NoCamels – Israeli Innovation News 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.2016-05-04T08:50:34Z http://nocamels.com/feed/atom/ NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Study: Overweight Teens Are At Increased Risk For Life-Threatening Heart Disease In Adulthood]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44846 2016-05-04T08:50:34Z 2016-05-04T08:39:02Z

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Parents, take note: A nationwide, long-term study of 2.3 million Israeli adolescents conducted from 1967 through 2010 has found a link between elevated body mass index (BMI) in late adolescence and life-threatening heart disease in midlife.

SEE ALSO: Excess Weight During Pregnancy Affects Children’s Health

BMI is the value derived from the weight and height of an individual (weight divided by the square of the height – kg/m2). Normal BMI values are considered to be in the range of 18.5 to 25.

Start diet today

One-third of adolescents are either overweight or obese

Overweight and obesity in adolescents have increased substantially in recent decades, and currently affect a third of the adolescent population in some developed countries.

Some studies suggest that an elevated BMI is associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular causes. However, a determination of the BMI threshold that is associated with increased risk of fatality has remained uncertain.

SEE ALSO: Wait, What? Eating Carbs At Night Could Benefit Obese People

In light of the worldwide increase in childhood obesity, Israeli researchers Prof. Jeremy Kark and Dr. Hagai Levine from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, together with Dr. Gilad Twig of Sheba Medical Center and other colleagues in Israel, set out to determine the association between BMI in late adolescence and death from cardiovascular causes in adulthood.

Their study, which was recently published in the prestigious medical journal The New England Journal of Medicine, was based on the body mass index values of 2.3 people, starting at 17 year olds.

The results showed that 9.1 percent died from cardiovascular causes, including coronary heart disease, stroke, and sudden death. But those with elevated BMI had the highest risk. The BMI threshold associated with fatal risk was shown to be 22.5.

“Our findings appear to provide a link between the trends in adolescent overweight during the past decades and coronary mortality in midlife,” Kark said in a statement. “The continuing increase in adolescent BMI, and the rising prevalence of overweight and obesity among adolescents, may account for a substantial and growing future burden of cardiovascular disease, particularly coronary heart disease.”

heart attack

The timing of exposure to obesity during a person’s lifetime may play an important role

How might adolescent BMI influence cardiovascular outcomes in adulthood? The researchers considered two possible pathways. First, obesity may be harmful during adolescence, since it has been associated with unfavorable metabolic abnormalities, increased blood pressure, impaired glucose metabolism and insulin resistance. Furthermore, the timing of exposure to obesity during a person’s lifetime may play an important role.

Second, BMI tends to track along the life course, so that overweight adolescents tend to become overweight or obese adults, and overweight or obesity in adulthood affects the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Scientists involved in this research are affiliated with the Department of Medicine and the Dr. Pinchas Bornstein Talpiot Medical Leadership Program, Sheba Medical Center; Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps; Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University; Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine; Israel Ministry of Health; Department of Medicine, Mount Auburn Hospital; and Harvard Medical School. The study was funded by a research grant from the Environment and Health Fund in Jerusalem.

Health News: Israeli Researchers Use Skin Cells To Repair Damaged Hearts

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Penina Graubart, NoCamels <![CDATA[Beepi Is Transforming The Used-Car Market With Online, Mobile Shopping]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44814 2016-05-03T17:40:04Z 2016-05-03T09:02:10Z

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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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NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Israeli Experts Help California Grow More Rice With Less Water]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44194 2016-05-02T07:40:27Z 2016-05-02T07:40:27Z

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Drought is a continued concern for farmers in California, especially those who grow rice, which requires large amounts of water. Now, a project based on Israeli research and water technology aims to create one of the first sustainable rice farms in the US, which will reduce water use at the 17,244-acre Conaway Ranch in Woodland, California.

SEE ALSO: Could Groundwater Desalination Solve California’s Water Crisis?

The project seeks to better understand if rice can be grown effectively with subsurface drip irrigation. The method consists of a series of pipes that deliver water directly to the roots of the plant and has the potential to reduce water usage, as well as save on fertilizers and improve weed control.

rice

“We believe this initiative represents the first use of drip irrigation in the US for a rice crop,” Kyriakos Tsakopoulos, owner of the ranch, said in a statement. “We couldn’t ask for better partners.”

The ranch has enlisted the help of Israel’s Ben-Gurion University (BGU) and drip-irrigation leader Netafim, which have experience growing rice in arid regions. “This effort could serve as a model for other farms and potentially save hundreds of thousands of acre feet of water in California if widely adopted,” according to Tsakopoulos.

SEE ALSO: How Israeli Desalination Technology Is Helping Solve California’s Devastating Drought

Bryce Lundberg, vice president of agriculture for Lundberg Family Farms, which is one of the world’s largest producers of organic rice and whole grain products, agrees. “As a partner in this cutting-edge project, we are hopeful that this concept could provide farmers with a revolutionary form of rice production not only in California, but wherever rice is grown worldwide,” he said in a statement. “We are always looking to implement new technologies that can benefit growers and promote sustainable farming practices, and we hope that the project’s success can be duplicated to improve organic weed management while producing environmental and conservation benefits.”

“Helping farmers reduce their water consumption”

Over the past 18 months, BGU’s water expert Prof. Eilon Adar has traveled several times to meet with California legislators and water resource officials, discussing how Israel, an arid country, has created a surplus of water through innovation, technology and effective water management policies.

After evaluating a number of options to enhance water use efficiency, Conaway Ranch decided to move forward with his subsurface drip irrigation pilot project. “We’ve outlined the testing procedures necessary to maximize success, based on experience growing a variety of crops in arid climates using subsurface drip irrigation,” Adar explained. “We’re pleased to be playing a leading role, providing knowledge and expertise to help California farmers reduce their water consumption.”

Improving rice yields 

In meetings and public forums, Adar has highlighted the ways in which Israel is closing the gap between water supply and demand, including improving irrigation efficiency, expanding wastewater reclamation and reuse, as well as engineering drought-tolerant crops.

Agronomists from Israeli company Netafim, which pioneered and perfected the drip-irrigation system, have conducted a few rice crop trials in other parts of the world. Installation of the system and the first plantings at the Conaway Ranch are scheduled for completion this year. Based on results from previous projects, this trial is expected to produce an improvement in yield, while reducing water use.

A traditional rice field

A traditional rice field

“As drought conditions persist, efficiency in every aspect of farming is critical”

“As drought conditions persist, efficiency in every aspect of farming is critical to the sustainability of California farming,” Netafim’s Scott Warr said in a statement. “Through research trials and partnerships, Netafim continues to be committed to providing growers with access to viable solutions that address the challenge of maintaining profitable farming in a resource-limited world.”

According to Tom Stallard, Woodland’s mayor, Conaway Ranch owners are “demonstrating their commitment to smart water conservation and long-term sustainability.”

sub-surface irrigation

Subsurface irrigation

Photos: City of Lakewood

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The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Israeli-Made ‘Black Hole’ Could Win Stephen Hawking A Nobel Prize]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44769 2016-05-01T08:35:44Z 2016-05-01T08:40:14Z

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

British physicist Steven Hawking could finally win a Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking theory on black holes thanks to new research out of Israel’s Technion university.

SEE ALSO: Tel Aviv University Discovers New Planet Using Einstein’s Theory Of Relativity

In 1974, Hawking hypothesized that black holes are slowly evaporating, challenging the conventional understanding that nothing could escape from the void of a black hole.

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking

The theory, known as Hawking Radiation, suggests that subatomic light particles are sometimes ejected back out of a black hole, taking with them tiny amounts of energy, resulting in a gradual decrease in its mass over time until it evaporates completely.

But more than 40 years later, no one had been able to prove Hawking’s theory, mainly because light particles from black holes are too small to be detected from Earth.

Enter Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Physics Professor Jeff Steinhauer. His team of researchers recreated the conditions of a black hole in a lab using sound waves in order to study how subatomic particles behave on its edge, known as an event horizon.

SEE ALSO: NASA And Israel Ink Deal On Space Cooperation

In his new paper, Steinhauer explains that he simulated a black hole event horizon by cooling helium to just above absolute zero (–273.15 degrees C or –459.67 degrees F), and then heating it rapidly to create a barrier impenetrable to sound waves, similar to light from a black hole.

During the experiment, Steinhauer found that tiny particles of energy that formed sound waves did escape his simulated black hole, as Hawking suggested.

“This confirms Hawking’s prediction regarding black hole thermodynamics,” Steinhauer wrote in the introduction to his paper.

Prof. Jeff Steinhauer

Prof. Jeff Steinhauer of the Technion

To read the full article, click here

Photos: NASA, Technion-Israel Institute of TechnologyLwp Kommunikáció

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Can Hackers Stalk You On Google’s Popular Navigation App Waze?]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44754 2016-04-28T09:20:44Z 2016-04-28T09:20:45Z

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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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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Vegetables Irrigated With Treated Wastewater Expose Consumers To Drugs, Scientists Warn]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44735 2016-04-27T13:56:30Z 2016-04-27T13:44:36Z

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Treating greywater and using it for agricultural irrigation is one of the best ways to conserve and recycle water. But now, an Israeli study shows that eating vegetables and fruits grown in soils irrigated with reclaimed wastewater exposes consumers to pharmaceutical contaminants. This new experiment found residues of carbamazepine – an anti-epileptic drug commonly detected in wastewater effluents – in the urine of people who consumed vegetables grown in wastewater-irrigated soil.

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

“Fresh water scarcity worldwide has led to increased use of reclaimed wastewater, as an alternative source for crop irrigation. But the ubiquity of pharmaceuticals in treated effluents has raised concerns over the potential exposure for consumers to drug contaminants via treated wastewater,” according to the team of researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Hadassah Medical Center.

Vegetables - Health News - Israel

Study co-author Prof. Benny Chefetz of the Hebrew University acknowledges that “Israel is a pioneer and world leader in reuse of reclaimed wastewater in the agriculture sector, providing an excellent platform to conduct such a unique study.” However, his study – one of the first to directly address exposure to such pharmaceutical contaminants in healthy humans – shows that additional safety measures should be considered when treating wastewater for agricultural use.

SEE ALSO: How Israelis Are Helping Solve California’s Devastating Drought

The study, which was recently published in the scientific journal Environmental Science and Technology, followed 34 men and women divided into two groups. The first group was given reclaimed wastewater-irrigated produce for the first week, and freshwater-irrigated vegetables in the following week. The second group consumed the produce in reverse order.

The volunteers consumed the produce, which included tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce, according to their normal diet and drank bottled water throughout the study to neutralize water contamination.

“We have demonstrated that healthy individuals consuming reclaimed wastewater-irrigated produce excreted carbamazepine and its metabolites in their urine, while subjects consuming fresh water-irrigated produce excreted undetectable or significantly lower levels of carbamazepine,” Prof. Ora Paltiel of the Hebrew University, who led the study, said in a statement. “Treated wastewater-irrigated produce exhibited substantially higher carbamazepine levels than fresh water-irrigated produce.”

Research showed that healthy individuals who consumed reclaimed wastewater-irrigated produce excreted carbamazepine in their urine

She further warns that “those who consume produce grown in soil irrigated with treated wastewater increase their exposure to the drug.” Although the levels detected were much lower than in patients who actually consume this specific drug, “it is important to assess the exposure in commercially available produce.”

Most importantly, this study demonstrates that “human exposure to pharmaceuticals occurs through ingestion of commercially available produce irrigated with treated wastewater, providing data which could guide policy and risk assessments,” Chefetz concludes.

Photos and infographics: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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Yonatan Sredni, NoCamels <![CDATA[Not Your Childhood Lego: BRIXO Brings Building Blocks To Life Using IoT Technology]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44692 2016-04-26T09:43:22Z 2016-04-26T09:36:35Z

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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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David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Israeli Startup Aqwise Provides Potable Water To Drought-Stricken India]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44626 2016-04-21T13:04:48Z 2016-04-25T06:04:24Z

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

India has been in a chronic water shortage for years, but this year things seem worse. Drought, a failing water infrastructure, and even politics are contributing to what many experts are calling the country’s worst water crisis in decades.

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

More than ever, India is turning to Israel for assistance in dealing with its water issues. Earlier this month, a dozen companies and as many Israeli officials were in India for its annual Water Week, where agreements were signed on water research and implementations of solutions between Israel and India, including several deals with the Indian states of Punjab and Haryana.

Aqwise

Aqwise’s water treatment facility in Mexico

Leading the list of Israeli companies at Water Week was Aqwise, an Israeli water tech firm that has already had significant experience in India. In fact, it’s because of Aqwise that visitors to the Taj Mahal – located in Agra, a city with about 2 million people – have potable water, said Elad Frankel, CEO of Aqwise.

“We helped build a water treatment plant, designed to treat 160,000 cubic meters per day and supplying drinking water to the entire city. Aqwise’s share of the project is several millions of dollars. Aqwise was up against several global and well known water technology companies and its technology was proven to be the most successful and cost effective one.”

SEE ALSO: Israeli Tech Brings Clean Water Solutions To China’s Cities

To clean water, Aqwise attacks the elements that make it polluted – the chemicals, effluent, and other unwanted elements that make using water a hazard – with bacteria that thrive on those elements.

Aqwise’s technology uses thousands of little polyethylene biofilm carriers – little hollow plastic balls in which bacteria live, clinging to the walls of the carriers – and sets them loose in a body of water, which is aerated to ensure maximum exposure for the balls. Water passes through the balls, and when it comes into contact with the biofilm, the bacteria, hungry from all that aeration activity, scarf down the “nutrients” they seek, while remaining safely on the carrier.

Launch enough of those carriers into the water, said Frankel, and pretty soon you have clean water flowing through the pipes of a municipal water system, even in a city as big as Agra.

Taj Mahal, India

The Taj Mahal, Agra, India

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Chronic Crippler, Aqwise, Kumaravels

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NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Israeli ‘Liver On A Chip’ Could Help Scientists Fight Cancer, Develop New Medications]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44641 2016-04-24T06:18:46Z 2016-04-24T06:00:46Z

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Israeli researchers have developed a tiny “liver-on-chip” that could help scientists fight liver disease, cancer, and a host of other conditions.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Makes Breakthrough Discovery In Liver Disease Treatment

The chip is made up of human tissues, with sensors for oxygen, glucose, and lactate. Measurements can be tracked in real time, and readouts appear immediately on a computer. The technology, developed at Israel’s Hebrew University, will enable the study of cellular processes, and will further the understanding of what happens when cells are damaged due to disease.

Health News: Israeli Team Finds Mechanism For Producing Stem-Cells Efficiently

In the study, led by Prof. Yaakov Nahmias of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, researchers explain their use of micro-sensors to measure changes in cells when they are exposed to new drugs. Liver toxicity can limit the use of new medications, so the tool can be used to screen for less toxic drugs.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Scientists Develop New Human Stem Cells With Half A Genome 

The scientists used the chip to study the medication troglitazone (Rezulin), which had been used for diabetes and inflammation until it was removed from the market in 2000 because it induced severe liver injury. The drug cost its manufacturer more than $750 million in lawsuits.

Interestingly, conventional tests did not show liver damage from troglitazone, but the new liver-on-chip technology detected mitochondrial stress. The mitochondria are the organelles that generate energy for the cell. They are found in every cell of the human body except red blood cells, and convert the energy of food molecules to power most cell functions. Mitochondrial stress can be an early sign of eventual cell death – which the chip can detect early on.

Redefining cancer research 

“The ability to measure metabolic fluxes using small numbers of cells under physiological conditions can redefine the study of neuro-degenerative disease, stem cells, and cancer, in addition to drug discovery,” Nahmias said in a statement.

According to a Hebrew University statement, the study demonstrates it is possible to monitor in real time metabolic functions of cells exposed to different drug concentrations over a long period of time, using ‘organ-on-chip’ micro-devices.

nahmias_0

Dr. Yaakov Nahmias

An alternative for animal experiments 

The study, recently published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could revolutionize in vitro methods (studies that are performed with microorganisms outside their normal biological context), presenting a real alternative to animal experimentation for evaluating toxicity of chemicals.”

Photos: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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Yonatan Sredni, NoCamels <![CDATA[The Coolest Israeli Startups Making Our Planet ‘Greener’]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44573 2016-04-21T12:42:40Z 2016-04-21T12:27:15Z

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“It’s not easy being green,” Kermit the Frog famously sang. While that may be true for some, many Israeli startups are helping the world go ‘green.’ By using innovative technologies which can lead to more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions and lifestyles, they help protect the environment and sustain its natural resources for current and future generations.

In honor of International Mother Earth Day (or, in short, Earth Day), which is celebrated annually on April 22, here are 10 of the coolest Israeli companies and technologies making our world greener:

Tal-Ya: Growing more food with less water

Water shortage is a pressing issue worldwide: According to the UN, 1.2 billion people (almost one-fifth of the world’s population) live in areas where water is scarce, and another 500 million people are nearing this situation. It’s no wonder, then, that the world is seeking to conserve water – both for drinking and for agriculture -especially during droughts.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Desalination Technology Helps Solve California’s Drought

Fortunately, Israeli company Tal-Ya Agriculture Solutions has developed technologies designed to grow more food with less water. Its reusable plastic trays capture dew from the air, reducing the water needed by crops by 50 percent. The square tray, which costs $3-$5 per piece, is made of recycled plastic. The innovative trays work by surrounding each plant, collecting dew as the weather changes overnight, and funneling it to plants and tree crops. The trays, which are supposed to last for 10 years, also block weeds that would otherwise compete with crops for water.

Since its founding in 2005, Tal-Ya (which means ‘God’s dew’ in Hebrew) has served farmers in Israel, the US, China, Chile, Georgia, Sri Lanka and Australia.

dew

Phresh: Keeping your fruits and veggies crisp

One-third of the food produced around the globe, which is worth roughly $1 trillion, is lost or wasted during its production or consumption. In the US alone, 30-40 percent of the food supply is wasted – more than 20 pounds of food per person per month.

Israeli startup Phresh came up with unique food protectors, which preserve your fruits and vegetables for three times longer and could save each household up to $400 a year from the loss of spoiled fruits and vegetables, while also limiting humankind’s environmental footprint.

Using organic technology to triple the shelf life of fruits and vegetables, Phresh allows people to enjoy healthier foods for longer periods of time. The product comes in the shapes of an apple (red or gold) and robot (white), in which Phresh’s organic, non-toxic powder is inserted. The powder dissolves into the atmosphere and eliminates bacteria and fungi while oxygenating the area, according to the company. As a result, no physical application upon the produce is required, and no additional smells or tastes can be sensed. Phresh is designed to extend the shelf life of cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, apples, lemons, lettuce, grapes, mushrooms, strawberries and pepper.

HomeBiogas: Turning grabage into cooking gas

Now that you’ve kept your fruits and vegetables fresh, what should you do with the scraps?

HomeBiogas is an Israeli startup that has created a self-assembled biogas system that turns kitchen waste and livestock manure into usable cooking gas and liquid fertilizer. The system can produces clean cooking gas for three meals and 10 liters of clean natural liquid fertilizer.

HomeBiogas empowers homeowners to minimize their gas bills, while significantly reducing dangerous greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants entering our groundwater.

homebiogas

Opgal: Detecting leaks to prevent pollution

Air pollution was shown to be responsible for many diseases, including cancer. Israeli startup Opgal checks the joints on the pipes that transport gas, oil, and chemicals. Its EyeCGas FX, a gas-leak detection infrared camera can quickly detect gas emissions such as ethylene, methane, butane and propane. It then automatically alerts plant managers.

BreezoMeter – Tracking air quality around the globe 

Israeli mobile app BreezoMeter tracks pollutants and determines air quality in nearly every corner of the world. Its big-data analytics platform uses local air-monitoring sensors to gather real-time pollution data. The information is collected by the startup from monitoring stations around the world and is then compiled and packaged to provide up-to-date information about air quality. The startup claims its localized pollution reading is 99 percent accurate.

SEE ALSO: What’s In The Air You Breathe?

BreezoMeter can’t change the fact that pollutants are a fact of life in our modern world, but the app does give consumers better knowledge of their surroundings, in hopes that they can then act on that knowledge. “We empower citizens to better plan their daily activities and to minimize their personal exposure to pollution,” BreezoMeter’s co-founder and CMO Ziv Lautman said in a statement.

Utilight: 3D-printed solar panels

Solar power is rapidly gaining momentum as the world’s alternative source of energy. One Israeli company at the forefront of harvesting sustainable energy is Utilight, a Yavne-based startup founded in 2009, which is using 3D printing methods to create solar cells at faster and cheaper manufacturing rates than conventional solar panels.

BioBee: Using insects to control pests

Before you swat that fly away, think twice; it may be on a mission to help make our planet greener. Israel’s Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, a pioneer in organic agriculture, 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.

The idea behind the system is to achieve a balance between the pest population and their natural enemies. If this balance is achieved, the spraying of pesticides can be reduced to a minimum, and agricultural produce can safely be collected without fear of chemical residues.

Earth - Environment News - Israel

HARBO: Keeping oil spills contained

We’ve all seen news reports of tragic oil spills that destroy entire marine ecosystems, often spreading hundreds of miles within the first 24 hours. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, tens of thousands of oil spills occur every year, and the prevention technology to deal with their aftermath has not changed in over three decades. Moreover, recovery rates continue to hover just below 15 percent, a figure that has not improved much over the years, making many of the cleanup efforts seem almost futile.

SEE ALSO: Volcanic Rock To Clean Up Oil Spills

Israeli startup company HARBO Technologies tackles this tough environmental problem using an easy-to-use “floatie” it has developed, which can contain an oil spill in less than one hour. It simply circles the spill and “encapsulates” it; then, the oil “stain” is lifted and disposed of – away from the water. HARBO’s 100-foot prototype “boom” (floating barrier) contains up to two tons of crude oil overnight, without leaking, according to the company.

Eco Wave Power: Turning ocean waves into energy 

Water covers three-quarters of the earth’s surface, but the world has yet to capitalize on the power of ocean waves, even though the energy that can be harvested from oceans is equal to twice the amount of electricity that the world produces now, according to the World Energy Council.

Israeli startup Eco Wave Power is taking giant steps forward in the field of renewable energy harvested from the sea. Founded in 2011, Eco Wave Power (EWP) turns water into electricity using uniquely shaped buoys (floating devices), which rise and fall with the waves’ up-and-down motion and the changes in water levels.

Eco Wave Power system in Gibraltar

Eco Wave Power’s system in Gibraltar

GreenWall: Grow your own food in a vertical garden

Vertical gardens, in which residents of high-rise buildings can grow their own food, use minimal amounts of water and soil, thereby conserving natural resources. Israeli company 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 and capable of growing almost every plant species with proper care.

vertical garden in Sydney

Kermit was probably right; it’s not easy being green, but that doesn’t deter Israeli startups from making our world a little greener.

Photos and videos: Maojin Lang, the companies

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Yonatan Sredni, NoCamels <![CDATA[Expressions Can Make The Difference Between A Strike And A Home Run, Baseball Study Shows]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44419 2016-04-20T09:11:46Z 2016-04-20T09:08:45Z

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Spring is in the air. For many sports enthusiasts that means but one thing – baseball is back. With the recent opening of the Major League Baseball season, expectations of baseball fans are high, hoping that maybe this year will be the one their team wins it all.

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

baseball-player

“You can observe a lot by just watching”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the next stage, 213 study participants were asked to evaluate the pitcher’s emotions. The participants reached agreement regarding three key emotions shown in the clips: Anger, happiness, and worry. The 30 clips with the highest level of agreement regarding the expressed emotions were chosen, and another group of 34 respondents was then asked to predict the outcome of the pitch concerning speed, accuracy, level of difficulty, and whether or not the batter would attempt to hit the ball. None of the Dutch participants identified the baseball players shown in the clips, or the teams, so that the external influence on the participants was very limited.
softball-1321251_1280

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

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

Will the batter hit or miss? 

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

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

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

baseball by Gary Shear

Photos: Gary Shear

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Startups Raise More Than $1B In The First Quarter Of 2016]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44576 2016-04-19T13:07:09Z 2016-04-19T13:00:31Z

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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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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Firm AlefBet Partakes In Ethiopia’s Initiative To Build 2.4 Million Houses In Five Years]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44528 2016-04-18T05:13:53Z 2016-04-18T05:08:17Z

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The Ethiopian government plans to build 2.4 million new apartments in the next five years, of them 900,000 units will be built in the capital Addis Ababa. In addition, eight new industrial parks will be built as part of the revolutionary initiative to industrialize the poor, rural country.

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

One of the architecture and engineering firms that will take part in this mega-construction project is Israeli AlefBet Planners, which recently signed a cooperation agreement with Tiret, one of Ethiopia’s largest construction groups. This agreement was signed in an effort “to bridge the local gap of knowledge in the fields of high-rise construction, site and regional development, design and supply of supporting services to the community,” according to AlefBet, which is expected to design hundreds of thousands of new homes for the Ethiopians.

A rendering of am Ethiopian neighborhood planned by AlefBet

A rendering of an Ethiopian neighborhood planned by AlefBet

Representatives of AlefBet Planners, one of Israel’s largest design groups, recently visited Ethiopia and the sites where those new neighborhoods and industrial parks are to be built. They also met the Ethiopian urban development and housing minister. According to AlefBet, the hosts – introduced by Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia Belaynesh Zevadia – expressed their desire for cost-effective, high-quality projects.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Student Delegation In Africa To Battle Neglected Tropical Diseases

“Ethiopia’s economy is growing very fast – the construction sector reached more than 30 percent growth in the past two years,” AlefBet’s business development manager Daphna Regev said in a statement. “The average growth rate is expected to reach 11.6 percent per year.”

Since this construction capacity is beyond the capacities of the local industry, according to Regev, “the Ethiopian government is granting incentives such as land plots free of charge, fast-track design, and more.”

Contrary to Europe, North America, parts of Asia and even Israel, which are saturated with construction experience, “Africa is only on the brink of massive development,” Regev said.

SEE ALSO: Facebook To Beam Free Internet Across Africa Using Israeli Satellite

Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, Alefbet Planners is a multidisciplinary design company of architects, engineers, designers and consultants. Among its projects are Sapir College and Triumph’s distribution center in Israel, residential neighborhoods in Nigeria and manufacturing facilities around the globe.

An AlefBet neighborhood in Ghana

An AlefBet neighborhood in Ghana

Most recently, the firm helped South Sudan build a $150 million modern dairy project, consisting of five dairy farms.

Since the majority of the houses in Ethiopia are made of mud and stick or thatch walls, the Israeli firm will now help the African country take a giant leap forward towards modern building.

A village in Nigeria planned by AlefBet

A village in Nigeria planned by AlefBet

Photos and renderings: Rod Waddngton, AlefBet

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David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Oracle Acquires Israeli Startup Crosswise, Which Figures Out What Devices A User Owns]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44505 2016-04-17T07:40:51Z 2016-04-17T07:45:29Z

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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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Aylen Silberman, NoCamels <![CDATA[Harmless? Herbal Medicines Could Interfere With Life-Saving Cancer Treatments]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44488 2016-04-14T08:21:25Z 2016-04-14T08:12:23Z

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Nearly two-thirds of the herbal medicines used by cancer patients in the Middle East have potential health risks, according to a new Israeli study. These seemingly harmless plants and extractions were found to interact with conventional cancer drugs and chemotherapy, negatively affecting life-saving anti-cancer treatments.

SEE ALSO: To Stop Cancer From Spreading: Shoot The Messenger

The study, led by Prof. Eran Ben-Arye of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, was recently published in the prestigious scientific journal Cancer. It concludes that herbal remedies such as turmeric may increase the toxic effects of certain chemotherapies, while gingko biloba and green teas could increase the risks of bleeding in some cancer patients. Other herbs, including black cumin, can reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

In all, 29 of the 44 most popular herbal products in 16 Middle Eastern countries – from Turkey to Tunisia – were associated with safety-related concerns.

herbs, spices

The findings are based on a survey conducted by Ben-Arye and his colleagues, who asked more than 300 cancer care providers about the kinds of herbal medicines their patients were using. They found that 57 percent of the providers had patients who used at least one herbal remedy.

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

The countries with the highest rates of herbal medicine use include Turkey, the Palestinian Authority and Qatar. Stinging nettle, garlic, black cumin and turmeric were among the most used herbs, with other items such as camel milk and honey also making the list.

A skeptical view of alternative medicine

Cancer care providers generally have a skeptical view of these alternative medicines, but the study notes that they support having a physician consultant who can speak to “the effectiveness and safety of these herbal practices, along with conventional cancer treatments.”

Ben-Arye emphasizes that, “in the majority of cases, patients seek to combine the best of the two worlds and do not perceive herbal medicine as a real alternative to modern oncology care.”

However, in many cases, there is a lack of communication between the patient and cancer care provider. According to the study, more than 20 percent of patients who use complementary and traditional medicine, including herbal agents, “are often reluctant to disclose this practice to their conventional medical professional.”

Health News: female doctors more tolerant than male counterparts

Detrimental effect

The researchers hope the new study will urge cancer care providers to offer “open, non-judgmental” advice about the safety and effectiveness of herbal medicine and improve physician-patient communication.

Hopefully, their findings will raise awareness to the detrimental effects of certain herbal products for cancer patients receiving conventional treatment.

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israel’s Stunning New National Library Breaks Ground In Jerusalem]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44456 2016-04-15T14:26:30Z 2016-04-13T12:09:25Z

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The new National Library of Israel (NLI) broke ground last week, in a cornerstone-laying ceremony led by President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem. The 45,000-square-meter building, which will be completed in 2020, features stunning designs by renowned Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron.

The largest public library in Israel, this monumental complex includes six above-ground floors and four below-ground floors, and will be built next to Israel’s parliament and the Israel Museum. “The beginning of construction on the new building is a major milestone in the National Library’s transformative renewal process, which aims to preserve and open access to the cultural and intellectual treasures of the State of Israel and the Jewish people safeguarded in its collections,” according to NLI.

National Library of Israel

Founded in 1892, NLI is in the midst of a renewal process designed to address the challenges of the 21st century. “The new building will enable NLI to provide state-of-the-art services to researchers, readers, visitors and online users, making accessible the millions of intellectual and cultural assets it has collected for more than 120 years,” according to NLI.

SEE ALSO: From Art To Extraordinary Architecture, Legendary Israeli Designer Ron Arad Keeps Stunning The World

The partners in the renewal project are the government of Israel, the Rothschild family, and the David and Ruth Gottesman family of New York. “For 2,000 years the writings of the Jewish people were scattered across the world,” Lord Rothschild said in a statement. “Now, these writings from the past as well as books yet to be written and digital materials, together with a wide range of collections, are to have a permanent home.” The NLI is currently located in Givat Ram, a neighborhood of Jerusalem, and will move to its new location in four years.

Designed by Pritzker laureate ‘Herzog & de Meuron’

Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron is famous for the design of London’s Tate Modern, as well as the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games. An international team of some 40 associates and 380 collaborators in six offices – in Basel (main office), Hamburg, London, Madrid, New York City, and Hong Kong – the firm is presently at work on projects across Europe, the Americas and Asia.

SEE ALSO: Tel Aviv Opens Its First Public Library With A Sea-View

While many of their projects are highly recognized public facilities, such as their stadiums and museums, they have also completed several distinguished private projects, including apartment buildings, offices, and factories. The practice has been awarded numerous prizes, including the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize.

National Library of Israel

Herzog & de Meuron’s design of the new NLI complex – for which Israelis Amir Mann and Ami Shinar served as executive architects – reflects the transition from a library to a digital information hub. “The shift from print to digital necessitates a rethinking of the library both as an institution and a building typology,” Herzog & de Meuron said in a statement. “To sustain their relevance in the information age, contemporary libraries must function for existing users by providing the operation and spatial quality of traditional library buildings, while generating alternative spaces and uses to attract new audiences.”

National Library of Israel

Renderings: Herzog & de Meuron

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Yonatan Sredni, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Duo Caters To Millennials’ Sense Of Humor With New Video App Comedy.com]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44332 2016-04-12T12:42:32Z 2016-04-12T12:42:32Z

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A neutron walks into a bar, orders a beer, drinks it, then asks the bartender how much it costs. The bartender says, “For you? No charge.”

All joking aside, the internet truly is an easy and welcome source for humor. But while there are various apps and platforms that provide fun, light humor through memes and user-generated videos, Comedy.com, a new mobile app designed for high-quality, short-form comedy videos, is focusing on high-quality storytelling that caters to millennials’ sense of humor and makes fun of everyday aspects of life – relationships, digital lifestyle, work, and family.

SEE ALSO: Hollywood, Beware: Interactive Video Startup Interlude Lets Viewers Decide How The Story Will Unfold

screenshots-09277d2d9cd55649b5df51088780af53

Co-founded in 2015 by a pair of Israelis, Barak Shragai and Dor Mizrahi, the startup just launched its free app on both iOS and Android. The launch comes on the heels of the announcement that the company has raised $1.5 million from Rhodium, 2B Angels, Sandler Investments, NXTP Labs, as well as a group of video veterans such as Dean Valentine (former CEO of UPN), Nishkaam Mehta (head of mobile growth at Hulu), Rajesh Sawhney (founding president of Reliance Entertainment) and Douglas Cohen (Data Scientist at Facebook). Monetization plans for the app – such as premium services and paid subscriptions – are to be finalized later this year.

Building a comedy community

Comedy.com is building an extensive network where comedy creators can come together and create original videos. Instead of allowing just anyone to upload comedy content on the platform, Comedy.com chooses to work directly with a hand-picked group of engaging comedy creators, and aide each one in overcoming the challenges of creating professional comedy video clips. In exchange, Comedy.com gets exclusive access to the videos they produce, raising the level of content on the app. The startup has partnered with up-and-coming comedy creators who accumulate tens of millions of views each month on social media, including Woody The Great, Curtis Lepore, Juhahn Jones and JoJoe, to name a few.

The company also helps aspiring comedy creators gain access to the tools necessary for making quality comedy videos. Comedy.com connects creators with production teams that include directors and video technicians, to boost the videos’ quality. By working directly with the talent, Comedy.com can maximize distribution for creators while at the same time assuring that all videos uploaded to the platform are of the highest quality.

SEE ALSO: Ten Funniest Israeli Startup Videos

The Comedy.com app offers a new and fun place to “binge-watch” comedy videos while also providing many new features that separate it from other video platforms. These features include an “LOL” button which allows users to express their favorite moments in each video in real time. This enables Comedy.com to pinpoint the funniest seconds in each video, learn patterns, and make sure to promote the most engaging videos that are included in the library.

Curating the most engaging videos 

The company’s unique algorithm learns users’ sense of humor based on their interactions within the app. Each time the app is launched, users receive a personalized feed of clips tailored to their specific comedy style. The algorithm also screens and identifies the most engaging comedy creators online. In addition, in-house content editors constantly curate Comedy.com’s extensive video library, picking and uploading the most relevant and trending videos on the Web.

Comedy.com founders see their true competitors as popular comedy-themed sites and services such as iFunny, Vine, Comedy Central, and Funny or Die. Their real challenge, however, is how to compete against the huge amount of funny videos that are already on social networks such as Facebook. Company officials tell NoCamels that the difference between Comedy.com and other “funny apps” is that the others are driven by users, while Comedy.com is driven by talent and is designed to serve young comedy lovers, and respond to their unique humor and desire for interactive, social experiences.

Connecting through humor

Comedy.com is part of the emerging vertical video wave – videos shot on a mobile phone in portrait mode and are best viewed on smartphones – which includes companies like MiTu, TasteMade, and Twitch. “Comedy.com is about connecting friends, families and peers through humor,” co-founder Barak Shragai said in a statement. “We empower the next generation of comedy stars and reach millennials seeking short-form comedy wherever they are. Millennials define comedy as their most important video category.”

In other words, millennials take their comedy very seriously.

comedycom_discover

Photos: Courtesy

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[A New Kibbutz? WeWork’s Urban Community WeLive Could Revolutionize City Living]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44387 2016-04-11T10:15:44Z 2016-04-11T10:23:08Z

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Six years after founding shared office space startup WeWork, now worth $16 billion, Israeli entrepreneur Adam Neumann is launching WeLive, an urban co-living community. Neumann, who grew up on a kibbutz, and WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey recently opened two such residential buildings in New York City and in Arlington, Virginia, (near Washington, D.C.).

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

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

welive communal area

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

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

Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann, founders of WeWork

Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann, founders of WeWork and WeLive

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

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

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

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

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

WeLive dining room

A dining room at WeLive. Reminiscent of the kibbutz?

Living in Manhattan for $1,375 a month

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

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

welive

Photos courtesy of WeWork/WeLive

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David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Opgal’s Camera Detects The Little Leaks Responsible For Big Pollution]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44361 2016-04-10T09:57:19Z 2016-04-10T10:00:47Z

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

All over the world, air pollution is thought to be blamed for a host of diseases — cancer, birth defects, and many more. And despite efforts by authorities to reduce pollution in industrialized areas — such as Haifa, Israel — the problem persists and seems to be getting worse.

SEE ALSO: Technion Creates Artificial Lung To Study Pollution Effects

One reason for that, according to Israeli optics technology firm Opgal, is that authorities are looking in the wrong place: Instead of examining the towers that spew out smoke, what needs to be checked are the joints on the pipes that transport gas, oil, and chemicals.

EyeCGas camera by Opgal

“Effective gas-leak detection equipment is vital to keeping employees, products and the environment safe,” said Amit Mattatia, president and CEO of Opgal. “Over the last years, we have been very successful in developing specialized algorithms and sensors that are highly sensitive to the presence of gas traces in the invisible spectrum, and we have included this technology in our EyeCGas FX thermal camera system.”

In a study released in February, University of Haifa researchers suggested a link between infant disorders and pollution caused by heavy industry. According to the research, babies born in certain neighborhoods of Haifa adjacent to heavy industry had heads with circumferences recorded at 20-30 percent less than elsewhere. In addition, there was a higher incidence of cancer and lung diseases among the population there.

SEE ALSO: Following Israel’s Most Devastating Sandstorm, Eyes Are On Air Pollution App BreezoMeter

Although Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry will come out with its own report only later this year, it said that it was “operating on the assumption” that air pollution in the Haifa Bay was too high. The area is home to Israel’s highest concentration of oil refineries, power plants, chemical factories, and other “smokestack industries” that clearly are a major source of pollution in the area.

The city has already begun implementing some pollution-reducing projects, such as limiting traffic in downtown areas, adding filters to diesel-powered buses, and increasing monitoring of factories to ensure that they do not exceed legal limits for the release of pollutants.

But according to Opgal, there’s more that needs to be done. In any highly industrialized area, there are many “invisible” sources of pollution such as leaks from pipes or underground storage facilities; or undetected emissions of pollutants from unexpected or unknown sources (perhaps an old underground gas tank that over the years was forgotten).

To solve that problem, Opgal has developed EyeCGas FX, a gas-leak detection camera for installation in petrochemical, oil and gas plants as well as offshore platforms and rigs.

The system, said Opgal, is able to quickly detect a variety of hydrocarbon gas emissions such as ethylene, methane, butane, propane and various VOC (volatile organic compounds). EyeCGas FX includes a sensitive infrared camera and an HD color camera for fast recognition of such fugitive emissions in the areas being inspected. It then automatically alerts plant personnel via a color display and a warning message, or connects to alert systems such as text messaging system.

To read the full article, click here

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Meet Atomation, The Israeli IoT Startup That Gives Any ‘Dumb’ Product Smart Capabilities]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44339 2016-04-07T09:14:32Z 2016-04-07T09:20:56Z

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Don’t you wish all your appliances were as smart as your smartphone? Israeli Internet of Things startup Atomation can turn any ‘dumb’ object into a smart one – from light bulbs and toys, to medical equipment and oil refineries.

SEE ALSO: nFrnds And Microsoft Aim To Turn 5 Billion ‘Dumb’ Phones Into Smartphones

Founded in 2014 by CEO Guy Weitzman and CTO Eran Keshet, Atomation has developed an IoT platform that combines cloud-based analytics, and enables you to interact with your objects, draw conclusions and make real-time decisions.

Israeli IoT startup Atomation

Essentially, Atomation is building an ecosystem of “atoms”, or modular hardware with Bluetooth connectivity, which gives any array of products IoT functionality. Obviously, IoT is a growing trend, with hundreds of companies trying to connect everything from air conditioners to cars to the Internet. However, Atomation seems to have established itself in just a couple of years: The startup signed agreements to implement its technology in agriculture, consumer electronics, and medical devices.

Yesterday, the company announced a partnership that will turn wristbands made by Hyginex (also founded by an Israeli) for the medical community into smart bracelets. Hyginex wristbands vibrate to remind staff when they forget to clean their hands before and after patient contact. The wristbands vibrate again when hand hygiene has been performed for the appropriate length of time. Now, it won’t just vibrate.

hyginex

“Hyginex is now able to connect its wristbands via Bluetooth thanks to Atomation’s IoT technology,” Weitzman tells NoCamels. “We monitor the whole system, collect data from all wristbands, keep the information on the ‘cloud,’ and then we analyze and draw conclusions,” to keep patients infection-free. The data are used for management supervision and for real-time intervention.

1 million healthcare-acquired infections per year

Studies show that as hand hygiene duration increases, bacteria count on hands decreases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 25 patients will contract at least one infection in a hospital. This adds up to more than 1 million healthcare-acquired infections per year, resulting in 100,000 deaths, costing hospitals almost $40 billion annually in the US alone. Despite these disturbing numbers, compliance rates for hand washing in American hospitals are at 40 percent.

SEE ALSO: Why Bacteria Are Becoming Tolerant To Antibiotics

Initially, the new wristbands by Hyginex and Atomation will be deployed in 10 hospitals in the US, Switzerland and Israel this year.

How will they work? The technology is based on Atomation’s IoT platform. The wristband has a Bluetooth unit that communicates with a mobile app, enabling goal setting and generation of hand-hygiene reports. In addition, sensors are attached to soap and hand-sanitizing dispensers and they communicate with Atomation’s platform when a hand hygiene ‘event’ begins. In order to enable the vibrating reminder prior to patient contact, Bluetooth beacons are located in hospital rooms and identify the hand hygiene status.

“This ubiquitous system is raising awareness without interfering with everyday tasks,” Weitzman says. “It requires minimum effort and lets workers be monitored as naturally as possible.”



In February, Atomation raised $1 million in a financing round led by US venture capital firm JANVEST Capital Partners. Also participating in the investment round were Israeli VC Singulariteam (founded by entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg), a group of Australian investors, and Vocus Communications’ deputy chairman Tony Grist.

In 2014, Atomation raised $900,000 to develop a platform that turns any toy into a ‘smart’ toy that is able to connect and communicate with other toys and with a smartphone application.

Whether it’s a life-saving gadget or simply a doll, Atomation can give smart capabilities to an endless range of devices and products.

Lego figure

Photos and video: Atomation, Hyginex

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Alice Menichelli and Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Artist Eyal Gever Collaborates With NASA To Create First Ever 3D-Printed Sculpture In Space]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44314 2016-04-06T08:54:49Z 2016-04-06T08:59:21Z

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It may sound like science fiction, but a digital representation of a sculpture is about to be beamed up to space and be 3D-printed at the International Space Station.

SEE ALSO: NASA And Israel Ink Deal On Space Cooperation

US space agency NASA is collaborating with Israeli artist Eyal Gever to create the first-ever sculpture in space. Gever will send a digital image of the sculpture to a special 3D printer machine that’s able to work in zero-gravity environments. The printer was designed by American company Made in Space.

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Israeli concept artist Eyal Gever has created this digital representation of human laughter, to be 3D-printed in space.

Instead of launching an actual sculpture to space, NASA and Made in Space will download the image of the sculpture and 3D-print it. The sculpture represents a three-dimensional model of human laughter, in a project Gever simply dubs #Laugh.

The subject was chosen in an attempt to bring a human element to space. At the same time, the artist wanted to build something universal, free of any political reference, simply celebrating humankind. “The earliest cave paintings were of human hands, which were a way of proclaiming and celebrating the presence of humanity,” Gever said in a statement.

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

With almost 20 years of experience, Gever is not new to 3D printing of art. In 2012, several of his installations – representing ocean waves, popping bubbles and spilling oil – were 3D-printed using algorithms that represented dynamic moments in time.

Crowdsourced art 

Gever has used the wisdom of the crowd to collect many laughter samples trough social media channels. These sound bites served as the basis for his piece. Through his campaign #LaughInSpace, the artist encouraged people to record themselves laughing and to share their recordings with their friends. “The laughter with the most shares and retweets will be sent to the International Space Station to be 3D-printed and then released into orbit”, he declared.

With this project, NASA intends to test 3D printing technologies in order to create a self-sustaining environment for astronauts in space, enabling them to create the hardware they need while on a mission, instead of having it launched from earth. According to Gever, the installation will be a symbol of what can be achieved when technologies are used to create a new language of art.

The sculpture, which is expected to be printed later this year, aims to represent, according to Gever “a mathematically accurate encapsulation of human laughter, simply floating through space, waiting to be discovered.”

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Israeli artist Eyal Gever with one of his installations – on earth

Photos: NASA, Eyal Gever

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[In Face Of Water Crisis, Indian Minister Praises Israeli Technologies: “Israel Is My Guru”]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44290 2016-04-05T13:24:06Z 2016-04-05T13:07:06Z

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In recent years, Israel has established itself as a powerhouse in the fields of water desalination and purification, as well as drip irrigation for agriculture. Several cutting-edge Israeli technologies are currently presented at ‘India Water Week’ in New Delhi, which was inaugurated by Israel’s minister of agriculture Uri Ariel.

SEE ALSO: World Leaders Praise Israel’s Water Technologies At WATEC Conference

During the event, India’s water, agriculture and finance ministers expressed their interest in tightening the relations between the two nations. “India’s water issues need our urgent attention, and Israel has a proven track record in agriculture and water technologies. Israel is definitely my guru,” India’s water minister Uma Bharti said at the inauguration event, according to a statement released today.

israeli-pavilion-at-india-water-week-2016 photo by Israeli embassy

The Israeli pavilion at India Water Week 2016

Arun Jaitley, India’s finance minister said that India is facing major challenges in the field of water supply, and that’s why “we are strengthening our cooperation with Israel, our role model.”

SEE ALSO: Could Groundwater Desalination Solve California’s Water Crisis?

According to Ariel, “water is essential to humankind, and it’s urgent that we conserve our limited water resources and efficiently use them. Thanks to the challenges our small country is facing, and our spirit of innovation, we are able to excel in technologies such as water purification and preservation, drip irrigation, and water recycling. Our collaboration with India is important for both nations.”

Ariel is expected to inaugurate an Israeli-Indian agritech center tomorrow.

One-fifth of the world’s population lives in areas where water is scarce

Water shortage is a pressing issue worldwide: According to the UN, 1.2 billion people (almost one-fifth of the world’s population) live in areas where water is scarce, and another 500 million people are nearing this situation. The World Bank estimates that 21 percent of infectious diseases in India are related to unsafe water. In India, diarrhea alone causes 1,600 deaths daily — equivalent to eight jumbo jets crashing each day.

This year, India Water Week (April 4-8) is being held in collaboration with the Israeli government, including the country’s agriculture, foreign and economy ministries. During the week, Israeli companies in the fields of water supply and agricultural irrigation are showcasing 20 different technologies at the Israeli pavilion. According to the Israeli embassy in India, the delegation also includes Israeli drip irrigation giant Netafim, and Israeli desalination leader IDE Technologies.

This is the fourth year India is hosting India Water Week, but this is the first year that Israel is its partner. Israeli ambassador to India Daniel Carmon praised the partnership: “Israel is a development laboratory and we’ll make every effort to justify the trust that the Indian government and people have entrusted upon Israel, its capabilities and experience.”

israels-agriculture-minister-uri-ariel-receives-a-present-from-minister-for-water-resources-uma-bharti_photo by Israeli embassy

Israel’s agriculture minister Uri Ariel receives a present from Indian water minister Uma Bharti

Photos: Israeli Embassy, New DelhiYann

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Yonatan Sredni, No Camels <![CDATA[Breakthrough Blood Test For Alzheimer’s Disease To Undergo Clinical Trials]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44174 2016-04-04T09:41:42Z 2016-04-04T09:41:42Z

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In order to accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, medical professionals must conduct a long series of tests to assess a patient’s memory impairment, cognitive skills, functional abilities, and behavioral changes. The process also includes costly brain imagining scans and, in some cases, invasive cerebral spinal fluid tests to rule out other diseases.

Now, a new discovery by a team of Israeli and American researchers seeks to effectively screen and diagnose Alzheimer’s using a blood test. The new study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, proposes a new biomarker for cognitive aging and Alzheimer’s disease: The activity-dependent neuro-protective protein (ADNP), whose levels can be easily monitored in routine blood tests. The study also found that higher ADNP levels tested in the blood correlate with higher IQ in healthy older adults. The researchers now plan to move forward into clinical trials in order to create a pre-Alzheimer’s test that will help to tailor potential preventative treatments.

SEE ALSO: Study: People Who Treat Alzheimer’s Patients Should Have Creative Hobbies

Elderly couple

The research was led by Tel Aviv University‘s Prof. Illana Gozes, and spearheaded by Dr. Gad Marshall, Dr. Aaron Schultz, and Prof. Reisa Sperling of Harvard University, along with Prof. Judith Aharon-Peretz of Rambam Medical Center and the Technion Institute of Technology.

Early intervention

During the study, significant increases in ADNP levels were observed in patients ranging from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer’s dementia. ADNP levels tested in plasma and serum samples, as well as white blood cell RNA levels, distinguished among cognitively normal elderly, MCI, and Alzheimer’s dementia participants.

The investigators analyzed blood samples taken from 42 healthy adults, MCI patients, and Alzheimer’s disease patients at Rambam Medical Center in Israel. After comparing the ADNP expression in the blood samples, the researchers prepared plasma samples and once again compared the protein levels.

“Early intervention is invaluable to Alzheimer’s patients”

“This study has provided the basis to detect this biomarker in routine, non-invasive blood tests, and it is known that early intervention is invaluable to Alzheimer’s patients,” Gozes said in a statement. “We are now planning to take these preliminary findings forward into clinical trials — to create a pre-Alzheimer’s test that will help to tailor potential preventative treatments.”

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

This new research is based on Gozes’ earlier investigation of neuronal plasticity and nerve cell protection at the molecular, cellular, and system level, and her discovery of novel families of proteins, including ADNP, associated with cross-communication among neural nerve cells and their support cells. “Interestingly, we also found that the more ADNP in the serum, the higher the person’s IQ level,” Gozes said.

Health News: Researchers Identify Protein That May Be Key In Alzheimer's Treatment

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David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[‘Happy Meals’ To Get Happier Thanks To Israeli Virtual Reality Startup WakingApp]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44258 2016-04-03T08:22:51Z 2016-04-03T08:25:50Z

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

Those little toys kids get in “happy meal” offerings by the various fast-food chains were most likely made by international novelty firm PPI Worldwide, which has sold over 4 billion Disney figurines, Pokemons and just about any other plastic collectible.

SEE ALSO: Get Tech Savvy On The Slopes With RideOn’s Augmented Reality Ski Goggles

But with PPI’s new partnership with Israeli virtual reality tech firm WakingApp, the company is likely to find its warehouses overflowing with inventory, as kids start collecting new toys and devices stuffed with augmented reality and virtual reality technologies, changing the perception of what a freebie “toy” is for a new generation being raised on the latest digital technology.

“Happy meals,” of course, are the kids’ meals marketed by McDonald’s (itself a PPI Worldwide customer), but the company has many other fast-food and food industry customers, like Coca-Cola, Unilever, and Nestlé.

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

The company expects its customers to embrace the WakingApp technology, said Isaias Miremberg, the owner of PPI Worldwide. “The rising popularity of mobile devices and gaming with children of all ages has companies on the lookout for the right way to digitize their products to keep users engaged and sales strong.”

Where formerly a company needed to employ an army of engineers, programmers, and machine vision specialists to create an augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) app, PPI and thousands of WakingApp customers around the world can now use its plug-and-play platform to build apps that can be integrated with glasses, toys, devices, or anything else that can include a software component that can interact with the hardware.

With WakingApp, users can develop their own AR/VR apps using the company’s cloud-based ENTiTi Creator that uses plug-and-play templates and modules which, drag-and-drop style, allow anyone to build an app without any programming skills. Apps that can be created with the platform allow user app builders to develop interactive augmented reality content that includes live data feeds, personalization, social activities, high-quality 3D, games and more.

virtual reality goggles

To read the full article, click here

Photos and video: WakingAppMaurizio Pesce

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Company Cellebrite Said To Help FBI Crack Terrorist’s iPhone]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44245 2016-03-31T08:25:30Z 2016-03-31T08:25:30Z

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Israeli company Cellebrite helped the FBI crack the iPhone used by the terrorist involved in the San Bernardino, California, mass shooting last year, according to several reports in the media. Earlier this week, the FBI succeeded in unlocking the password-protected iPhone, though the agency didn’t disclose its technique.

On December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 were injured in a terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. The perpetrators were Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik. Believing the information on Farook’s iPhone could help investigators reach the terrorists’ accomplices, the FBI asked iPhone manufacturer Apple Inc. to unlock the iPhone, which was protected by a password. Apple refused, citing privacy concerns.

Apple’s refusal to crack the iPhone has led to an extensive public debate on whether the government should gain access to the personal information of its citizens (Farook was an American citizen).

After Apple’s refusal, cellular technology company Cellebrite – founded 17 years ago in Israel by Yossi Carmil – reportedly approached the FBI in an attempt to help. According to some accounts, the FBI is already a client of Cellebrite. Cellebrite’s spokeswoman in Israel declined to comment.

Cybersecurity israel

Smartphone forensics

Cellebrite is a global company focused on mobile data technology. In 2007, it established its mobile forensics division, which specializes in the decoding and analysis of data from thousands of mobile devices, including smartphones, portable GPS devices and tablets.

SEE ALSO: Hackers Steal Sensitive Information Using Pita Bread-Sized Device

In addition to mobile device data, its ‘UFED Cloud Analyzer’ provides extraction, preservation and analysis of private data residing in cloud environments, such as social media accounts.

The company serves forensic specialists in the law enforcement, military, intelligence, and corporate security fields in more than 100 countries around the globe. Its technology can extract encrypted data from cellphones – even information that was deleted.

Headquartered in Petah Tikva, Israel, Cellebrite operates five additional offices around the world, with a total of 500 employees.

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

Nine years ago, Cellebrite was acquired by Japanese manufacturing giant Sun Corp. for $17.5 million, and has since been its wholly owned subsidiary. Sun’s shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange rose by 40 percent in recent days, following reports on its subsidiary’s success in hacking the iPhone.

Apple’s refusal to crack the iPhone “created a situation where the FBI can go to third parties to do that,” Matt Larson, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst, told Bloomberg News. “Companies like Cellebrite may have found a niche industry of assisting the FBI unlock personal devices in select cases moving forward.”

iphone apple

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Lauren Blanchard and Alice Menichelli, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Architect Eran Chen Is Transforming The Face Of New York: “Architecture Is Not A Privilege”]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43693 2016-03-30T10:40:18Z 2016-03-30T10:03:31Z

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Cities, and Manhattan in particular, are known for their skylines. Yet, Israeli architect Eran Chen is changing the face of New York City, not by erecting needle-tipped skyscrapers, but by exploiting the space between them.

“As an architect, I like to explore more of the in between: The gaps, the voids, the territory between – inside and out,” Chen tells NoCamels. “Those urban voids are our new landscape.”

oda-turn-graffitied-warehouse-chic-brooklyn-hotel-01

Chen’s firm ODA incorporates the graffiti wall that already exists into its plan for a hotel and commercial space in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Using both reflective and matte materials and what is now becoming his signature cube modules, Chen – the founder and executive director of ODA: Architecture – has filled those voids with roof terraces, hanging gardens and nonuniform facades, creating buildings that are as inviting to look at as they are to live in.

“Architecture is about the space between things”

“When people think about architecture, they usually think about buildings, and while to some extent the job of an architect is to design buildings, architecture as a practice isn’t about buildings at all,” Chen says. “Architecture is about the space between things. It’s about our physical and mental experience of the in between.”

SEE ALSOFrom Lego-Style Buildings To Mega Hotels, Legendary Israeli Architect Moshe Safdie Still Stuns The World

Raised in Rehovot, Israel, Chen did not grow up around the kind of grand buildings that he works on today. Yet, after training at the prestigious Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem and moving to New York in 2000, his eye adjusted to the urban jungle. He quickly became a principal in Perkins Eastman, an international architecture company, and in 2007, he founded his own firm, ODA, which now employs 60 people.

Inside out

One thread guiding much of his work is the line between indoors and outdoors, a distinction that Chen blurs perhaps more than his contemporaries, and definitely more than his predecessors. “We are not made to live only in one space,” Chen says. “We need both.”

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ODA’s planned addition to the roof of 93 Worth Street in Tribeca, Manhattan

However, that sounds easier said than done: The majority of Chen’s projects are in New York City, where green space is a rare commodity even for the high society.

SEE ALSO: Acclaimed Israeli Architect Omer Arbel Sheds Light On His Multifaceted Approach To Design

Yet, Chen and his team have repeatedly used cube structures in order maximize outside space for greenery, which grows along the top and the sides, and natural light, which comes through and reflects off of the corner windows.

Even in his plans for an East Side tower between the United Nations headquarters and the Chrysler Building, Chen’s signature style comes through: The mix of glass and concrete, the cubed sections, and of course, the greenery — are all designed with an effect that makes the building seems like it is being slowly stretched, as if the floors were stuck together with chewing gum, Chen says. (Rest assured, gum will not be one of the materials used in a 41-floor building).

The Trump World Tower

Concentrating mainly on residential properties – Chen and former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer are currently developing a property in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn – ODA handles both architecture and interior design projects, the most famous of which has been the renovation of the Trump World Tower penthouse. An Asian-American financier purchased the 89th and 90th floors during the 2008 credit crisis for $53 million (a bargain nowadays), and then invested another $67 million in its redesign, which included 18,000 square feet of open-floor area, 16 feet floor-to-ceiling windows, a 30-foot water wall (a waterfall on a wall), and a reflecting pool overlooking the United Nations headquarters.

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The penthouse at the Trump World Tower in New York

Its windows offer a 360-degree view of the city, including a close-up of the Empire State Building and a sprawling panorama of the East River. The internal walls exhibit the owner’s private art collection (reported to be one of the largest in the world), which include works by Picasso, Matisse, and Damien Hirst.

“The challenge here was designing a private apartment that would also serve as a space to present the art,” Chen tells NoCamels. Using softer materials such as woods and leathers, Chen designed each room, creating intimate spaces in this sky-high palace. “It was about finding a way to make the two solutions function together.”

SEE ALSO: Israeli Eco-Home Wins Big At International Solar Decathlon In China

However, Chen’s aesthetic balancing act pales in comparison to the actual construction. All the materials, including large slabs of Italian marble, had to be hoisted to the top of the building, sometimes strapped on top of the elevator. Yet, more problematic was the noise, in particular the noise to downstairs neighbor Derek Jeter.

Architech Eran Chen, Firm: ODA

Donald Trump gets involved 

During the four years of planning and construction, the Yankees’ former baseball shortstop couldn’t get enough sleep before games and complained to the management, i.e. to billionaire Donald Trump, Chen recalls. Fortunately, Chen’s client rented another apartment in the building, where Jeter slept before the games, and the New York Yankees went on to win the World Series in 2009. Then, the renovation was completed as planned.

Architects of Chen’s caliber are often reserved for those who can afford to pay them. Yet, Chen has not limited himself to building for the rich and famous. In 2013, ODA was selected to design one of New York’s largest affordable housing projects, located on the banks of the East River at Hunter’s Point in Queens. Facing Manhattan, this hybrid complex of 796 affordable apartments and 696 market-rate apartments, along with 100 units set aside for senior citizens, is part of Chen’s mission to “create a city that is more equal for everyone.”

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ODA’s plan for Hunter’s Point South Project in Queens

“While cities are getting bigger and bigger, and more and more people move from the suburbs to the huge metropolis, very little effort is made in order to understand the impact of a huge city on the psychology of individuals,” Chen explains. “The sense of belonging to a community is disappearing for the inhabitants of the vertical cities.”

To that point, plans for the Queens site call for approximately 20,000 square feet of new commercial space with preliminary plans for a pre-kindergarten, a medical facility, a rock-climbing gym, art galleries, yoga studios and new restaurants, along with 10,000 square feet of new community space.

Israeli inspiration

What makes an Israeli-turned-New Yorker so civically minded? “Being Israeli has totally influenced who I am and what I care about,” Chen admits. “Israel is a unique, complex country when it comes to social fabric. Growing up in a culture that struggles with issues of identity and diversity trains your brain to look at things with a different perspective.”

The New York-based architect might soon bring that perspective back home, following his submission to the competition to design the new building of the National Library of Israel.

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ODA’s submission to the competition to design the National Library of Israel

Taking his inspiration from the Knesset building, Chen’s design “underscores the idea that education and learning are the bedrock of democracy.” Yet, the building materials would give the library a “sense of openness that distinguishes it from the highly protected governmental buildings in the neighborhood.” The plan includes a landscaped roof that acts as a natural amphitheater, allowing for public gatherings and events.

“Architecture is not a privilege; it’s a necessity for wellbeing,” Chen summarizes.

If one considers that Olmsted’s design of Central Park gave New York City “lungs,” or that Haussmann’s renovation of Paris “opened up” the medieval city, Chen’s statement is perhaps not so far-fetched.

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A library that houses more than just books

Photos and renderings: ODA

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Natalia Kushnir, NoCamels <![CDATA[No More Texting While Driving: Radiomize Keeps Your Eyes On The Road, Saves Lives]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44177 2016-03-29T11:59:53Z 2016-03-29T12:02:07Z

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We all know texting while driving is dangerous, yet we still do it – we just can’t help ourselves.

Now, safety no longer has to be comprised. Israeli startup Radiomize has created a steering wheel cover embedded with text-to-speech technology and a matching mobile app. This patented gadget fits most vehicles, allowing drivers to control their phones without taking their focus off the road. According to Radiomize, its technology can reduce distracted driving by 23 percent.

Radiomize’s app also creates a personal playlist which learns user preferences, so drivers won’t need to fiddle with the radio while driving.

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

The company recently launched a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds for mass production. With five days remaining on the campaign, Radiomize has already raised 147 percent of its original $50,000 goal, reaching $73,500. The price of one unit starts at $49.

How does Radiomize work? The connected app simply reads incoming messages aloud and also curates personal playlists for each driver based on music preferences from their social media profiles. That way, drivers don’t have to search for radio stations and become distracted. By double-tapping the touch sensor embedded within the steering wheel cover, the driver can seamlessly change the song – and never take their eyes off the road.

Distracted driving: The leading cause of car accidents

Founded in April 2015 by Shmuel Kaz and Gilad Landau, Radiomize’s mission is to reduce car accidents. Drunk driving is no longer the leading cause of car accidents, “being distracted is”, Kaz warns. Sending a quick text message to someone or fiddling with the radio can be just as dangerous as having a few drinks.

Although many media campaigns illustrate the danger of texting while driving – along with hefty fines that are supposed to deter drivers from doing so – people still grab their phones when the traffic light turns red (and sometimes in the midst of driving). This is because “people don’t like to hear what they can’t do – they want to hear what they can do,” Kaz tells NoCamels.

Since our need to be constantly connected isn’t likely to disappear, telling us to ditch our cellphones is simply not going to happen, Kaz fears. And Radiomize is not the only company that capitalizes on that; last year, Israeli startup RayGo completed a successful crowd-funding campaign for a similar gadget-app combo.

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

Soon, Radiomize will be integrated with Google Maps and Waze for turn-by-turn guidance, according to Kaz. Currently in English, the interface will soon have several languages, as well as a premium feature that will assist those with hearing disabilities. Radiomize will also be made available for motorcycles and bicycles, ensuring that anyone who gets behind a wheel is focused on the road.

Until then, please stop driving while “intexticated.”

radiomize

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[From Agriculture To High-Tech: Meet Five Kibbutzim That Became Global Powerhouses]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44132 2016-03-28T09:18:25Z 2016-03-28T08:20:25Z

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A kibbutz, by definition, is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. But a century after the establishment of the first kibbutz, farming is no longer the main economic branch at some of Israel’s 200 kibbutzim (the plural form of kibbutz). In fact, some kibbutzim have come up with such successful technologies and products, that their members – once socialist farmers – have become quite wealthy.

NoCamels rounded up five of the most successful companies founded on the kibbutz in the fields of technology and manufacturing:

Lemon Orchard in the Galilee

Kibbutz Sdot Yam’s Caesarstone

In 2014, Kibbutz Sdot Yam sold the majority stake of its Caesarstone’s shares to the public for $260 million, a hefty amount for its 400 members, who are now wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.

Founded in 1987 by the kibbutz, Caesarstone designs, engineers and manufactures stone surfaces. In recent years, it has become successful in the US luxury residential market, making Sdot Yam one of the richest kibbutzim in Israel.

Caesarstone

This Cinderella story – which started with Sdot Yam’s dire, debt-ridden situation back in the 80s – is an example of phenomenal business success achieved by a small community that was initially based on fishery, and is now worth over $1 billion.

Last year, the company opened its first US plant in Georgia. This new factory is the third production facility for Caesarstone, which operates two plants in Israel.

Caesarstone pioneered the quartz surfaces, which consist of up to 93 percent quartz (a mineral found in nature). According to the company, this type of surface retains “the cool tactile qualities of nature’s strong stones while offering freedom of design with enormous application possibilities, including kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, flooring, wall paneling, furniture and more.”

While Caesarstone’s products are highly functional, their stunning designs have become widely popular among upscale interior designers around the world.

Kibbutz Shamir’s Shamir Optical

Founded in 1944, the pastoral Kibbutz Shamir, located in the Galilee, has traditionally relied on agriculture, like most kibbutzim. But in 1972 the Kibbutz founded Shamir Optical, which manufactures lenses for eyeglasses. It’s now one of the world’s only manufacturers of multifocal lenses, a multi-billion-dollar industry, thanks to its groundbreaking technology.

In 2010, French optics giant Essilor acquired half of Shamir optics for $130 million.

Kibbutz Hazerim’s Netafim

Netafim is synonymous with the famous Israeli invention of drip irrigation, which is now helping 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.

Since then, Netafim – which currently employs 4,000 employees around the world – opened two additional plants in Israeli kibbutzim Magal and Yiftah, as well as 13 international manufacturing facilities in 11 countries, with representative offices in 110 countries.

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

In 2011, the majority stake in Netafim was sold to German investment group Permira, a deal that valued the drip irrigation giant at almost $1 billion.

Givat Oz’s Aromor

Aromor Flavors and Fragrances, a successful factory founded by members of Kibbutz Givat Oz, along with former executives of Israeli chemical giant Makhteshim, was founded in 1982 and is based in the small kibbutz Givat Oz, in Northern Israel. This advanced chemical plant manufactures chemicals for the food, cosmetics and perfume industries.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Flavoring Giant Frutarom Pivots To Multi-Billion-Dollar Organic Food Market

It was sold in 2014 to International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), a $9 billion New York-based company operating in the same sector, for $88 million.

Kibbutz Yizre’el’s Maytronics

Everyone knows the robots that clean swimming pools, but not everyone knows that a third of them come from Kibbutz Yizre’el, a rural collective community in Northern Israel.

Back in the 70s, Yizre’el’s Maytronics started manufacturing these automated pool cleaners, which can be seen in thousands of swimming pools around the world.

Now worth over $1 billion, Maytronics is set to invest about $5 million in a second manufacturing facility in Israel.

With Israeli kibbutzim designing and manufacturing everything from multifocal lenses to innovative robots, their 107-year-old legacy is clearly here to stay.

Photos and video: David Shankbone, ​Caesarstone, Netafim, Maytronics, israeltourism

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David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[White House Taps Israeli Technologies For Solving California’s Water Crisis]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44106 2016-03-27T08:28:05Z 2016-03-27T10:30:40Z

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

In the US, cleantech has often focused on ways to develop alternative energies, like solar and wind, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that water may be an even bigger problem.

“Just look at what happened in Flint,” said Mark Donig, a member of the steering committee of the recently formed Israel-California Green-Tech Partnership. “The lead in the water there is due to a longstanding infrastructure problem that is going to take years and billions of dollars to fix, and it’s a problem that is likely to repeat itself in many other places.

“As a developer of inexpensive and relatively inexpensive water technologies, Israel is a place the US must look to in order to ensure that farmers, industry, and citizens have access to clean, potable water.”

San Diego area

Arid areas around San Diego, California

That’s not just Donig’s opinion. The White House recently announced a series of projects and programs designed to “elevate a national dialogue on the state of our nation’s water resources and infrastructure,” with support, investments, and resources provided for technologies that can improve water management, promote conservation, and “advance water sustainability on all fronts.”

SEE ALSO: Could Groundwater Desalination Solve California’s Water Crisis?

Nearly all of the 30 projects on the White House’s list of approved projects were born in the US – except for the one approved for Los Angeles, which will establish a cleantech incubator where Israeli firms will develop solutions for California’s ongoing water crisis.

That project, announced earlier this month at a summit on water solutions, “builds on California and Israel’s March 2014 memorandum of understanding to cooperate on developing water and green technology solutions,” the White House said in a statement.

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

“Today, the partnership is announcing a new joint venture with the city of Los Angeles’ Cleantech Incubator (LACI) that will culminate in the introduction of 10 Israeli companies in water, energy, and agricultural technologies to the California market. These companies will help accelerate the shift to a greener economy, with a particular focus on benefiting drought-stricken populations across the state, including the nearly 123,000 farmers in California.”

Carlsbad desalination project

A desalination plant in Carlsbad, California, built by Israeli experts

To read the full article, click here

Photos: daveynin, IDE Technologies

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Yonatan Sredni, No Camels <![CDATA[Israeli Researchers Find Key To Long-Term Preservation Of Organs For Transplant]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44033 2016-03-24T12:44:29Z 2016-03-24T12:45:10Z

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When transplanting donated organs, time is of the essence. Transplantation stands the best chance to succeed when performed as quickly as possible after the donor surgery. A heart or lung is kept viable for transplantation for only six hours before deterioration begins. A pancreas or liver go to waste after 12 hours in storage, and a kidney can be kept outside the body for less than 30 hours.

Keep cool, not frozen

One of the main problems standing in the way of storing organs for more than a few hours is ice growth. When organs are frozen, expanding ice crystals damage the cells in a way that they cannot be revived.  Therefore, organs which are removed from a donor are kept cooled but not frozen.

A Hebrew University team led by Prof. Ido Braslavsky is now contributing significantly to the effort to perfect the process of preserving cells, tissues and organs in sub-zero temperatures. This would enable long-term banking of tissues and organs and efficient matching between donor and patient, eventually saving the lives of millions of people around the world.

“The ability to freeze organs and to then thaw them without causing damage to the organ itself would be revolutionary in terms of our chances to save lives,” Braslavsky said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Scientists Develop New Human Stem Cells With Half A Genome 

Ido Braslavsky

Prof. Ido Braslavsky at his lab, where his team investigates ice-binding proteins and new methods in cryopreservation of cells.

Braslavsky’s area of specialty is so-called “antifreeze proteins,” ice-binding proteins that help organisms resist or withstand freezing in water and on land by inhibiting the formation and growth of crystalline ice. Ice-binding proteins were discovered some 50 years ago in Antarctic fish and are now known to exist in cold-resistant fish, plants, insects and microorganisms. They actively inhibit the formation and growth of crystalline ice, and their superiority over other antifreeze substances is that they are needed in very low amounts to do it effectively.

Braslavsky and his team collaborated with Prof. Peter Davies from Queen’s University in Canada to investigate the mystery of exactly how ice-binding proteins stop the formation of ice crystals. They discovered that antifreeze proteins bind permanently with ice. “We found that proteins in insects are much more efficient in inhibiting ice growth than proteins in fish, but fish proteins bind faster to ice,” according to Braslavsky.

Learning from frozen foods?

This finding, recently published in the scientific journals Langmuir and RSC Advances, could be crucial for the advancement of using these proteins to help preserve frozen organs as well as frozen foods.

Many are familiar with ice cream that has lost its texture in home freezers, or meat that has lost a lot of its liquids and doesn’t look or taste fresh after thawing. Ice-binding proteins may allow the control of ice in frozen food and the developments of new frozen treats. Some food manufacturers have already started using ice-binding proteins in their products.

popsicles

Braslavsky’s pioneering work in studying the interaction between antifreeze proteins and ice is now expanding to developing a cryopreservation technique (a process by which cells susceptible to damage caused by chemical reactivity or time are preserved by cooling to sub-zero temperatures) that will allow revival of cells and tissues while restoring their form and function.

Clearly, Braslavsky’s technique could be instrumental in ending the organ transplant shortage.

Photos: Dr. Amir Bein
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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Eco Wave Power Turns Seawater Into Energy At New Gibraltar Plant]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44063 2016-03-23T09:37:09Z 2016-03-23T09:50:13Z

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Water covers three-quarters of the earth’s surface, but the world has yet to capitalize on the power of ocean waves, even though the energy that can be harvested from oceans is equal to twice the amount of electricity that the world produces now, according to the World Energy Council. But Israeli startup Eco Wave Power is taking giant steps in the field of renewable energy harvested from the sea, with the completion of its first commercial-scale power plant.

Located in Gibraltar, Europe – a peninsula that naturally lends itself to ocean wave harvesting – this new $5 million, 5 Megawatt plant is expected to produce 15 percent of Gibraltar’s electricity within two years, Eco Wave Power co-founder Inna Braverman tells NoCamels.

SEE ALSO: TaKaDu’s Water-Saving Technology Saves Australia Millions Of Dollars

Founded in 2011, Eco Wave Power (EWP) turns water into electricity using uniquely shaped buoys (floating devices), which rise and fall with the waves’ up-and-down motion and the changes in water levels.

Last year, Eco Wave Power established a subsidiary in China, after receiving an approval – as well as funds – from the Chinese government to build a 100 kilowatt plant. The $450,000 power station will initially serve 100 households, serving hundreds more as it grows. The company also operates two power stations in Israel.

“Israel is certainly a powerhouse when it comes to water technologies, including desalination and irrigation. The world positively views technologies that were developed in Israel,” according to Braverman.

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

In 2012, Eco Wave Power won the prestigious Frost & Sullivan Product Innovation Award. The judges stated that the company “efficiently handles the prominent challenges prevailing in the field, and offers an all-around solution for effective energy harvesting.”

The company recently raised $2 million in a financing round led by Pirveli Ventures, after which it also received a grant from the European Union for its Gibraltar project. The latter amount was not disclosed.

It seems that investors believe in Eco Wave Power’s ability to potentially succeed in what other companies have failed to achieve: Producing cost-effective, renewable energy from sea waves. “Our competitors have tried to establish power stations offshore, where the waves rise to 17 meters, but the costs of maintaining a power station 4-5 kilometers from the coastline were very high,” Braverman says. “In contrast, we operate close to the pier, where the waves are not as powerful but the cost of operation is not expensive. Our goal is to harvest as much energy as possible with our uniquely shaped devices, so that we can be competitive in the market.”

Says co-founder David Leb: “The future is looking bright for wave energy, as it picks up traction and becomes more prevalent among other green energy initiatives.”

ocean wave

Photos and video: Ayala, Eco Wave Power

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Yonatan Sredni, NoCamels <![CDATA[Scientific Breakthrough: Researchers Create A New Type Of Stem Cell That Has Half A Genome]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43986 2016-03-22T13:09:28Z 2016-03-22T13:02:27Z

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In what many call a breakthrough discovery, Israeli and American scientists have succeeded in generating a new type of embryonic stem cell that carries a single copy of the human genome, instead of the two copies typically found in normal stem cells. These stem cells are the first human cells capable of cell division with just one copy of the parent cell’s genome.

SEE ALSO: Study Finds Precious Stem Cells Are Assigned ‘Bodyguard’ Cells

Human cells are considered ‘diploid’ because they inherit two sets of chromosomes, 46 in total: 23 from the mother and 23 from the father. The only exceptions are reproductive (egg and sperm) cells, known as ‘haploid’ cells because they contain a single set of 23 chromosomes. These haploid cells cannot divide to make more eggs and sperm. Previous efforts to generate embryonic stem cells using human egg cells resulted in diploid stem cells.

One set of chromosomes is enough

In this study, however, scientists from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Columbia University Medical Center and The New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute triggered unfertilized human egg cells into dividing. They then highlighted the DNA with a fluorescent dye and isolated the haploid stem cells, which were scattered among the more populous diploid cells. The scientists recently published their findings in the prestigious scientific journal Nature.

The researchers showed that these haploid stem cells were pluripotent, meaning they were able to differentiate into many other cell types, including nerve, heart, and pancreatic cells – while retaining a single set of chromosomes.

An important impact on medical research

“This study has given us a new type of human stem cell that will have an important impact on human genetic and medical research,” Dr. Nissim Benvenisty of the Hebrew University, who co-led the study, said in a statement. “These cells will provide researchers with a novel tool for improving our understanding of human development, and the reasons why we reproduce sexually, instead of from a single parent.”

Since there are two copies of each gene, it has been challenging for researchers to locate and edit mutations that could lead to disease. With just one copy of a gene to target, haploid human cells could constitute a powerful tool for genetics, and could lead to better treatments for a host of diseases. Being able to affect single-copy genes in haploid human stem cells also has the potential to facilitate genetic analysis in biomedical fields such as cancer research and regenerative medicine.

SEE ALSO: Stem Cell Treatments Could Alleviate Asthma, Study Shows

“One of the greatest advantages of using haploid human cells is that it is much easier to edit their genes,” according to Dr. Ido Sagi of the Hebrew University, who co-led the study. “In diploid cells, detecting the biological effects of a single-copy mutation is difficult, because the other copy is normal and serves as ‘backup.’”

A cure for genetic diseases

Since the stem cells described in this study were a genetic match to the egg cell donor, they could also be used to develop cell-based therapies for diseases such as blindness, diabetes, or other conditions in which genetically identical cells offer a therapeutic advantage. Because their genetic content is equivalent to germ cells, they might also be useful for reproductive purposes.

A haploid cell with 23 chromosomes (left), and a diploid cell with 46 chromosomes (right).  (Credit: Columbia University Medical Center/Hebrew University.)

A haploid cell with 23 chromosomes (left), and a diploid cell with 46 chromosomes (right)

Photos and video: The Hebrew University of JerusalemColumbia University Medical CenterMargiriss

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David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Backed By Leonardo DiCaprio, Social Networking App ‘Galaxia’ Will Keep Your Secrets Safe]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44010 2016-03-21T13:42:15Z 2016-03-21T12:33:05Z

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

Sometimes, putting on a mask is the only way to really let yourself go – to express yourself and tell it like it is, without having to worry about what others think of you.

SEE ALSO: Meet Blindspot, The Anonymous Messaging App That Stirs Up Global Controversy

“It’s like what Leonardo (DiCaprio) told me about Halloween being his favorite holiday,” said Moshe Hogeg, whose latest app, Galaxia, aims to supply the masks that he believes online users want and need. “It’s the only time of the year he can go out on the street and be himself without having to worry about being judged by anyone.”

moshe hogeg

Moshe Hogeg

Hogeg can casually drop Oscar-winner DiCaprio’s name, as well as the name of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, because they are backers of Galaxia, which allows users to anonymously join different “worlds” in a galaxy of social networks. Users can present a persona that is appropriate to each group, posting content and participating in conversations that remain in that group – with their actual identity remaining confidential.

The app was released Thursday for iPhones; an Android version will be ready in a couple of weeks, said Hogeg.

SEE ALSO: Faces Of The Startup Nation: Q&A With Mobli Mogul Moshe Hogeg

In essence, Galaxia is the anti-Facebook. It uses the same social network tools, like contextual conversations, the ability to post many kinds of content, allowing for open or closed groups, and other features. Except that instead of a single profile page, users can have as many profiles as they want, and those profiles are associated with users only in the specific groups that they choose; the actual identity/owner of that profile remains a secret.

“Leonardo is an actor, you are a journalist, I am an entrepreneur,” said Hogeg. “Actually, everyone today has a their own online brand, and most people are reluctant to do anything to mar that brand – which means they self-censor, keeping their thoughts to themselves, or find ways around the system,” like setting up fake Facebook pages to post content to news sites and groups that they would be embarrassed to post with their real name.

leo dicaprio

The difference is that Facebook discourages – actually forbids – having multiple accounts in different names. Galaxia not only encourages that – it’s the app’s raison d’être, said Hogeg.

With Galaxia, anyone can create their own social network – called a world – where they can post and discuss any subject of interest. Users can join any public world, share their content or create new worlds where they can set their own rules such as deciding whether the world will be private or public, and whether the world will be free or users will need to pay an entrance fee to join. Each world provides a stream of content, ranging from text, to photos, videos, and live broadcasting.

galaxia social network app

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Courtesy

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Yonatan Sredni, NoCamels <![CDATA[International Day Of Happiness: Five Israeli Startups That Aim To Make You Happier]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43918 2016-03-20T07:48:51Z 2016-03-20T07:51:00Z

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Disneyland may proclaim itself as ‘the happiest place on earth’, but Israel is not that far behind. According to the most recent UN World Happiness Report, Israel is the 11th happiest country in the world, ranking behind Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, and Canada, but ahead of the US, which ranked 15th. It’s no wonder, then, that some of the coolest apps that aim to make us happier, were created in Israel. 

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

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

Serenita: Don’t stress, relax

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

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

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

Happify: Think positive, be happier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TalkSpace: Unhappy? Talk to a professional online

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

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

talkspace therapy

Vitalitix: Volunteering gives a sense of meaning

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

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

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

Photos and videos: Courtesy of the companies

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Can The Newly Developed ‘Coral On A Chip’ Save The World’s Reefs From Extinction?]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43962 2016-03-17T11:05:05Z 2016-03-17T11:05:05Z

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Human-induced environmental changes are responsible for coral disease, infertility and bleaching, a process by which corals turn white (they continue to live, but growth is limited). The loss of the world’s stony coral reefs – up to 30 percent in the next 30 years, according to experts’ estimates – will mean the loss of their “services,” including sequestering some 70-90 million tons of carbon each year and supporting enormous marine biodiversity. Yet, despite many advances, we are still far from understanding the causes and processes contributing to the corals’ demise.

Now, Israeli researchers have developed a new experimental platform for studying coral biology at micro-scale resolutions – which they dub “coral on a chip” – to provide new insights into this complex problem. This platform enables live-imaging microscopy of reef-building corals, which could help save the coral population from dwindling, according to a study recently published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

The research team was also able to directly visualize the initiation of coral disease, pointing to a little-known path of infection. This finding could lead to future solutions for the coral reef crisis.

coral reef with fish

“Corals are running out of time”

“Many corals are running out of time; it is crucial to know how our actions are affecting their survival, and how they affect ours,” Weizmann Institute’s Dr. Assaf Vardi, who led the study, said in a statement. “Our method can help researchers investigate everything from the coral genes that affect survival, to the strategies coral use to build reefs, to their effects on the marine carbon cycle.”

SEE ALSO: New Study Shows Sunscreen Destroys Coral Reefs

The tiny (often less than one millimeter in diameter) animals that build coral reefs create a thin layer of living tissue surrounding the calcium-based skeleton. These animals live in symbiosis with single-celled, photosynthetic algae that provide nutrients and oxygen in return for carbon dioxide and shelter.

According to Vardi, “in order to understand what happens during bleaching, when this symbiosis is broken, we need to understand what happens to these organisms at the cellular and molecular levels under various conditions.”

Vardi and his team claim that for the first time, they were able to examine living coral polyps in the lab, under highly controlled conditions. This system is based on a unique technology, which was developed to track cellular processes under life-like conditions.

Taking a small piece of coral, Vardi and his team induced stressful conditions – in this case by increasing salt content – which caused the corals to release polyps, a process sometimes referred to as “polyp bail-out.” Settling the bailed-out polyps into tiny, prefabricated wells, the scientists were able to observe under a microscope, how miniature coral colonies grow and behave in different conditions.

coral reef

Visualizing coral disease

Using their system, the team recorded the growth of the basic building blocks of the coral skeleton. The team was also able to directly visualize the initiation of coral disease, pointing to a little-known path of infection. Subjecting coral to high light intensities, known to induce coral bleaching, enabled the team to follow the elimination of the symbiotic algae, one cell at a time.

SEE ALSO: Sci-Fi Medicine Sees Corals Turned Into Bone Grafts

Vardi’s lab is currently in the process of adapting the coral-on-a-chip system to track the nutrient and carbon cycles of reef-building corals, as well as delving further into disease and bleaching processes.

Vardi’s team members include Orr Shapiro, Esti Kramarsky-Winter and Assaf R. Gavish of the Weizmann Institute; and Roman Stocker of MIT (currently at ETH, Switzerland).

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Meital Goldberg, NoCamels <![CDATA[Tired Of Waiting? SKEEPER App Skips The Hassle And Keeps Your Place In Line]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43936 2016-03-16T17:33:47Z 2016-03-16T13:32:47Z

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On average, people spend a year of their life waiting in line – for a table at a restaurant, in the grocery store and at the doctor’s office. Wouldn’t it be great to use that time for something more productive?

Now, Israeli mobile app SKEEPER allows you to reserve your spot via your smartphone from any location and be able to see when your turn comes up, allowing you to skip the hassle and keep your place in line.

SEE ALSO: Small-Business? Israeli Platform To Provide All Your Management Tools

After downloading the free application, you can choose the business you’d like to visit. The app will then allow you to see exactly what number you are in the line and approximately how much time you’ll have to wait. In the meantime, you can go about your life and only arrive when it is your turn.

“You need to have control of your time, rather than the businesses telling you to wait,” SKEEPER co-founder and CEO Alon Schwartzman tells NoCamels.

While some individual businesses have their own apps and platforms to manage lines and appointments, SKEEPER provides the customer with one app for multiple businesses.

skeeper app

The idea for the app came up about two years ago during a breakfast meeting Schwartzman held. One of the attendees had broken the screen of her smartphone, and when asked why she had not had it fixed, she replied that the wait time for the service was not worth it.

Reducing walk-away rates by 50 percent

With 100,000 downloads, SKEEPER app has saved its customers many hours of waiting time and has helped 50 businesses to increase their profits by reducing walk-away rates by 50 percent, according to Schwartzman.

Currently, the application is primarily used by restaurants that have long lines of customers, but any business that expects waiting times longer than five minutes can use SKEEPER.

SEE ALSO: ‘Bringg’ Brings On-Demand Delivery Services To Small Businesses, Consumers

Founded in 2014 by Schwartzman, Michal Lupu, Tal Museri and CTO Amnon David, the app currently serves some 50 businesses in Israel, and is expected to launch globally later this year.

The company declined to divulge financial information; however, Schwartzman stresses that SKEEPER already generates revenues: Each business, depending on its size, pays a monthly fee of approximately $100-$1000. Schwartzman estimates that 1,000 new businesses will join SKEEPER within the next year.

As for the customers, SKEEPER can clearly save a lot of time (and money). So now that you have some extra time – what will you do with it?

people line up for a Korean restaurant

Photos and videos: SKEEPER, EdalRepublic of Korea

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NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Prone To Stress? Soon, There Will Be A Blood Test For That]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43903 2016-03-15T13:26:05Z 2016-03-15T12:23:18Z

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Is your life stressful? A breakthrough Israeli study could lead to the development of a blood test that would tell whether you’re prone to stress. The results could facilitate preventive or early intervention in professions prone to high stress or trauma, such as combat soldiers, firefighters and policemen.

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

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

New York Fire Department Deputy Chief Joseph Curry

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

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

The biological complexity of stress

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

Brain - Technology News - Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brain-guided treatment based on a blood test

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

Health News - Genome Compiler: Designing Life On your Computer

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

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

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

Photos: Preston Keres

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Yonatan Sredni, NoCamels <![CDATA[Driving Change: Five Israeli Startups Revolutionizing The Way We Drive]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43844 2016-03-14T12:54:12Z 2016-03-14T12:54:12Z

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We all spend a lot of time on the roads, both in transit and in traffic. While technology has not yet come up with an alternative to the daily commute (unless you work from home), several Israeli startups are developing technologies to make our daily drive smoother, safer, and more pleasurable.

Here are five Israeli companies using technology to change the way we drive:

Mobileye: Preventing accidents

Making driving safer, Israeli company Mobileye develops driver assistance technology to prevent accidents, but is also one of the major developers of autonomous car technologies.

Mobileye’s 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.

mobileyepedestrian

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.

Radiomize: Staying connected while driving safely

Wish that you could answer your text messages while driving? Israeli IoT startup Radiomize has created a wheel cover embedded with text-to-speech technology and a thumb-sized touch screen. The patented gesture-controlled steering wheel cover fits most vehicles, allowing drivers to control their phones without taking their focus off the road.

Radiomize also comes with an app that creates a personal playlist which learns user preferences so drivers don’t need to listen to songs and news they don’t like.

“With Radiomize, commuting will be a safer and more pleasant experience,” CEO Shmulik Kaz said in a statement. “Our technology has the ability to reduce distracted driving by 23 percent while simultaneously providing a radio station that is tailored perfectly to each user.”

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

The company recently launched a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds for mass production. With less than a week remaining on the campaign, Radiomize has already raised over 140 percent of their original $50,000 goal.

VocalZoom: Anyone can be a Knight Rider

If you’re a fan of the hit 1980’s TV show Knight Rider, you can picture David Hasselhoff having a dialogue with his car, KITT, not only with the windows down, but at 60 miles an hour on the freeway – and with the wind blowing through his hair.

While voice recognition technology, like Siri and other similar products, have become more and more commonplace, these technologies tend to work effectively mainly in a sterile environment, in a quiet room in your home or office. But what about in your car on the open road?

VocalZoom, a Yokneam-based Israeli startup, delivers natural, personalized and effective voice-controlled user experiences. The company developed an optical microphone that measures the vibrations on the face of people who are talking and eliminates all background noise. The result is more precise speech recognition.

VocalZoom is in the process of selling its components to smartphone makers and car manufacturers, so in the very near future we may all be able to feel like Knight Rider.

StoreDot: The quick-charging car battery

StoreDot, an Israeli startup that can charge a smartphone in 30 seconds, is also developing a battery that can charge your electric vehicle in five minutes.

StoreDot’s new type of electric-car battery consists of proprietary organic compounds – based on the innovative materials used in its FlashBattery for mobile devices. This new battery will enable a charging experience which is similar to fueling a gasoline-run car.

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

According to the company, the EV FlashBattery enables full charge in five minutes, providing 300 miles (480 km) of driving distance. The electric vehicle will have a pack comprising of hundreds of EV FlashBattery cells that can store enough energy for a 300 mile (480 km) range on a five-minute charge. This translates into 60 miles of travel on a 1-minute charge.

electric car charger storedot

This quick charging technology shortens the amount of time drivers have to wait in line to charge their cars, thus reducing the number of required charging posts in each station.

Waze: Saving you time on the road

Of course no list about Israeli startups changing the way we drive 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.

wazescreenshot2

Whether you are seeking to avoid traffic, charge your electric car quickly, or just be able to ‘talk’ to your car better, there are many Israeli technologies that will help make your drive better – and safer, too.

Photos and videos: Radiomize, StoreDot, Waze, Mobileye

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David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Israeli Nano-Satellite Startup SkyFi To Provide Affordable Internet Access Worldwide]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43876 2016-03-13T13:29:58Z 2016-03-13T13:27:52Z

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

More reliable than underwater cables, easily expandable, and capable of almost limitless communication – that’s the promise of a new nano satellite-based network being developed by Israeli satellite startup SkyFi.

SEE ALSO: Facebook To Beam Free Internet Across Africa Using Israeli Satellite

“Not only will we be able to develop a worldwide Internet, we will be able to enable any type of communication between two points – telephone, digital, and even television – with the satellite network we are planning to put in space,” said Raz Itzhaki Tamir, co-founder and CEO of SkyFi.

nano satellite

Based in Tel Aviv, SkyFi, which recently presented its technology for the first time publicly at Microsoft Think Next, announced that it had raised $3 million in an investment round led by Jerusalem Venture Partners, one of Israel’s leading venture capital firms. Liberty Israel Venture Fund, a subsidiary of Liberty Media Corporation, also participated in the round.

SEE ALSO: Gilat Selected to Deploy Broadband Satellite Network In Kazakhstan

Though the Internet reaches around the world, there are still some 4 billion people who are not online because they live in rural areas where there are no connections, either wired or wireless. Providing access to those areas has become an important goal for both Google and Facebook, both of which are spending hundreds of millions on systems that will bring Internet access to far-flung areas via drone or balloons.

Satellites have been out of the question, though; at $60 million each, putting up a network of satellites for worldwide Internet access would be too expensive.

Enter SkyFi, the brainchild of Tamir, a former director of nano satellite technology at Israel Aerospace Industries, among other things.

“We are planning to launch 60 nano-satellites that will cover the entire planet, working together in constellation that will offload tasks to each other as needed,” said Tamir. “Each satellite will cost a million dollars, so 60 nano-satellites will cost the same as one full-sized satellite, with the advantage of being able to spread them around the globe and connect them in a network that can work together.”

Internet

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Taavi Torim

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Phresh Keeps Your Fruits And Veggies Fresh, Saves Up To $400 A Year]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43855 2016-03-10T10:52:03Z 2016-03-10T10:37:54Z

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One-third of the food produced around the globe, which is worth roughly $1 trillion, is lost or wasted during its production or consumption. In the US alone, 30-40 percent of the food supply is wasted – more than 20 pounds of food per person per month.

Israeli company Phresh came up with unique food protectors, which preserve your fruits and vegetables for three times longer and could save each household up to $400 a year from the loss of spoiled fruits and vegetables, while also limiting humankind’s environmental footprint.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Flavoring Giant Frutarom Pivots To Multi-Billion-Dollar Organic Food Market

phresh food protectors

Robot-shaped food protector designed by Phresh

“Phresh will help us realize our vision of creating heroic solutions that make our personal lifestyles sustainable,” Amit Gal-Or, founder and CEO of Phresh, said in a statement.

The crowds seem to be cheering for this vision: In two weeks, the company raised over $21,000 on crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, exceeding its original $20,000 goal – with two more weeks to go. The price of one unit starts at $20, to be shipped this summer.

SEE ALSO: Turning Trash Into Energy: HomeBiogas Generates Fuel From Organic Waste

Using organic technology to increase the shelf life of fruits and vegetables by three times, Phresh claims that it allows people to enjoy healthier foods for longer periods of time. The product comes in the shapes of an apple (red or gold) and robot (white), in which Phresh’s organic, non-toxic powder is inserted.

This powder dissolves into the atmosphere and eliminates bacteria and fungi while oxygenating the area, according to the company. As a result, no physical application upon the produce is required, and no additional smells or tastes can be sensed.

Phresh is designed to extend the shelf life of cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, apples, lemons, lettuce, grapes, mushrooms, strawberries and peppers. More fruits and vegetables will be added soon.

Based on 12 years of research at the Israeli company BotanoCap, spin-off startup Phresh concocted a ‘magic’ powder that’s composed of essential oils, which are natural preservatives created by plants, such as oregano, spearmint, mustard oil, and other plants. Using a patented micro-encapsulation procedure, each grain of Phresh’s powder extends the effect of the preservatives to over a month.

The consumer has to place one of the powder sachets, which come in every package, inside the food protector. Each package supplied by Phresh contains 12 sachets, which is enough for one year. Each food protector is equipped with a LED lamp that changes color over time, reminding the customer to change the powder once every one or two months. After that, the consumers place the food protector near their fruits and vegetables – whether in the fridge, a basket, or a bowl – and the powder starts protecting the produce.

fruits

“Households’ little hero” 

Countless areas of our lives are touched by constant improvements – our TVs get better, our smartphones become faster, and the services we receive get quicker all the time. But food spoilage, which touches the lives of each one of us, hasn’t seen major improvements since the invention of the refrigerator.

Says Gal-Or: “When Phresh was created, our powder began to display almost magical power of seemingly increasing fruit and vegetable lives using organic materials. We hope that the food protectors can be each household’s little hero in the kitchen.”

Photos and video: Phresh

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Alice Menichelli, NoCamels <![CDATA[Novel WoundClot Bandages Can Stop Severe Bleeding Within Minutes, Save Lives]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43771 2016-03-09T12:52:13Z 2016-03-09T12:52:13Z

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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 could offer a solution, saving lives within minutes – before the injured even reaches a hospital.

SEE ALSO: Portable Ultrasound Kit Will Expedite Medical Treatment, Save Lives In Disaster Areas

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.

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According to the company, uncontrolled bleeding is the number one cause of death in battlefield and conflict zones, and the problem is twofold: Stopping the bleeding as quickly as possible, and ensuring that the body doesn’t further hemorrhage before reaching a hospital.

WoundClot provides a treatment for both issues, but also provides a solution in cases where compression is not effective or even damaging, such as stab wounds, head and neck traumas, or internal bleeding.

SEE ALSO: Israelis Invent New Wound-Closure Method

Yet, the most impressive feature of the bandage is that it breaks down in the body. “Our product is unique because it is bio-absorbable,” according to CEO Yuval Yaskil. “It means you want the product to break down, but also to have a very stable membrane. And that is basically the trick, or the patent that we developed.”

After the bleeding has stopped, the remaining residual membrane can be irrigated out of the wound safely without pulling on the soft tissue or the existing clot.

Priced at under $10 per bandage ($100 for larger surgical products), WoundClot is by far not the cheapest bandage on the market. But the company is aiming to replace other less effective products, even those with active ingredients intending to promote coagulation, which end up costing much more, according to Core Scientific Creations.

white blood cells

Photos: The US ArmyMilitaryHealthDLG Images

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Meital Goldberg, NoCamels <![CDATA[Missbeez To Bring On-Demand Beauty Services To Your Home, Office]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43808 2016-03-08T14:47:36Z 2016-03-08T14:07:37Z

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On average, American women spend seven hours a week on beauty. However, many businesswomen and working moms don’t have enough time to pamper themselves, and many other women simply cannot afford the luxury of beauty salons.

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

SEE ALSO: The Most Powerful Women Engineers In The World

foot

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

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

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

Turning female inmates into independent businesswomen 

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

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

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

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

missbeez

Connecting women with no time to women with no resources

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

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

Hope your city is next!

Photos and video: Missbeez, Norwalk Hospital

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Could Groundwater Desalination Solve California’s Water Crisis?]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43789 2016-03-07T07:23:46Z 2016-03-07T09:33:07Z

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California’s severe drought has prompted its leaders to build large-scale seawater desalination plants, like the one built in Carlsbad with the aid of Israeli experts and engineers. But a new study suggests that saline groundwater could actually be better for desalinization through reverse osmosis (which is used in Carlsbad), a process that involves forcing seawater through a film with tiny holes that allow only water molecules to pass through, while the larger salt molecules cannot.

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

Researchers at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) suggest that saline groundwater from coastal aquifers is a better water source than seawater for reverse osmosis desalination, mainly thanks to reduced treatment costs.

Carlsbad desalination project

The desalination plant in Carlsbad, California

The study, which was recently published in the scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology, was conducted by BGU researchers, along with experts from the Israel Geological Survey and the National Institute of Oceanography.

The pros and cons of desalting seawater 

Half a decade of of devastating droughts in California has pushed cities and counties in the Golden State to seriously consider turning to the one drinking source that is not depleting anytime soon – seawater. With the Pacific Ocean abutting their shores, water desalination may be the much-needed solution for Californians. But desalination has its disadvantages, the chief one being its high cost. Critics of the reverse-osmosis technology have also claimed that it requires too much energy, which also makes it environmentally damaging.

“Decision makers in both California and Israel can use this research to seriously consider saline groundwater as a realistic alternative when planning future large-scale seawater desalination facilities,” BGU’s Dr. Roni Kasher said in a statement. “In Israel, seawater desalination accounts for 60 percent of the total freshwater supply, so these findings are significant.”

SEE ALSO: TaKaDu’s Water-Saving Technology Saves Australia Millions Of Dollars

Other saline groundwater benefits include consistent water temperatures, as well as lower levels of dissolved oxygen, which decrease the cost of desalination. The reverse osmosis desalination process of seawater requires not only energy but also large plant areas by valuable shorefront property, both of which increase the costs.

“The study showed that aquifer filtration increases the feed water quality and reduces the need for extensive pre-treatment processes,” explains BGU researcher Shaked Stein. “Desalination with saline groundwater as feed water is also more efficient, with higher freshwater recoveries, less chemical use and maintenance, and therefore less overall operational costs.”

Due to seasonal seawater characteristic fluctuations, Stein specifically recommends using saline groundwater in the summertime rather than seawater since the research identified higher membrane fouling in the summer: “Salt rejection decreases in elevated temperatures due to changes in membrane permeability and mass transfer.”

San Diego area

Arid areas around San Diego, California

Other researchers involved in this study include BGU’s Dr. Amos Russak, Dr. Orit Sivan, and Dr. Yoram Oren; Dr. Yoseph Yechieli of the Israel Geological Survey; and Dr. Eyal Rahav of the National Institute of Oceanography.

Photos: IDE Technologies

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David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[India’s Third-Largest Firm Shops Israel For Innovative Technologies]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43755 2016-03-06T07:02:59Z 2016-03-06T09:30:11Z

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

Aditya Birla, India’s third-largest conglomerate, is a name not well-known in Israel – certainly not as well-known as Tata Group and Infosys. But Aditya Birla is likely to become a household name, at least in the Israeli startup space, following the company’s announcement that it is on the lookout for Israeli firms to invest in.

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

The company dispatched its number two man – Dev Bhattacharya, Group Executive President, Corporate Strategy and Business Development – to review as many as 500 Israeli startups in a wide variety of technology areas. The best ones in their fields will be invited to go to India, all expenses paid, to show off their technology to the conglomerate’s member companies and subsidiaries and apply for funding to continue developing their ideas.

Mumbai

Mumbai, India

Accompanying Bhattacharya, who visited Israel earlier in February, were several top executives in the company, including directors of three of its largest units, who reviewed companies in areas like cleantech, cyber-security, financial technology, water tech, new media, and more.

All those areas interest Aditya Birla, as the company, valued at some $41 billion, has interests in almost every sector of the Indian economy as well as abroad. It has more than 120,000 employees in 40 countries. Aditya Birla, headquartered in Mumbai, operates in both the old and new economies, working in everything from cement to fibers to fertilizers and chemicals, to financial services, telecom, and IT services. The company is either the market leader or close to it in all these areas, and the addition of Israeli technology, it believes, will give it an edge over the competition.

According to Anat Bernstein-Reich, an attorney with the law firm of A&G Partners which represents Aditya Birla’s Corporate Strategy department in Israel, the company has been toying with the idea of Israeli tech for a long time and company executives have been here before. But this time, the company is seeking to recruit candidates for its Biz Labs program, where start-ups show off how their technology can fit into the company.

Aditya Birla isn’t the only Indian conglomerate to express interest in Israeli tech. Infosys, another Indian giant, last year bought out Panaya, an Israeli cloud tech firm that helps customers upgrade databases and make them more efficient, in a $200 million deal. With Panaya’s technology, the Indian firm said, Infosys will be able to offer upgraded services to customers using databases like SAP and Oracle.

SEE ALSO: Bollywood In Bat Yam? Indian Reality Stars Shoot In Israel

Meanwhile, Tata, which has units that work in everything from auto manufacturing to pharmaceuticals to packaged food, has invested in Tel Aviv University’s Technology Innovation Momentum Fund, which develops promising technologies in areas like cleantech, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and software development.

tel aviv university

Tel Aviv University, Israel

To read the full article, click here

Photos: דוג’רית

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Alice Menichelli and Lauren Blanchard, NoCamels <![CDATA[Betalin Aims To End Insulin Injections By Treating Type 1 Diabetes With Cell Transplants]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43214 2016-03-03T08:09:39Z 2016-03-03T08:06:55Z

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Of the 382 million people who have diabetes, only five to 10 percent have Type 1 Diabetes. However, unlike like Type 2 Diabetes, which can be prevented with regular exercise and a healthy diet, Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease that destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Usually diagnosed in childhood, Type 1 Diabetes is traditionally treated with daily insulin injections, and though some prick-less therapies have surfaced, they have not achieved long-term insulin independence.

But Israeli biotech startup Betalin Therapeutics may change that, making insulin injections a thing of the past.

SEE ALSO: Intelligent Socks Paired With Smartphones Can Save Diabetics’ Feet

Kid self testing

Functioning as a gatekeeper, insulin is a hormone that enables sugar from consumed food to enter cells in the body. Without insulin, sugar builds up in the bloodstream, where it can cause life-threatening complications. Anyone who has Type 1 Diabetes needs lifelong insulin therapy, administered through daily shots or a pump because insulin typically cannot be taken orally due to interfering stomach enzymes.

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

However, the problem with both modes of treatment is that patients must monitor their blood sugar levels and administer the correct dose of insulin throughout the day. And even the most vigilant monitoring doesn’t prevent a sudden spike or drop in blood sugar levels. In other words, patients and doctors can only treat Type 1 Diabetes reactively.

type 1 diabetes

The new approach: Transplanting healthy tissue 

Some researchers have been looking for a more proactive and automated approach, namely through transplanting healthy pancreatic islets, the part of the pancreas that contains the insulin-producing “beta” cells, into diabetic patients. An islet transplant protocol developed in 2000 increased insulin-independence rates from about 15 percent to about 80 percent. However, within a few years, most patients became insulin dependent again; studies since then have recorded anywhere between 60 and 90 percent of patients becoming insulin dependent within five years.

Thus the problem is not how to achieve insulin independence, but rather how to maintain it. That’s where Betalin Therapeutics has a solution. Led Prof. Eduardo Mitrani of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Betalin’s research team has developed a “micro-scaffold” which ensures that a transplanted cell will remain close to sources of nutrients. Supported by these micro-scaffolds, “naked” islets function similarly to freshly dissected pancreatic islets.

“The micro pancreas aims at solving problems currently associated with transplantation of naked islets,” Prof. Mitrani said in a statement. “In our system, prior to transplantation, islets are cultured within a biological scaffold that supports their survival, leading to long-term functionality of the majority of the cells.”

In a study published last November, Mitrani and his team showed that their delivery method, what they term Engineered Micro Pancreas (EMP), provides more efficient and regulated insulin production compared to beta cells without micro-scaffolding.

In addition to supporting regulated levels of insulin secretion, the EMPs became readily supplied with blood vessels (i.e. oxygen). The researchers also grew and expanded beta cells in culture by three- to four-fold prior to incorporating them into EMPs without losing their functionality.

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This could translate into using a much smaller number of islets, enabling physicians to treat a larger number of patients. “Furthermore, the fact that we have shown expansion of beta cells in the laboratory while still retaining beta cell functionality is a significant breakthrough that may allow [us] to utilize even less initial donors’ islets to treat individual patients,” Mitrani explained. He went as far as to suggest that EMP could also be used to treat severe, advanced levels of Type 2 Diabetes.

Mitrani carried out his research with Prof. James Shapiro, the researcher who developed the islet protocol in 2000. “We have been collaborating for the past two years,” Shapiro said in a statement. “If Betalin’s new micro-scaffold technique continues to demonstrate efficacy in vivo, it has the potential to substantially improve cellular survival both for islets and potentially for stem cell engraftment [stem cell reproduction] in future clinical applications.”

In other words, Mitrani’s micro-scaffolds could possibly be applied to other transplant therapies, including that of stem cells, which are currently being researched as a treatment for types of cancer, including leukemia, multiple myeloma, and lymphoma, as well as other blood diseases.

Photos: Frankie Leon; The Diabetes Foundation of MississippiThe Regents of the University of CaliforniaGiovanni Maki

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Lauren Blanchard, NoCamels <![CDATA[The Birth Of A New Internet: How Blockchain Technology Is Changing The Way We Transact]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43275 2016-03-02T13:59:14Z 2016-03-02T07:30:39Z

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Bitcoin. Cryptocurrencies. The dark web. Such terms have been associated with blockchain technology, but they do not convey its potential, which experts are comparing to the birth of the internet.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Startups Protect Against Dire Cyber Attacks

“Blockchain is essentially a data structure,” says Shaul Kfir, the Israeli CTO of Digital Asset Holdings. At Santander InnoVentures’ recent FinTech conference in Tel Aviv, Kfir explained the technology to a crowd of international bankers and (thankfully) used words that most could follow: “From a logical perspective, it’s centralized; we could be a lot of participants looking into one database. But from an infrastructure perspective, the database is distributed – there is no one point that is the administrator,” said the Technion alumnus.

Based in New York, Digital Assets Holdings has recently raised $60 million (that’s their Series A) from the likes of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan to develop blockchain technology for the financial services sector. The year old startup is one of the hundreds of Israeli FinTech startups that have sprung up in recent years and attracted the attention of international financial corporations, such as Toronto-based D+H, which last year acquired Israeli  banking software specialist Fundtech for $1.25 billion.

data-big

The proprietary problem

Yet blockchain technology has received particular interest because it could transform the way that banks record transactions, potentially saving them billions of dollars.

If implemented, blockchain systems would record new transactions in the form of digital ‘blocks.’ These non-erasable bits of data would be added to the chain of previous transactions, and that transaction history could be viewed and verified by all participants. In the case of the cryptocurrency bitcoin, which is just one application of blockchain, the shared ledger contains a verifiable digital record of every single bitcoin transaction ever made. The benefit of such “distributed ledger”, says Kfir, is that it “enables multiple different entities to look into one data structure and see one point of truth, as if it were one database in one company.”

SEE ALSO: What is ‘FinTech’ And Why Is Israel So Good At It?

Very nice in theory, but what’s wrong with the databases we currently use? A lot, apparently. Say you want to sell some shares you own. Such a transaction can take seconds if executed on an online trading platform. “Yet, how ironic is it that the settlement of those transactions still lags by days if not weeks?” asks CEO of Digital Asset Holdings, Blythe Masters, at a separate event in Silicon Valley.

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Computerized… To a point.

What’s holding up the process? Financial institutions process transactions on proprietary systems, meaning that the system in which the buyer purchased the shares is different from that in which the seller released the shares. Three days after the initial transaction, “we find that there is some mismatch between what was recorded by one entity and what was recorded by the other entity,” Kfir explains. “What’s even worse, is that it’s not just a mismatch, you actually don’t know which one is the truth. If it was a mismatch and we knew which one was the truth, we would just pick up the phone and say change the data. But we don’t even have that.”

This Kafkaesque process of settling trades costs banks $50 billion per year, according to a report by Autonomous Research. But more worrying than the costs is the legacy infrastructure itself. “It is centralized, it is protected by perimeter security that is proven subject to repeated breach, and the data contained therein is generally unencrypted,” explains Masters, who until last year, was a senior executive at JP Morgan (possibly still) in line for the position of CEO.

The result of regulation

Largely a result of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, American banks have become more transparent to regulators, by all accounts a good thing. However, Masters argues, “we’ve created more, larger single points of failure.”

How can large financial institutions protect themselves from data failure or breach? “If you distribute the access to data and their storage to multiple places, where if one network point breaks, the others are there – much like the power of the internet is today – then you have diversified that risk significantly,” Masters says. Given that the security of blockchain technology hasn’t been breached or compromised since its inception in 2008, distributed ledgers have so far proven to be robust.

The internet of finance

Blockchains could potentially save financial institutions up to $20 billion annually, according to a report by Santander InnoVenturers. But moreover, the technology could remove systematic risk in the financial system.

“I would take it about as seriously as you should have taken the concept of the internet in the early 1990s,” Masters insists.

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This is the connectivity map of the internet. Will that of blockchains look similar?

As sharp minded readers, you are probably skeptical, and in particular, about privacy: Why would you want the record of your financial transactions made public?

“We are building it [blockchain] to have one distributed ledger that everyone can publicly validate is consistent with the state it should be in, but only those entities that have permission to see specific pieces of the data, see it,” says Kfir. In other words, we could all agree that the ledger should contain a certain number of transactions, totalling a certain number of dollars, but we wouldn’t know which individual parties were involved. Only the parties themselves would know when and with whom they transacted.

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

It’s no surprise then, that the ability of blockchains to be both public and private has attracted the attention of international banks and governments. At a recent gathering in New York, Deborah Hopkins, Chief Innovation Officer at Citigroup, said she is “obsessed” with blockchain, and in an unrelated report, The Bank of England, called blockchain the “first attempt at an internet of finance.”

If blockchain can do for transactions what the internet did for information, it might be the “stroke of genius” that it has been called.

Photos: Rafael Matsunaga; JSIC; Dontworry/Wikipedia CommonsThe Opte Project

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NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Understanding The Behavior Of Predatory Bacteria Could Generate An Alternative To Antibiotics]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43653 2016-03-01T13:26:18Z 2016-03-01T13:40:33Z

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The majority of disease-causing bacteria in the body are rendered harmless by the protective effects of the immune system. Those that manage to escape the immune system can be killed by antibiotics, but bacteria are becoming more and more resistant to more and more antibiotics.

Now, Israeli scientists say that studying the predator-prey mechanisms of bacteria – or, their hide-and-seek game, if you will – could potentially generate alternatives to antibiotics.

SEE ALSO: This Remarkable Discovery Shows Why Bacteria Are Becoming Tolerant To Antibiotics

bacteria kit - health news

Their proposition is based on the study of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus, a bacterial predator that is an efficient killer of other bacteria, such as the prevalent E. coli. It is present in soil and, just like E. coli, it can also be found in the human gut, where a complex ecosystem of bacterial inhabitants exists.

This ferocious bacterial predator enters its prey and devours it from the inside. It can reach speeds of 160 micrometers per second, making it the “world champion” in speed swimming and 10 times faster than the E. coli.

Future development of potential alternatives to antibiotics

“Knowledge of defense and attack mechanisms in bacteria is crucial for future development of potential alternatives to antibiotics,” Dr. Daniel Koster of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said in a statement. “B. bacteriovorus kills bacteria by a whole different mechanism of action than antibiotics, and as such, predatory bacteria might in the future constitute a viable alternative to these antibiotics.”

Koster led the research together with scientists from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at TU Delft in The Netherlands. The findings were recently published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“Predatory bacteria might be genetically modified to specifically target harmful bacteria”

In order to understand how E. coli is able to survive in the presence of such an effective predator, the researchers created two different environments for the B. bacteriovorus and E. Coli bacteria: The first one mimicked the features of soil, consisting of 85 tiny chambers, linked by a narrow channel; the second environment was an open space of a similar size, without the thin channel.

SEE ALSO: Researcher Discovers Protein That Could Replace Conventional Antibiotics

In the open environment, E. coli did not stand a chance to survive – most of the population was eliminated within a couple of hours. However, it proved surprisingly able to maintain a healthy population in an environment with many small chambers.

According to Koster, “groups of E. coli ‘hide’ in the many corners of the fragmented environment, where they readily stick as bio-films that probably protect them against B. bacteriovorus. Our findings provide important information because in natural environments, such as our gut, the bacterium also lives in fragmented spaces.”

petri dish

It is not yet known precisely how E. coli is able to defend itself against predatory bacteria, but the research contributes to the understanding of the behavior of the predatory bacteria, which could become a possible alternative to antibiotics in the future.

“In the future, predatory bacteria might, for example, be genetically modified to specifically target harmful bacteria, while leaving benign bacteria untouched,” Koster says. “As such, B. bacteriovorus might be more selective than the antibiotics currently in use, and anti-bacterial treatment might not require the widespread extermination of the gut flora that is of importance to human health.”

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Even On eBay, Women Earn Less Than Men, Study Shows]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43631 2016-02-29T11:16:36Z 2016-02-29T11:01:06Z

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Women earn less than men, and this sad fact of life – that undoubtedly needs to change – also applies to the earnings of women sellers on the popular e-commerce website eBay.

SEE ALSO: Are Women Equal In The Startup Nation?

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

Ebay headquarters

eBay’s headquarters in San Jose, California

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

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

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

In line with the general inequality

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

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

Discerning the gender of the seller

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

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

An unconscious buying decision

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

Equality scales weigh gender justice and sex issues

 

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

Photos: Coolcaesar

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David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[‘Brain Movies’ Show Nicotine Affects Men And Women Differently]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43614 2016-02-28T09:25:30Z 2016-02-28T11:21:24Z

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

Addictions are hard to kick. Just ask all cigarette smokers who keep puffing away despite the boatload of evidence that they are killing themselves.

SEE ALSO: New Brain Stimulation Device Helps Smokers Quit

Now, new research being conducted in Israel shows that addictions work differently in women and men. A study being conducted largely in Israel by Evan Morris, an associate professor of Radiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Psychiatry at Yale University, shows this clearly. In fact, Morris and his students have even made a movie out of it.

cigarette smoke

“Our dopamine movies show the effect of nicotine on the dopamine levels in the body, and those movies – which essentially show how the brain reacts when the chemical is released – show clearly that there is a difference in brain activity for men and women who smoke.”

Those findings are interesting, Morris told The Times of Israel, but the real point is to show “how short-term bursts of brain activity are prompted by chemical changes. This could have all sorts of implications for treating symptoms like PTSD and other stress-induced conditions, where there can be radical changes in brain activity for short periods of time.”

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

Morris is a world-renowned expert on Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging using tracer kinetic modeling to create functional images of the brain. He is in Israel on a Fulbright exchange program scholarship, which each year brings dozens of American researchers to Israel to work on innovative medical and technology projects in the Startup Nation for a year, while sending Israeli researchers to work in the US for the same amount of time.

“With PET, you can see how the brain changes – based on mathematical formulas – in response to induced changes,” said Morris. “One of the most difficult challenges facing researchers is developing models of short-term changes – changes in the brain that pass quickly, perhaps in just a few minutes or so.”

It’s clear that with a supercharged emotion taking over the body – anger, ecstasy, or anything in between – there are changes to the brain, “but generally researchers have been able to capture only changes that linger, with the imaging of the short-term changes unattainable.”

Brain - Technology News - Israel

To read the full article, click here

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Lauren Blanchard and Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Microsoft CEO In Tel Aviv: “No Doubt Israeli Human Capital Will Change The World”]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=43554 2016-02-25T18:09:18Z 2016-02-25T17:45:24Z

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“There’s no doubt Israel is going to change the world with the human capital that’s here,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at the company’s annual Think Next 2016 conference in Tel Aviv today. Microsoft founder Bill Gates sent a video of himself congratulating the company’s Israeli research and development center for its 25th anniversary, highlighting its great contribution to the field of computer science.

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

Earlier today, Nadella met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reaffirm Microsoft’s commitment to Israel in the form of assistance programs for startups and implementation of advanced technologies in all sectors of the economy. “At Microsoft, we seek to empower every Israeli citizen, every business, every startup, all key government organizations to achieve more with our tools,” he said following the meeting.

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

“Our success is not dependent on our products”

At the core of Microsoft’s $400 billion business is software — the kind that doesn’t need to be matched to specific hardware. Yet, the largest software company in the world looks like anything but its former self: Pay-as-you-go cloud services; a walk-in white shiny store on Fifth Avenue and yes, hardware.

SEE ALSO: The Coolest Israeli Startups Presenting This Week At The GSMA Mobile World Congress

Despite the feeling of deja vu that Microsoft is again copying Apple, these changes seem to reflect a much deeper cultural shift in Microsoft, one that Nadella has not been shy about sharing. “Our success is not dependent on our products. It’s more dependent on the success that our customers, our partners, have with our products,” said the Hyderabad, India-born CEO, who spoke today before an audience of thousands.

A mobile-first, cloud-first world

Imagining the not-too-distant future, Nadella explained that “five to 10 years from now, we will have more computing: Things that we wear on our eyes, on our ears, on our wrists, in our pockets, small screens, large screens.” But the important question is “how to access your experiences across all this computing, and that’s of course something we think the cloud orchestrates and that’s why we think both revolutions [mobile and cloud] happen together.”

In shaping up the 40-year old company for a mobile-first, cloud-first world, Nadella has been keen on pursuing greater partnerships with developers (many of whom have left Microsoft’s operating system in favor of the more widely used iOS and Android) and startups, which the tech giant has been scooping up by the dozen (Microsoft completed 19 acquisitions in 2015 alone). Yet, Nadella stressed that the company wasn’t pushing new products for the sake of new products, but rather a more connected information platform. “It’s not how we build five more tools, but how can we create a new information fabric that helps allocate for each one of us the only scarce resource that we have, which is our time.”

To that tune, some 30 Israeli startups demoed their products at the Port of Tel Aviv, where entrepreneurs, investors and partners in Microsoft Ventures and the VC’s accelerator also gathered. Following the company’s five Israeli acquisitions in the last two years, the focus for this year’s event has not been software, strictly speaking, but rather big-data analytics, cyber-security and hardware, just not the kind you already own.

Pixelated data

A recent alumnus from the seventh batch of Microsoft Ventures’ Tel Aviv accelerator, Pixoneye has developed computer-vision technology that looks into consumers’ personal photo galleries in order to tailor marketing material. Your data privacy alarm bell is going off (as it should!), but the company has developed a software development kit (SDK) that “teaches the user’s devices how to analyze its own photos, meaning that at no time do we see the photos, touch the photos, or even move them to a temporary folder,” Pixoneye CEO Ofri Ben Porat explained at the accelerator’s demo day earlier this month.

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Pixoneye CEO Ofri Ben Porat presenting at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this week

“The phone then condenses those images into an abstract histogram, and that histogram is extracted onto our servers, where it is analyzed in real-time, and the results are sent directly to our clients,” Nestle and Unilever, to name a few. In other words, Pixoneye understands what’s in the photos (i.e. a dog, a child, a rock band), and not who specifically is in them (Rufus, your kid brother, a Nirvana poster).

The year-old company is helping retailers to create accurate but also predictive digital profiles of their customers, without breaching privacy. In a beta test with Tesco, one of the UK’s largest food retailers, Pixoneye predicted with 94 percent accuracy the items in customers’ online shopping baskets, based solely on its photo analysis. To add to its achievements, the company won “Best Digital Media Startup” in the 4YFN competition at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this week.

Cyber-security as a service 

After Microsoft acquired three Israeli cyber-security companies in the last two years, its investment arm Microsoft Ventures is keeping up the pace, investing in seven Israeli cyber-security companies, including the recently funded Siemplify and LightCyber (the venture arm has invested in a total of 22 cyber-security companies).

In addition to the security of digital assets, like your bank account details and medical records, Microsoft Ventures is also investing in the security of physical assets, such as power stations and transport lines with Beersheba-based SCADAfence.

SEE ALSO: Keeping The Lights On: Israeli Startups Protect Against Dire Cyber Attacks

A portfolio company of Israeli venture capital firm Jerusalem Venture Partners, an active investor in cyber-security, SCADAfence is protecting critical infrastructure from digital attacks — something that wasn’t considered possible until an Iranian nuclear facility was disabled by the Stuxnet malware worm in 2010.

JVP

From left: JVP Partner Yoav Tzruya, SCADAfence CEO Yoni Shohet, Knesset Member Erel Margalit, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.

To commercialize its solution, the year-old company announced yesterday that it is partnering with the doyen of Israeli cyber-security Check Point to secure manufacturing networks, those that are remotely controlled with SCADA operational technology (supervisory control and data acquisition, in case that wasn’t obvious).

Personal drones

Taking computer vision “higher,” Percepto is building an open-source development platform for drones that will enable them to, among other things, avoid obstacles. The company, which first raised an initial $100,000 through an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign, now boasts former CEO of Time Warner Richard Parsons, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, and famed Chinese entrepreneur Xu Xiaoping as its investors.

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

drones percepto computer vision

From left: Percepto’s CPO Raviv Raz, CEO Dor Abuhasira, CTO Sagi Blonder

Yet, more than big kids’ play sets, Percepto’s hardware/software package is filling the gap in commercial drone development: Most drones could do a 360-degree rotation around you as you ride a skateboard, if you could program it to do so. But that programming costs time and money, in addition to the $1,000 average purchase price of a drone itself. According to Percepto, its SDK saves developers 70 percent of the time it takes to create a new drone application. Given that the founders are avid snowboarders, chances are they will have amble time to beta-test.

Software beyond the PC

Other presenting startups at Think Next today included MUV Interactive, whose small wearable device turns any surface into an interactive touchscreen, and Lexifone, whose call-in service offers real-time translation of conversations. The array of startups at the event and Microsoft’s eagerness to work with them would suggest that the tech giant is closer to the next generation of entrepreneurs than its founding date would suggest.

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Yoram Yaacovi, General Manager of Microsoft Israel’s R&D Center, speaking at Think Next 2016

Photos: Johannes Marliem; Pixoneye; SCADAfence/JVP; Percepto

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