a setting that records all calls automatically, so you don’t have to press anything. Since the recordings do not take up space from your device, you can record an unlimited amount of calls and save as many voice mails as you wish. To find a recording, all you have to do is search for keywords or phrases that were mentioned in the call.

SEE ALSO: $17,000 ‘Super-Secure’ Smartphone Solarin Will ‘Break The Rules,’ Says Founder Moshe Hogeg

The “flex” feature allows you to sign into Yallo through another device and all your data will be available to you. When you place a call, the number appears as your regular number even when you use a different device.

man with smartphone

“The future smart voice platform”

Yallo-to-Yallo calls are free, along with all incoming calls. However, the app charges a fee for calls made outside Yallo; the average cost is 1 cent per minute.

From an app standpoint, we want to keep introducing unique features that will keep on surprising and delighting people with a good old boring phone call,” Elyashiv tells NoCamels. “Looking at the bigger picture, we want to be the future smart voice platform that provides very rich functionality both to carriers and large business platforms.”

yallo app

Photos and video: Yallo, Plain Loud Visuals

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Virtual Personal Trainer: LifeBEAM’s Intelligent Headphones Get You In Shape http://nocamels.com/2016/06/virtual-personal-trainer-lifebeam-vi/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/virtual-personal-trainer-lifebeam-vi/#respond Wed, 15 Jun 2016 13:18:15 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45821

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Many of us who want to get in shape would love to hire a personal trainer, but the cost is simply too high. Imagine your own virtual fitness coach inside your headphones cheering you on and pushing you forward when you exercise.

After creating products for the Israeli air force and brands like Samsung and Under Armour, Israeli wearable tech company LifeBEAM is now making its own product – wireless, artificially intelligent headphones, or as many call them, “hearables,” headphones that can learn about you as you workout.

SEE ALSO: Wear It Well: The Top Ten Wearable Tech Made In Israel

LifeBEAM’s newest product Vi will tell you if you are running behind your usual pace on a familiar run and ask you politely if you want to speed it up. Or if your heart rate is getting too high, Vi will sense that and advise you to slow down.

An awareable wearable

Vi has aerospace-grade biosensors, Hi-Fi sound quality, an ergonomic design, and the ability to learn and grow with each user, LifeBEAM says.

Having launched on Kickstarter on June 1, Vi is now available to pre-order for $199. The company, which previously raised $16 million in venture funding, has already smashed its original crowdfunding campaign goal of $100,000 by raising in excess of $500,000 in just two weeks.

SEE ALSO: Dario Turns Diabetics’ Smartphones Into Trendy Glucometers

LifeBeam has partnered with Harman Kardon, a manufacturer of audio and video products, to provide high-fidelity sound for Vi’s earbuds.

“The future of wearables is using AI to personalize our health and fitness in real time, and we created Vi to lead this new frontier,” said Omri Yoffe, CEO and Co-founder of LifeBEAM in a statement. “By improving a person’s awareness of their own behaviors, environment, and real-time physiology, Vi provides an inspiring and truly smarter workout experience. We call Vi an ‘Awareable,’ as it’s the first and only wearable with the power to actually be aware of a person’s activity patterns and coach their behavior in real time.”

vi-7-1465351441-HZqT-column-width-inline (1)

Vi does have some competition: In 2010, Sony came out wit $300 “artificially intelligent” headphones, the Sony MDR-NC300D Digital Noise Canceling Earbuds. Vi, however, have built-in software that adapts to your body using biometrics such as temperature, heart rate and other data measured through inner ear motion.

Vi also includes a workout coach and music to match your pace.

In the 2013 feature film “Her”, the main character falls in love with the voice inside his computer. With Vi, LifeBEAM hopes you’ll fall in love with your new virtual personal trainer.

Photos and videos: LifeBEAM

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Mass Growth: Israeli Startups Boom In Massachusetts http://nocamels.com/2016/06/mass-growth-israeli-startups-boom-in-massachusetts/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/mass-growth-israeli-startups-boom-in-massachusetts/#respond Tue, 14 Jun 2016 11:02:32 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45795

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This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

A new study by the New England-Israel Business Council. has found that Israeli-founded companies in Massachusetts posted $9.3 billion in revenue in the state in 2015. When factoring in the economic impact of complementary goods and services, such as office space, accounting, marketing, and other business, their economic impact surged to $18.1 billion.

SEE ALSO: 10 New York-Based Israeli Startups To Watch

 These companies employed nearly 9,000 workers in 2015, and through demand for local goods and services, they supported over 27,100 jobs in 2015.

The research findings were announced at an event this week with Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and over 300 business and government leaders in attendance at the MIT Sloan School of Management. David Goodtree, an expert on the Massachusetts-Israel economic relationship, is the author of the study’s whitepaper.Since the previous study in 2012, the revenue of Israeli-founded companies has grown twice as much as the overall Massachusetts economy, and now represents nearly 4 percent of the state’s gross domestic product, the study showed.

In addition, Israeli-founded businesses secured nearly $1.2 billion in venture capital investments from 2013-2015 across 48 companies, representing 10% of all venture investments in the state of Massachusetts during the period, the study showed. The capital raised in 2015 was the highest on record.

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Hundreds of Israelis study or work in research at MIT, across the river from Boston in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Israeli investment deals are also bringing new money to Massachusetts, with 67% of the investments coming from out of state, including from Israel and Silicon Valley among other places. Israeli-founded businesses also returned nearly $10 billion to investors in mergers and acquisitions in 1999-2015, the study showed.

To read the full article, click here

Photos and video: Pixabay, Courtesy

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Curbing Distracted Driving: Cellepathy Prevents Car Collisions http://nocamels.com/2016/06/cellepathy-curbs-distracted-driving/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/cellepathy-curbs-distracted-driving/#respond Mon, 13 Jun 2016 12:52:11 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45287

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Not too long ago, the term “distracted driving” probably referred to kids in the back seat fighting, causing the driving parent to shout: “Don’t make me pull this car over and come back there!”

Today, distracted driving has taken on a whole new meaning, typically involving the driver’s use of a cell phone or other electronic device to text or check social networks or navigation apps. Distracted driving can be visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel) or cognitive (taking your mind off of driving).

SEE ALSO: Driving Change: Five Israeli Startups Revolutionizing The Way We Drive

In spite of the well known dangers of distracted driving, many motorists simply can’t help themselves. Now, thanks to Israeli startup Cellepathy (a combination of the words ‘cellular’ and ‘telepathy’), safety no longer needs to be comprised. Founded in 2011 by Dan Abramson and Sean Ir, the company uses the latest technology to reduce distractions for drivers.

Verify – Solving the ‘passenger problem’

One of Cellepathy’s products is Verify, a distracted driving risk management software that knows how to distinguish driver phones from passenger phones without the need for hardware in the vehicle. Using Verify companies can prevent costly accidents by defining the way their employees can use smartphones while in transit.

“Our technology verifies both drivers and passengers, preventing distracted driving by those behind the wheel while also allowing verified passengers to operate their phones freely in a car,” Sean Ir, Cellepathy’s co-founder and VP of Marketing tells NoCamels.

Ergo – Eliminating annoyance

Ergo, Cellepathy’s other prime product, reduces drivers’ interaction with navigation software, which can be a major distraction by itself.

“Drivers are constantly making decisions about their navigation software. When to turn it on, when to turn it off, when to mute it, and when to raise the volume,” Cellepathy’s CEO Dan Abramson, said in a statement. “Ergo automates all of that using artificial intelligence and pattern recognition.”

The app does this by recognizing the patterns of a driver’s usage. Many drivers turn off their navigation apps when they are in their own neighborhood or on their regular route home. Since they already know the way, and assuming there is no traffic to deal with, they no longer need audio directions from their navigation app.

In fact, Cellepathy found that nearly half of people who turn off their navigation app before the end of a trip (or refrain from using it entirely on some trips) do so in order to escape “the voice,” and better concentrate on their music listening. Although that voice may be a distraction, reaching out to close or open the app while driving is a bigger – and more dangerous – one. The Ergo app turns off the navigation activity in areas where the driver doesn’t need it, reducing the distraction level and removing the need to deal with it.

SEE ALSOIsraeli Tech Is Gearing Up To Keep The Vehicles Of The Future Safe

“Ergo not only learns when you don’t need navigation instructions anymore, like when you are in your own neighborhood and it can be shut off, but it also stresses changes in your daily route that you need to be aware of,” Ir said. “If your normal commute is going to be delayed by an unexpected traffic accident or road work, Ergo will be sure to let you know in advance to take an alternate route, before it’s too late and you drive your normal route just out of habit or because you weren’t paying close attention to your voice navigation.”

From Wall Street to all streets

Both co-founders, Abramson and Ir, have Wall Street backgrounds, and have made a surprisingly smooth transition from finance to technology. Abramson went from using algorithms to optimize potential stock market transactions to optimizing technology for Cellepathy’s products so users could get the most out of their system without draining their mobile phone batteries.

Entirely self-funded, Cellepathy continues to grow, its 10 employees are spread out across the globe; in Israel, the US, and Europe.

Regarding Verify, Cellepathy is currently only offering it to companies. Ergo, on the other hand is sold as software as a service, an additional layer to an existing package.

International recognition

In February Cellepathy won the ConnecteDriver 2016 Auto App Challenge, one of the most prestigious driver app contests in the automotive industry. In March the company announced that it had been accepted to participate in the Dreamit Health accelerator, one of the most successful accelerators in the world. Dreamit has launched over 200 startups that collectively have gone on to raise over $275 million and are worth more than $1 billion in enterprise value.

In March 2014, Celepathy’s co-founders presented their technology to the US Department of Transportation and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) at a public meeting on the development of Driver Distraction Guidelines for Portable and Aftermarket Devices.

cellepathy-verify

Photos and video: Cellepathy

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Off The Beaten Track: Urban Navigation App Sidekix Bases Walking Routes On Your Interests http://nocamels.com/2016/06/sidekix-app-tailors-navigation-interests/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/sidekix-app-tailors-navigation-interests/#respond Mon, 13 Jun 2016 11:53:23 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45788

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Have you ever unintentionally stumbled upon a hidden gem along the way to a main attraction when exploring a new city? A new Israeli app seeks to intentionally lead people to these lesser known spots that are worth a slight detour.

SEE ALSO: Planning A Holiday? Meet The Top Israeli Startups That Make Travel So Much Easier

Called Sidekix, this urban on-foot navigation app customizes routes based on the interests and needs of its users. “Sidekix is an app for people who walk, which is different from other navigation apps that are primarily geared toward driving,” founder Jenny Drezin tells NoCamels.

Unlike many other popular navigation apps, Sidekix prioritizes unique routes over fastest routes, always by foot. According to Drezin, “the idea behind Sidekix is that there are many ways to get to the same point, and often taking a different route or going a bit out of your way can give you a completely different experience.”

SEE ALSO: The Next Social Network? ‘Space Tag’ Allows Users to Leave Eternal Tags Around The Globe

Before embarking on your trip, you can select among a wide variety of interest spots on Sidekix: Historical landmarks, art galleries, restaurants or bars. Once you define your set of passions, the app will lead you through a personalized journey, using recommendations from social media, lifestyle websites and local bloggers.

The Yelp of walking tours

In addition to incorporating hidden urban gems into the traveler’s walks, Sidekix makes suggestions of final destinations. The user can choose from a list of different categories of activities, from food to nightlife. Once you decide what type of activity appeals to you the most, the app opens a subset of more specific preferences within each category for more tailored recommendations. For instance, within the category of shopping, you can pick among fashion, food and beverage, malls and markets. In other words, Sidekix is somewhat like Yelp, but not just for food.

Another advantage of the app is that the map on the interface spins around you so you always know in which way you are going, preventing users from doing what Drezin calls “the chicken dance” as they try to figure out toward which direction their navigation app is pointing. The app also allows you to share your route with your contacts, in case they want to join you.

Sidekix also offers options of streets that are well lit at night and allows your contacts to monitor your walks in order to make you feel safer while exploring a new area.

Benefiting small businesses

The endeavor will hopefully profit small businesses that are scattered along the less-traveled routes – those that are so often overlooked, even by locals. “Cities are dynamic and changing, and there are always new things to discover,” says Drezin.

sidekix app

Sidekix is a free app, as of now, and does not charge for recommending restaurants, boutiques and the like. Looking to the future, the company plans to partner with hotels and tour operators to potentially develop branded versions of the app.

Upon launching last year, Sidekix raised $1 million from investors, with the aim of offering something its competitors (Israeli car navigation app Waze and Google Maps, for example) aren’t necessarily focused on.

Currently available in 15 cities, including London, New York, San Francisco, Paris, and Tel Aviv, Sidekix plans to expand into additional major cities around the globe, which could make taking the road less traveled a lot more enjoyable.

Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv

Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Robots Can Fill Humans’ Emotional Needs, Israeli Study Shows http://nocamels.com/2016/06/idc-humans-robots-relationship-feelings/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/idc-humans-robots-relationship-feelings/#respond Sun, 12 Jun 2016 07:58:24 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45754

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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.”

robot

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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Israeli Startup Nano Dimension 3D Prints Human Stem Cells http://nocamels.com/2016/06/nano-dimension-3d-prints-human-stem-cells/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/nano-dimension-3d-prints-human-stem-cells/#respond Thu, 09 Jun 2016 07:09:28 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45673

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Using plastics, nylon and metals to 3D print objects has already transformed the way companies around the world manufacture their prototypes and products. But the printing of stem cells – multicellular organisms capable of giving rise to more cells of the same type – provides for a much more serious application of the technology, one that could save many lives.

Israeli company Nano Dimension has successfully lab-tested a 3D bioprinter for stem cells, making it very possible that human tissue and organs can be manufactured using 3D printing in the not too distant future. 3D bioprinting is the process of creating cell patterns in a confined space using 3D printing technologies, where cell function and viability are preserved, creating tissue-like structures that are later used in the medical and tissue engineering fields.

SEE ALSO: 3D Print Your Own Homemade Superfood With Israeli Tech ‘Green Onyx’

Nano

In order to develop these high-quality cells, Nano Dimension turned to another Israeli startup, Haifa-based Accellta, to collaborate on the trial. The feasibility study confirmed that the combined know-how and technologies of the companies enabled printing of viable stem cells using an adapted 3D printer.

“3D printing of living cells is a technology that’s playing a significant role in medical research”

According to Nano Dimension CEO Amit Dror, “3D printing of living cells is a technology that is already playing a significant role in medical research, but in order to reach its full potential, for the field to evolve further, there is a need to improve printing speeds, print resolution, cell control and viability as well as cell availability and bio-ink technologies. By combining our high-speed, high-precision inkjet capabilities with Accellta’s stem cell suspension technologies and induced differentiation capabilities led by a world-renown group of experienced engineers and scientists, we can enable 3D printing at high resolution and high volumes.”

The companies will consider the formation of a new venture for these future solutions, and do not intend to invest significant capital directly to expand this activity. Such funds would be raised by and for the use of the joint venture.

SEE ALSO: Israeli 3D Printing Makes Life-Saving Blood Recycling Machine 96 Percent Cheaper

3D bioprinting enabled by the two companies’ technologies, means that Nano Dimension and Accellta have the potential to accelerate high-fidelity and high-viability manufacturing of living cellular products. Accellta’s unique, robust and reproducible suspension-based cell culturing systems produce billions of high-quality stem cells per batch and represent a transformative step in terms of stem cell production. Accellta’s technology can deliver large quantities of high-quality cells, which can be an enabler for printing even larger and more complex tissues – even whole organs in the future.

embryonic-stem-cell

Embryonic stem cell

According to Accellta chairman and CEO Dr. Itzchak Angel, “Accellta and Nano Dimension have joined forces in this initial trial to evaluate and adapt the joint potential of our technologies. We hope and believe that this will bring the mutual capabilities and know-how of both companies to create 3D bioprinting solutions that combine a high precision, high-throughput printer with dedicated bio-ink technologies, derived from stem cells. By enabling high precision 3D bioprinting and differentiation of stem cells into required tissues, our combined technologies have the potential to enable vast areas of development.”

Photos: Courtesy

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$17,000 ‘Super-Secure’ Smartphone Solarin Will ‘Break The Rules,’ Says Founder Moshe Hogeg http://nocamels.com/2016/06/sirin-labs-luxury-smartphone-solarin/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/sirin-labs-luxury-smartphone-solarin/#respond Wed, 08 Jun 2016 10:07:52 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45712

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Would you buy a smartphone for the price of a brand new Toyota? Not many people would, but the maker of a new luxury smartphone claims there is a market for such phones. Aimed at high powered business people, Solarin is a luxe phone launched for consumers who highly value their privacy and security. At a whopping cost of $17,000 – which makes it one of the world’s most expensive phones – Solarin’s military-grade security obviously doesn’t come cheap.

Solarin is a 5.5-inch android smartphone designed by Sirin Labs, a luxury phone manufacturer that was co-founded in 2013 by Israeli entrepreneurs Tal Cohen, Kenges Rakishev and Moshe Hogeg, who’s known for founding startups Mobli and Yo, as well as investment firm Singulariteam.

“We do not accept that price drives what’s available in technology,” Hogeg said in a statement. “With Solarin, we break the rules.” Indeed, Solarin phone would otherwise get you 28 new iPhones.

SOLARIN smartphone by Sirin Labs

“Cyber-attacks are endemic across the globe”

The phone’s target market includes financiers and executives who value – and are willing to pay for – a very secure technology.

According to Sirin Labs, the Solarin smartphone delivers supreme protection against cyber-attacks thanks to the startup’s partnerships with security firms Koolspan and Zimperium, which employ the same technologies that security forces and armies around the world use to protect their communications. This technology thwarts the most advanced device, network, and mobile cyber-attacks, without compromising the functionality of the rest of the phone, Sirin claims.

But is cyber-security important enough to merit such an incredibly expensive phone? “Cyber-attacks are endemic across the globe. This trend is on the increase. Just one attack can severely harm reputations and finances,” Cohen said in a statement. “Cost doesn’t influence our decision making; optimal functionality and quality do.”

SEE ALSO: Do We Choose To Erode Our Own Privacy? 73% Of Smartphone Users Willingly Share Their Location

The idea for Solarin originated when Rakishev experienced a mobile phone hack. As a businessman with substantial sensitive information stored on his phone, he was disturbed by the apparent lack of security in mobile technology and the absence of better options on the market. He reached out to Hogeg to share his predicament and later they formed Sirin Labs, along with Cohen.

A luxury phone for the über-wealthy 

There has already been some demand for ultra-expensive phones; Vertu, starting at $9,500, also targets all of its devices to the über-rich and prides itself on supreme design. The company has sold some 400,000 phones since 2002.

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

solarin smartphone by sirin labs

Could Solarin surpass that? If Sirin Labs – which has already received $97 million in financing from private investors, including Hogeg himself – will indeed provide high-performance, supreme connectivity, security and speed (4.6Gbps), it might be able to carve out a substantial niche for its pricey smartphone.

But prepare for major heartache if your $17,000 smartphone is stolen!

Photos and video: Sirin Labs

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Microsoft Opens Third Research And Development Center In Israel http://nocamels.com/2016/06/microsoft-research-center-nazareth-israel/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/microsoft-research-center-nazareth-israel/#respond Tue, 07 Jun 2016 06:45:59 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45675

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Software giant Microsoft has inaugurated a research and development center in the Galilee city of Nazareth, Israel, its third in the Startup Nation.

Located in the heart of Nazareth, the new center is joining those in Herzliya and Haifa, which employ more than 1,000 people.

Developers at the new Nazareth center – a few dozens in the initial phase – will work on major projects involving cyber-security, big data, business intelligence, cloud storage, and personalization.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft CEO In Tel Aviv: “No Doubt Israeli Human Capital Will Change The World”

Microsoft's new R&D center in Nazareth

Microsoft’s newly inaugurated R&D center in Nazareth, Israel

Microsoft opened its first R&D center outside the US in 1991, in Israel. The company’s R&D centers in Israel are among the few strategic global development centers the company operates outside the US, and are home to some of the company’s most innovative technologies, including some components of IBM Watson, its flagship artificial intelligence technology.

Microsoft also operates a local startup accelerator-venture capital combo called Microsoft Ventures in Israel.

Over the past years, the software behemoth has acquired several Israeli companies, including security startup Aorato and software companies Equivio and N-trig. Last year, Microsoft acquired Israeli cloud-security startup Adallom for $250 million.

250 foreign R&D centers

It’s a little known fact that two-thirds of all R&D employees in Israel are employed by foreign corporations such as HP, Intel and Microsoft, according Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. Currently, there are roughly 250 R&D centers of foreign high-tech companies in Israel, according to IVC Research Center.

SEE ALSO: Why The World’s Largest Tech Companies All Want A Piece Of The Israeli Pie

Microsoft Israel‘s CEO Yoram Yaacovi said at the inauguration ceremony: “The new Nazareth center is another step in our efforts to recruit Arab-Israeli engineers to our research and development labs, and expand into northern Israel. I believe that our presence in Nazareth would help them develop careers in a global company.”

Nazareth’s population is made up of mostly Christian and Muslim Arab-Israelis.

Microsoft

Yaacovi was joined at the June 2 inauguration ceremony in Nazareth by Ali Salam, mayor of Nazareth; Gregory Briscoe, senior commercial officer at the US embassy in Tel Aviv; and T.K. Rengarajan, corporate vice president at Microsoft.

Photos: Sivan Farag for Microsoft, PikiWiki

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Paid Too Much For An Airline Ticket? FairFly Can Find A Better Deal, Get Refund http://nocamels.com/2016/06/fairfly-rebooks-saves-money-airfare/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/fairfly-rebooks-saves-money-airfare/#respond Mon, 06 Jun 2016 07:17:01 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45643

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Traveling is fun; planning a trip is not, especially during the summer peak season. Every detail of a trip can take hours to be decided upon and can leave you with a headache. And this frustration starts with the first step of any trip: Buying an airline ticket.

The cost of any plane ticket will fluctuate from the moment the flight becomes available until the flight takes off, but most people don’t bother to find out if the fare has changed. According to FairFly, an Israeli mobile and Web app dedicated to helping you find the best possible fare after you’ve booked, 88 percent of people don’t check the cost of flights once the ticket has been bought.

SEE ALSO: Planning A Holiday? Meet The Top Israeli Startups That Make Travel So Much Easier

fairfly

Many people have heard the trick that buying a ticket on a Tuesday afternoon for a trip in six weeks’ time will get them the best fare; another rumor says booking exactly five months in advance will do the trick. But, unfortunately, there is no magic bullet.

$100 billion in overpayment 

Overall, people overpay roughly $100 billion a year because they don’t check the prices after they booked an airline ticket, according to a 2015 report by Business Insider. Fortunately, the founders of FairFly were aware of the situation and decided to find a way to help people save money.

SEE ALSO: Three New Israeli Startups For A 5-Star Trip

Using FairFly is a simple process. Once you’ve booked your flight, you need to send a copy of your itinerary to the FairFly team at trips@fairfly.com. They will immediately put your flight into the system and start scanning for lower fares. You can add as many flights as you want.

If FairFly finds a better deal – which will save you money even after you add the airline’s rebooking charge – you’ll receive an alert on your smartphone (Android or iOS) that will allow you to view the suggested flight. If you accept the new flight, a FairFly team member will call you to take care of the switch online – only with your permission. Then, you get to enjoy the extra cash for your trip.

Be warned, though, that the app only scans for one ticket at a time. If you you’ve booked for multiple passengers, you might end up being on separate flights even though FairFly tries its hardest to keep you together, according to the company.

The app itself is free; there’s no charge if FairFly can’t find a better deal. The startup only makes money when you save money. Tracking your booked flight around the clock is also free. If you end up saving, a 9 percent fee will be charged when FairFly rebooks your trip, based on your savings. In other words, the 9 percent will be taken out of the difference between your original flight price and the rebooking price.

Founded in Israel in 2013 by Uri Levine (the co-founder of popular navigation app Waze), along with Gili Lichtman, Aviel Tov and Ami Goldenberg, FairFly has so far raised $2 million from venture capital firm Blumberg Capital, Emery Capital, and Levine himself, whose company Waze was sold to Google three years ago for $1.3 billion.

If Levine bet his own money on FairFly, it could become just as popular and successful as Waze.

fairfly app

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Going For The Gold: Israel’s RideOn To Compete In Rio’s ‘Tech Olympics’ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/rideon-competes-rio-tech-olympics/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/rideon-competes-rio-tech-olympics/#respond Sun, 05 Jun 2016 07:10:09 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45609

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This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Israeli augmented reality tech company RideOn is one step closer to winning a grand prize of 100,000 euros ($112,000), and getting top billing at the Summer Olympic Games in Rio.

SEE ALSO: Public Transit App Moovit Launches Official Rio Olympics App, Integrates With Uber Taxis

The RideOn AR system installed in specially made ski goggles was chosen by the Hype Start-Up Foundation as the Israeli winner of its international startup competition. RideOn will now go up against submissions from the US, Greece, Italy, UK, Kenya and Brazil in the “Tech Olympics”, which will take place at the beginning of August, just prior to the real Summer Games.

rideon4

Judges will include top figures in the sports and tech world: Carlos Arthur Nuzman, President of the Rio 2016 Olympic Organizing Committee; Daniel Brusilovsky, CIO of the NBA; Avram Grant, former coach of Chelsea football club; Yuval Brown, CEO of Saucony Israel; Mac Freeman, VP of Denver Broncos (Super Bowl champion of 2016); and representatives of investment funds and private investors.

Hype is using the contest to jump-start its wide-scale platform for groundbreaking innovation in sports, focusing on wearable accessories, broadcasting tech, apps for athletes, coaches and fans.

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

Technology, believes investor Amir Rave, who chairs Hype, can make popular sports even more popular, and even inspire more young people to get active themselves.

“While other areas around the world are at the forefront of technological progress, the world of sports has suffered from relative conservatism for decades,” said Rave. “Our goal is to change this perception.”

Among the characteristics of the winner will be its ability to engage fans and enthusiasts, and RideOn has that covered. With its system, skiers can get information about others who are on the slopes, exchange messages with them, see ski lifts and lodges highlighted around them, pull up virtual maps, play music and more.

The information is presented through a see-through display positioned over the user’s eye. The system includes a camera, the ability to record video and has wireless connections.

To read the full article, click here

Photos and video: RideOn

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Can Israel Lead The Way On Sharing Economy? http://nocamels.com/2016/06/israeli-startups-lead-sharing-economy/ http://nocamels.com/2016/06/israeli-startups-lead-sharing-economy/#respond Wed, 01 Jun 2016 12:49:26 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45563

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The Israeli phenomenon of the Kibbutz – a collective community traditionally based on agriculture – taught Israelis how to share everything from food and clothes to sleeping quarters. Now, the Startup Nation is poised to become a major player in the sharing economy, which is based on sharing information and resources with one another for the benefit of everyone.

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

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

gettaxi

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

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

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

via suv

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

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

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

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

The eBay of hotel rooms 

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

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

eatwithtable

“Israel serves as the proving ground”

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

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

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

share

Photos: WeWork, EatWith, Via, GotCredit

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Bike-Stroller Combo ‘Taga’ Lets Parents Transport Kids The Green Way http://nocamels.com/2016/05/taga-bike-stroller-transports-kids/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/taga-bike-stroller-transports-kids/#respond Tue, 31 May 2016 07:59:20 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45338

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It’s a beautiful day and you’re a parent with local errands to run. With such nice weather outside it’s a shame to take your car out of the driveway, but pushing your child in a stroller can take forever. A bicycle would be a really good option, but unfortunately most bikes are two-wheelers with a child seat in the back, which are usually unstable and lacking important features parents and kids want.

Enter Taga, an Israeli startup company aiming to make it more practical, comfortable, safe, and easy to ride family bikes.

TagaPicTaga‘s first family bike, the Taga 1.0 bike-stroller, was created in 2007 and can be spotted around the globe. The original design concept, a bicycle that transforms into a stroller, was very popular, but the company sought to make a more affordable model without compromising quality or the features.

SEE ALSO: Israeli inventor seeks crowdfunding to put cardboard bike on the streets

With its new and improved version, Taga 2.0, the company seeks to take family bikes and travel to the next level. Taga is a safe and versatile way not only to handle day-to-day errands, but also a fun way to enjoy an active lifestyle with your children. Obviously, it’s much ‘greener’ than a car.

Recently launched on crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, Taga 2.0 raised $1.5 million in less than two weeks – 14 times the company’s original goal of $100,000. The newly launched Taga 2.0 starts at $599 on Kickstarter, below the standard price of similar bikes.

SEE ALSO: Qoros unveils what might just be the world’s coolest electric bicycle

Taga 2.0 has three wheels; in essence, it’s a tricycle for adults, which enables an easy and steady ride. The addition of a child carriage in the front allows for up to two kids to face both forwards and backwards while having enough space to store other cargo alongside. The child-seat attachment is versatile with multiple options including seat reclining and a full canopy enclosure for riding in bad weather.

Riders can secure an attachment bar which allows them to add various items, such as interactive toys, drinking bottles, and even a water gun. The entire bike is completely collapsible and can easily fit into a car trunk, or in most small spaces.

“With Taga 2.0 we are trying to create a method of transportation that is both practical and affordable,” Hagai Barak, Co-Founder and CEO of Taga, said in a statement. “Cargo bikes come in all shapes and sizes, but here at Taga we are looking to shift the focus from cargo to family. Taga 2.0 will be the next step not just for recreational bike riding, but for family transportation as a whole.”

Kids don’t need to take a back seat

With Taga 2.0, kids are sitting in the front, so parents and children can explore the world together. Carefully crafted with lots of add-ons for the entire family, Taga views their hybrid bike-stroller as a new way for riders to go green while staying active. But Taga is not just for shuttling kids around. Even if you don’t have kids, but just want to use it to carry your pets or cargo, Taga is just the ticket.

Intuitive functionality

In 2008 Taga first built a production line in Taiwan and the following year launched their first product – the Taga 1.0 convertible bike-stroller. Over the years, Taga sold their bike-strollers in over 40 countries, shipping them from their warehouses in the Netherlands, the US and Taiwan. Taga won several design and engineering awards, including the Red Dot Design Award, the Red Herring Top 100 Award and the two most prestigious awards in the bicycle and stroller industries: Eurobike and the Kind & Jugend award.

In 2014, Taga was ready for their next challenge – the Taga 2.0. The team began by reaching out to their customers and getting their feedback for a better understanding of their needs. With careful attention placed into every detail, Taga 2.0 is an easy to operate modern style bike-stroller with intuitive functionality that parents seek.

Whether it’s taking kids to school, running errands, or getting from place to place, Taga 2.0 seeks to turn what used to be a hassle into fun.

taga 1.0 stroller bike

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Israeli Company LiveU To Beam Summer Olympics Events Worldwide http://nocamels.com/2016/05/liveu-beam-summer-olympics-video/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/liveu-beam-summer-olympics-video/#respond Sun, 29 May 2016 08:59:45 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45497

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This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

The Israeli Olympic team may or may not win medals at the Summer Olympics in Brazil this year, but one Israeli startup is tapped to come home with accolades.

SEE ALSO: Public Transit App Moovit Launches Official Rio Olympics App, Integrates With Uber Taxis

Israeli firm LiveU’s cellular-based live video transmission technology will allow broadcasters to beam images from Brazil around the world in real time, with little latency and superb picture quality, according to customer William Albarracin, who was responsible for technology at the 2014 soccer World Cup, also in Brazil.

Olympic Village, Rio, Brazil

Olympic Village, Rio, Brazil

“LiveU exceeded our expectations,” said Albarracin. “It gave us the mobility to go live from anywhere at any time. We knew the Brazilian landscape was challenging, yet we hit 9 Mbps in some areas. Also, the management system, LiveU Central, gave us flexibility and geo-location that allowed us to maximize the use of units in the field.”

SEE ALSO: Inside The Rise Of ‘Meerkat’: How The Israeli App Is Helming Live Mobile Broadcasting

Headquartered in the Tel Aviv suburb of Kfar Saba, with a US office in Hackensack, New Jersey, LiveU has been around since 2006, and is still the only company offering a remote uplink solution for broadcast-quality video without requiring a satellite or wired Internet connection.

LiveU is currently the only company offering a robust transmission solution for broadcasters, consisting of up to 14 cellular (3G/4G — LTE/WiMAX) modems over multiple carriers, as well as multiple LAN and even BGAN satellite connections (as backup). The solution works with any camera, and the system’s bonded modems (both 3G and 4G) aggregate all data connections simultaneously to achieve high bandwidth and smooth transmission, even as bandwidth and signal levels change across the different connections.

Even though some of the connections from some of the carriers might suffer from fluctuations and slowdowns when there is heavy traffic in the network, LiveU’s software will compensate for that slowdown by drawing on other resources to keep the uplink going at the best possible quality, said LiveU CEO Samuel Wasserman.

To read the full article, click here

Photos and video: Tomasz Miłkoś, Olympic.org, LiveU

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Volkswagen Invests $300M In Israeli On-Demand Taxi Service Gett http://nocamels.com/2016/05/volkswagen-invests-300m-startup-gett/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/volkswagen-invests-300m-startup-gett/#respond Wed, 25 May 2016 08:58:02 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45448

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Car manufacturing giant Volkswagen is investing $300 million in Israeli on-demand taxicab provider Gett, it has just been announced.

SEE ALSO: David Vs. Goliath? Inside The Gett-Uber Battle Over Mobile Taxicab Services

Operating in 60 cities worldwide, Gett is one of the fastest-growing mobile ride-hailing providers in the world, rivaling $60 billion company Uber. The strategic investment – which will allow Volkswagen to expand on-demand mobility services in Europe – comes on the same day as Toyota’s undisclosed investment in Uber, and several months after General Motors invested $500 million in ride-sharing app Lyft.

gettaxi

The plan is for VW to offer on-demand ride services to its business customers, while Gett drivers will be offered discounted VW cars for their taxis.

“Alongside our pioneering role in the automotive business, we aim to become a world leading mobility provider by 2025,” VW chairman Matthias Müller said in a statement.

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

The Volkswagen Group is hoping that by partnering with Gett, it will be able to keep up with other automotive giants which have already jumped on the on-demand mobility bandwagon. Automakers fear that the rise of ride-sharing apps and on-demand transportation services such as Gett, Uber, Lyft and Via (another Israeli startup) could lead to a decline in car ownership. That’s why they’re either investing in such startups or starting their own mobility divisions.

While Gett still trails far behind Uber, it is already available in dozens of cities worldwide, including Moscow, New York and London, where half of all the black cabs use Gett. VW says Gett has a “convenient and highly efficient mobility solution” that is “already trusted by more than 4,000 leading corporations worldwide,” and stresses that its business model is based exclusively on licensed drivers who have a permit to carry passengers.

Shahar Waiser, CEO of Gett

Shahar Waiser, Founder and CEO of Gett

Founded in 2010 by Shahar Waiser and Roi More, Gett has so far raised a total of $520 million. Through the Gett app, consumers can, at the touch of a button, book on-demand rides instantly or pre-book rides for later. Besides transportation, Gett covers innovative delivery and logistics solutions.

“Constantly evolving, Gett’s technology leverages big data, cutting-edge predictive algorithms, and artificial intelligence,” according to VW. “It therefore serves as the foundation for a viable on-demand autonomous car operation.”

Gett was recently selected by Forbes magazine as one of the “top 15 explosively growing companies.”

Photos and video: Gett, Volkswagen

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Do We Choose To Erode Our Own Privacy? 73% Of Smartphone Users Willingly Share Their Location http://nocamels.com/2016/05/increased-smartphone-use-threatens-privacy/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/increased-smartphone-use-threatens-privacy/#respond Tue, 24 May 2016 10:13:49 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45107

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Among the many things people cherish is their privacy. “Privacy is not something that I’m merely entitled to, it’s an absolute prerequisite,” actor Marlon Brando once said. Of course, he said it long before smartphones, GPS and social networks came into existence. These days, privacy is indeed a valuable commodity.

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

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

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

Smartphones - Technology News - Israel

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

Overwhelming willingness to share location on social networks

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

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

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

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

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

man with smartphone

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

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

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Check Out Coldplay’s Stunning New Music Video Created By Israeli Wunderkinds http://nocamels.com/2016/05/coldplay-heymann-music-video-muggia/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/coldplay-heymann-music-video-muggia/#respond Sun, 22 May 2016 06:39:44 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45162

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This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Interactive video master Vania Heymann is at it again, this time with a video for Coldplay’s new single, “Up&Up.”

SEE ALSO: Bob Dylan’s Israeli-Made Music Video Is Voted Best Of The Year By Time Magazine

It’s a Lilliputian take on a surreal world, where eagles fly underwater, the planets bop about on a city sidewalk and volcanoes pop corn.

The Coldplay musicians, including lead singer Chris Martin, are cast as giants, whether they’re playing bass in the clouds, lolling on the edge of the beach, or romping on a patchwork quilt of fields, as seen from high up in the sky.

For Coldplay, it’s the third single from their seventh studio album, “A Head Full of Dreams,” to be fully launched as they start touring this month through September.

For young Israelis Heymann and Gal Muggia, the co-directors, it’s another notch in their growing roster of inventive videos. Heymann’s last production was for CeeLo Green’s single “Robin Williams,” which used the Google search bar to unfold the lyrics of the song.

Before that, he played with Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” which allowed viewers to surf through 16 television channels, all featuring characters lip-syncing the famed lyrics of the song.

SEE ALSO: Check Out CeeLo’s Crazy-Cool Interactive Music Video For Robin Williams

Like all of Heymann’s works, the Coldplay piece demands the viewer’s undivided attention, and there’s often the need to hit “pause” and scroll back to be sure you saw what you think you saw.

coldplay video heymann

Lilliputian scene from Coldplay’s new music video

To read the full article, click here

Photos and video: Coldplay

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Chinese Takeout: These Five Israeli Startups Are Taking China By Storm http://nocamels.com/2016/05/israeli-startups-china-investments-technology/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/israeli-startups-china-investments-technology/#respond Wed, 18 May 2016 09:01:59 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=44503

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At first glance, the two nations couldn’t be more different. One is a tiny country in the Middle East with a population of just over 8.5 million, while the other is one of the largest countries in size and the world’s most populous, with 1.38 billion people. Despite their differences, ever since Israel and China established diplomatic relations in 1992, the two countries have steadily drawn closer to each other, partly thanks to Chinese investment in Israeli startups.

SEE ALSO: With Strong Tech Ties, Is Israel China’s New Best Friend?

“Thousands of Chinese investors are seeking strategic investment in Israeli startups,” Edwards You Lyu, CEO of Vadi Ventures, a Tel Aviv-based company aimed at supporting Chinese investments in Israeli startups, said in a statement.

ChinalovesisraelOnce unheard of, Chinese investment in Israeli companies has now become commonplace. A recent example is Fosun Pharmaceuticals, a division of one of the biggest companies in China, which bought Israeli cosmetics maker Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories for a reported $77 million.

These five Israeli high-tech companies have attracted the attention of major Chinese investors:

Visualead: ‘Designer’ QR codes

Many large Chinese firms and investors are already doing business in Israel. Giant online retailer Alibaba, for example, has invested in several Israeli companies, including Visualead, whose technology enables product manufacturers to print labels with unique QR codes for each individual product package.

QR codes are images for mobile devices that are used as “shortcuts” to reach websites, and Visualead’s technology utilizes aesthetic shapes and colors to create ‘designer’ QR codes that can be made to order products.

While the use of QR codes for mobile marketing is widespread across the globe, they’re especially popular in China due to their social network and app connectivity. Based on Visualead’s experience, consumers are four times more likely to scan a visual QR code than a regular black and white QR code, according to the company.

Pixellot: A new way of filming

Baidu, the Chinese company sometimes called the Chinese Google, invested $3 million in the Israeli video-capture firm Pixellot, which has developed a unique method of filming — the unmanned “capture-all” system, which deploys cameras to capture all angles and views of a venue. Pixellot is known for its high-quality and affordable alternative to traditional video capture and production processes, opening the way to a new era in sports and music video production.

“We’re very enthusiastic about bringing Pixellot’s ground-breaking technology to Chinese Internet users,” Peter Fang, senior director of Baidu Corporate Development, said in a statement. “For the first time, video content producers can broadcast concerts, sports, and stage events and enable the audience to watch streaming video with total freedom to choose camera angles in real time on their devices. We think this will revolutionize video content production.”

AutoAgronom: Saving water, one drop at a time

Another Chinese company that dove into the Israeli tech market was Yuanda, which in 2014 bought Israeli agricultural technology startup AutoAgronom, and last year invested another $180 million in it. With the investment, AutoAgronom is setting up a factory in China to manufacture autonomous irrigation systems and distribute them throughout China.

SEE ALSO: Innovation Nation: 10 Israeli Technologies That Are Changing The World

AutoAgronom is a major player in the world of smart, autonomous irrigation systems. Its products are currently used in 13 countries and the company asserts that it is an expert in improving efficiency of water and fertilizer usage for environmental protection. Its intelligent drip irrigation system makes it possible for 95 percent of the liquid to be absorbed and various targets to be monitored. With the help of the system, the water consumption for each acre plunges from 500 tons to 150 tons.

Tonara: Music education software

In China, performing classical music is seen as a status symbol for the rising middle class. An estimated 40 million children there are learning to play the piano. Perhaps this explains why Chinese Internet giant Baidu, China’s largest search engine, invested $5 million in Tonara, an Israeli music education software company.

Tonara, which was founded by Evgeni Begelfor and Yair Lavi in 2008, combines audio signal analysis with proprietary algorithms to enable computers to understand notes in live or recorded music. Tonara’s mobile app can follow any number of notes played simultaneously on any number of different instruments, track the user’s current position in the score even if he or she changes tempo or makes a mistake, and turn the page at the right moment.

It can also match any note in a score with the corresponding note in a session recorded on the Tonara app, called Wolfie, so musicians don’t have to rewind or fast-forward through audio playback in order to find passages they need to listen to or practice.

ThetaRay: Keeping us safe from cyber threats

Aibaba also invested in Israeli cyber-security startup ThetaRay. Founded in 2014 by Prof. Amir Averbuch of Tel Aviv University and Yale’s Prof. Ronald Coifman, the company has developed a solution to detect and prevent APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) and zero-day attacks (a hole in software that is unknown to the vendor) within minutes from the moment they occur.

chinese houseAs to the future, tightening the business relations between China and Israel could contribute to both nations. “For political reasons, we were apart for many years, but now China is very open,” E Hao, Co-CEO of GWC, the Chinese company behind this year’s Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Tel Aviv, tells NoCamels. “But as long as the two countries have more understanding, opportunities happen.”

Following conferences in Beijing (with half a million attendees), Tokyo, Jakarta, Bangalore, San Francisco, Sao Paulo and Taipei, choosing Tel Aviv as the next venue for GMIC was a no-brainer for Hao. “50 CEOs from China came here, including a private jet with seven Chinese CEOs – that’s unprecedented,” he says. “A similar event in a major North American city wasn’t able to attract as many Chinese CEOs as the Tel Aviv event did. Israel is very attractive to Chinese businesses.”

As the Chinese-Israeli business cooperation continues to expand, one can only imagine what new experiences await us. Eating falafel with chopsticks perhaps?

Photos and videos: The companies, Severin.stalder, Ronen Machlev, Vallabh Rao, Idont

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JoyTunes’ Apps ‘Gamify’ Piano Lessons, Make Practicing Fun http://nocamels.com/2016/05/joytunes-ipad-iphone-piano-instructor/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/joytunes-ipad-iphone-piano-instructor/#respond Mon, 16 May 2016 09:33:32 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=45112

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One of the most frequent fights children have with their parents is how often they practice piano. Teachers typically expect their students to practice three or four times a week, but for many kids, it’s a high expectation. Now, learning to play the piano can be much more enjoyable thanks to Israeli startup JoyTunes, also known as the virtual piano instructor.

SEE ALSO: App That Teaches You How To Play Piano Is Number 1 On iTunes Store

Founded in 2010 in Tel Aviv, JoyTunes has developed three mobile applications that help people learn an instrument. Teachers can use the app – currently available on iOS devices for piano – to enhance their lessons, and students can either practice or use the app to learn on their own.

At the moment, JoyTunes only offers tutorials to learn piano, but the team is working to expand the number of instruments.

According to the company, its three iOS apps (expected to be released to android devices soon), can improve musical skills. You may start with the basics, learning simple notes and scales, and eventually build your way up to playing entire songs. Just place your iPad or iPhone on any surface in front of you, and hit the keys (on an actual piano or keyboard) as they’re presented to you. Your mobile device will be able to hear if you’ve made mistakes, so you can go back to correct them if needed.

SEE ALSO: New Game Turns Your iPad Into A Piano

If you’re a teacher, you can use JoyTunes’ Piano Maestro app to help keep your students motivated by making their practice time more engaging. Students are able to practice the skills taught to them by their teachers by playing along to songs ranging from classical music to pop tunes.

While playing along with the application, Piano Maestro records the performances of its students and awards them stars if they play well. If a student earns three stars or more, they can send their score directly to their parents’ mobile device.

piano keys

If you’re an individual learning to play on your own, you can use JoyTunes’ Simply Piano app to learn the essentials and then tutor yourself by having the application open in front of you while you play on your instrument at home. The application is designed to hear if you make mistakes, giving you the ability to know when you erred and fix them.

JoyTunes’ third app, called Piano Duster, is a starter version designed for young kids who have no prior musical knowledge.

Since 2010, JoyTunes’ co-founders Roey Izkovsky and brothers Yigal and Yuval Kaminka have raised $7 million from angel investors and venture capital firms such as Aleph, Genesis Partners, Formation 8 and Founder Collective. Their current business model is based on in-app purchases, ranging from $5 to $60 each.

Keeping students engaged 

JoyTunes’ biggest drawback is that you need the motivation to continue practicing in order to improve. While the application does “gamify” the act of learning an instrument to make it more fun and attractive, without motivation (or a teacher breathing down your neck), there’s no way for JoyTunes to force you to keep working.

However, thanks to the gaming aspects of the application, JoyTunes has helped many teachers and parents keep their kids interested in playing and practicing the way they need to in order to hone their skills.

“Teachers have told us that they had a student who already quit piano and just as a last resort they gave them JoyTunes,” co-founder Yigal Kaminka tells NoCamels. “A few weeks later, the students asked to start again, and now they’re the star student of the whole studio.”

learning piano app joytunes

Using the power of games to master musical skills

The idea for JoyTunes was born after Kaminka – an oboe player in the orchestra – had toured Germany with a world-renown conductor. He returned to Israel to visit his nephew, who was extremely excited to show his uncle his new video games, but not at all interested in showing off his piano skills. After being urged by his mother to start practicing piano, a fight ensued, a fight that almost anyone who learned piano as a child has had with his parents.

“We decided that we wanted to end these fights using the power of games to master musical skills,” Kaminka says, and that’s why JoyTunes combines aspects of video games and music.

Can JoyTunes replace my instructor? 

While the JoyTunes team hopes the application will help new musicians, they urge people not to forget that as fun and helpful as JoyTunes’ apps are, nothing can help you capture the “soul” of music without a proper instructor.

So whether you’ve been hankering to master Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 in F major, or want to impress your friends with Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” (or anything in between), JoyTunes could very well be the app for you.

joytunes

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Innovation Nation: 10 Israeli Technologies That Are Changing The World http://nocamels.com/2016/05/10-world-changing-israeli-technologies/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/10-world-changing-israeli-technologies/#respond Wed, 11 May 2016 07:40:56 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=44971

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Israel has been dubbed the “Startup Nation” – the country with the highest number of startups per capita in the world. Over the past decades, thousands of Israeli startups have given rise to innovations in a range of fields, from agricultural irrigation and GPS navigation to life-saving cancer treatments.

SEE ALSO: Meet The Winners: The Coolest Israeli Startups And Innovations Of 2015

Just ahead of Israel’s 68th birthday, and in recognition of the country’s achievements in the fields of science, technology and medicine, an exhibition of the most outstanding Israeli discoveries opened at Ben Gurion Airport. A large part of the exhibition is devoted to Israeli Nobel Prize winners; another part showcases Israeli inventions such as the flash drive, Teva’s Copaxone drug for treating multiple sclerosis, the PillCam disposable capsule that films the gastrointestinal tract, a robot that helps with back pain, and Intel chips that were developed in Israel.

israeli inventions

Photos of Israeli inventions currently exhibited at Ben Gurion Airport

But which Israeli startups and technologies are truly changing the world? In honor of Israel’s 68th Independence Day, we highlight 10 innovations that have impacted the world for the better or are in the process of changing our lives forever.

IceCure: Turning tumors into ice balls 

What, if any, could be the connection between cancer and ice? It’s a tough one, but the Israeli scientists at IceCure seem to have figured it out. IceCure’s cryoablation technology, which has already shown promise in clinical trials in Japan and the US, actually turns small benign and malignant breast and lung tumors into balls of ice, eliminating the need for surgical procedures. The cryoablation system uses below-freezing temperatures and liquid nitrogen to essentially freeze the tumor in place, in a procedure that takes just 15 minutes and requires only a bit of local anesthetic. Watch out cancer – it’s about to get cold.

ReWalk: Helping paraplegics walk

If driving is something most of us take for granted, then walking surely is. 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. Now, using a revolutionary exoskeleton walking device ReWalk, which was recently approved for home and communal use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US, wheelchair-bound individuals are be able to move freely.

At the forefront of medical technology, ReWalk’s exoskeleton is powered not by robots, but by a computer and motion sensors that work together to mimic natural gait. The revolutionary system corrects itself to pick up slight changes in the user’s center of gravity; can be adjusted to a functional walking speed; and even enables users to climb and descend staircases. Claire Lomas was even able to complete the 2012 London Marathon in 17 days using the ReWalk device.

Founded by Israeli Dr. Amit Goffer in 2001, ReWalk could soon make wheelchairs obsolete.

Mobileye: Preventing accidents

Making driving safer and potentially saving lives, Israeli company Mobileye develops driver assistance technology to prevent accidents, but 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 raised nearly $1 billion in its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in July 2014, making it the largest-ever Israeli IPO.

mobileyepedestrian

Waze: Saving you time on the road

Speaking of driving, no list about innovative 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 Google’s self-driving cars, Waze’s innovative technology will certainly play a major role in their development.

SniffPhone: Detecting deadly diseases on the breath 

Last year, 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 he 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.

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.

Netafim: Drip irrigation saves precious water 

Netafim is synonymous with the famous Israeli invention of drip irrigation, which is now helping numerous countries around the world to conserve water and save money by supplying plants with just the right amount of water. The drip irrigation technique was developed back in the 60s by Israeli engineer and inventor Simcha Blass, along with Kibbutz Hazerim, which later started manufacturing the original drip irrigation systems on site.

SEE ALSO: In Face Of Global Shortage, World Leaders Praise Israel’s Water Technologies

Today, Netafim is the world’s leading manufacturer of drip irrigation systems, which save 30-70 percent of the water used with overhead sprays, oscillating sprinklers or rotors.

Solaris Synergy: Floating solar energy

Israel is known for harvesting energy from the sunlight using solar panels. Now, as solar energy companies around the world are competing for the relatively few vast land areas required to house solar farms, Israeli startup Solaris Synergy has found a new terrain to use. Instead of a land-based solar system, the company decided to develop a water-based technology. In other words: A floating solar power plant. According to Solaris Synergy, any fresh, salt or waste water surface can be turned into a solar energy platform. Founded in 2008 in Jerusalem,  the company claims its solar-on-water solution dramatically lowers the cost of renewable energy production since the water surface is also used for cooling the solar panels.

Takadu: Smart water management 

Since water is not just for irrigation, Israeli startup TaKaDu is working on solutions to leaking pipes. Founded in 2009 by CEO Amir Peleg, the company provides a water network monitoring system service that gives water utility companies the capability to monitor their network, detect leaks, bursts, inefficiencies and problems with their equipment or operational issues – all in real-time. The beauty of TaKaDu, which was founded in 2009, is that it uses existing data from already available sensors and meters on the network.

WoundClot bandages: Stop severe bleeding within minutes

Compression is one of the simplest ways to prevent severe bleeding, and yet it is not suitable in all cases, especially when the injured may have internal bleeding. Israeli-developed WoundClot bandages offer a solution, saving lives within minutes – before the injured even reaches a hospital.

Developed by nano-materials specialist Dr. Shani Eliyahu-Gross of Core Scientific Creations, WoundClot is composed of a highly absorbent gauze made from regenerated cellulose (what plant cell walls are made of). When applied to a wound, this single-use, sterile bandage turns into a gel-state membrane, forming a stable membrane with the platelets (clotting blood cells) from the wound. By enhancing the natural process of coagulation, WoundClot stops hemorrhaging within minutes. Perhaps more importantly, the membrane lasts up for up to 24 hours.

BioBee: Using insects to control pests

The big buzz around Israel’s Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, a pioneer in organic agriculture, is that it has successfully left its mark on chemical-free farming with its very own company BioBee. The firm, which was established in 1984, specializes in breeding beneficial insects and mites to help propel agricultural growth in open fields and greenhouses.

Through its subsidiary Bio Fly, the company sells pollinating bumblebees and sterile male Mediterranean fruit flies to help control pests. This well-established firm already exports eight different species of biological control agent to 30 nations, including the US, Japan and Chile.

Environment News: Researchers Use Bee Hormones To Kill Pests While Protecting Bees

While it’s hard to predict what the future holds for Israel, one thing is certain: Israelis will continue to innovate to try and make our world a better place, for the next 68 years – and beyond.

Photos and videos: Israeli Ministry of Science, Technology and Space; the companies

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Motorola Solutions Opens Innovation Center In Israel, Scouts For Startups http://nocamels.com/2016/05/motorola-solutions-israeli-innovation-center/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/motorola-solutions-israeli-innovation-center/#respond Mon, 09 May 2016 08:14:45 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=44864

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This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Active  in Israel for over half a century, Motorola Solutions, the non-cellphone “twin” of the legendary electronics firm, announced that it was opening an innovation center in Israel.

SEE ALSO: Exit Nation: Israeli Startups Sell For Whopping $9B in 2015

The company already has several hundred employees at a research and development center in the Tel Aviv area, which aims at finding and developing deals with Israeli startups, the company said.

At the recent announcement of the new facility, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Motorola Solutions Chairman and CEO Greg Brown, who said that the center would seek out startups and technology in the areas of cyber-security, big data analytics, mobile tech and the Internet of Things tech.

Prime_Minister_of_Israel_Benjamin_Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

“You’re in the right place, in the right country, in the right business,” said Netanyahu. “That’s a very good match. I hope that other multinational companies in the development of technologies come to Israel — because they’ll benefit.”

SEE ALSO: The Top Six Global Accelerators Kick-Starting Israeli Startups

Motorola Solutions is one of the “twins” created when telecom firm Motorola split in 2011; the other “twin” is Motorola Mobile. A mere seven months later, the mobile company was bought by Google for $12.5 billion — only to be sold to Lenovo in 2014 for $2.9 billion (although Google did retain most of the company’s valuable patent portfolio).

Solutions, meanwhile, remains intact, and concentrates on enterprise level and homeland security communications solutions. Motorola Inc. — as it was known back then — was the first American company to set up shop in Israel in 1948, when a local firm represented the company at the dawn of Israel’s birth. The company set up its own research and development lab in Israel in 1964, long before any other multinational got the idea. It was Motorola’s first foray outside the US.

Among the products the Israeli team has helped develop is Motorola’s LEX line of communications devices for first responders, law enforcement, and other emergency workers. The LEX L10 Mission Critical LTE Handheld, for example, uses nearly all communication protocols that rescue workers and responders rely on — public 3G networks and the 4G LTE spectrum set aside for safety agencies with automatic roaming, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS, allowing for communications under any circumstances

“Motorola wants to invest more resources here in Israel,” said Brown. “This is an outstanding area for innovation, technology incubation, and joint venture investment.”

Technology News: Israeli Solves 100-Year-Old 'Uncrackable' Code

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Press Office

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Ride-Sharing Startup Via Raises $100M; Revs Up Competition Against Uber, Lyft http://nocamels.com/2016/05/ride-sharing-startup-via-raises-100m/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/ride-sharing-startup-via-raises-100m/#respond Sun, 08 May 2016 10:29:43 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=44920

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Revving up its competition against ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, Israeli startup Via raised a whopping $70 million in financing last week; additional $30 million in strategic investments are expected to close in the coming weeks. This $100 million monster round – one of the largest raised by an Israeli startup so far this year – could help the budding app carve out its own niche in a world that’s becoming saturated with transportation apps, including Israeli mobile taxicab service Gett.

SEE ALSO: Public Transit App Moovit Launches Official Rio Olympics App, Integrates With Uber Taxis

The current funding round was led by Israeli venture capital firm Pitango, along with the Israeli VC arm of Bank Hapoalim, Poalim Capital Markets, and others. Since its inception four years ago, on-demand transportation app Via has raised a total of $137 million. Previous investors include Ervington Investments (representing Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich), Hearst Ventures, and 83North.

via app
The new funds will be used to drive growth in New York City and Chicago, where Via is currently available, as well as to expand into new markets, and aid transit authorities seeking to improve their services by using Via’s technology. In addition, the funds will support strategic partnerships to operate Via’s platform in novel environments, such as the collaboration with Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America currently underway in South Orange County, California.

$5 rides 

Headquartered in New York City, the company’s development center is in Tel Aviv, Israel, and it has an office in Chicago. Founded in 2012 by Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval, Via enables tens of thousands of passengers each day to share their ride with others headed the same way. Via has so far provided more than four million rides, and is growing rapidly. Ride prices start at $5 plus tax for those who prepay on the app.

Contrary to its competitors, Via doesn’t offer door-to-door services; rather, the app books multiple passengers headed in the same direction and drops them off within a block or two of their requested destination.

How does it work? An algorithm matches, in real time, multiple passengers headed the same way with a single large SUV or van. Passengers request rides through a mobile app, and Via’s systems instantly select and, if necessary, re-route the vehicle that best matches the passenger’s route.

SEE ALSO: David Vs. Goliath? Inside The Gett-Uber Battle Over Mobile Taxicab Services

The algorithm’s smart routing allows passengers to be picked up and dropped off in an endless stream, without taking riders out of their way to accommodate other passengers. Via is different than its competitors because its platform “moves a high volume of riders while using a fraction of the number of vehicles utilized by other on-demand car services,” according to the company.

“Via is creating the public transit system of the future”

Israelis Ramot and Shoval, who previously led engineering projects for the Israeli Air Force, have PhDs in neuroscience and systems biology from Stanford University and from Israel’s Weizmann Institute, respectively. The idea for Via came from Israel, where many people rely on shared vehicles called “Sherut” (service, in Hebrew) to travel along major streets and even between cities.

Chicago

Chicago

“Via is creating the public transit system of the future,” according to Ramot and Shoval. “With existing transportation infrastructure straining, and in some cases failing to meet rising demand across the globe, Via’s dynamic bus system offers cities a smart solution to traffic congestion and emissions. We’re delighted to have secured significant backing for our vision: eliminating single-occupancy vehicle trips by creating a mass transit system powered by advanced algorithms and data.”

According to Isaac Hillel, managing general partner of Pitango‘s Growth Fund, Via provides “a true public transit solution” and should be able to “capture significant market share in the rapidly evolving transportation market.”

via suv

Photos: Via, Andrew RuizSky 269

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Public Transit App Moovit Launches Official Rio Olympics App, Integrates With Uber Taxis http://nocamels.com/2016/05/moovit-transit-app-rio-olympics-uber-taxis/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/moovit-transit-app-rio-olympics-uber-taxis/#respond Thu, 05 May 2016 10:52:39 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=44276

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Israeli app Moovit, which provides real-time information on the fastest public transportation routes (buses, trains and underground), has launched an Olympics app in Rio de Janeiro, which expects over 500,000 visitors to attend the August 2016 Games. This news comes on the heels of an announcement that the Israeli startup – which is dubbed “the Waze of public transportation” – will add real-time information on Uber taxis in 131 cities, starting with 22 major North American and European cities.

SEE ALSO: David Vs. Goliath? Inside The Gett-Uber Battle Over Mobile Taxicab Services

While the partnership with Uber doesn’t immediately affect Moovit users in Rio, the official Moovit app for Rio 2016 will help visitors arrive on time to Olympic venues, finding the fastest routes from one event to the next. 50 kilometers of new lines have been mapped with traffic information in order to make transit during the Rio 2016 Olympics smoother, according to reports in the local media. Moovit is also expected to be available on Rio’s official tourism website

Technology News: The Next Waze? Social Public Transportation App Moovit Raises $28M

From buses to ride-sharing services, Moovit covers it all

If you use public transportation to get from one place to another, knowing when your bus or train will arrive is a big help. Offering an alternative to transportation uncertainty, Moovit relieves commuters’ frustration by taking real-time user feedback about public transportation and making it useful to a wider audience. With 35 million users worldwide, the app already functions in 65 countries (850 cities), and is available in 41 different languages. According to the company, Moovit’s popularity is growing very rapidly with two million new users joining every month.

The idea for Moovit began in 2011 when Israeli founders Yaron Evron and Roy Bick decided that they should use mobile technology to the benefit of public transportation riders in Israel. They consulted with Nir Erez, the current CEO of Moovit and co-founder of Israeli software holding group Eyron, who decided the app should go big or go home – distribute internationally or not at all.

Since then, the startup has raised over $81 million from BRM Capital, Sequoia Capital, Nokia Growth Partners and Gemini Israel Ventures.

“So many moving parts” 

“When you are driving your private car, the roads are static, the only variable is traffic,” Erez tells NoCamels. “When you use other means of transportation (bus, train, taxi, etc.), there are so many moving parts (the weather, the traffic, transportation authority delays) that every day is a new challenge. If you ask people who use public transportation what their biggest frustration is, they will tell you that it’s the lack of information. You leave home and you don’t know if the bus is going to be late or if there was an accident that will force you to miss your train. It’s a chain of events. With Moovit, you have all the information literally at your fingertips. Many users have told us that Moovit changed their life and made taking public transportation a real option for them.”

Moovit uses crowdsourcing to gather data, both actively reported by users and automatically collected by the app. This data is used to address what Moovit believes to be all public transportation users’ basic needs: They need to know how to get from A to B at a given time, and they need to know the estimated time of arrival of a bus or train, so that they can plan their travel time accordingly. With these basic needs in mind, Moovit designed an app that uses several levels of data to satisfy their users with what they claim to be almost 90 percent accuracy for a major metro area like New York City transit.

As its first layer of information, Moovit uses the schedules of buses and trains published by the transportation companies. Then, there is a statistical layer provided by the users of the app, which records data on time and distance from previous trips. There is also the GPS data provided by the transportation companies about the locations of the vehicles, allowing Moovit to closely monitor and update ETAs. Finally – and this is where crowdsourcing comes in – the two final layers of the “Moovit cake” are based on active user reports about the condition of the roads and even how many seats remain on the bus. These ratings contribute significantly to the Moovit experience that allows public transportation users to better control their commute.

moovit app

A  mapping community

Moovit relies on a very active community of editors that map cities worldwide that otherwise would not have been able to launch the app due to a lack of readily available transit data. Since the program’s launch in 2014, the community has grown to more than 40,000 editors who help keep vital transit information up to date for commuters all over the world, and have helped to bring transit data to many regions and cities that otherwise wouldn’t be served.

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

“We release a service in a new city every 18 hours,” Erez tells NoCamels. Still, his biggest contribution to Moovit seems to be his commitment to the influence the app has on people’s lives. Through Moovit, he hopes to remodel the dismal patterns of transportation we are so used to and “drive drivers to use public transport and change the world.” In other words, Moovit has the potential to make our world much “greener.”

Not only that, Moovit is now making the world a better place by helping the blind navigate public transportation systems. Erez, who experienced serious vision problems and underwent several procedures, is eager to assist. “One of our core values is trying to do good – for everyone, all over the globe.”

moovit

Photos and videos: Moovit, Olympic.org

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Beepi Is Transforming The Used-Car Market With Online, Mobile Shopping http://nocamels.com/2016/05/beepi-sells-buys-used-cars/ http://nocamels.com/2016/05/beepi-sells-buys-used-cars/#respond Tue, 03 May 2016 09:02:10 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=44814

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Move over car dealers, Beepi is disrupting the used car industry by handing over the selling and buying of pre-owned cars to our own computers and smartphones.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Company Mobileye Gearing Up For Driverless Cars

Startup Beepi was born after CEO and co-founder Ale Resnik had a horrendous experience purchasing a pre-owned vehicle, resulting in numerous hours spent in court. Resnik recognized the need for an easy, trustworthy way to buy and sell used cars. So, in 2010, he founded Beepi with Israeli Omer “Owen” Savir.

The startup – which has expanded to 15 US markets since its inception – has so far raised $150 million, and is valued at $564 million. A year ago, it was reported that Beepi was planning to raise $300 million in a monster funding round that would have valued the startup at a whopping $2 billion. Today, a spokesman for the company declined to comment on the progress of this round.

Wrapped with a bow, delivered straight to your home 

If you’re looking to get rid of your car, download the Beepi app and enter a few details about your car and your location. Then Beepi will schedule a time for one of their inspectors to examine your car. If the car passes – has a clean title, no structural damage, and no more than three previous owners, among other criteria – and you agree on a selling price, your car will be published and available for sale on Beepi.

beepi car bow

How do you reach an agreement on the price? Beepi developed an algorithm that takes into account the market conditions in order to reach a price that satisfies both the seller and the potential buyer. At this point, Beepi takes over and all you have to do is wait for your check, with a guarantee of your car selling in 30 days or Beepi buying it from you. Beepi will take your car to one of their operation centers and hold it under their own insurance until it is sold or delivered.

SEE ALSO: Charge Your Car In Five Minutes

If you are in the market for a used car, you can browse Beepi, fill in a few details and the car will be delivered to you, wrapped with a bow. At delivery, the buyer must show proof of insurance in order for the transaction to be completed. Those who purchase cars through Beepi save an average of $1,706, according to the company, which charges 9-10 percent on each transaction, half of the industry standard. Recently, the startup also launched a used car leasing service.

Changing the way people buy and sell used cars 

Beepi’s goal is to fundamentally change the way people buy and sell used cars; however, the founders don’t plan on putting all used car dealerships out of business, as a spokesperson for Beepi told NoCamels: “There is plenty of room for traditional dealers and online marketplaces like Beepi to coexist and thrive.”

In addition to old-school used car dealerships, Beepi is competing against startup Vroom, which is headquartered in New York, and offers similar services.

Cars currently listed on Beepi are priced from $8,000 all the way to $144,000 (for a Porsche). It remains to be seen whether the convenience of shopping for a car with a touch of a fingertip will make consumers more comfortable making such a huge purchase online.

beepi app

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Can Hackers Stalk You On Google’s Popular Navigation App Waze? http://nocamels.com/2016/04/hackers-stalk-google-navigation-app-waze/ http://nocamels.com/2016/04/hackers-stalk-google-navigation-app-waze/#respond Thu, 28 Apr 2016 09:20:45 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=44754

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Hackers can potentially stalk Waze’s 50 million users, who turn on Google’s popular navigation app on a daily basis in order to find the fastest route to get from one location to another, according to a University of California-Santa Barbara study.

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

If hackers can indeed track drivers, this security breach can be quite scary. “It’s such a massive privacy problem,” Prof. Ben Zhao, who led the research, told Fusion.

The UCSB research team discovered a Waze vulnerability that allowed them to create thousands of “ghost drivers” that can monitor the drivers around them. In a three-day experiment, these ghost drivers tracked the movement of a news reporter in real time.

Waze

According to Zhao’s study, “our work shows that today’s mapping services are highly vulnerable to software agents controlled by malicious users, and both the stability of these services and the privacy of millions of users are at stake.”

Creating fake traffic jams 

The current attack on Waze – an Israeli startup bought by Google in 2013 – is somewhat similar to a 2014 hack conducted by students of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, which nearly caused mayhem on the roads of Israel. In that case, emulators sent traffic bots into Waze to create the appearance of a traffic jam.

SEE ALSO: Waze Attacked: Technion Students Create Traffic Jam Cyber Attack On GPS App

But according to Waze – which claims the recent media reports contain “severe misconceptions” – hackers can’t really create fake traffic jams or follow drivers’ moves. “User accounts were not compromised, there was no server breach,” according to a statement released yesterday in response to reporters’ questions, including those presented by NoCamels.

As for the recent breach, “the reporter in the article gave her location and username to the research team, which greatly simplified the process of deducing sections of her route after the fact by using a system of ghost riders,” Waze says. “We appreciate the researchers bringing this to our attention and have implemented safeguards in the past 24 hours to address the vulnerability and prevent ghost riders from affecting system behavior and performing similar tracking activities. None of these activities have occurred in real-time and in real-world environments, without knowing participants.”

“Built upon trust”

The company, which was founded by Uri Levine, Ehud Shabtai and Amir Shinar in 2007 and acquired by Google for $1.3 billion three years ago, assures drivers that “it regularly examines the security of our system and we expect to test and implement further security measures as any company does.”

The company emphasizes that “the Waze ecosystem is built upon trust and deep respect for all of you – real-time traffic simply doesn’t work without the participation of our community – and we are constantly reviewing and adding safeguards to protect our users.”

waze community

Photos: Courtesy

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Not Your Childhood Lego: BRIXO Brings Building Blocks To Life Using IoT Technology http://nocamels.com/2016/04/lego-brixo-iot-blocks-technology/ http://nocamels.com/2016/04/lego-brixo-iot-blocks-technology/#respond Tue, 26 Apr 2016 09:36:35 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=44692

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Legos and kids go together like peanut butter and jelly. But while the favorite spreads haven’t changed all that much over time, the building blocks children play with in the 21st century certainly have.

Enter BRIXO, an Israeli startup developing electric blocks that bring high-tech functionality to low-tech toys. With BRIXO, kids can create simple electrical circuits using bricks to better understand how electrical connectivity works. Now, children all over the world will be able to bring their Lego creations to life through light, sound and proximity sensors that are able to detect the presence of nearby objects without physical contact; kids can also create mobile cranes, for example, or a nightlight that can be turned on and off with sound.

Integrated with standard-sized building blocks such as Lego, BRIXO safely conducts electricity through its chrome-coated blocks and connects to devices such as smartphones to add a modern element of interactive awesomeness – no wires or prior engineering knowledge are needed. Since BRIXO is intuitive, builders learn how circuits work as they continue to build.

SEE ALSO: TinyTap: Create And Play Personalized iPad Games With Your Kids

The crowds seem to be cheering for these animated Lego blocks: Over the course of only two weeks, BRIXO’s crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter raised $422,000, eight times more than its original $50,000 goal. BRIXO’s starter kit, which sells on Kickstarter for $29, includes a battery case, one motor block, 32 blocks, one LED light, and a light switch.

For kids, inspired by kids

BRIXO’s co-founder Boaz Almog, a quantum physicist by trade, got the inspiration for his startup from watching his son play with an electric science kit. When he asked his son to point out the circuit he had just wired, he couldn’t, due to the tangled mess of wires on the board. That’s when Almog came up with the idea for BRIXO, wireless building blocks that conduct electricity. He then teamed up with Amir Saraf, a researcher in the physics department at Tel Aviv University, and in 2015 they co-founded BRIXO Smart Toys.

“Kids today don’t play with physical objects such as board games as much as they used to,” Almog said in a statement. “They know how to use technology, such as phones and computers, from such a young age, but don’t understand the technology and engineering behind those devices.”

According to Almog, STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math) is missing from our children’s education, and we need to “close that gap, worldwide.”

SEE ALSO: Rent Your Favorite Legos Online With ‘Pley’ – Or Design Your Own Set

BRIXO’s education division is now developing electrical engineering programs for children in 25 countries, in collaboration with Young Engineers, a global organization that provides STEM education programs for children. This initiative will develop electric engineering programs using the BRIXO blocks for children and is expected to reach 4 million elementary school students in 27 countries, mostly in Africa, within the next five years. The pilot program will start with 20,000 students in 2017. Countries include the US, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, South Africa, Philippines, India, Vietnam and Singapore, to name a few.

BRIXO co-founders Amir-Saraf and Boaz Almog

BRIXO co-founders Amir Saraf and Boaz Almog

Through this program, “children worldwide can really create anything their imagination desires,” the Israeli founder of Young Engineers, Amir Asor, said in a statement. “Anything is possible through BRIXO’s blocks,” which can even be triggered by Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

When asked how BRIXO differs from similar electric building blocks, BRIXO officials explained that unlike their competition, their blocks are wireless (no wires, literally), elegant and much more durable. What makes BRIXO fundamentally different from standard building blocks are the LED lights, motor blocks, sound, light, and proximity sensors at the core of the product. With these trigger blocks, a Bluetooth-enabled battery brick, the BRIXO mobile app (that’s in the making), and the entire world of IoT, there isn’t much that imaginative young builders can’t do.

brixo

Photos and video: BRIXO, Lego

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Israeli Startups Raise More Than $1B In The First Quarter Of 2016 http://nocamels.com/2016/04/israeli-startups-raise-billion-q1/ http://nocamels.com/2016/04/israeli-startups-raise-billion-q1/#respond Tue, 19 Apr 2016 13:00:31 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=44576

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During the first three months of the year, 173 Israeli startup and high-tech companies raised a whopping $1.09 billion, a 9 percent increase over the first quarter of 2015, in which 162 companies raised roughly $1 billion, according to a report released today by Israeli research firm IVC Research Center and Israeli accounting firm KPMG Somekh Chaikin.

SEE ALSO: VCs, Angels, Crowd Funds: Who Rules The Israeli Investment Landscape?

However, it is still 9 percent below the record high $1.2 billion invested in 201 companies in the fourth quarter of 2015. According to IVC, “fourth quarters typically exhibit the highest amounts in capital raising.”

money raised in the first quarter

According to Koby Simana, CEO of IVC Research Center, despite the slowdown reported in high-tech capital raising and venture capital investments in the US, and despite “various forecasts published lately regarding the industry in Israel, the results of the first quarter of 2016 indicate stability.”

He estimates that the following quarters “will determine if the slowdown trend, which began in the US, will take hold in Israel as well, or perhaps the fact that the Israeli market didn’t experience the same peak as Silicon Valley and China in the past years indicates lower local volatility overall.”

The average investment is on the rise

The average financing round for Israeli startups in the first quarter of 2016 was $6.3 million, slightly above the $6.1 million and $6.2 million averages of the fourth quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015, respectively.

SEE ALSO: A Look Inside The Booming Startup Nation: Is Everyone Getting A Piece Of The Pie?

However, 96 venture capital-backed deals amounted to $744 million in the first quarter this year, a 19 percent plunge from the $915 million raised in 108 deals in the fourth quarter last year, and a 12 percent decrease compared to the first quarter of 2015.

“Investors are still in the game”

According to Ofer Sela, partner in KPMG Somekh Chaikin’s technology group, “there is fear that the global technology market is about to shrink. Nevertheless, given the amount of available cash and attractive companies which have their pull – as can be seen from the total volume of investments this quarter – it seems that the industry is far from a crisis, although some shrinkage is expected in the near future.”

hand money cash fundraising vc benjamins

Software companies lead the pack

Software companies raised 33 percent of the total capital in the first quarter of 2016, followed by the life sciences sector, which accounted for 30 percent of the capital invested in Israeli startups.

Partly responsible for the high investments in the first quarter of 2016 were Israeli cyber-security startups Skybox and ForeScout, which raised $96 million and $76 million, respectively. Says Sela: “The industry is hard at work and the investors are still in the game.”

Infographic: IVC; video: ForeScout

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Oracle Acquires Israeli Startup Crosswise, Which Figures Out What Devices A User Owns http://nocamels.com/2016/04/oracle-acquires-israeli-startup-crosswise/ http://nocamels.com/2016/04/oracle-acquires-israeli-startup-crosswise/#respond Sun, 17 Apr 2016 07:45:29 +0000 http://nocamels.com/?p=44505

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This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Big-data giant Oracle Corp. announced Thursday that it had acquired Israeli big data firm Crosswise, a specialist in “cross-device” advertising, which figures out what devices a user has in order to provide ads that interest them across a range of their devices.

Details of the deal were not disclosed, but a source close to the company said that it was in the range of $50 million.

SEE ALSO: Viewbix Leverages Online Video Into An Effective Advertising Tool

According to Oracle, the Israeli firm’s technology will be integrated into Oracle Data Cloud, which “ingests third-party data, extracts value, and activates the data to drive insights and harness this knowledge for targeting, personalization and measurement to help more than 80 percent of the top US advertisers maximize their marketing spend.”

Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle

Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle

Crosswise is as big data as it gets. The company goes through over a petabyte (a million gigabytes) of data per month, analyzing dozens of data points, including the device’s IP address, WiFi networks used, GPS coordinates, websites browsed, ads displayed, device type, operating system, browser cookies, mobile device IDs, time of day, and much more in order to figure out which devices are being used by whom.

SEE ALSO: Correlor: Unlocking People’s ‘Social DNA’ To Make Advertisement More Targeted

Crosswise does not identify users personally, but rather determines via patterns of use, sites visited, locations, etc., that the person who searched for X data on their iPhone is the same one searching for it on their iPad and MacBook. The company provides its technology to advertisers, although it does not work with the advertisers themselves.

“Linking a consumer’s various devices, from among billions of different devices, allows companies to shift their advertising, re-targeting content personalization and marketing analytics from being device-focused to being person-focused. The results include improved online experiences for consumers, dramatically improved marketing ROI [return on investment] for advertisers, and more valuable ad space and audience segments for publishers,” Crosswise said about its offering.

mobile devices

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Oracle Corporate Communications

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