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.2015-08-27T11:33:58Z http://nocamels.com/feed/atom/WordPress Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Fashion Design Student 3D Prints Brilliant Collection At Home]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=40013 2015-08-27T11:33:58Z 2015-08-27T11:33:58Z

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A fashion design graduate from Israel has got the 3D printing and fashion worlds buzzing. Danit Peleg, who recently graduated from Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Holon, created the world’s first entirely 3D printed fashion collection for her final project.

“My goal was to create a ready-to-wear collection printed entirely at home using printers that anyone can get,” says Peleg of her project that took some 2,000 hours to print. The collection is made up of five 3D printed outfits and shoes printed on Witbox home 3D printers.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Designer Wins International Award For Stunning 3D Printed Fashion

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Freedom to print your own clothes

Inspired by Eugène Delacroix’s painting, “Liberty Leading the People”, Peleg wanted to challenge herself in creating a collection that could be manufactured entirely on home-scale 3D printers. The triangular shapes in Delacroix’s painting got her thinking about materials that would be comfortable to wear and easy to print.danitpelegtopskirt

Using a 3D rendering software called ‘Blender’, as well as advice from leading 3D printing experts at TechFactoryPlus and XLN in Israel, Peleg started imagining how the world’s first home 3D printed fashion collection would look. She started off using PLA, a breakable and hard material, only to discover that FilaFlex, a new kind of 3D printing filament, would give her the flexibility and precision she needed.

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Peleg’s inspiration board

A tedious process that needs tweaking

The first piece that she printed was the red ‘Liberté’ jacket, a stylish ode to the painting that inspired her triangular, interwoven fabrics. In creating the textiles, Peleg was inspired by Andreas Bastian’s bendable 3D printed mesostructured material that would allow the fabric to breathe and move as if it was woven. This tedious printing method made it so that each piece Peleg wanted to print took about 400 hours (or 17 days) to complete, a challenge that Peleg hopes 3D printing innovation will solve in the future.

SEE ALSO: These Awesome Shoes Were Printed Using The World’s First Color 3D-Printer

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“I think that this is just the beginning,” says Peleg of her collection, “As technologies evolve, we all soon be printing our clothes at home.” Though the proposition seems far off, especially with the expense of domestic-sized 3D printers running high, it’s pretty cool to think that one day we may be able to print our wardrobe at the press of a button.

“Just imagine the potential…If you’re cold, print your own jacket. Traveling with no luggage? Just print your clothes in the hotel room. Will we soon be able to design, share and print our own clothes directly from home?” Peleg leaves us all wondering.

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Peleg’s 3D printed fabric

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Photos: Daria Ratiner

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David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[EIMindA Voted Among ‘Most Innovative Startups’ Globally]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=40079 2015-08-26T13:29:27Z 2015-08-26T13:29:27Z

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

Israeli biotechnology firm ElMindA – developers of the world’s first FDA-approved neural functional assessment tool to visualize serious brain trauma and illnesses – has been named one of the 49 most innovative start-ups in the world by the World Economic Forum. The annual award is granted to companies “poised to have a significant impact on business and society,” and past recipients have included companies like Google (2001), Twitter (2010), AirBnB (2014), Dropbox (2011) and Kickstarter (2011).

Notable members of the committee choosing the companies include Arianna Huffington (founder, Huffington Post) and Henry Blodget (editor-in-chief, Business Insider). As a result, the WEF said, ElMindA and the other selected firms “will have access to the most influential and sought-after business and political network in the world, and be invited to the World Economic Forum’s ‘Summer Davos’ in Dalian, China, this September, or the Annual Meeting in Davos in January.”

SEE ALSO: Futuristic EIMindA ‘Helmet’ Monitors Brain Health Like Never Before

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While most brain monitoring systems require the invasive insertion of a sensor inside the head, ElMindA’s BNA takes its measurements using a sensor-laden futuristic looking “helmet” that contains dozens of electrodes to measure activity through the skull. The sensors are able to measure the electronic activity of the brain at different points, with each sensor recording the activity associated with a specific brain function – thought, memory, activity, etc.

The data is analyzed by specially developed algorithms based on patented signal processing and pattern recognition techniques that can connect between signals, revealing three-dimensional images of Brain Network Activation patterns (BNAs) which represent high resolution functional neural pathways. The data can aid doctors in the profiling of brain function and changes in functionality, and can assist follow-up of changes in disease progression and/or response to therapeutic interventions.

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

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How EIMindA maps the brain

The system can thus detect the early stages of degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and assist physicians in coming up with more effective treatment plans for brain disorders, like ADHD/ADD.

ElMindA has established a growing database of brain activity from both healthy subjects and patients with brain-related disorders. The database currently includes more than 7,000 of the BNA 3D datasets, covering almost every known brain disorder. The system is already being used in dozens of institutions, and ElMindA has collaborated with major medical institutions and universities on a number of important studies.

To continue reading this article on the TOI site, click here.

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Roseanne Tabachnik, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Farm Seakura Produces New Superfood: Organic Seaweed Grown Outside The Sea!]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39994 2015-08-26T11:27:39Z 2015-08-26T11:27:39Z

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It’s fresh, nutritious, organic, and has officially been labeled as the up-and-coming superfood. And no, we’re not talking about kale. Seaweed is finally making its mark on the world, and one Israeli company is helping this natural treasure make its way to the top of the food pyramid.

Seakura, an Israeli seaweed company established in 2006, is considered a world leader in developing, harvesting, and manufacturing the leafy algae. Unlike seaweed that’s grown in salty seawater and is later dried, Seakura is one of a few companies in the world that grows seaweed outside the ocean and sells it fresh and ready to eat.

SEE ALSO: Fueling The Future With Algae?

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While most of the world’s seaweed is collected in the ocean, Seakura organically grows the vegetable in controlled pools using purified Mediterranean seawater. On Seakura’s farm just north of Tel Aviv, the company produces seaweed with greater nutritional values than seaweed grown in the ocean – year-round. The firm, which also operates an on-site research institute, is composed of a small yet highly skilled team of 15 field professionals, including an aquamarine biologist and two marine biologists.

Thanks to Seakura’s meticulous aquaculture technology (the farming of aquatic organisms), one serving of this superfood is said to boast double the amount of protein, iron, and fiber found in dried seaweed harvested from ocean water. For every 100 grams, Seakura’s “sea lettuce” contains 28 grams of protein, 53.8 mg of Iron, 2.73 mg of Vitamin B12, 21.9 mg of Vitamin C, and 238 mg of magnesium. In comparison, generic dried seaweed contains approximately two grams of protein and only one gram of dietary fiber, according to eatgoodfood.org. “There are also three times the carotenoids in our seaweed,” Seakura CEO Moshe Rivosh tells NoCamels.

Seakura sea lettuce

Avoiding contamination by purifying seawater 

For nearly a millennium, coastal people consumed algae, but in recent years, oil spills, sewage, industrial and radioactive wastes have contaminated it. Seakura avoids such concerns by growing its product in purified water, with complete control over elements such as water temperature and acidity levels.

“Seaweed has the ability to absorb water, so if the water is dirty, the seaweed is dirty, too,” Rivosh explains. “But our water is purified. It’s pure water without any dirt or heavy metals.”

SEE ALSO: Designer Uses Seaweed To Create Lamps

The standard seaweed-harvesting protocol entails growing the algae in small pools, equipped with filters and sensors that monitor water quality. Over time, Seakura’s team transfers the plants to larger pools. Thanks to its cultivating procedure, the company says it is able to naturally manipulate and raise the levels of proteins, fiber and vitamins found in the kelp.

Rivosh hopes seaweed will be added to our diets and become a food staple – not just wrapped around sushi rolls. Thanks to the overwhelming amount of nutrients found in seaweed, it’s also an ideal alternative for vegans and vegetarians.

Seakura's seaweed farm

Seakura’s seaweed farm

Affordable and nutritious, fresh seaweed can be added to any recipe 

Known for its versatility, fresh seaweed can be added to salads, sandwiches, and even pasta. “Seaweed is also considered a fresh herb – you can add it to anything you create in your kitchen,” Rivosh says. “It’s also very good in quiche!”

Seakura’s products are also affordable. The firm’s staple sea lettuce is priced around $2.5 per 100 grams, as opposed to $10-$12 – the cost of 100 grams of dried seaweed sheets.

Seakura seaweed salad

Seakura has already made its grand debut in the European market, where the kelp can be found in several health and organic food stores. In the UK, for example, it can be found at Planet Organic; and high-fashion department store Harrods serves Seakura seaweed in its salads.

The leafy algae are also sold across Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Israel. The company is now increasing production and working on new recipes. And, its seaweed experts are about to bring a taste of Israel to the UK, with a new product – hummus with seaweed!

Seakura seaweed with tofu

Seakura seaweed with tofu

Photos: Seakura, Ryan McDonald

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Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[Hossam Haick’s Revolutionary Device Detects Deadly Diseases, Cancer, On The Breath]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39503 2015-08-25T11:14:13Z 2015-08-25T11:08:58Z

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Back in 400 B.C., before the invention of modern medicine, the Greek physician Hippocrates observed that a number of diseases could be detected on the breath. He noted that “fish-smelling” breath could usually be associated with liver disease and “urine smells” could be tied to kidney failure. Though Hippocrates was keen to observe a close connection between the breath and the inner-workings of the body, his assertions on our body’s subtle signs of disease have historically been overlooked by the medical community.

At least that was until Prof. Hossam Haick of Israel’s Technion came onto the scene. Building on Hippocrates’ vision, Haick has developed a device that can sense disease on the breath, much like a breathalyzer test. What he calls the SNIFFPHONE uses nanotechnology sensors to analyze the particles on the breath and is able to pinpoint exact diseases, like certain kinds of cancer, pulmonary and even the early stages of neurodegenerative diseases.

SEE ALSO: NaNose: The Breathalyzer Test That Sniffs Out Lung Cancer Before It Spreads

“There have been several works throughout history that have suggested that there is a connection between disease and the breath,” Haick tells NoCamels. “However, until this point, there was a lack of scientific evidence to prove that this is true,” he says of the novelty of his impressive body of research, which won him a $6.8 million grant from the European Commission, among other awards.

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SNIFFPHONE

Haick is going beyond Hippocrates’ theories by inventing groundbreaking diagnostic technologies that promise to detect disease without ever drawing a drop of blood; a bold endeavor that has earned him a good deal of international attention and praise.

Sniffing out disease, one phone at a time

After Hippocrates’ theory on bad breath, or halitosis, as an indication of disease, there were a number of notable scientists before Haick came along who tried to prove what seems like a logical connection. One of them was Antoine Lavoisier, who in the 18th century conducted breath experiments on humans and animals to better understand how our respiratory systems work. Then, in 1971, the “father of molecular biology” Linus Pauling demonstrated for the first time that the human breath is a complex gas that contains more than 200 different volatile organic compounds that can be detected. Today, scientists know that there are about 1,000 different volatile chemicals on the human breath, a good deal of which have become the basis for Haick’s device.

Haick explains of the SNIFFPHONE, a mobile device containing his NaNose breathalyzer test that can sniff out cancer cells and other forms of disease, “We look for what are called volatile organic compounds, or biomarkers, on the breath. These biomarkers are chemical compounds that are imitated from the source of the disease and, as a result, are diffused within the blood stream. Of course, the blood stream is in contact with the skin and the lungs, which is why our test is able to detect them.”

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Cancer cells, at a nano-level.

Haick asserts that the NaNose method works with up to 90 percent accuracy, detecting both malignant and benign cancer tumors, as well as their source. This has been the bulk of Haick and his team’s research in the last few years, namely the exact and meticulous craft of identifying where the volatile biomarkers originate from in the body for a more precise diagnosis.

“After collecting about 3,000 samples from 16 different centers worldwide, one of our major findings was that, for every disease, there is a unique signature or ‘fingerprint’ that is expressed on the breath, and in some cases through the skin,” Haick notes, adding the impressive fact that, “one disease does not disrupt another.” This means that Haick’s NaNose technology, as applied in the mobile SNIFFPHONE, could be used by doctors or really anyone to detect not one, but multiple diseases they may have contracted or could be at risk for.

Currently, over twenty diseases can be detected using the NaNose system, working “just as I dreamed it would,” according to Haick. A number of deadly cancers including lung, colorectal, gastric, kidney, breast, prostate and liver cancer can be effectively diagnosed on the breath, as well as the early stages of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s. Haick notes that the team has also successfully explored using the device to detect pulmonary diseases such as hypertension and asthma, and internal diseases like irritable bowel syndrome.

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Hossam Haick

A game-changing TB test

As with any man on a mission, SNIFFPHONE’s impressive capabilities were not sufficient for Haick. Recently his Technion lab revealed that they are in the advanced stages of developing a skin patch that can detect one of the world’s deadliest killers – tuberculosis (TB). According to Haick, the patch is able to identify certain “markers” on the skin, such as elasticity and collagen quality that can be associated with TB and its early symptoms. Haick notably received a $ 1 million Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to continue developing the patch into its final stages.

SEE ALSO: 10 Israeli Companies At The Cutting Edge Of Life-Saving Tech

According to the World Health Organization, one third of the world’s population is infected with TB and about one and a half million people die from the disease each year. So when Haick set out to create an accessible, simple and inexpensive diagnostic method that can control the spread of TB, the Gates Foundation paid note.

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TB Incidence, 2012

“The major issue is that the current tools available in developing countries are quite expensive and require training and previous knowledge to be used. Some people need to wait two weeks and up to a year to be diagnosed with the disease, while the same process happens in a matter of minutes in the developed world. This is because many of them are impoverished, and they cannot afford the $70 diagnostic tool,” says Haick.

Haick hopes that his “Self-Administered Adhesive Plaster for Detection of Tuberculosis” will cost no more than $1 and will become available to anyone in need of diagnosis. The patch will be applied to the patient’s chest, and following a waiting period of two to five minutes, the patch will either turn green to indicate the patient is healthy or red to show that TB is detected. The simplicity of the method makes it possible for patients to “self-diagnose” at home, and for the consistent monitoring of at-risk individuals, such as TB-carriers, smokers and HIV-carriers, without the need to travel and pay for the test at a clinic. In the second phase of the grant, and as Haick and his team finalize the prototype, they hope to begin field-testing the patch in South Africa, India and China.

Humbly Haick

Haick’s prodigal background is no less impressive than the promise of his research. At only forty years-old, the native of Nazareth, Israel, has received his bachelors in Chemical Engineering from Ben Gurion University, PhD from the Technion in a fast-track program, worked as a research assistant at the Weizmann Institute, received Post Doctorate from CalTech and is the fasted promoted professor in the history of the Technion, where his lab is located today. In addition, he is a Knight of the Order of Academic Palms in France, was listed as one of the “World’s Top 35 Young Scientists” and is the recipient of the “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” prize in chemical engineering, among many other recognitions. Still, despite his impressive resume and slew of grants and accreditations, Haick remains humbly tied to his goal of making healthcare accessible and affordable for people all over the world.

“Ultimately, we hope these advances could contribute to the democratization of health globally,” Haick said.

Photos: Technion/ CNN

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David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Israeli Surgical Adhesive Makes Sure All Stays Sealed Inside]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=40052 2015-08-23T12:52:58Z 2015-08-24T09:00:40Z

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

For patients who have undergone an operation, it’s hard to imagine a greater post-surgical shock than a leak around their supposedly secure staple or other closure. Yet it happens 15- 19 percent of the time in bariatric and colorectal procedures, according to Israeli life sciences start-up LifeBond. To prevent that leakage, the company has developed a unique gelatin-based surgical sealant, guaranteed not to leak.

Already in advanced stages of development, Caesarea-based LifeBond announced this week that it had secured $27 million in a Series D investment. Among the investors: Pitango Venture Capital, Adams Street Partners, and Sino Biopharmaceutical Ltd.

SEE ALSO: After Thousands Of Years Of Stitching, Israelis Invent New Wound Closure Method

gloveandplasterThe financing, the company said, will provide funds to get final approval for the product in Europe and enable it to commercialize and market it there, as well as run required tests in order to get LifeBond approved by the FDA. Required tests for European Union approval have already been successfully concluded, the company said.

 

Generally, patients who have undergone gastrointestinal (GI) surgery have their incisions stapled or glued, neither of which is an ideal solution. Staples have been known to leak, while glues can break down over time; in both cases, the risk of infection rises considerably as the patient’s insides are exposed to air. In addition, the closures, which must remain in place for months, are difficult for patients to live with, and they often break, even if they have been secured well, because of scratching or the like.

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

To solve this, several companies have been working on sealants that will allow patients to move around but still ensure a safe, secure closure. LifeBond’s advantage, the company says, is that the ingredients it uses are all natural and easily handled by the body. Based on gelatin, LifeBond uses a proprietary adhesive platform technology that quickly turns into a polymer (in the form of a hydrogel matrix – a clear, flexible and strong seal) that adheres strongly to physiological tissue surfaces. The properties of the polymerization process and the hydrogel matrix can be controlled to fit a variety of applications.

To continue reading this article on the TOI site, click here.

Photo: Lifebond

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Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[Forbes Names Two Israelis In Hollywood’s ‘Most Powerful Powerbrokers’]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=40057 2015-08-23T10:55:37Z 2015-08-23T10:55:37Z

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In a major feat for the Israeli entertainment industry, two Israeli billionaires made Forbes list of the fifteen richest Hollywood powerbrokers. Well-known Israeli billionaire and entertainment mogul Haim Saban was ranked sixth on the list of Hollywood’s string-pullers, only to be topped in fourth place by the Israeli-American businessman and CEO of Marvel Entertainment, Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter. International media influencer Rupert Murdoch led the list, including other big movie business names like Sumner Redstone and the creator of the legendary Star Wars epic, George Lucas.

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Haim Saban

From power rangers to power producer

The ranking of two Israelis on the list makes it clear that a country the size of New Jersey has more influence on what you see on the big screen than you may think. With a net worth of $3.5 billion, Haim Saban, the 143rd richest man in the world, made his money as a television producer, creating the wildly popular children’s TV show “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”. An Egyptian immigrant to Israel, Saban started off as a music producer, only to move into the movie and television business. In fact, Saban composed the infamous musical theme to “Power Rangers” movie himself, under the pseudonym ‘Kussa Mahchi’. After moving to the United States, Saban and Israeli Shuki Levi composed some of the top children’s tunes on television, including the theme to “Inspector Gadget” and “MASH”, among others.

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

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“Go, go Power Rangers”

Saban’s biggest payday came when he sold Fox Family Worldwide to The Walt Disney Company for $5.3 billion. Soon, the network was renamed ABC Family, now a popular television station in the United States, a deal from which Saban reportedly profited a whopping $1.6 billion. In addition, Saban is the former owner of a controlling stake in Germany’s largest telecommunications company ProSiebenSat.1, and is the current owner of the largest Spanish-language media company, Univision Communications. He also owns an Indonesian media company, as well as the successful marketing firm, Saban Brands.

Saban has spent a large portion of his money on philanthropic causes, many to do with Israel. He established the Saban Center for Middle East Policy in 2002, a think tank that is part of the Brookings Institute, and he sponsors a training seminar on Middle East affairs.

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Isaac Perlmutter

An Israeli marvel

If you think that Saban’s Hollywood miracle story is impressive, wait until you hear Isaac Perlmutter’s. With a net worth higher than Saban’s, valued at $4 billion, Perlmutter is a lesser-known, but highly important figure behind the scenes in Hollywood. The CEO of Marvel Entertainment and the owner of Marvel Toys, Perlmutter is responsible for releasing superhero movies like “The Avengers” that the box offices go crazy over.

His own story of success is truly remarkable. Perlmutter moved to the United States after completing his military service with just $250 in his pocket. He soon began to make a living in New York by standing outside of Jewish cemeteries, asking if bereaved families would like him to lead funeral services in Hebrew for a small fee. Eventually, he got into the toy and beauty product business, making his fortune as a wholesaler of toys and other goods.

SEE ALSO: 6 TV Shows You Probably Didn’t Know Were Made In Israel

His involvement in a number of toy and special goods companies like Revco and Remington helped him build his name and in 1993, Perlmutter was appointed to Marvel Comics’ Board of Directors. When Marvel entered into financial difficulties, Perlmutter and his Israeli business partner Avi Arad fought for control of the company from Carl Icahn and Ron Perelman. By 2005, Perlmutter was already the CEO of Marvel Entertainment, and remains so today, though the company has been a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company since 2009.

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Marvel’s highly popular series, “The Avengers”.

Beacons for Israeli entertainment

Israelis Saban and Perlmutter are a source of national pride for their determination and success in entering the cut-throat American entertainment industry, but as exemplified in the Forbes list, their influence is far grander. It is highly possible that their can-do attitude has helped Israel’s imports to Hollywood soar into third place, with Israeli television directors, writers, producers and even actors gaining increasing international attention, and praise.

Photos: Jackie SabzevarHaim Saban

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Roseanne Tabachnik, NoCamels <![CDATA[This Personal Rescue Backpack SkySaver Lets You Rappel Down Buildings]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39898 2015-08-20T13:04:55Z 2015-08-20T12:56:42Z

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With thousands of skyscrapers around the world, and many more under construction, the new generation of mega-buildings calls for effective firefighting and rescue methods to keep tenants safe and away from danger.

One innovative evacuation solution is now provided by Israeli startup SkySaver, whose brand new emergency backpack is designed to help residents escape from high-rises. This lifesaving kit comes equipped with a cable cord that, in case of an emergency, is attached to a pre-installed anchor located near a window. When fire breaks out, the emergency device is strapped on with buckles that wrap around the waist and between the legs. Then, the individual starts rappelling down the side of the building. Yep, just like Spiderman.

SEE ALSO: Ambu-Cyclists Speed Through Traffic To Save Lives

SkySaver

Since infernos pose great challenges to fire departments, requiring a high degree of organization to be successfully contained and extinguished, it’s important to rescue as many people as possible before and while the fire is put out. And that’s exactly when the SkySaver says it can come in.

Lessons learned from 9/11

The idea for the rescue device was conceived after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. The main purpose of the backpack was to create a device that is wearable and user-friendly, a so that people don’t have to depend on others to be saved; they can rescue themselves, according to the company.SkySaver

“Our backpack is very compact, and a person could actually travel with it,” CEO Avner Farkash tells NoCamels.

Founded in 2012, the startup has already created three different models of the emergency pack, depending on the height of the building; cable lengths range from 25 meters to 80 meters, which means that at this point, SkySaver can serve residents of buildings of up to 20 floors.

SEE ALSO: Israeli-Designed Belt Protects Against Radiation Exposure

The varying models weigh between 8 kilograms to 12 kilograms and can carry up to 136 kilograms. Depending on the length of the cord, the SkySaver is priced between $750 and $850.

SkySaver

And while the device is only intended for one-time use, Farkash notes the SkySaver is worth the investment. Alternative devices, such as the Rescue Reel and the Evacuator, are reportedly more expensive.

Save life, save a whole world 

SkySaver’s R&D center in Jerusalem is now developing additional solutions with even longer cables in order to escape skyscraper fires. The three new products are expected to hit the market later this year, and will be priced similarly to the original SkySaver device. Additionally, the startup is in the process of creating a kit designed to help carry down toddlers, older children, and even pets to safety.

Photos and videos: SkySaver, Avalon Abseiling

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Jacob Ryan, NoCamels <![CDATA[Meet Valiber, The Smart Spoon That Tells You Exactly How Sweet Your Beverage Is]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39364 2015-08-19T13:20:54Z 2015-08-19T13:20:54Z

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Sugar consumption rates are at an all-time high, threatening quality of life and health around the globe. According to the Surgeon General, in the US alone, two-thirds of adults and nearly one in three children are overweight or obese. The average American consumes 150-170 pounds of sugar annually, according to the USDA, and that’s why one in three Americans is expected to have diabetes by 2050.

To reduce obesity and sugar levels, one possible answer is to increase people’s awareness of what is on their plates and in their beverages. Israeli startup Valiber has developed a spoon-like tool that measures the exact levels of sweetness found in drinks and foods. Valiber’s Val meter is called “the swizzle,” which includes a spoon and a corresponding mobile app that shows sweetness levels.

SEE ALSO: Whey Protein Shakes Can Control Diabetic Blood Sugar Spikes

Valiber

Valiber founder and CEO Yuval Klein took issue with the way we currently measure and describe sweetness: “One cup of coffee with two spoons of sugar might be good for one person, but is too sweet for another,” he tells NoCamels. And so, in 2013 Valiber began to develop the “Val” scale to quantify sweetness.

The Val scale is a method of measurement based on the sensitivity threshold of individuals, starting at zero, which means no sweetness. 1 Val (3.4 grams of white sugar) has been identified by Valiber’s team as the point at which people truly taste sweetness. A can of Coke, for example has a whopping 34 Vals, and a glass of orange juice contains 27 Vals.

How sweet is too sweet? 

With Valiber, consumers can easily learn exactly how much sugar is too much sugar, or the point at which adding more sugar really makes no difference. In other words, why add two teaspoons of sugar when one is enough for you? Pinpointing the desired level of sweetness can significantly lower the amount of sugar we consume, according to Valiber.

Valiber

Valiber CSO Dr. Moshe Tshuva, along with Prof. Eli Flaxer, head of R&D, have already created the prototype; but the final product will only launch by the end of the year. The “swizzle” uses Bluetooth technology to transfer information from the device to the app, allowing for accurate and easy-to-digest information at the touch of a finger. Valiber also offers a feedback feature, which provides advice on how to change the sweetness according to personal preferences.

The company’s first round of production will include two kinds of swizzle tools: One for individual use, selling for about $29, and another for pros, such as baristas, for $99.

SEE ALSO: Researchers Can Tell Your Susceptibility To Diabetes

Valiber has so far raised seed funds of $100,000 and hopes to raise an additional $400,000 by the end of the year.

Sugar

The new, universal language for sweetness

“We believe that in the future we will be able to make people all around the world express and share the taste using the Val scale”, Klein tells NoCamels.

However, getting the world to accept a new, universal language for taste is no easy task. “The same drinks often have different levels of sweetness depending on the country”, Klein explains. Currently, Valiber is looking to partner with corporate moguls such as Google and Starbucks in order to expedite this learning curve and acceptance of the scale by the international community.

Valiber

Photos courtesy of Valiber

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David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Israeli Tech Preserves More Crops With Fewer Chemicals]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39835 2015-08-18T06:17:41Z 2015-08-18T06:17:41Z

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

More than one out of every ten tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, okra plants, potatoes, and many more species never make it out of the field – completely destroyed by nematodes, also known as ringworms. And much of the rest of an infected crop is too damaged to sell.

These bugs have been the bane of farmers around the world, but a new solution from Adama Agricultural Solutions (formerly Makhteshim-Agan Industries Ltd) could end their reign of agri-terror. Nimitz, Adama’s brand name for a nematicide (nematode killer) based on a newly-discovered molecule called fluensulfone, will get rid of the most common nematodes without the use of heavy chemicals that have been the mainstay of nematicides, the company says.

SEE ALSO: Open Sesame: Israeli Researcher Gives Favorite Middle Eastern Grain A Boost

nematodedamage

Damage typically caused by nematodes.

Adama said Nimitz has the potential to be a game changer for farmers, as well as for the company. Nimitz, it said, is “expected to be a significant growth driver for the company in the future.”

Adama said that studies conducted over the past six years in 21 countries prove its product, the first new nematicide introduced anywhere in the past 20 years, is less hazardous to the environment than other solution. Israel, Australia, Europe, and many US states have approved Nimitz for use in commercial growing settings.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Startup Breeds Protein-Rich Edible Insects To End World Hunger

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The US Environmental Protection Agency approved Nimitz last September, saying that while you wouldn’t want to expose children and the elderly to the product for an extended period of time, there were no carcinogenic or other negative effects from Nimitz.

To continue reading this article on the TOI site, click here.

Photos: Oregon State University/ Nematode CS

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NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Study Shows Know-It-Alls Are More Likely To Accept Falsehoods As Fact]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39754 2015-08-17T13:29:31Z 2015-08-17T13:03:40Z

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You know those people who claim to know everything, commonly known as “know-it-alls”? Well next time you encounter one you can rest assured that most of what they claim to know is actually false. A new study from Cornell University finds that those who “overclaim”, or think they know everything about a particular topic, are more likely to pretent knowledge of completely false information.

According to the Israeli psychological scientist Stav Atir, who conducted the study, “Our work suggests that the seemingly straightforward task of judging one’s knowledge may not be so simple, particularly for individuals who believe they have a relatively high level of knowledge to begin with,” he said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: Study Decodes Viral Content, Finds ‘Memes’ Act Just Like Genes

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For know-it-alls, false facts are hard to spot

The claim seems to be a logical one, but how do you go about testing one’s purported knowledge against their actual knowledge and expertise?

To find out why people make these spurious claims, Atir and colleagues from Cornell and Tulane Universities designed a series of experiments to test out people’s self-perceived knowledge, compared to their actual expertise.

One hundred participants were asked to rate their general knowledge of personal finance, as well as their knowledge of 15 specific financial terms. Most of the terms on the list were real (for example, Roth IRA, inflation, home equity), but the researchers also included three made-up terms (pre-rated stocks, fixed-rate deduction, annualized credit).

As expected, people who saw themselves as financial wizards were most likely to claim expertise of the bogus financial terms that were added into the mix.

“The more people believed they knew about finances in general, the more likely they were to overclaim knowledge of the fictitious financial terms,” Atir said. “The same pattern emerged for other domains, including biology, literature, philosophy, and geography.”

“For instance,” Atir explains “people’s assessment of how much they know about a particular biological term will depend in part on how much they think they know about biology in general.”

Catching overclaimers off guard

In another experiment, the researchers warned one set of 49 participants ahead of time that some of the terms on a list would be made up. However, even after receiving the warning, the self-proclaimed experts were more likely to confidently claim familiarity with fake biological terms, such as “meta toxins” and “bio-sexual.”

To confirm that people’s self-perceived expertise was driving their overclaiming, the research team manipulated participants’ sense of knowledge mastery through a geography quiz. Participants were randomly assigned to complete either an easy quiz on iconic US cities, a difficult quiz on very obscure places, or no quiz. Those participants who had completed the easy quiz felt like experts, and reported that they were more knowledgeable about geography in general than those individuals in the other two groups.

SEE ALSO: Children Feel Pleasure At Friends’ Misfortune As Early As Age Two

The participants then rated their familiarity with a list of real—and a few completely fake—US cities.

knowitallwoman

In all three conditions people recognized the real locations, such as Philadelphia and the National Mall. Ironically, those people who had taken the easy quiz, and concluded they were more knowledgeable about US geography, were more likely than the other two groups to claim they were knowledgeable about non-existent locations, such as Cashmere, Oregon.

Know-it-alls risk the danger of knowing less

The research team warns that a tendency to overclaim, especially in self-perceived experts, may actually discourage individuals from educating themselves in precisely those areas in which they consider themselves knowledgeable—leading to potentially disastrous outcomes.

For example, failure to recognize or admit one’s knowledge gaps in the realm of finance or medicine could easily lead to uninformed decisions with devastating consequences for individuals.

“Continuing to explore when and why individuals overclaim may prove important in battling that great menace—not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge,” the research team concludes.

The research, conducted by lead researcher Stav Atir of Cornell University, together with David Dunning and Emily Rosenzweig of Tulane University, was published in the Association for Psychological Science’s journal “Psychological Science”.

Photos:

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Eunice Lim, NoCamels <![CDATA[Revolutionary Rooftop Farm Grows Organic Veggies Sans Soil In The Heart of Tel Aviv]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39865 2015-08-16T12:00:40Z 2015-08-16T12:00:40Z

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Buying organic and locally grown produce is a raging trend that is here to stay. And a new project in Israel called “Green in the City” is taking the trend to a whole new level, literally.

‘Green in the City’ grows mostly organic vegetables in floating beds of water (without soil) on the rooftop of Dizengoff Center, Tel Aviv’s central mall complex. Started by Mendi Falk, the project aims to bring the farm to the city, and fresh produce onto urban dwellers’ plates.

SEE ALSO: Israelis Create Enhanced Strains Of Fruits And Veggies 

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Urban agriculture on Dizengoff Center’s roof

Lettuce, basil, bok choy, onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers are among the vegetables grown on Falk’s compact, 100-square-meter rooftop farm. And while just about anything can be grown on the farm, Falk concentrates mainly on leafy vegetables because they have the shortest life cycles.

Urban agriculture requires less water, no soil

The science behind this intriguing project is hydroponics, a type of gardening that grows plants using very little nutrient-rich water solutions and without any soil. There are different types of hydroponic systems, but they all essentially work by pumping just the right amount of nutrients and water directly to the plants’ roots. Unlike traditional agriculture, hydroponic gardening gives the grower control over the plants’ watering and feeding cycles, as well as over the strength and acidity of the nutrient solution that is given to the plants.

SEE ALSO: Buy Your Food Straight From The Local Farmers With Farmigo

Falk’s farm also utilizes an aquaponics system: fish are grown in a tank that is connected to the plant growing beds, with water circulating between each other. The plants take in nutrients from the fish tank’s waste and clean the water that is pumped back into it.

Urban agriculture on Dizengoff Center's roof

The advantages are numerous: First and foremost, the plants grow faster and produce greater yields. These systems also take up less space, rule out the need for pesticides (since plant diseases and parasites are mostly soil-borne), and require less weeding. In addition, the rooftop garden needs less water as hydroponics uses 70 to 90 percent less water than conventional gardening.

“Harvested just 15 minutes before being served on the customer’s plate”

According to Falk, customers can taste the difference. “The taste is different not because the produce is growing in hydroponic systems, but because people are not used to eating fresh vegetables,” he tells NoCamels. “They’re used to eating vegetables that have been sitting in their refrigerator for days. Our vegetables are organic, pesticide-free, and truly fresh, because oftentimes they are harvested just 15 minutes before being served on the customer’s plate.”

Urban agriculture on Dizengoff Center's roof

Green in the City is a joint venture between Dizengoff Center and Falk’s company Living Green – which sells hydroponic and aquaponics systems to private consumers. “We believe that urban agriculture should be more spread throughout the city,” Falk says. “Since the farm is located on top of a popular space, people can easily come and see that the hydroponic method is not that complicated and they will be inspired to grow their own vegetables in their homes with hydroponic systems.”

A solution for world hunger? 

The farm’s produce is currently sold to two restaurants in Dizengoff Center – Café Greg and Garden Restaurant – as well as to Dizengoff Center’s farmers market for about $1 per unit, as opposed to organic vegetables sold at local supermarkets, which on average cost $2.5 per kilo. Falk says that 100 square meters are not enough to run a financially sustainable farm, and plans to expand to a 500-square-meter space on the Center’s roof in the coming months.

His vision for hydroponic systems extends way beyond his own business interests. “I think this is a part of a bigger solution for world hunger,” Falk explains. “Of course, hydroponics will not replace traditional agriculture as the major source of food, but in countries where there is not enough fertile ground or enough water, hydroponics can provide a much needed solution.”

Dizengoff_Center_Tel_Aviv

Dizengoff Center

Photos: Eunice Lim, Living GreenBeny Shlevich, Purdue University

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Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[International Nobel Prize Winners Travel To Israel To Mentor Students]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39910 2015-08-13T12:49:41Z 2015-08-14T12:40:56Z

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As part of the World Science Conference Israel (WSCI) to be held at the Hebrew University next week, fifteen Nobel Prize winners and dozens of international scientists will make their way to Israel. The program, geared towards over 400 promising science students from 70 countries, hopes to encourage youth to engage in science and technology by providing them with the unique opportunity to meet with Nobel Prize winners and leaders in science.

The conference was initiated by Nobel Laureate and Hebrew University Prof. Roger Kornberg together with the Israeli Ministry of Science and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The organizers promise a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” for the 400 students aged 17-21 who are slated to fly to Israel to attend.

SEE ALSO: Dan Shechtman Talks To NoCamels About Winning The Nobel Prize

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Delegations from over 70 countries and regions have already confirmed their participation

On the program are lectures on hot topics in physics, chemistry, economics and medicine along with more focused talks on the ‘Israeli entrepreneurial spirit’. WSCI’s organizers also hope that the conference “will help to develop international friendships and cooperation, transcending barriers of nationality and geographical distance.” The underlying goal of the conference is to help budding scientific minds make important connections between basic science and more advanced applications that could one day procure them their own Nobel Prize.

Some of the notable Nobel Prize winners at the conference include Prof. Robert Aumann, who won the prize in Economic Sciences in 2005 for his work on conflict and cooperation in game theory; Prof. Steven Chu, the former United States Secretary of Energy who won the prize in Physics in 1997 for his research in cooling and trapping atoms with lasers; and Prof. Robert Kornberg, who won the prize in Chemistry in 2006 for his studies into the process whereby DNA is copied to RNA.

Other Nobel Laureates slated to attend include: Prof. Zhores I. Alferov (Physics, 2000), Prof. Sidney Altman (Chemistry, 1989), Prof. Aaron Chiechanover (Chemistry, 2004), Prof. Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (Physics, 1997), Prof. David J. Gross (Physics, 2004), Sir Prof. Harold W. Kroto (Chemistry, 1996), Prof. Elon Lindenstrauss (Fields Medal, 2010), Prof. Richard J. Roberts (Physiology or Medicine, 1993), Prof. Dan Shechtman (Chemistry, 2011), Prof. Harold E. Varmus (Physiology or Medicine, 1989), Prof. Arieh Warshel (Chemistry, 2013), and Prof. Ada Yonath (Chemistry, 2009).

SEE ALSO: Visualize Einstein’s Genius With Incredible Collection Of Digital Papers

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Israeli Nobel Laureates

The WSCI was modeled after the Lindau Science Meeting, which has provided the opportunity for students of all ages to meet with Nobel Laureates for the past six decades, as well as the Asian Science Camp, a similar program for students in Asia and Australia. In fact, the Asian Science Camp held in Israel in 2012 is what inspired the organizers to build their own conference showcasing Israeli scientific contributions.

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[WIRED Magazine Picks The 10 Hottest Israeli Startups: “Tel Aviv Is Where The Money Is”]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39937 2015-08-13T12:05:07Z 2015-08-13T11:51:07Z

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Every year, the UK edition of the renowned WIRED Magazine publishes its famous list of 100 European startups, which are carefully selected and featured in the magazine’s September edition. Now we can reveal that 10 of these selected startups are from Israel (which is technically in Asia).

In an article devoted to the Startup Nation, which will be published in the magazine, WIRED assistant editor Oliver Franklin-Wallis, asserts that “Tel Aviv is where the money is,” after mentioning Israeli companies’ extraordinary “exits” and IPOs, which topped $15 billion in 2014.

SEE ALSO: Two Startups Sell For Quarter Billion Dollars Each In One Day

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To pick its rising stars, WIRED explains, “We define ‘hot’ as being talked about locally by people who matter: It’s about buzz, not valuation or market size.” WIRED’s selection of the 10 promising Israeli startups includes companies from a large variety of high-tech fields, including mobile technologies, analytics and healthcare.

Mobile technologies 

One of the most intriguing companies on WIRED’s list is Consumer Physics. Last year, the company shattered all expectations with the launch of its cutting-edge pocket spectrometer named SCiO, a USB-sized device that can read and analyze the molecular composition of any physical object, like the freshness of your apple, or the water levels of your plant. SCiO raised $2.8 million in a few weeks on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, well surpassing its initial goal of $200,000.

SCIO

Another WIRED favorite is Moovit, a mobile app that has changed the way people use public transportation. Using crowd-sourcing data and real-time information from passengers, the app recommends the fastest public transport routes at any given time.

WIRED also heaped praise on startup Adallom, which provides a layer of protection for organizational information transferred over mobile applications. Adallom’s cloud application security platform buffers between users’ devices and their applications in a non-intrusive way. The startup was recently acquired by American software giant Microsoft for a whopping $320 million.

StoreDot, another mobile technology startup, has also captured the attention of WIRED editors, who probably sympathize (like most of us) with the notion that charging your smartphone shouldn’t take a few hours. StoreDot‘s FlashBattery can charge smartphones in a record-breaking 30 seconds, freeing millions of people from the constant worry of low battery life! Recently, StoreDot announced the development of a new, super-fast charger for electric cars, which according to the company will one day charge vehicles in five minutes.

StoreDot's Organic Technology Can Charge A Phone In 30 Seconds!

Analytics 

In addition to mobile technologies, WIRED has also selected a couple of young analytics firmsAppsFlyer, used by 5,000 advertisers, provides analytics to measure the effectiveness of campaigns on smartphone apps. For example, it can track the impact of a television ad on mobile downloads in real time. In addition, WIRED picked Israeli startup SimilarWeb, which analyzes the performance of websites and apps, providing traffic rankings and insights using data from different sources.

The technological magazine also picked Israeli startup FeeX, which analyzes financial statements to discover how much money we’re losing in hidden fees we’re unaware of. Grey charges, says Feex, are everywhere, especially in your bank accounts and pension plans and that’s why the self-proclaimed ‘Robin Hood of Fees’ is helping consumers get their money back.

SEE ALSO: FeeX Eliminates Your Hidden Charges

Tel Aviv

Other startups on the WIRED list include the hugely popular quiz and entertainment platform PlayBuzz; Windward, which analyzes satellite feeds and maritime data to track the location and contents of ships across oceans; and Zebra Medical Vision, which trains computers to diagnose diseases and is currently building a worldwide database of images.

Photos: Pikiwiki

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Eunice Lim, NoCamels <![CDATA[5 Israeli Apps That Make Eating Healthier A Piece Of Cake]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39506 2015-08-12T14:14:10Z 2015-08-12T14:14:10Z

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Eating healthier is perhaps one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Yet, many of us know from experience that it is easier said than done. Well, it’s never too late to recommit to a healthier eating regiment (especially in the summer!), whether it is to finally reach that ideal weight, to get fitter, to stick to a more restrictive dietary lifestyle like veganism, or to simply eat more balanced, nutritious meals.

NoCamels profiles five of the hottest Israeli apps that make eating healthier a piece of cake.

Fooducate: Know what you eat

Eating better starts with knowing better. Fooducate, a free app created by Israeli entrepreneur Hemi Weingarten, is informing consumers on the contents of the food they buy, so they can make healthier purchases. The app’s main feature is the “food finder,” which lets people scan the barcode of a food item in any US chain supermarket to see its nutrition grade, a brief explanation on why it got the score it did, and healthier alternatives.

SEE ALSO: Israeli ‘Fooducate’ Wins App Competition

Vegetables - Health News - Israel

Using the app, you can instantly scan and see that a certain brand of breakfast cereals has a nutrition rating of A minus, for example, because it is made of 100 percent whole grain and has more than 12 percent of the daily recommended dose of fiber. The app also has information about food products from fast food chains like McDonald’s and Taco Bell, among others. And for an additional fee (starting at $2.99 a month), you can buy premium features like the gluten and allergies food scanner and even a pet food scanner. Fooducate’s impressive database has information on over 200,000 foods, and is growing. With millions of downloads to date, Fooducate plans to expand into Western European markets in the future.

Nutrino: The nutritionist that fits in your pocket

How often do you find yourself thinking, “What should I eat today”? Nutrino, a free data-driven, personalized food recommendation app, can answer that question for you. Founded by Jonathan Lipnik and Yaron Hadad in Israel, the app first gathers information on your health status, health goals, and food taste preferences, and then suggests tailored dishes for all of your meals and snacks. The suggestions come with recipes and nutritional information, and the ingredients for the recipes can be instantly added onto your Nutrino grocery list. You log what you eat as you go, and the app helps you monitor your progress and gives tips on how to stay on track.

A novel aspect of Nutrino is that it can connect to fitness apps and wearable devices such as Fitbit and Runkeeper to take into account physical activity, sleep and biomarkers, all of which contribute to creating the optimal food plan for each user. Whatever your health goal is – be it losing weight, gaining muscle, or simply eating better – Nutrino says it can help.

MakeMyPlate: The not-so-secret ingredient for a successful diet

You shouldn’t have to skip meals or subscribe to expensive diet programs to lose weight. With the MakeMyPlate app, you can get on a balanced, healthy diet plan for free. Founded by Israeli psychologist Alin Cooperman, the app presents a visual list of suggested plates you are to eat every day. The meals are balanced, based on expert nutritional guidelines, and come out to 1,200 calories in total. The visual interface gives you a sense of how large the portions should be. But if you’re not in the mood for the egg sandwich, or tuna salad the app suggests for lunch, you can easily select another plate with a similar calorie count and nutritional breakdown – say, a whole wheat pita stuffed with hummus and veggies.

SEE ALSO: The Online Visual Nutrition Guide

While the main weight loss plan is free, there are premium plans like The Ultimate New York Diet and the Paleo Plan, among others, which are designed by celebrity nutritionists and cost $4.99. For a more interactive experience, check out the MakeMyPlate website, where you can keep an online food diary by dragging and dropping photos of foods to create virtual plates that mirror what you eat.

MakeMyPlate

My Diet Coach: Easy diet tracking

It’s time to keep track of your diet more quickly and efficiently than ever before with the My Diet Coach app for Apple Watch. With a simple tap on the Apple Watch screen or by voice activation, users can log their food and water intake in a matter of seconds, distinguishing it from smartphone apps that require a little more time to input information. Anat Levy, the CEO and founder of My Diet Coach, argues that this small saving will make a big difference.

Luckily for those who are not ready to invest in an Apple Watch just yet, the app is available on smartphones and comes with even more features. The smartphone version, which has been downloaded by 8 million users, offers personalized motivation – flashing animated reminders of your health goals, providing specific tips for maintaining your diet in situations like “eating out” and “emotional eating,” and even helping you fight off cravings with the “panic button,” which counts down the 20 minutes needed to resist before the craving goes away.

Go Vegan: Finding vegan dishes near you

Eating out no longer has to be a hassle for those leading a vegan lifestyle with the location-based Go Vegan app. Launched in January 2013 by Israeli tech developer Yehuda Goldner, the app displays a large selection of vegan dishes and the restaurants that serve them – including restaurants that are not entirely vegan and are not usually on vegans’ radars. Using the app is simple: Type in your address, pick what you want to eat from a visual list of dishes, and the app will give you directions to a restaurant that serves the dish (and its price!). Users can help improve the app by leaving reviews, sharing new dishes and restaurants, and reporting any mistakes.

Currently, the app is only available for use in Israel and San Francisco, but plans to expand to Las Vegas and Los Angeles are under way. Goldner tells NoCamels that he became a full vegan four years ago for personal, health and ethical reasons. “I wanted to put my past experience as a tech developer to good use and make the vegan lifestyle more accessible.”

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Photos and videos: Courtesy

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Daniel Asper, NoCamels <![CDATA[David Vs. Goliath? Inside The Gett-Uber Battle Over Mobile Taxicab Services]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=38429 2015-08-11T12:40:31Z 2015-08-11T12:40:31Z

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It looks about as close to David vs. Goliath as you can get in the business world: Israeli company Gett is battling it out against the world champ Uber for the title of Israel’s transportation king.

Currently, Israel’s Gett is the go-to mobile application for ordering rides from your smartphone in Israel. Uber, meanwhile, a San Francisco-based company, is the global incumbent for these services. Dominating the industry since 2009 and valued at a staggering $50 billion, Uber makes Gett, a $2 billion company founded in 2010, look paltry by comparison. And while Uber is available in 300 cities, in 55 countries, Gett operates in roughly 50 cities across four countries at the moment.

There’s no doubt that Uber is the giant, so does Gett stand a chance at keeping the lead on its home turf?

SEE ALSO: Nat Rothschild To Launch London Ride Sharing App

gettaxi

Both Uber and Gett (formerly known as GetTaxi) classify themselves as technology companies that use their mobile applications to connect people who need a ride with drivers who can pick them up. At the touch of a button, you order a ride, which is then automatically charged to your phone. So, what separates these services from traditional taxi companies? Many believe it’s a combination of a few things: simple ordering from an app, real-time GPS tracking of your ride, focus on customer service through a driver rating system, and cashless payments through syncing your credit card to the app.

Moreover, many investors see business potential in new, modern methods of transportation, which has contributed to the sky-high valuation of Uber. Its game-changing service Uber X gives anyone with a car and a clean background check the ability to pick up and drop off anyone who orders a ride. Uber calls this “ride sharing” and it has taken the industry by storm, allowing individuals to make money while they run errands, giving customers 24/7 access to a “green” carpooling service that’s cheaper than the regular cab fares, typically by 20 percent.

Uber X reduces costs to consumers because it eliminates the fees that taxi drivers must pay to lease a medallion (the rare permit that gives drivers the right to operate a taxi and pick up street hails) and a vehicle. With Uber X, Uber and its drivers simply split revenues on a per-ride basis, effectively cutting out the middleman – taxi unions.

Head of Uber Israel: Our service is better for consumers, taxi drivers 

NoCamels recently sat down with Uber Israel’s General Manager Yoni Greifman to discuss Uber’s recent entry into Israel and the opportunities and challenges of introducing a new service like Uber X. “Many taxi drivers have significant additional costs that don’t have to be there”, Greifman told NoCamels. “For example, they pay roughly $380 per month to lease their medallion and that doesn’t even account for the vehicle. Then, they may need to lease a taxi-licensed vehicle which will cost an additional $1,150 per month. With Uber, those costs are basically eliminated because drivers use their own vehicles. Even if they end up charging less per trip, overall revenues increase.”

Since Uber X cuts costs for drivers and therefore increases their revenues, more and more drivers are embracing Uber’s new model. “In New York, for example, many taxi drivers are switching to Uber X because they can earn more using their own vehicles,” he says.

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

Unfortunately for Uber, Israeli authorities have yet to approve its Uber X model for regulatory reasons. The Israeli transportation code requires all drivers operating a taxi service to have a taxi license, and Uber is technically considered by law to be a taxi service, but not Uber X. That’s why individuals can’t legally be paid for carpooling in Israel. However, this has been the case in almost every market Uber has entered, and the company has managed to get these regulations changed in some countries. Now, they want to take on the Israeli Ministry of Transportation.

“Uber’s goal is to make transportation as reliable as running water,” Greifman says. “If we can use the current transportation assets in a more efficient manner, you won’t need to own your own car. You’ll feel comfortable that if you go to our app you’ll have a cheap, reliable, safe transportation option. This is Uber’s vision around the world.”

Conversely, Gett’s traditional business model in Israel is based on signing up drivers who are already accredited taxi drivers and giving them access to customer orders directly through the Gett mobile application, which is in compliance with Israeli transportation law. However, Israeli taxicab stands (dispatchers) have been hit hard over the past couple of years, with hundreds of drivers leaving them for Gett – in order to cut out the middleman. NoCamels reached out to Gett, which didn’t comment.

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Duking it out in the desert

These companies aren’t only competing for dominance in the land of milk and honey; the battle for Israel appears vital for Uber’s expansion into the Middle East, and critical to Gett’s survival. Recently, Gett upped the ante, making arguably the most game-changing move in the company’s history. Over the coming months, Gett plans to roll out a new suite of on-demand services, which would allow customers to order products and services in addition to rides: For example, a plumber, a pizza, or even an in-office haircut. In addition, it will reportedly battle Uber for business accounts by offering fixed-price rides in New York City.

One strategy Uber is famous for is its “pop-up services,” which are based on local events and are meant to create brand awareness. Late last year, on Rosh Hashanah (which celebrates the beginning of the Jewish new year), Uber took orders and delivered fresh challah bread in Tel Aviv. Most recently, on Israel’s Independence Day, the company delivered hummus and pita bread at a flat rate of 10 shekels.

Uber is now in the process of gaining brand recognition in a country that has traditionally used Gett. Greifman admits that “there is definitely strong patriotism built into every Israeli,” but says “we’re trying to make Uber an Israeli company.”

Both Uber and Gett, however, may soon be experiencing steep competition from another ride-sharing app, RideWith. Employing the superior travel-tech knowledge of its acquired Israeli company Waze, Google recently announced it will launch a pilot of its ride-sharing service in central Israel. The service will synchronize between Waze users and eager carpoolers who live and work in the same location.

There are many ways to look at Uber vs. Gett and the future of Israeli transportation. The truth is, both companies are more like David than they are Goliath, slowly changing the vast, complex world of transportation. Their local challenge (as well as their global one) is to liberate Israelis – whose major cities are as congested as any other big metropolis – from their transportation and parking woes.

Photos and videos: Tripp, Gett, Uber

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NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Discovery Of Melanoma Trigger Could Stop Skin Cancer In Its Tracks]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39850 2015-08-09T13:25:35Z 2015-08-10T11:25:19Z

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Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, and melanoma – which accounts for 2 percent of skin cancer cases – is responsible for nearly all skin cancer deaths. Melanoma rates in the US have risen rapidly over the last 30 years, and although scientists have identified key risk factors, melanoma’s modus operandi continues to elude the world of medical research.

Now, a new Tel Aviv University study sheds light on the precise trigger that enables melanoma cells to become invasive killers, providing a future method to block cancer by pinpointing the precise place in the process where “traveling” cancer turns lethal.

SEE ALSO: Cure For Terminal Cancer

detectingcanceronbreath

If melanoma is caught in time, it can be removed and the patient’s life can be saved. But once melanoma invades the bloodstream, turning metastatic, an aggressive treatment must be applied. When and how melanoma transforms into aggressive invader remained a mystery – until now.

SEE ALSO: New Vaccine Triggers Response In 90 Percent Of Cancer Types

The study, recently published in the academic journal Molecular Cell, was led by TAU’s Dr. Carmit Levy, along with researchers from the Technion, Sheba Medical Center, and the Hebrew University.

“It occurred to me that there had to be a trigger in the micro-environment of the skin that made the melanoma cells invasive,” Levy said in a statement. “Using the evolutionary logic of the tumor, why spend the energy going up when you can just use your energy to go down and become malignant?”

“We could stop the progression of cancer”

After collecting samples of normal skin cells and melanoma cells from Israeli patients, the researchers mixed normal and cancerous cells and performed gene analysis expression to study the traveling cancer’s behavior. They found that, completely independent of any mutations, the biological micro-environment of the cell alone drove melanoma metastasis.

“Normal skin cells are not supposed to travel,” says Levy. “We found that when melanoma is situated at the top layer, a trigger sends it down to the dermis and then further down to invade blood vessels. If we could stop it at the top layer, block it from invading the bloodstream, we could stop the progression of the cancer.”

red blood cells

The researchers found that the direct contact of melanoma cells with a layer of the skin turned on a set of genes that promotes changes in melanoma cells, rendering them invasive.

“Now that we know the triggers of melanoma transformation and the kind of signaling that leads to that transformation, we know what to block,” Levy says. “Maybe, in the future, people will be able to rub some substance on their skin as a prevention measure.”

Dr. Levy is continuing to explore the research with the end goal of providing medical professionals with another tool of analysis of different stages of melanoma. “Melanoma is a cancer with a very long gestation period,” said Dr. Levy. “If you can provide a simple kit with precise answers, you can catch it at the beginning stage and hopefully save lives.”

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NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Stem Cell Treatments Could Alleviate Asthma, Study Shows]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39728 2015-08-09T06:37:48Z 2015-08-09T06:37:48Z

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Collectively, diseases of the airways such as emphysema, bronchitis, asthma and cystic fibrosis are the second leading cause of death worldwide. More than 35 million Americans suffer from a chronic and debilitating respiratory disease.

Weizmann Institute scientists in Israel have now proposed a new direction that could, in the future, lead to the development of a method for alleviating some of their suffering. The study’s findings show how it might be possible to use embryonic stem cells to repair damaged lung tissue.

SEE ALSO: Alvio Treats Asthma The Natural Way

embryonic-stem-cell

Stem cell treatments may prove effective in treating asthma and other respiratory conditions.

An existing method, new applications

The research began with an insight: Certain stem cells that normally reside in the lungs are highly similar to those in the bone marrow. In addition, in each organ, the stem cells, rather than being distributed throughout the tissue, are concentrated in special compartments that contain all the provisions that stem cells need to flourish.

“That understanding suggested to us that we might be able to apply our knowledge of techniques for transplanting bone marrow stem cells to repairing lung tissue,” Prof. Yair Reisner of the Weizmann Institute’s Immunology Department said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Biotech Companies Use Stem Cells To Change Medicine

Bone marrow transplant is based on two main principles: the ability of stem cells to navigate through the blood to the appropriate compartment and the prior clearing out of the compartment to make room for the transplanted stem cells. Reisner and his team thought it might possible to apply these principles to introducing new stem cells into the lungs. But before they could do this, they needed to find a source of lung stem cells suitable for transplanting – a problem, as they are quite rare.

Six weeks to normal lung tissue

The research group overcame this obstacle by using embryonic stem cells from the 20th -22nd week.

Their research showed that this is the ideal time frame in which to harvest the cells: Younger cells have not completed the process of differentiation; older cells are less capable of lung regeneration.stemcellslungs

The team then conducted a series of experiments in which they cleared the lung’s stem cell compartments with a method they had developed, then injected the new stem cells into mouse models of lung damage. The embryonic lung stem cells managed to find their way through the blood to the lungs and settle into the proper compartment.

By six weeks, these cells were differentiating and creating normal lung tissue. The damaged lungs healed in the mice, and their breathing improved significantly.

The next obstacle Reisner faces is determining the correct dosage of drugs that are needed to prevent rejection of the transplanted cells, which are required following such procedures. “But our real vision, bolstered by this success,” says Reisner, “is to create a bank of lung tissue that will be a resource for embryonic lung stem cells.” This bank could mean that there is a ready source of cells for repairing the damage in those suffering from severe respiratory disease.

Photos: Simon Seljeflot

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NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Proof Of Earliest Agriculture Found In Israel, Dating Back 23,000 Years Ago]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39688 2015-08-05T09:06:13Z 2015-08-07T11:15:17Z

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Open any history book and you’re likely to find that the practice of agriculture was invented 12,000 years ago in the Levant, an area in the Middle East that was home to some of the first human civilizations. But a new discovery recently made in Northern Israel seems to have shattered the myth on the advent of agriculture, offering up exciting evidence that trial plant cultivation, what we call agriculture, began far earlier – some 23,000-years-ago.

SEE ALSO: Why Thriving Civilizations Perished In The Levant

Researchers from Israel’s Tel Aviv, Bar-Ilan and Haifa Universities, with participation from Harvard, recently uncovered the first weed species at the site of a sedentary human camp on the shore of Israel’s Sea of Galilee, the location where prehistoric communities cultivated the first plants for human consumption.

“While full-scale agriculture did not develop until much later, our study shows that trial cultivation began far earlier than previously believed, and gives us reason to rethink our ancestors’ capabilities,” TAU’s Prof. Marcelo Sternberg said in a statement. “Those early ancestors were more clever and skilled than we thought.”

Sea of Galilee , Israel

Sea of Galilee, Israel

‘Our ancestors were more clever and skilled than we thought’

Though weeds are typically considered a threat or nuisance in contemporary farming, their presence at the site of the findings revealed the earliest signs of trial plant cultivation — some 11 millennia earlier than conventional historical thought regarding the onset of agriculture.

SEE ALSO: 5,000-Year-Old Egyptian Brewery Discovered In Israel

The site, which was built by fisher-hunter-gatherers, was found to be unusually well-preserved, having been charred, covered by lake sediment, and sealed in low-oxygen conditions — ideal for the preservation of plant material. Hence, weed species and harvesting tools found at the site provide clear evidence of early farming.

“This uniquely preserved site is one of the best archaeological examples worldwide of the hunter-gatherers’ way of life,” Sternberg says.

Prehistoric plant cultivation

The site bears the remains of six shelters and a particularly rich assemblage of plants. Upon retrieving and examining 150,000 plant specimens, the researchers determined that early humans there had gathered over 140 species of plants. These included 13 known weeds mixed with edible cereals, such as wild emmer (wheat), wild barley, and wild oats.

barley

Barley

The researchers found a grinding slab — a stone tool with which cereal starch granules were extracted — as well as a distribution of seeds around this tool, reflecting that the cereal grains were processed for consumption. The large number of cereals showing specific kinds of scars on their seeds indicate the likelihood of those cereals growing in fields, and the presence of sickle blades indicates that these humans deliberately planned the harvest of cereal.

This groundbreaking study offers evidence that early humans clearly functioned with a basic knowledge of agriculture and, perhaps more importantly, exhibited foresight and extensive agricultural planning far earlier than was previously believed.

Emmer wheat

Emmer wheat

The study was recently published in PLOS ONE and led by Prof. Ehud Weiss of Bar-Ilan University, in collaboration with Prof. Marcelo Sternberg of the Department of Molecular Biology and Ecology of Plants at TAU’s Faculty of Life Sciences and Prof. Ofer Bar-Yosef of Harvard University, among other colleagues.

Photos: H20Zachi Evenor

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Eunice Lim, NoCamels <![CDATA[One Israeli Researcher Is Outsmarting HIV To Cure AIDS]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39778 2015-08-06T11:00:38Z 2015-08-06T10:00:52Z

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Thirty-four years and counting since the first reported case of AIDS in the US, and there is still no cure for the approximate 35 million people worldwide whose immune systems are infected.

While an assortment of antiretroviral drugs that attack the HIV-1 virus have appeared on the market, many working to slow down the disease’s replication in the body and protect the patient’s immune system, the virus manages to survive, reproduce, and even grow increased resistance to medication over time.

SEE ALSO: Breakthrough Israeli Device Will Circumcise 700,000 Rwandans To Prevent HIV/AIDS

Given the limitations of existing drugs, an Israeli researcher at the Technion’s Faculty of Biology proposes a new strategy to tackle the virus that will focus on the interactions between the virus’ and the host cell’s proteins, instead of solely focusing on targeting the proteins of the virus. This strategy is set to be significantly more effective in attacking the disease as the HIV-1 virus cannot survive without relying on the cellular mechanisms of the host cell.

hivaidsmap

A map of HIV/AIDs deaths by country.

A random, but deadly, relationship of interdependence

A key issue concerning the interaction between the HIV-1 virus and the host cell is the virus’ ability to circumvent natural and drug-induced barriers. Assistant Prof. Akram Alian, who leads the research, hypothesizes that when a favored pathway is blocked, the virus looks for alternative, yet functionally equivalent protein-to-protein interactions within that pathway. In this way, the virus is able to manipulate the host cell and successfully replicate – essentially taking advantage of the redundancy of host cells, making a potentially dangerous ‘detour’.

Alian believes that understanding exactly how the HIV-1 virus pursues alternative routes, or ‘rerouting mechanisms’, to hijack the host cell will be crucial in finding an eventual cure.

SEE ALSO: Treating Cancer With AIDS

“Right now, we are trying to map the HIV-1 rerouting landscape and capture different host virus complexes to see if we can target inescapable pathway nodes,” Alian tells NoCamels. “If we can do this, then we can predict the hidden, alternative routes that the virus takes and from there develop a drug that targets the critical nodes of the host cell’s proteins so there is no way for the virus to reroute and take a different pathway,” he said of what he hopes will prove a revolutionary breakthrough in HIV/AIDS treatment.

medication

A ‘Trojan Horse’ to the immune system

In earlier articles published by Alian’s laboratory, the researchers compared an important viral protein called integrase that is present both in HIV-1 in humans and FIV, feline immunodeficiency virus, in cats. Through the comparison, Alian and his team were able to discover new differences that could aid in better understanding and predicting the development of antiretroviral drug resistance. The team found that with both viruses, the integrase inserts the viral DNA into the DNA of the infected cell, then replicating itself in a manner that spreads throughout the body.

“The virus is a kind of Trojan horse, which uses the host’s genome in order to replicate,” explains Alian. “Now we are studying this issue in depth and trying to develop this idea of ‘multiple route reproduction of the HIV virus,’ as a new strategy in the treatment of AIDS.”

Alian, while hopeful about the potential of his research, says that there is no definite timeline for finding a cure. “If we can identify a node, then we can start thinking about a drug, but there’s still a long way to go in the research,” Alian says. “I hope, however, that we can call the attention of other scientists to invest their efforts to capture such nodes, because it’s not enough for one scientist to investigate this.”

Photos: Celisa B.M. Serra/ Thiagarajan Vardharaju/ Millennium Promise/ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Israeli Startup StemRad To Protect Astronauts From Radiation In Space]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39817 2015-08-05T10:03:50Z 2015-08-05T10:20:25Z

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

Israeli technology that can protect first responders from deadly gamma radiation – the kind of radiation emitted by nuclear bombs – may one day protect astronauts who explore deep space from the high levels of radiation they are likely to encounter.

SEE ALSO: What If Nuclear Disaster Strikes

Israel’s StemRad is working with US defense giant Lockheed-Martin to develop a version of its gamma-ray shielding vest for use in deep-space missions, the companies announced this week.

“We’re going to take our extensive knowledge of human spaceflight, apply our nano-materials engineering expertise, and working closely with StemRad, evaluate the viability for this type of radiation shielding in deep-space,” said Randy Sweet, Lockheed Martin business development director for the civil space line of business. “The Lockheed Martin team believes this could result in an innovative solution to enhance crew safety on the journey to Mars.”

StemRad

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor building Orion, NASA’s next-generation spacecraft designed to transport humans to destinations beyond low Earth orbit and bring them safely home. Designed for the space missions of tomorrow, Orion will, among other things, provide technology against the effects of deep-space radiation, considered one of the biggest threats and roadblocks to human exploration of the solar system beyond the moon.

SEE ALSO: Startup Launches Cellular Radiation Detection App

Key to the effort to protect against such radiation is the solution by StemRad, which has a product that protects first responders against gamma radiation generated by, among other things, nuclear explosions. Cleverly designed to allow freedom of movement, the StemRad 360 Gamma belt is not a full-body suit that makes it difficult to maneuver and freely explore – a key requirement for rescue workers.

Exposure to gamma radiation results in radiation sickness, the accelerated destruction of the blood cells and the inability of the body to replenish them, due to the damage sustained to bone marrow, which needed to generate new cells. Fifty percent of the body’s bone marrow is located in the groin and midsection areas of the body – and that is exactly the part of the body the StemRad belt protects, ensuring that rescue workers are protected against the effects of radiation sickness, but are able to maintain freedom of movement needed to assist others.

To continue reading this article on the TOI site, click here.

Photos: HubertRoberts, StemRad

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Roseanne Tabachnik, NoCamels <![CDATA[Novel Eye-Tracking Device EyeControl Enables ALS Patients To Communicate]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39752 2015-08-05T11:55:29Z 2015-08-05T09:53:00Z

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The viral “Ice Bucket Challenge” that catapulted ALS into our lives last year, encouraging people to film themselves pouring ice water over their heads, became a social media sensation within weeks. While the philanthropic blockbuster sparked millions of donations to ALS research, still nearly 6,000 Americans are diagnosed with the neuron motor disease every year, losing almost all of their communication skills as the disease progresses.

SEE ALSO: Beyond The Ice Bucket Challenge: Real Treatment For ALS

Now, a new Israeli-made device called EyeControl is striving to give a voice to those who are unable to verbally communicate, using the movement of their eyes.

A man taking the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness to ALS

A man taking the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness to ALS

An invention inspired by personal connections

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. On average, most patients are diagnosed with the disease when they’re 55-years-old, and eventually suffer from a complete loss of speech. That’s where the EyeControl device steps in.

The screen-free, affordable mobile communication device was developed by a group of Israeli entrepreneurs who were personally touched by the disease. Both EyeControl co-founder Or Retzkin and head of product Tal Kelner lost their grandparents to ALS, and have been committed to helping individuals who are “locked-in” or are unable to speak due to muscle deterioration ever since. In addition, CTO Itai Kornberg introduced the technology when he embarked on the mission to help an ALS patient communicate with his eyes using a computer to translate the movements.

ALS

Source: ALSicebucketchallenge.org

The EyeControl system is a combination of computerized glasses and a mobile app that captures eye movements and translates them into audio or text commands using an eye-tracking algorithm. The glasses are integrated with a camera that detects eye movement, which is then analyzed by a micro-sized computer installed in the glasses. Using a Bluetooth connection, the commands are then relayed through the system’s headphones or speaker into the patient’s ear.

The system is based on a three-step model: Patients are able to call for assistance, put together pre-determined sentences such as “I am cold,” and compose sentences simply by swiping their eyes in certain directions.

To get the device to market, the company has launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in hopes to raise $30,000. Since the start of the campaign on July 7, the startup has exceeded its $30,000 goal, reaching $42,000 in less than a month. Today, the company decided to extend the campaign in order to raise up to $50,000 in the course of another two weeks. Despite the company’s time-crunched Indiegogo campaign, Retzkin could not confirm a product release date.

A screen-free and affordable device 

EyeControl has set its sights on making a difference in the lives of ALS patients by teaming up with the non-profit organization Prize4Life, headed by CEO Shay Rishoni, an ALS patient. This long-term partnership is aimed at raising awareness to ALS and advocating EyeControl’s solution.

SEE ALSO: First Touch-Screen ‘Sesame’ Smartphone Allows Disabled To Control Phones With A Nod

However, EyeControl is not alone in the realm of eye-gaze systems for the disabled. Systems like Tobii DynaVox, LC Technologies, and even the Israeli-invented technology behind the Sesame Phone, all compete to open up access to touch-screen dependent technologies. EyeControl, which unlike many of its competitors doesn’t require a screen, stands out from the competition mainly thanks its portability.

“Most patients need to be at home or in front of a computer screen to use a device,” Retzkin tells NoCamels. “So, if you go inside a car or lie down in bed and the screen is not in front of you, you cannot communicate.”

The portable device uses an external battery as a source of electricity, allowing the patient to travel and communicate through the glasses, regardless of location.

“We use vocal feedback, so there is an ear set, not a screen,” Retzkin explains. “It’s very intuitive, so you can swipe with your eye according to what you hear.”

And unlike similar devices, which range in cost from $3,000 to $10,000, EyeControl is expected to be priced at the affordable price of $100, with the goal of ensuring accessibility to all patients, regardless of their financial standing. According to Retzkin, his team orders the materials in bulk and is building the device in-house, which makes the system significantly cheaper.

Photos, infographics and video: The ALS Association, EyeControl, Ice Bucket Challenge

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Roseanne Tabachnik, NoCamels <![CDATA[3D Print Artistic Designs On Your Cappuccino With The Ripple Maker!]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39712 2015-08-02T11:29:08Z 2015-08-04T11:28:41Z

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In the past, only the most skillful of baristas held the power to transform an everyday latte into an artistic masterpiece. But now, an Israeli device called The Ripple Maker is bringing latte art to a whole new level, even for the simplest of coffee drinkers. Soon, your cappuccino could be covered with 3D-printed froth featuring hundreds of stunning designs and cartoons.

SEE ALSO: Israel Museum’s Restaurant Offers Art-Inspired Dishes

The innovative coffee technology called “coffee ripples”, made by Israeli startup Steam CC, allows users to print complex designs atop their drinks, such as photographs taken from their cellphone cameras or even personal phrases like “Happy Birthday” – within seconds!

The Ripple Maker

The device works by combining 3D printing mechanics with an ink jet-like system that prints out a natural coffee extract, known as ripple pods. The machine then injects the printed material into the foam that tops a cup of coffee. Simply put, the coffee extract functions as the paint and the milk froth is the canvas.

The startup behind the foam printer, Steam CC, was founded by CEO Yossi Meshulam almost two years ago. Since then, his team has been developing and testing out the machine in both Tel Aviv and New York. The company received an undisclosed amount in seed funding from Landa Ventures, a venture capital firm run by Israeli 3D printing pioneer Benny Landa.

SEE ALSOMagazine Votes Tel Aviv ‘Outstanding Culinary Destination’

The Ripple Maker

The Ripple Maker

Customized latte at your fingertip 

To create the caffeinated artwork, the barista selects a design among the hundreds available on the Ripple Maker’s content library. If the customer wants a more customized topping, such as a phrase or a personal photograph, then they can even submit their own image from their camera through a Wi-Fi network. Once the image is selected, it can then be edited, scaled, and filtered – no pun intended.

In the coming months, the company will launch a mobile app, thorough which users will be able to upload images to its printing library.

The Ripple Maker

One the highlights of the machine, in addition to its artistic capabilities, is its speed. “The entire operation takes about ten seconds. To make a proper cup of coffee takes at least one to two minutes, so the extra few seconds the Ripple Maker requires is negligible,” Meshulam told The Times of Israel.

 

While the device has yet to officially hit the market for household use, the startup has already managed to capture mass international attention. In July, the firm entered an agreement with the major German airline Lufthansa, which will use the machine to prepare coffee for travelers in first-class and business lounges. And, according to Meshulam, the company expects to sign similar agreements in the coming months.

The Ripple Maker

“Making a ripple on the world”

“Latte art is one the most shared images on social media,” Meshulam said in a statement. “When you put something beautiful in someone’s hands, they want to share it. That’s how we’re making a ripple on the world.”

Starting this September, the Ripple Maker will be shipped to customers in the US for $999 with a monthly service fee of $75, intended to cover maintenance costs, subscription to the design library, and pods.

So, enjoy your artsy cup of coffee! Well, at least until you stir in the froth…

The Ripple Maker

Photos and video courtesy of Steam CC

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Eunice Lim, NoCamels <![CDATA[Study: Bonobos Use Sophisticated Tools To Get Food, Just Like Humans Did 2 Million Years Ago]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39628 2015-08-04T07:00:51Z 2015-08-03T11:31:10Z

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Bonobos and humans may have more in common than we think.

A new Israeli study has found that the endangered bonobo (a type of chimpanzee) is capable of making and using tools to solve problems. And while individual apes in captivity have been known to use basic tools, this study shows that they can also make more advanced tools and that this capacity is more prevalent than previously believed.

SEE ALSO: Israelis Bring Archaeological Landmarks Back To Life

In an effort to better understand how ancient humans (also called hominins) came to be the earliest tool users in the Paleolithic era, about 2 million years ago, the research team studied a group of male and female bonobos. The results were surprising.

bonobobaby

For the study, led by University of Haifa researcher Itai Roffman, the team observed how two populations of captive and semi-captive bonobos in Germany and the US responded to a series of food extraction challenges that were set up. For one challenge, the researchers would show the bonobos that food was buried under rocks at an open field site, and then place natural materials like deer antlers, sticks, and stone tools nearby for potential use. “These were effectively used as mattocks, daggers, levers and shovels,” according to the study, which was recently published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

SEE ALSO: Domesticated Camels Didn’t Exist During Biblical Times

In a different challenge, the researchers hid food in the cavities of dry long bones to see how the bonobos would extract it. One bonobo was seen bisecting a bone by striking it successively with an angular hammer stone.

“She jabbed at me with her spear”

Especially remarkable was how a few bonobos modified short and long branches to serve specific purposes. One bonobo fashioned spears from long branches with her teeth. “She jabbed at me with her spear to prevent me from writing my notes and to bar me from going to different sites. If I didn’t dodge, I could have gotten hurt,” Roffman tells NoCamels. “But it’s remarkable, because this kind of behavior has been regarded as a uniquely early human trait until now.”

Of the 15 bonobos studied, seven made use of tools. “My main excitement was not about the fact that they were using tools, but rather about the complexity of the tool use,” Roffman says. “It surprised me that the bonobos were using the same strategies and same sequences of action with the tools that early hominins did in similar contexts to achieve the mission of extracting food.”

bonobo in captivity

A handful of scientists, however, have criticized the study, pointing out that the behavior of animals in captivity differs from that of their counterparts in the wild; mainly, that captive bonobos have more time to experiment with tools in a secure environment. Roffman plans to respond to this criticism with new data that he has accumulated from his field study on wild chimpanzees in West Africa. He declined to further comment until the new data is published.

Rebuilding the cultural traditions of apes 

Will apes take over the world in a few years? Probably not. Yet, Roffman believes his study carries important ethical implications. “Hopefully, this study will show that zoos are not suitable for chimpanzees and bonobos – our sister species,” Roffman says. “At least they should be kept in semi-captivity, open spaces with natural raw materials where they can rebuild their cultural traditions and express their potential, which resembles that of early hominins.”

In the future, Roffman hopes to establish cultural rehabilitation sanctuaries in Israel and in Africa to rethink the way apes are kept in captivity.

Photos: Jeroen KransenRob Bixby

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David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Pluristem’s Placenta-Derived Cells Could Cure A Slew Of Diseases, Prolong Life]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39734 2015-08-02T12:27:09Z 2015-08-02T09:20:11Z

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

A new study on Israeli-developed stem cells developed by Israeli biotech Pluristem shows they could help patients suffering from a wide array of physical injuries to live longer and healthier lives.

SEE ALSO: Technion Discovers Embryonic Stem Cells In Amniotic Sac

Israeli biotech Pluristem’s off-the-shelf PLacental eXpanded (PLX) cells, derived from harvested human placenta, have already been shown to be effective in ensuring that transplanted organs are assimilated by the body and in reversing nerve damage, and even in helping individuals afflicted with radiation disease recover.

The study, conducted by scientists at the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapy at Charité – University Medicine Berlin, showed “how PLX cells and other mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) influence the immune system in order to modulate immune reactions and to prevent immune reactions against the cells,” Pluristem said.

SEE ALSO: Researchers Identify Embryonic Stem Cell Renewal Mechanisms

The study showed “in vitro that MSC, and in particular PLX cells, control the induction of an immune response at several points” – essentially allowing doctors to regulate the immune system, speeding it up or slowing it down as needed.

The Berlin-Brandenburg Center is considered one of the world’s most important centers for interdisciplinary study of materials and factors which can be used to develop and implement innovative therapies and products for cell regeneration.

PLX is a commercial product developed by Haifa-based Pluristem based on mesenchymal stromal cells – a type of stem cell that can be used for numerous purposes in the body. MSCs have in particular been shown to be effective in interfering with the function of T-cells and their dendritic cell companions.

To continue reading this article on the TOI site, click here.

Video: Courtesy

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NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Cannabis Heals Bone Fractures, Makes New Bones Even Stronger]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39551 2015-07-30T06:49:08Z 2015-07-30T06:09:28Z

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Cannabis, or marijuana, was used as a go-to medical remedy by societies around the world for centuries. But the therapeutic use of marijuana was banned in most countries in the 1930s and ’40s due to a growing awareness of the dangers of addiction. The significant medical benefits of marijuana in alleviating symptoms of such diseases as Parkinson’s, cancer, and multiple sclerosis have only recently been reinvestigated.

A new study by Tel Aviv and Hebrew University researchers explores another promising new medical application for marijuana. According to the research, the administration of the non-psychotropic component cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) significantly helps heal bone fractures, possibly even preventing them in the future.

The study, conducted on rats with mid-femoral fractures, a serious fracture in the thigh bone, found that CBD — even when isolated from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major psychoactive component of cannabis — markedly enhanced the healing process of the bone fractures after just eight weeks.

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

bonefracture

Undeniable clinical potential

In earlier research, the same research team discovered that cannabinoid receptors within our bodies stimulated bone formation and inhibited bone loss. This paves the way for the future use of cannabinoid drugs to combat osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases.

“The clinical potential of cannabinoid-related compounds is simply undeniable at this point,” said Dr. Yankel Gabet of TAU’s Bone Research Laboratory. “While there is still a lot of work to be done to develop appropriate therapies, it is clear that it is possible to detach a clinical therapy objective from the psychoactivity of cannabis. CBD, the principal agent in our study, is primarily anti-inflammatory and has no psychoactivity,” meaning they do not results in alterations in perception, mood, or consciousness.

SEE ALSO: How Israel Became A Medical Marijuana Powerhouse

According to Dr. Gabet, our bodies are equipped with a cannabinoid system, which regulates both vital and non-vital systems. “We only respond to cannabis because we are built with intrinsic compounds and receptors that can also be activated by compounds in the cannabis plant,” he said. The researchers found that the skeleton itself is regulated by cannabinoids. Even the addition of a non-psychogenic compound acting outside of the brain can affect the skeleton.

Separating the components out

“We found that CBD alone makes bones stronger during healing, enhancing the maturation of the collagenous matrix, which provides the basis for new mineralization of bone tissue,” said Dr. Gabet. “After being treated with CBD, the healed bone will be harder to break in the future.”marijuanabuds

The researchers injected one group of rats with CBD alone and another with a combination of CBD and THC. After evaluating the administration of THC and CBD together in the rats, they found CBD alone provided the necessary therapeutic stimulus.

“We found CBD alone to be sufficiently effective in enhancing fracture healing,” said Dr. Gabet. “Other studies have also shown CBD to be a safe agent, which leads us to believe we should continue this line of study in clinical trials to assess its usefulness in improving human fracture healing.”

The research, published in the “Journal of Bone and Mineral Research,” was led jointly by Dr. Yankel Gabet of the Bone Research Laboratory at the Department of Anatomy and Anthropology at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the late Prof. Itai Bab of Hebrew University’s Bone Laboratory.

Photos: Tiina Allik

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David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Thousands Of Hackers Come Together To Reduce Computing Research Time By 37,000 Years]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39422 2015-07-29T10:26:59Z 2015-07-29T10:26:59Z

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

It could have taken researchers at Tel Aviv University and Tsinghua University 37,000 years to figure out how carbon nanotubes help filter out impurities from flowing water. But thanks to a crowdsourced computer platform, in which tens of thousands of computer users around the world contributed their processing power, the process was cut down to about a year.

“Crowdsourced computing is playing an increasingly major role in scientific breakthroughs,” said Prof. Michael Urbakh, one of the chief researchers on the project. “As our research shows, the range of questions that can benefit from public participation is growing all the time.”

SEE ALSO: Will Computers And Humans Make Decisions Together?

Carbon nanotubes

Carbon nanotubes are tubular cylinders of carbon atoms that have extraordinary mechanical, electrical, optical and chemical properties

The program, which ran from late 2013 through August 2014, was a joint effort of researchers at Tsinghua University at Tel Aviv University, at the TAU-Tsinghua XIN Center, a joint research institute established by the universities in 2010. The study was led by Prof. Quanshui Zheng of the Tsinghua Center for Nano and Micro Mechanics and Prof. Urbakh of the TAU School of Chemistry at the Raymond & Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences. The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

SEE ALSO: Fruit Flies Inspire Scientists to Optimize Computer Networks

Crowdsourced computing, also known as distributed computing, has in recent years been used for everything from analyzing the elements of asteroids to improving climate prediction to analyzing biological processes in order to discover new cures for diseases.

In a crowdsourced computing model, participants download an agent which, when installed in their computer, “forwards” excess processing capacity to an online project, providing processing power to analyze formulas or computations. The project processing does not interfere with work being done on a participant’s computer; the agent is designed only to utilize inactive processing power, with project analysis automatically suspended when a user needs their computer for their own purposes.

Internet

The research was based on observations of how water interacts with nanotubes. The project examined the effects of minute vibrations of carbon nanotubes called “phonons,” which, researchers believe, greatly enhance the diffusion of water through sanitation filters. The technology could be used to lower the cost of water purification, as well as to determine more efficient ways of delivering drugs in the bloodstream using nanotechnology.

To continue reading this article on the TOI site, click here

Photos: MstroeckSimetrical

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Startups Set New All-Time Record, Raising $1.12B In Last Three Months]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39670 2015-07-28T12:39:41Z 2015-07-28T12:39:41Z

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The Israeli high-tech industry has broken yet another record: In the second quarter of 2015, Israeli startups raised a striking $1.12 billion from investors, the largest quarterly investment in the history of the Startup Nation. The total, raised by 179 Israeli startup and high-tech companies, slightly exceeded the former record, $1.11 billion, set in the fourth quarter of 2014.

SEE ALSO: Two Startups Sell For Quarter Billion Dollars Each In One Day

That means that if you take the first six months of this year, 342 Israeli high-tech companies attracted a record $2.1 billion, compared to the $1.6 billion raised by 334 companies in the first half of 2014, and the $878 million invested in 307 companies in the first half of 2013, according to the IVC Research Center.

Azrieli Towers, Tel Aviv, Israel

The average financing round in the first half of 2015 provides strong proof of Israel’s technological preeminence: $6.2 million, compared to $4.8 million in the first half of last year, and $2.9 million in the first half of 2013.

One funding round that stands out in this second quarter is that of Israeli cyber-security startup Checkmarx, which raised $84 million from Insight Venture Partners in June.

MoneyBreeding ‘unicorn’ companies

Commenting on the news, Ofer Sela, partner at KPMG Somekh Chaikin’s technology group, said in a statement: “The overall number of growth companies attracting investments continues to increase quarter over quarter, reflecting the health of the venture-backed ecosystem in Israel and the patience of investors supporting their portfolio companies to complete homeruns and grow into ‘unicorns’ [worth at least $1 billion] that are substantial and mature.”

SEE ALSO: Israeli Startups Raise $994 Million In First Quarter Of 2015

However, VCs seem to be faring worse: In the second quarter of 2015, investments in VC-backed deals decreased significantly, with 99 deals totaling $486 million – the lowest share for VC-backed deals in six years, at 44 percent.

The sharp rise in foreign investment could explain that. According to an analysis by IVC and KPMG, foreign private equity funds and international corporate investors were responsible for $477 million (or nearly 43 percent) of the total investments in startups during the second quarter of 2015.

“There’s room for more than just VC funds”

Koby Simana, CEO of IVC Research Center, believes that the interest shown by private equity investors in growth-stage companies is yet another indicator of the Israeli technology and venture capital industries’ evolvement and maturity.

Israeli High-Tech Capital Raising ($m)“If we want the local high-tech industry to continue growing and see more large-scale, mature companies emerge, there is room for technology investments from more than just VC funds – local or foreign,” he said in a statement. “The industry needs a variety of investors and investment models to support companies throughout various stages.”

Sela added that Asian investors are particularly interested in Israeli startups. “Investors from Asia are investing in an increasing number of Israeli growth companies, adding to the overall amount of cash available for market expansion,” he stated. “Overall, Israeli portfolio companies are priced much more reasonably than Silicon Valley companies, making Israel an attractive location for both investments and acquisitions.”

Photos, infographics: IVC Research Center

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Stunning Hanging Garden Will Cover Israel’s Busiest Highway]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39641 2015-07-27T13:00:29Z 2015-07-27T12:10:25Z

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Plans are in motion to give the Ayalon, Israel’s busiest thoroughfare, a massive makeover that will see its eight lanes and two railroads roofed over and covered with a stunning new park. This 60-acre, $525 million “hanging garden” – which will include sports and recreation areas, cycling trails and coffee shops – could turn the highway, an infamous source of pollution and noise, into a green oasis in the heart of Tel Aviv.

SEE ALSO: Can Vertical Gardens End World Hunger?

Last week, Tel Aviv’s urban planning committee approved a complex master plan that will cover the Ayalon Highway – which dissects the metropolis from north to south – into a beautiful “green lung” covered with lawns, trees, shrubbery and walking trails, in what the city dubs “Israel’s largest municipal project.”

Rendering of the park above the Ayalon Highway

Rendering of the park above the Ayalon Highway

The multi-year project, which may take another year before it is fully approved, will “overhaul Tel Aviv’s central business district, connecting its eastern side to its center,” city officials said in a statement.  Because it will be build on top of existing infrastructure and “maximize the use of existing land”, it is an environment friendly project, the city argues.

SEE ALSO: Massive Trash Site Turns Into Israel’s Largest Eco-Park

“This project is an environmental and architectural milestone for Tel Aviv,” city council member Itay Pinkas, head of the project’s steering committee, said in a statement. “This project will likely grab international attention, because it will be built over the Middle East’s busiest infrastructure strip, which includes roads, railroads, train stations, sewage, electricity and communication lines.”

Furthermore, Pinkas said, “the vast park in the heart of Israel’s largest metropolitan area will solve the scarcity of public land in the city, and reduce air and noise pollution. It will become a source for pride.”

The country’s busiest highway sees 750,000 vehicles a day

The Ayalon Highway, also known as Route 20, is the most congested highway in the country, and one of the busiest in the Middle East, with 750,000 crossing every day.

Ayalon Highway

Ayalon Highway today

Critics of the plan argue that the steep half a billion price tag could instead go towards improvements in Tel Aviv’s transportation system, including building an underground railway. Others point to the project’s grandiosity and the challenges in raising enough funds to complete it.

In any case, the new master plan for the Ayalon Highway, prepared by local firm Lerman Architects, is subject to further approvals by county planners. If approved, the construction is likely to start only three years from now at the earliest.

Ayalon Highway today

Photos, renderings, video: Viewpoint (uploaded by Haaretz), City of Tel Aviv, Dr. Avishai Teicher, Yuval MadarLerman Architects

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Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[Revolutionary: Israeli Researcher Says He Can ‘Erase’ Memory Of Addiction]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39120 2015-07-26T10:16:37Z 2015-07-26T10:09:39Z

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“Blow”, “Charlie”, “snow” and “nose candy”. These are only some of the code names for the second most addictive drug after methamphetamine – cocaine. The white powder that’s sniffed, smoked or injected is so highly addictive, because users develop tolerance quickly, causing them to gradually increase the amounts they consume. This and other factors make cocaine addictions one of the most difficult drugs to recover from, with drastically high relapse rates.

One Israeli researcher hopes he can combat this rate of relapse by overhauling the way we do drug rehabilitation. According to Bar Ilan University Prof. Gal Yadid, drug addiction is not the reward disease that it was once believed to be, but rather a learning and memory disease that is more like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than anything else. This distinction made it clear that in order to curb addiction, something had to be dramatically changed in the brain. That’s where Yadid’s alternative method to traditional rehabilitation, called “the Incubation of Craving”, comes into play.

cocainelines

By identifying the changes made to our DNA during withdrawal from drugs, namely cocaine, Yadid is able to reprogram the genes responsible for triggering the addict’s strongest cravings to ensure that they won’t return. The method has undergone successful trials in rats addicted to cocaine, and if Yadid is able to show similar results in humans, traditional rehab centers and “replacement” drugs could be a thing of the past.

“Eternal Sunside” of the addicted mind

In what sounds like something out of the science-fiction movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, Yadid claims that he is able to “erase” the memory of drug addiction, thereby preventing relapse. Before jumping to any rash conclusions about what “erasing” memories may mean, we should clarify the scientific backstory.

SEE ALSO: Learning To Kick Addictions In Your Sleep With Exposure To Smelly Odors

Back in the 1950’s, a psychologist named James Olds discovered what is colloquially known as the “pleasure center” of the brain, scientifically termed the ‘nucleus accumbens’. Through images of the brain, known as PET Scans, Olds noted that a part of the pleasure center, the amygdala, lights up when stimulated by external factors dealing with particular traumatic memories that lend to addictive behavior.

theoryofspotlessmind

Michel Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

With Olds in mind, Yadid, a neuropsycopharmacologist, wanted to observe what was stimulating the amygdala on a microscopic level, “We screened the entire genome and we found two things: one was that, against all logic, during drug consumption, not many genes are altered in the brain. Second, we found that when the addict is in remission, thousands of genes are changed epigenetically.” Epigenetic changes to genes are those that aren’t inherited from our families, but occur as a result of external, environmental factors, like an exposure to trauma or the ritual of taking a drug. These are actual changes to how the gene functions, which makes it clear why methods of drug replacement and reward therapy wouldn’t and shouldn’t work on the majority of drug addicts.

Yadid discovered that in order to address these epigenetic changes, special drugs needed to be administered in the amygdala at a point of heightened cravings to subdue the effect of the altered genes on the brain. He knew that the epigenetic changes in the genes, a process known as methylation, needed to be reversed, but how?

SEE ALSO: Researchers Identify Mechanism That Causes Alcoholics To Relapse

“We saw that it wasn’t just one or two genes that were changed, it was a cluster of genes that had their DNA changed, or methylated, during the remission period from the drug. That means that we would have to administer a number of drugs in order to see the changes reversed,” says Yadid. “As a frustrated neuropsychopharmacologist I said to myself, ‘Why not reset the system?’”

“Acute, robust, targeted” treatment

Right off the bat, a number of ethical questions came to mind. What if the drugs trying to reverse the methylation altered the entire genome, and therefore brain function? And what about “innocent” genes that have absolutely nothing to do with addiction? There were a number of potentially scary psychological outcomes that Yadid had to take into account. Yet following a number of trials on cocaine-addicted rats, he finally discovered the correct dosage of the demethylating drugs that could eliminate the memory of drug addiction.

DNA methylation_small

An illustration of the process of DNA methylation.

“The beauty of acute, robust and targeted treatment is that you don’t change all of the genes in the brain; you only change the genes that have undergone the most dramatic epigenetic changes. Those genes are reset immediately when they meet the drug at a very specific time and according to a particular cue so that we are reprogramming the genes at the height of the craving,” says Yadid of the method, which has yet to be examined in human subjects. Though Yadid claims that this method could potentially “erase” the memory of addiction for up to 15 years, it is still uncertain how long the brain will retain the effects of the demethylating drugs. He will present the results of his study for examination by his colleagues at the annual Society for Neuroscience Conference this year.

Could rehabilitation be as simple as taking a daily supplement?

If the idea of altering genes in your brain scares you (you’re not alone in that boat), Yadid has a more “natural” way to help wean addicts off drugs. He discovered that a common, over-the-counter supplement used mostly for its anti-aging benefits called DHEA could dramatically decrease the likelihood of relapse.

galyadid

Prof. Gal Yadid

Because of its anti-aging properties that seek to keep the brain fresh and on-point, Yadid found that by administering DHEA to drug addicts on a regular basis, it was possible to “replace” memories of addiction with new memories of a life a sobriety. “I observed the cognitive performance of the subjects while they took the DHEA supplement, and a year-and-a-half after they stopped taking the supplement. We saw that 60 percent wouldn’t relapse when they were taking the supplement and then only 11 percent relapsed after taking the supplement,” says Yadid. He also claims that the entire process restored confidence in the subjects, making them less compulsive and less prone to giving into the cravings.

Besides the impressive scientific progress Yadid has made in understanding the treatment of drug addiction, he is convinced that the health systems of today are mistreating drug addicts and leading them down a dangerous path of a lifetime of addiction. “It is our responsibility as a society to make sure that there is proper treatment for drug addiction. I believe that we need to change our entire perception of addiction and what it is, and initiate new approaches to a more effective and long-lasting treatment.”

Photos: Jamal Benamer/ Tomer Appelbaum

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Roseanne Tabachnik, NoCamels <![CDATA[These Boots Are Made For Lady Gaga: Kobi Levi Takes The Shoe Industry By Storm]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39596 2015-07-23T12:37:47Z 2015-07-23T12:37:47Z

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When Kobi Levi received an email from Lady Gaga, he initially thought it was a hoax. Why would one of the world’s biggest stars reach out to a virtually anonymous Israeli shoe designer?

It was four years ago, and Levi had just sold his first pair of shoes, when Lady Gaga’s agent requested to order custom-made boots for the singer to wear in her music video “Born This Way.”

 

Double boot designed by Kobi Levi

The double boot designed by Kobi Levi for Lady Gaga’s music video “Born This Way”

“It was a very simple email, and obviously I thought it was too good to be true,” the 40-year-old Levi tells NoCamels. “In my mind, I thought I needed an agent to communicate with Gaga’s people, so I asked my friend to make sure it wasn’t a practical joke.”

SEE ALSO: The Hottest Israeli Fashion Designers Who Dress The Stars

Until then, Levi, now a footwear maestro known for intertwining art into his designs, had only been creating whimsical footwear as a hobby, storing the shoes in boxes he kept at home. “I just showed them to my friends and family, then put them in a box and that’s it,” he says. “In 2010, I took pictures of all the shoes I made, and posted them on a blog page. And it just took off, as if the shoes had a life of their own.”

 

Lady Gaga

Taking the shoe world by storm

Following the major success of his blog, Levi, who graduated from the prestigious Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem in 2001, decided it was time to open a studio in Tel Aviv. And so in 2011 he started selling his shoes to the public.

Levi’s designs aren’t merely shoes one wears for comfort – they’re reflections of inspirations from his daily life. Among his recent creations is a summer-themed line that includes a watermelon-shaped wedge heel and a beautifully curved stiletto. Other unique designs include women’s shoes that look like flamingos, a dog and even a shark.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Designer Wins Award For 3D Printed Fashion

In the past, Levi paid tribute to Disney fans, designing an entire footwear collection mimicking the entertainment company’s most evil figures. One of Levi’s most breathtaking designs is a shoe with a stiletto heel made out of fake chewing gum, creating the illusion that the woman just stepped on a piece of pink bubble gum!

Israeli shoe designer Kobi Levi

Israeli shoe designer Kobi Levi

“Wearable sculptures” 

Levi’s designs have earned him praise in some of the world’s glitziest fashion publications like Marie Claire, Elle, Glamour and Runway magazine. CNN even referred to Levi’s designs as “wearable sculptures.” The talented designer also made television appearances in the US, where he showcased and modeled his footwear collection.

 shoe designed by Kobi Levi

The bubble gum shoe

 

And while merging art and commerce into fashion been a complex feat for many, Levi’s secret is to focus on creating a final product that is equally artistic and wearable, captivating to the human eye.

“It is challenging because it has to look like a sculpture, be bold and still look good as a shoe,” he says. “I like the shoes to be completely wearable, even though they have high heels. I like that fantasy look where elegance and fun mix together.”

Harp-shaped shoes designed by Kobi Levi

Levi’s shoes, which are priced from $800 to $3,000, are entirely handmade and require weeks’ worth of intricate craftsmanship. And while the price tags for Levi’s designs are steep, the designer has plans to reveal a more affordable fashion line in the near future.

But for now, Levi, a new dad, is enjoying fatherhood after recently welcoming a baby girl. At two weeks old, the lucky newborn is already donning her very own pair of custom-made shoes designed by her dad!

Watermelon-shaped shoes designed by Kobi LeviPhotos: Kobi Levi, Lady Gaga

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David Shamah, The Times of Israel  <![CDATA[Israeli Researchers Helping The World’s Airline Industry Tackle Cyber-Security Threats]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39572 2015-07-21T16:39:58Z 2015-07-22T10:30:54Z

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

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has signed an agreement with Tel Aviv University under which a new joint center for innovation in aviation will be established in order to develop technologies to protect airline reservations systems, authentication for security purposes, and financial systems, as well as to develop ways to run airlines more efficiently using big data and advanced intelligence.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Company Trains Mice To Detect Explosives At Airports

Two weeks ago, the New York Stock Exchange was shut down for nearly four hours for still-unexplained reasons – possibly, according to some experts, due to hacker activities. That incident generated headlines all over the world, but there was a second unexplained outage as well on July 8 – the grounding of all flights by United Airlines for nearly an hour. Was it due to hacking? A United Airlines official said there was “no indication that this was caused by an outside entity,” but it wasn’t the first time United – or flights by other airlines – were grounded for “unexplained” reasons.

Hacker at work

That airlines are vulnerable to hackers is well-established. In June, for example, planes were grounded in Poland after hackers breached the network at Warsaw’s Chopin airport, causing delays that affected some 1,400 passengers. In May, United removed a passenger from a flight after he apparently hacked into a plane’s navigation system via its entertainment system. And in January, Malaysia Airlines saw hackers break into its website.

And airlines realize just how vulnerable they are. In May, United announced a Bug Bounty contest, inviting hackers to test its online systems to find weaknesses. Last week, the airline awarded a million frequent flier miles to two hackers were able to find vulnerabilities. While he couldn’t share the specifics of the hack (to prevent details of the vulnerabilities from coming out), Jordan Wiens, one of the winners, said that the bugs were somewhat “lame” – an indication that the system may not have been very well-protected.

aircraft

Realizing it has a problem, IATA – which represents 260 airlines that are responsible for 83% of the world’s airline flights – has teamed up with Tel Aviv University to develop security systems in a variety of areas. With the agreement, IATA joined the companies’ forum of Tel Aviv University’s cyber center, and helped organized an international cyber-security conference that took place at Tel Aviv University last month. As part of the joint activity, IATA’s representatives, together with Tel Aviv University’s international cyber center, will identify technologies and information that are relevant to the field of international flight.

To continue reading this article on the TOI site, click here

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Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[Check Out CeeLo’s Crazy-Cool Interactive Music Video For Robin Williams]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39559 2015-07-21T16:26:43Z 2015-07-21T16:18:57Z

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In the age of the Internet, musicians need to think outside of the box if they want their music videos to stand out. And the expert in the new age of video creation is none other than Israeli Vania Heymann, a young director who worked together with Interlude, a company founded by Israeli musician Yoni Bloch, to create an interactive video for CeeLo Green’s latest single, “Robin Williams”.  In the first-of-its-kind video, viewers can interact with Google Search tabs, including images, videos, shopping and web to follow the lyrics of the song in a fast-paced race across the Internet.

Check out the crazy-cool video for yourself:

The unique format for the video and its interactive tabs are the latest innovation to escape Heymann’s genius mind. A graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, Heymann may be best known for the impressive interactive video he made for Bob Dylan’s 1965 classic, “Like a Rolling Stone” in which viewers could “channel surf” while following along to perfectly synchronized lyrics of the song. The video was voted by Time Magazine as the best music video of 2013, was the winner of a Webby Award for best editing, and four “Gold Lions” at the Cannes Lions festival.

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

Heymann has also applied his animated, interactive style to music videos for the Israeli artist of international fame, Asaf Avidan, and to commercials for Pepsi, and American Express, among others. The 29-year-old works closely with Bloch’s interactive video production agency Interlude to create many of the videos that allow viewers to choose their “own experience”, though he is no longer officially part of the team. Heymann also works closely with Israeli comedian Roy Kafri to create entertaining videos like “Mayokero” where classic vinyl record covers come to life, singing along with the song.

bobdylaninteractivevideo

Scene from “Like a Rolling Stone” video.

The interactive web video Heymann created for CeeLo is an innovative step-up for music videos, though only time will tell if other artists will follow suit.

SEE ALSO: Michael Jackson, ABBA, And Bowie In One Music Video. Sound Too Good To Be True? Check This Out

Photo: Interlude

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Startup Nation Wins Again: Two Startups Sell For Quarter Billion Dollars Each In One Day]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39564 2015-07-22T10:12:47Z 2015-07-21T13:56:49Z

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Every year, Israeli startups are sold for billions of dollars to global conglomerates, foreign investors and large Israeli companies, all of which are notable achievements for the young Startup Nation. But more than half a billion dollars worth of “exits” in one day? Earlier this week, this whimsical proposition became reality with the acquisition of two Israeli tech companies, Supersonic and Adallom, on the same day.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Startups Sell For $860 Million In First Four Weeks Of 2015

The largest acquisition this week was made by American software giant Microsoft, which has reportedly agreed to buy Israeli startup company Adallom for a whopping $320 million. Israeli cyber-security startup Adallom (which means “to this point,” in biblical Hebrew) has developed technology that provides a layer of protection for organizational information transferred over mobile applications. Adallom’s cloud application security platform buffers between the user’s device and their applications in a non-intrusive way.

Microsoft

The company was founded in 2012 by Adam Rappaport, Ami Luttwak and Roy Reznik. It has so far raised $49.5 million in private financing rounds.

If Adallom’ price tag holds true, its acquisition could be Microsoft’s largest-ever in Israel. Microsoft has already acquired several Israeli companies, most recently security startup Aorato, and software companies Equivio and N-trig. Following the acquisition of Adallom, it is possible that Microsoft will eventually open a cyber-security research center in Israel, according to reports in the Israeli media.

SEE ALSO: How Israeli Cyber-Security Startups Battle The World’s Riskiest Hacks

Israeli companies to merge 

The second Israeli startup sold this week – for an estimated price of between $150-$300 million – is Supersonic, which monetizes mobile apps. The buyer is ironSource, a leading Israeli online software distribution and monetization company, has offices in Beijing, San Francisco and New York.

Supersonic’s flagship product – virtual money for use in online games (primarily via Facebook) – is expected to help ironSource to penetrate the mobile sector, as most Facebook and social media activity occurs on mobile devices.

Since Supersonic was founded in 2008, it has raised $23.2 million in funding, with one of the main investors in the company being a prominent Chinese investment firm SAIF Partners. Supersonic was founded by Nissim Romano, Gil Shoham and Arik Czerniak.

apple_iphone

Today (Tuesday), yet another acquisition of an Israeli startup was announced: Israeli mobile analytics company SimilarWeb has acquired personalized content discovery platform developer Swayy, also an Israeli company, for up to $5 million, according to media reports.

54 Israeli startups and $5.3 billion in six months 

This impressive cash-flow of $600 million worth in exits, mergers and acquisitions follows six highly successful months for the Israeli high-tech industry. According to the IVC Research Center, the first half of 2015 topped $5.29 billion in exits of 54 startup companies, a phenomenal amount considering the fact that in all of 2014, exits totaled $7 billion.

Moreover, in the first half of 2015, the average exit price for an Israeli startup, $98 million, was 51 percent above the 2014 average, which means Israeli startup companies are given much higher valuations, perhaps providing the strongest proof of Israel’s technological preeminence.

Tel Aviv: Skyline (night)

Photos: 401(k) 2012

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Roseanne Tabachnik, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israel’s SightDx Detects Malaria In Blood In Only Three Minutes]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39185 2015-07-20T13:13:08Z 2015-07-20T13:10:50Z

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More than half a million people lose their lives to malaria each year and in 2013 alone, West Africa suffered nearly 198 million cases of the disease, according to the World Health Organization. One of the main problems with malaria is its long delays in diagnosis through conventional blood tests. 

With regular blood sampling methods using laboratory microscopes, doctors mostly rely on the accuracy of the human eye to detect infectious diseases such as malaria and hepatitis B. But these are fallible.

Now, a medical breakthrough means doctors will be able to use computing powers to instantly detect and reduce the prevalence of blood-borne diseases.

SEE ALSO: Images Of Blood To Replace Needles In Blood Tests

SightDx

Israeli startup Sight Diagnostics (or SightDx) utilizes computer vision technology to visually scan “stained” blood samples under a fluorescent microscope and detect the presence of anomalies in blood cells. The whole process takes only three minutes, in contrast to lab results, which can take up to one or two days.

SightDx is not the first to use computer-based blood diagnosis, but its vision-based algorithms for identifying blood-borne diseases are unique. These algorithms visually scan and analyze the blood –  relying on characteristics such as size, shape, fluorescence intensity, and morphology – and the computer that functions as the human eye in seeking out anomalies is faster, accurate and more efficient.

Navigating blood cells with the power of computers

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by the bites of the Anopheles mosquitoes. Symptoms of the disease can take up to two weeks to develop after the initial infection. If the disease is not treated within 24 hours after symptoms develop, malaria can lead to severe illness and often death. That is why timely diagnosis is crucial, says SightDx.

SEE ALSO: Scientists Develop Microscopic Robot That Detects Disease Inside Cells

“Essentially, you try to do what the human eye does,” CEO Joseph Joel Pollak tells NoCamels. “Computer vision-based devices have a camera, and the camera takes pictures of the blood. Then, algorithms analyze the scene.”

The startup’s flagship Parasight Platform made recent headlines for helping to detect malaria in nations impacted by the infectious disease. This pilot project, which began in 2012, saw SightDx successfully testing Parasight in several hospitals in India, South Africa and France. The company expects global deployment of its diagnostics tool later this year.

mosquito

99 percent accuracy

SightDx claims its pilot tests were “99 percent accurate in sensitivity and 98 percent in specificity,” Pollak says. “Human microscope tests can only reach about 95 percent accuracy in clinical trials.”

The firm has already fulfilled orders for 20 malaria-detecting devices, including from India’s largest pathology lab in Delhi. Although Pollak declined to comment on the cost of its product, he asserts the device is priced appropriately to compete with simple tests.

SightDx is also developing a complete blood count test, which is expected to hit the market next year, after further clinical trials, and will include tuberculosis and parasite detection.

Founded in 2011 by CEO Joseph Joel Pollak and developed by a team of Israeli biologists, software experts and engineers, SightDx has so far raised $6 million from crowdfunding VC OurCrowd, investment group Clal Bio and VC fund Innovation Endeavors, founded by Google chairman Eric Schmidt.

Photos and video: Jim Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SightDx

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David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Israeli Fraud Prevention Tech Wins Prestigious ‘Silver Stevie’ Award]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39526 2015-07-19T13:35:36Z 2015-07-19T13:34:50Z

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

Israeli fraud prevention firm Forter last week won a Silver Stevie, one of the most prestigious awards in the business world, for taking a lead in the e-commerce and fraud prevention industries.

The Stevie, given out as part of the American Business Awards, are considered “the Oscars of the business world,” and are given only to companies with “fascinating and inspiring stories of success,” according to Stevie Awards president and founder Michael Gallagher.

SEE ALSO: Cyber Security Nation: Why Israel Leads The World In Protecting The Web

silverstevie

Forter is the only fraud prevention company that’s willing to put its money where its mouth is – refunding money to customers if they make an incorrect call about a sale that a retail website loses money on.

When hackers steal credit card numbers, there’s really only two things they can do with them – either sell them, or use them. And using them means going to a website and trying to buy something with them. Unable to stop illicit use of those numbers, consumers have no choice but to rely on retail sites to determine if their account is being used illicitly.

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

fortersystem

That’s a problem for not only consumers, but for online retailers, who often can only catch fraudulent sales after it’s too late. Often, a purloined credit card number is used even before the consumer is aware that their identity has been compromised, and when that happens, sites and credit card companies foot the bill.

To prevent that, Forter provides a service that examines each sale, determining whether or not it appears legitimate. “We provide a real-time automated decision service for web retailers that protects them from fraudsters,” said Forter CMO Bill Zielke. “Using our behavior detection algorithms, retailers can quickly determine what transactions are legitimate and which ones are fraudulent.”

To continue reading this article on the TOI site, click here.

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Eunice Lim, NoCamels <![CDATA[Meet Mifold, The Tiny Grab-And-Go Booster Seat That Fits Into Any Bag]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39465 2015-07-16T18:47:14Z 2015-07-16T13:04:12Z

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An innovative booster seat developed in Israel provides proof that good things come in small packages.

The mifold “grab-and-go” seat promises to simplify carpooling for parents without compromising safety. mifold is flat, portable, foldable, dishwasher-friendly (!), and much smaller than traditional booster seats, so that children can carry it around in their backpacks. Soon, you won’t need to schlep a full-size booster seat on your vacation!

SEE ALSOiOnRoad Uses Augmented Reality To Warn Drivers

mifold booster seat

The crowds are already cheering for mifold: The miraculous booster seat has raised $162,000 on crowd-funding platform Indiegogo in only two days, which is more than four times its goal of $40,000. And, there are four more weeks to go for those who still want to jump on the bandwagon – early-bird supporters will receive the product for $31 by March 2016.

“The amount of interest has massively exceeded our expectations,” mifold founder and CEO Jon Sumroy tells NoCamels.

SEE ALSO: Seatylock: This Bicycle Saddle That Turns Into A Lock

mifold

A lighter, smaller booster seat that’s perfect for carpooling 

Unlike traditional booster seats that lift a child up to an adult’s position, mifold holds the seat belt down to fit the child snugly, taking it off the child’s stomach and neck for maximum comfort and protection. An additional perk is that it is fully adjustable to fit children as they grow. mifold weighs 1.6 pounds and measures 10 inches by 5 inches; it’s quite flat (2 inches high). In comparison, a conventional booster seat measures 17 inches by 16 inches and is much thicker – 7 inches high; it weighs 6 pounds, which means it’s nearly four times heavier than mifold.

Sumroy began imagining the concept for mifold back in 2000, when he was raising his three young children in the US. “There were so many occasions where we just didn’t have booster seats available,” Sumroy tells NoCamels. “So I started to think about how I could make something that my kids could keep with them all the time. It was a conscious effort to create a solution that did not exist.”

He decided to turn his idea into reality in 2012 when he read a study saying that almost 50 percent of children didn’t have the right booster seat when they were carpooling. Sumroy’s first step was to build a homemade prototype in his garage using canvas and carabiners (a lock used in rope activities such as climbing). He then took it to the Transport Research Laboratory in the UK to run it through a series of crash tests.

“I suspect the people at the center were laughing at me at first, but after they ran a crash test, they were surprised by how well the product worked,” he says. The project took off after those first tests, and Sumroy has since formed a team and perfected the design.

mifold booster seat
The goal: Reducing the risk of injury 

mifold is currently in the process of obtaining the necessary federal safety certifications for booster seats for children ages four through 12 in the US and the EU, its primary target markets.

mifold’s competitor Bubble Bum – an inflatable, portable, and foldable booster seat – is already available in the US and Europe. But like a traditional booster seat, Bubble Bum lifts the child up to the position of an adult. “We adapt an adult seatbelt to fit a child. It’s a completely different paradigm,” Sumroy says.

He stresses that safety is mifold’s priority. “Reducing the risk of injury and increasing the chances of children traveling safely is our No.1 goal,” Sumroy says. But, there is another benefit. “It gives parents flexibility and spontaneity. If you have a young kid, you’ve got to make sure the kid has the right seat at the right time but it’s not always possible. With mifold, everything is more convenient, and you won’t have to worry when your kid is carpooling with another family, with the grandparents or when traveling by taxi.”mifold booster seatPhotos and video courtesy of mifold

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Roseanne Tabachnik, NoCamels <![CDATA[What Is Your Real Age? Study Reveals You May Be Much Younger (Or Older) Than You Think]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39432 2015-07-16T12:20:34Z 2015-07-16T11:35:53Z

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Are you a young old person, or an old young person? That is a real question, according to a new study, which shows some young adults are aging nearly three times faster than their peers.

The study – conducted by a team of researchers from Israel, New Zealand, the UK and the US – shows that a person’s biological age may be very different from their actual age, which appears on their birth certificate.

aging

Some people age faster than others 

The scientists identified factors that can tell why some individuals age faster than others, by determining their biological age according to their current health. Biological markers such as kidney and lung function, immune system strength, good cholesterol, cardio respiratory fitness, lung function and dental health, were used to determine the biological age of some 1,000 participants, between the ages of 26 and 28.

SEE ALSO: Why Do Our Brains Age?

By working with younger subjects, researchers were able to spot health decline even before the onset of age-related diseases such as diabetes and heart problems, according to study co-author Dr. Salomon Israel of The Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

“The vast majority of research on aging begins around age 50 or 60 and many people at this age already experienced the process of aging,” Salomon tells NoCamels. “By working with young adults, you can ask questions about what happens earlier and quantify that information.”

For example, among the 38 year olds studied, the participants’ biological age was found to range from under 30 to nearly 60 years old. That means that some participants’ biological age was more than 20 years older than their chronological age.

The long-term study, recently published in the American scientific journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has tracked participants from birth, using health measures such as blood pressure, liver function, along with personal interviews.

SEE ALSO: Stop The Brain From Aging To Prevent Alzheimer’s

The results show that most participants aged according to their actual age at a rate of approximately one year per year of age, while others aged nearly three years for every chronological year. There was also a cluster of those who aged at a rate of zero years per year, thus, staying younger than their chronological age.

Results showed that participants who had a greater biological age at age 38 appear to be aging at a faster pace. Those who received a higher biological age also scored worse on exams involving coordination and balance, and they experienced more physical difficulties, such as climbing a set of stairs.

Family holding hands together closeup

Your lifestyle affects your aging process

There are multiple variables that should be taken into account when determining why some age faster than others. “It could be lifestyle factors: How much you smoke, your diet, how sanitary your lifestyle is, personality factors, what kind of social support you have. It could be things like education, or stressors you encountered,” Salomon says.

The research team also assessed the age of participants based on their appearance at age 38. The individuals who appeared older also happened to have a greater biological age.

Assessing one’s true age could prevent diseases 

By determining age-related decline during a person’s younger years, researchers can intervene early on in the aging process in hopes of reducing disease rates, and if necessary, implement prevention methods at early stages.

“The advantage is that you have a lot more time for prevention,” Salomon explains. “The other aspect is tracking the aging process itself. If you slow down some of the aging, you can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and so on.”

A follow-up on this study is expected to take place in the next few years once participants turn 45 years old, providing scientists with another data point. The researchers hope that the new information will help determine what anti-aging factors affect the aging process.

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NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Light Beams, Not Pacemakers, Could Be The Future Of Heart Treatments]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39172 2015-07-15T12:26:03Z 2015-07-15T12:25:34Z

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Mending irregular heartbeats with light beams instead of pacemakers sound like science fiction? Think again because this is no longer a fictitious proposition.

Researchers at the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology, have developed a new approach for the treatment of abnormal heart rhythms by using a targeted, light-based therapy. The research found that by focusing a gene and light-based therapy called optogenetics on the hearts’ proteins, they could regulate the beating of the heart.

The finding could profoundly improve the treatment of heart conditions and make electronic pacemakers obsolete.

pacemaker

A standard pacemaker

Pacemakers: an inefficient solution

Abnormalities in the function of the heart’s pacemaker cells can lead to an abnormally slow heart rate, or a decrease in the hearts’ pumping efficiency by delaying the transmission of electrical signals. In either case, the underlying electrical disability can result in serious consequences for patients, including weakness, dizziness, fainting, worsening heart failure symptoms and even death.

The conventional medical treatment used today relies on the implantation of an electronic pacemaker, which corrects the dysfunction of the natural pacemaker using electrodes inserted into various areas of the heart. Electronic pacemakers, however, have many limitations, including the risk of infection and the need for repeated invasive surgical procedures for implantation, manipulation, and battery replacements.

Additionally, clinicians are limited by the number and locations of the pacing wires used, and patients are at risk for a decline in heart function, since pacemakers cannot exactly re-create the normal electrical activation pattern of the heart. Perhaps most importantly, children who require pacemakers quickly outgrow their pacemaker wires and thus require repeated and invasive interventions over time.

SEE ALSO: Researcher Regenerate Heart Cells In What Could Be A Huge Breakthrough For Heart Disease Treatments

In light of these disadvantages, many researchers are working on developing biological alternatives to the electronic pacemaker. Technion researchers took on an optogenetic approach, a mixture between gene and light therapies, for the treatment of abnormal heart rhythms.

A new approach to a long-standing problem

The optogenetic technology allowed researchers to selectively activate light-sensitive proteins in an attempt to regulate the heart’s electrical activity. Optogenetics has become an important tool in brain research and the current study, recently published in ‘Nature Biotechnology’, is the first to translate this important innovation into a tool that can pace and resynchronize the heartbeat.

optogeneticcells

Proteins “latching on” and ready to be targeted by light beams.

In the study, conducted in rats, the researchers first directed a beam of blue light towards an area in the heart where the light-sensitive genes were delivered. This resulted in the effective pacing of the heart according to the frequency of the blue light flashes applied. Subsequently, in a more advanced experiment, various locations in the rat hearts expressing light-sensitive proteins were activated by light, resulting in an improvement in the heart’s performance.

SEE ALSO: A Heart Of Gold: Researchers Use Gold Particles To Heal Heart Tissue

The study’s author, Prof. Lior Gepstein, stresses that this is a preliminary study, and that “in order to translate the aforementioned approach to the clinical arena, we must overcome some significant hurdles,” he said in a statement.

“We must improve the penetration of light through the tissues, ensure continuous expression of the protein in the heart for many years, and develop a unique pacing device that will provide the necessary illumination. But despite all of this, the results of the study demonstrate the unique potential of optogenetics for both cardiac pacing (as an alternative to electronic pacemakers) and resynchronization (for the treatment of heart failure with ventricular dys-synchrony) therapies.”

Photos: The Why Files/ Kyle Van De Graaff/ Julie Pryor

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Luke Tress, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Israeli Startup Breeds Protein-Rich Edible Insects To End World Hunger]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39394 2015-07-14T09:01:51Z 2015-07-14T09:01:51Z

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

Millions of people suffer from lack of protein, which is especially dangerous for children – and with the world population set to grow significantly in the coming years, mankind needs more, and cheaper, sources of protein.

Problem solved, believes Dror Tamir. According to Tamir, his company can provide a healthy, cheap alternative source of protein to the millions of children who lack other sources. His plan, he believes, will improve their health, give their families food security and jobs, and help the environment. How? With bugs. “We are growing edible insects for humans,” Tamir said.

His company, Steak TzarTzar – the word means cricket — which he founded with Ben Friedman and Chanan Aviv, aims to be the first to farm edible insects, using high-tech methods to quickly grow them in an organized manner, under sanitary conditions.

SEE ALSO: New Insects Introduced To Jordan River

grasshopper

In a world where protein is already lacking – and will become even harder to come by, as the world’s population grow to as many as 9 billion by 2050 – insects, and especially grasshoppers, are one under-untapped source. According to Tamir, grasshoppers are not only healthier than most sources of protein, but also cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

Without sufficient protein, health dangers abound. Lack of protein can hurt kids’ development, damage their immune system, and shorten their life expectancy. Already, cattle is not a viable source of protein for most people because it is too expensive and harmful for the environment – and the availability of animal protein will continue to fall as the world’s population grows and global warming makes farming in temperate climates more difficult.

Other alternative sources of protein are also impractical. Genetically modified salmon were rejected by the market, Tamir said, and the world’s first artificially grown burger cost about $330,000 to produce. “We wanted an alternative protein source and found that insects are the easiest solution,” Tamir said.

To continue reading this article on the TOI site, click here

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Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[Acclaimed Israeli Architect Omer Arbel Sheds Light On His Multifaceted Approach To Design]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=38917 2015-07-13T13:38:45Z 2015-07-13T13:37:56Z

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The aphorism, ‘a jack of all trades’ may be an understatement to describe Israeli architect, designer, sculptor and materials engineer Omer Arbel. The creative director of Bocci, a well-known contemporary design and manufacturing company in Vancouver and Berlin, Arbel has spent years perfecting the art of understanding materials while blurring the lines between architecture, design and engineering.

“I take as a point of departure a material’s intrinsic mechanical, chemical or physical properties,” Arbel says of his work. His artistic drive to create new, unique and mostly spontaneous forms is evident by just looking at Arbel’s diverse body of work, like the newest addition to the Canada House in London, UK, entitled ‘57’, or the ’23.2 House’ he designed in Vancouver, Canada that was shortlisted for the World Architecture Awards in 2010.

Whatever Arbel does, he does it with the offhand mastery of an artistic genius.

232house

‘23.2 House’

Changing forms

Arbel originally hails from Jerusalem, Israel, moving to Vancouver at the age of 13 with his parents. He was a competitive fencer, even making the Canadian Junior National team, and a student of environmental science at the University of Waterloo before he made his foray into the world of design. Working under the Catalan architect Enric Miralles, Arbel was exposed to the world of architecture and went on to pursue a degree in the field back in Canada.

     SEE ALSO: Delicate ‘Studio Ve’ Clocks Show It’s Time For A Change In Perspective

Once he had enough experience under his belt, Arbel began to experiment with different artistic forms in his installations, namely innovative industrial design, sculpture and, of course, lighting. According to Arbel, the entire concept behind his work was “invented” while working on a famous lighting series called ‘14’ in 2005.

14arbel

’14’ at the Hotel Alexandra in Spain

The idea of maximizing both space and form has become the central pillar of Arbel’s now popular design firm Bocci, based in Vancouver, where he helps shape the company’s portfolio. Each of the projects is numbered in succession, according to the date of initiation.

One of his earliest projects, the ‘2.4 Chair’, is also one of this most inspiring. Compiled of 50 layers of colorful polyester resin, each step had to be meticulously timed. Arbel could not take breaks between each layer, leading to 175 hours of non-stop creation.

Arbel's '2.4 Chair'

Arbel’s ‘2.4 Chair’

Light that speaks volumes

When asked about what appears to be his true passion, lighting, as opposed to any of the other fields he shines in, Arbel has an intriguing answer, “One of my eyes is almost blind and the other sees better than more humans, almost to the point of X-Ray vision. This combination makes my perception of light and color very different than that of most people.”

     SEE ALSO: Israeli Designer Wins International Award For Stunning 3D Printed Fashion

Arbel’s eye for detail won him the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Allied Arts Medal in 2015, as well as the chance to design the set of ‘RITE’, a modern-day ballet adaptation of Igor Stravnsky’s “The Rite of Spring”. In addition, Arbel was selected, together with Aboriginal artist Corrine Hunt to design the 2010 Olympic medals, and he received a Red Dot Award for his project ‘22’.

arbelhuntmedaldesign

Arbel and Hunt with their winning Olympic medal design

Striving to create different forms in all of his work, Arbel insists that it’s all part of a much wider picture, “It is all one big project, the objects, the buildings, the installations.”

Photos: Bocci/ GlobalTVBC

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NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Watch Out Botox: Researchers Discover Scar-Free Skin Rejuvenation Method]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39250 2015-07-09T12:59:25Z 2015-07-12T08:30:56Z

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Americans spend over $10 billion a year on products and surgery in their quest to find a “fountain of youth,” with little permanent success. Botulinum toxin — notably Botox — which smooths lines and wrinkles to rejuvenate the skin has been the number one nonsurgical procedure in the US since 2000. But injections of this toxic bacterium are only a temporary solution and carry many risks, some neurological.

A team of Tel Aviv University and Harvard Medical School researchers now says it has devised a non-invasive technique that harnesses pulsed electric fields to generate new skin tissue growth. According to their research, the novel, non-invasive tissue stimulation technique, which utilizes microsecond-pulsed, high-voltage, non-thermal electric fields, produces scar-less skin rejuvenation and may revolutionize the treatment of degenerative skin diseases.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Researchers Use Skin Cells To Repair Damaged Hearts

“Our results suggest that pulsed electric fields can improve skin function and potentially serve as a novel non-invasive skin therapy for multiple degenerative skin diseases,” the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Alexander Goldberg, said in a statement.

pulsingelectricity

An (effective) shock to the system

“Pulsed electrical field technology has many advantages, which have already been proven effective — for example, in food preservation, tumor removal, and wound disinfection,” said Dr. Golberg. “Our new application may jumpstart the secretion of new collagen and capillaries in problematic skin areas. Considering that, in the modern era of aging populations and climate change, degenerative skin diseases affect one in three adults over the age of 60, this has the potential to be an healthcare game-changer.”

Current therapies to rejuvenate skin use various physical and chemical methods to affect cells and the extracellular matrix, but they can induce unsightly scarring. Pulsed electric fields, however, affect only the cell membrane itself, preserving the extracellular matrix architecture and releasing multiple growth factors to spark new cell and tissue growth. By inducing nanoscale defects on the cell membranes, electric fields cause the death of a small number of cells in affected areas. The released growth factors increase the metabolism of the remaining cells, thereby generating new tissue.

SEE ALSO: Fish Skin-Inspired Armor Is The Latest Innovation In Bullet-Proof Tech

botox

“We have identified in rats the specific pulsed electric field parameters that lead to prominent proliferation of the epidermis, formation of microvasculature, and secretion of new collagen at treated areas without scarring,” said Dr. Golberg. The researchers are currently developing a low-cost device for use in clinical trials in order to test the safety and efficacy of the procedure in humans.

The study, published recently in “Scientific Reports”, was led by Dr. Alexander Golberg of TAU’s Porter School of Environmental Studies and the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Shriners Burns Hospital in Boston, in collaboration with Dr. William J. Austen, Jr. from the Department of Plastic Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital and Dr. Martin L. Yarmush at the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Shriners Burns Hospital in Boston, along with other prominent researchers.

Photos: Isaac Torrontera

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Jonathan Neff, NoCamels <![CDATA[StoreDot, Which Charges Smartphone Battery In 30 Seconds, Will Soon Charge Cars In 5 Minutes!]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39320 2015-07-13T11:11:21Z 2015-07-09T12:32:14Z

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One of last year’s viral tech videos was of StoreDot’s phenomenal technology, which charged a Samsung smartphone in just 30 seconds. Now the very same Israeli startup is racing to develop a brand new, ultra-fast charger for electric cars.

SEE ALSO: StoreDot’s Technology Charges A Smartphone In 30 Seconds!

StoreDot made international headlines when it initially announced its smartphone battery solution in 2012. The company developed its patented organic battery compound that charges five times more efficiently than regular electrolyte-powered battery. StoreDot’s solution is based on nano-technology, or “nano-tubes,” which can store and emit a large amount of energy in one go.

While StoreDot is on track to implement its smartphone technology in several models by the end of 2016, its development team is also racing to present a technology that can recharge electric cars (such as Tesla vehicles) in a mere five minutes. In that supersonic time frame, StoreDot says cars will be ready for a 300-mile drive.

NoCamels sat down with CEO Doron Myersdorf to hear about the company’s latest achievements.

Doron Myersdorf, CEO of StoreDot

Doron Myersdorf, CEO of StoreDot

Instant car charging 

Currently in talks with automobile manufacturers, Myersdorf hopes to achieve partnerships with big names such as Ford, Nissan, and Audi – all of which already have electric models on the market. The price of a StoreDot battery for cars is expected to be set once StoreDot brings it to market in 2022.

$58 million in three years

Founded in 2012, StoreDot has raised $58 million in private rounds over the course of three years; approximately $10 million came from Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.

Over the past year, the company has come far in development and strategic relationships with smartphone manufacturers in order to have its speedy, 30-second smartphone battery charger implemented in a range of phones.

Although Samsung is the only mobile phone manufacturer that has invested in StoreDot, Myersdorf tells NoCamels the company is currently “in talks with six of the largest smartphone manufacturers” regarding partnerships.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Startup Develops Wireless Mobile Chargers Using Infrared Light

He emphasizes that StoreDot’s technology is not an aftermarket product, meaning the company’s battery systems will show up in new models of smartphones from participating manufacturers.

Since StoreDot’s business model revolves around licensing to manufacturers, consumers won’t necessarily pay extra for a StoreDot charger. Instead, StoreDot’s battery technology will be made available in a separate model of the same phone, most likely at a higher price point.

Myersdorf estimates that consumers would be happy to pay “up to $100 more for a model that includes super-fast charging”.

StoreDot is also currently developing a technology designed to enhance backlight displays of LCD TVs and mobile devices.

StoreDot

Endless opportunities for app designers

StoreDot’s flagship smartphone solution, called FlashBattery, could free millions of people from worrying about not having enough battery life. And, when battery life is taken entirely out of the picture – the possibilities are endless.

That’s because app developers and hardware designers base their designs on a phone’s battery consumption. When the day comes when battery life is no longer an issue, designers can make better, stronger, and smarter apps that are not hindered by the battery life of a device.

Photos and videos courtesy of StoreDot

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Eunice Lim, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Artist Reimagines World Leaders: ‘Hipster’ Obama As You’ve Never Seen Before!]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39221 2015-07-08T14:36:08Z 2015-07-08T14:29:59Z

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Can you imagine John F. Kennedy rocking a James Dean hairdo and a nose ring? Or, Martin Luther King wearing a snapback, stud earring, and camo gear? Or, perhaps the Dalai Lama with a subtle Mohawk wearing hipster glasses? In the HIPSTORY illustration series by Israeli artist Amit Shimoni, history meets modern hipster culture. His colorful pictures, which reimagine iconic political leaders of the past and present donning today’s popular styles, also include President Barack Obama like you’ve never seen before!

SEE ALSO: Israeli Artist Creates Culturally Iconic Collages

Barack Obama by artist Amit Shimoni

“It all started in 2014 with my final project at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem,” Shimoni tells NoCamels. “I wanted to talk about our generation and the way we are becoming less individual and more universal, jumping from fashion to fashion without tradition or ideologies to bind us. I wanted to compare our generation to previous ones.”

Before embarking on pictures of world leaders, Shimoni drew a collection of 12 Israeli founding fathers and leaders revamped as hipsters, and was met with positive acclaim. “I couldn’t believe the reaction. Young and old were inspired, and everyone had something to connect with. Everyone had their own perspective of the series.”
Margaret Thatcher by Amit ShimoniShimoni’s methods are as unique as the ideas driving his art: he creates his illustrations using computer technology. Make no mistake, digital art is just as intricate and painstaking as traditional art media, and Shimoni spends weeks drawing each of his portraits on a pressure-sensitive graphic computer tablet. After they are drawn, the portraits’ texture and coloring, among other aspects, are perfected on Adobe Photoshop.

SEE ALSO: Artists Preserve Old Tel Aviv With Graffiti Furniture

David Ben Gurion by artist Amit Shimoni

After graduating in June of last year, Shimoni decided to expand his series internationally. The HIPSTORY series has so far depicted a total of 29 figures, including the Israeli leaders, and is growing. His most recent additions are Obama, former president Ronald Reagan, and George Washington.

Unsurprisingly, there is much buzz around Shimoni’s reimagined pictures of international leaders. “I don’t know the inner political workings and happenings of other countries as well as I do for Israel,” Shimoni says. “For example, most of the US figures I’ve chosen have been Democrats. This wasn’t intentional, yet some people are saying I’m biased.”

Hillary Clinton by artist Amit Shimoni

“I want my art to be everywhere”

Most of the reactions, however, have been positive and Shimoni’s artwork is gaining traction worldwide. Already, several stores and websites in Germany, South Africa, Canada, the U.S., France, and Spain are selling Shimoni’s art, which is not only printed on canvas and paper but also on phone cases, throw pillows, and clothing; a canvas can be bought for just $80. “I have no shame in creating art that is sold for relatively cheap prices,” Shimoni says. “I think when you have a strong image, it can be anywhere and have the same impact. It doesn’t have to be limited to a gallery space.”

Shimoni hopes the HIPSTORY series will encourage us to reflect upon our leaders, our society and values, and ourselves. And even if it doesn’t, Shimoni says he will be content knowing that at least his illustrations made people smile. “Art is exciting. It can induce tears or laughter or revelation. As long as it does something, it’s good.”

Ronald Reagan by artist Amit ShimoniPhotos courtesy of Amit Shimoni

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Tycoon Teddy Sagi Takes London’s Iconic Camden Market Into The Digital Age]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39273 2015-07-08T12:28:15Z 2015-07-08T12:28:15Z

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Brits and tourists alike are in for a surprising new shopping experience at one of London’s popular tourist attractions. The historic Camden Market, which is famous for its offering of arts and crafts, is about to get a cutting-edge digital overhaul by its owner, Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Billionaire Buys Up More Of Camden Market

Sagi’s Market Tech Holdings, which owns the majority of the market (about 14 acres), recently announced it would roll out a plan to digitalize retail and revamp e-commerce at Camden, which is located in Camden Town just north of the ZSL London Zoo.

Camden Market
No more market stalls?

Camden Market’s historic shopping stalls, which sell everything from souvenirs to vintage clothing, have remained unchanged for decades, attracting millions of tourists looking for an authentic shopping experience featuring 800 retailers.

SEE ALSO: Who Is Afraid Of Online Shopping?

But since Sagi bought large chunks of the market early last year, Camden has been en route to becoming a modern mixed-use site that will not only include shopping, but also a boutique hotel, offices and even a startup hub.

Camden Town
Startup incubator could revitalize the area

Sagi plans to attract startup and high tech companies to the site, offering them shared office space. “Two of the new buildings in the market are currently being fitted out to house a new and exciting co-working concept, which will complement the current vision and create an incubator of vibrant, productive and creative community of startups and young businesses,” the company states in its annual report. The space is expected to house roughly 1,000 work stations.

As for the boutique hotel, it’s currently being designed by the award-winning AHMM, one of Britain’s top architectural firms. Its architects are drawing plans for the scheme, which will start public consultation in the coming months. A planning application is scheduled to be submitted later this year.

Camden Town

From online gaming to real estate, Sagi takes London by storm

Sagi’s Market Tech Holdings acquired Camden Market (a number of adjoining large retail markets) in 2014 for roughly $650 million. It later bought additional adjacent buildings to expand Camden Market. Most recently, the company announced it would develop a hotel at the site.

Sagi, the founder of giant gambling software developer Playtech (now worth $2.73 billion) has acquired several startup and high-tech companies since he founded Playtech in 1999, including Crossrider, which uses big data to analyze digital advertising. In recent months, his holding company Market Tech has acquired several other e-commerce businesses, in order to enhance its online platform and bring the market into the digital age.

Camden Market - record store

The purpose is to bring additional online and mobile traffic to Camden Market through different apps and platforms that are now in development. A unique mobile wallet is being rolled out, and will ultimately allow for cashless payments at Camden. “We have already commenced reinvigorating the unique Camden experience and truly believe that this unique real estate opportunity, combined with a world-wide integrated e-commerce strategy, has created one of the most exciting opportunities in the UK – for retailers and shareholders alike,” Market Tech CEO Charles Butler said in a statement.

Market Tech chairman Neil Sachdev added: “We have started to put the building blocks in place to turn our vision of a Camden ‘eco-system’ – synergizing online and offline platforms – into reality.” According to Sachdev, the company’s new online platforms camdenmarket.com and market.com “will enable us to offer products from our 800 existing Camden Market tenants to a global customer base.”

Camden Market at night

Sagi’s other startup acquisitions include Israeli startup Stucco Media, which operates an e-commerce marketing platform and will enable Market Tech to reach a global customer base; and mobile marketing firm Glispa, responsible for the e-wallet.

With free Wi-Fi throughout Camden and the imminent launch of the Camden market mobile app, “we will be in a position to further understand the needs and demands of our customers and engage prior, during and after their visit to Camden Market,” the company’s financial report stated. “We have now launched our online marketplace on camdenmarket.com for retailers both in our markets and similar creative retailers outside our markets to sell and distribute their products to a global audience.”

Market Tech also intends to integrate physical stores into an online market hub. This will include storage, a logistics center and distribution services for retailers.

Camden Market Sweet Co.

Photos: Sheep purple, Camden MarketCristian BortesHorst Michael Lechner

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Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[Google And Waze Launch Ride-Sharing App In Israel, Competing With Uber]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39325 2015-07-07T18:31:48Z 2015-07-07T18:29:58Z

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It was only a matter of time before Google peaked its nose through the ride-sharing door.

Employing the superior travel-tech knowledge of its acquired Israeli company Waze, Google announced  it will launch a pilot of its ride-sharing service in central Israel on Monday. The service will synchronize between Waze users and eager carpoolers, through a separate app called RideWith. But before you sigh at the birth of yet another ride-sharing application, like the super-popular, but controversial Uber and Lyft, Google has twerked its platform so that it uniquely serves carpoolers who live and work in the same location.

Launched in the central Israeli cities of Tel Aviv, Herzliya and Ra’anana on Monday, Waze integrated the option for drivers to take on two rides a day to and from work for a nominal fee that covers gas and wear and tear. Identifying users’ regular routes of travel, navigation app Waze and the separate Android application RideWith pair drivers and potential riders.

For instance, if Waze identifies that a certain user travels the same route from Tel Aviv to Herzliya every day, it will now suggest that the driver take on a carpooler who travels a similar route on a daily basis.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Company Mobileye Gearing Up For Driverless Cars

But Google and Waze are trying to avoid direct competition with Uber, the $50 billion company in which Google Ventures invested $258 million back in August 2013.“RideWith is an experiment in the Tel Aviv area that doesn’t compete with Uber,” a Google spokesperson emphasized in an email to the Wall Street Journal.

Stuck in a potentially sticky situation, Google has limited the number of rides to two a day and restricted how much drivers can get paid. Carpoolers can pay drivers for gas and other charges over the application, but Google will suggest a maximum amount to ensure that drivers aren’t reaping a profit. In addition, Google will take a percentage fee, finally giving Waze a source of profit.

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

Once the results are in for the pilot in Israel, Google will consider applying the service in other locations worldwide through Google Maps and, of course, Waze. Gor Google, Israel was the perfect location to pilot the program, because Waze usage is so pervasive in the small country. In addition, the rate of carpooling is said to be high.

Aside from this surprising foray into the world of ride-sharing applications, Google is currently working on a number of projects in the field of transportation technology – namely the driverless car. Google is testing out its driverless car technology at the Google Campus in Mountain View, California, although it will be a few years before Google becomes our personal chauffeur.

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NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Open Sesame: Israeli Researcher Gives Favorite Middle Eastern Grain A Boost]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=38861 2015-07-08T12:38:43Z 2015-07-06T12:13:48Z

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Sesame seeds have traditionally been difficult to harvest and are widely considered an unprofitable crop because they produce a low yield. What makes sesame especially frustrating to grow is the high percentage of grown seeds that are not suitable for human consumption. One Israeli researcher has taken the sesame predicament to heart and discovered a way to increase the yield and nutritional quality of this healthy yet stubborn crop.

By screening 100,000 sesame seed variants, Dr. Zvi Peleg of the Hebrew University has found a way to develop a new elite sesame cultivar with enhanced yield and seed quality suitable to modern agriculture. Peleg uses a selective breeding technique, by which he chooses the most promising plants, then cultivates and breeds them while separating out the inferior plants. Peleg’s genetic marker technology enables him to decide which sesame plants to breed and which to throw out.

SEE ALSOQuest For The Perfect Veggie: Israelis Create Enhanced Strains Of Fruit And Veg

sesame seeds

An essential ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisines 

Global production of sesame currently stands at 4.4 million tons annually, with a projected growth value of between 5 and 10 percent a year. Peleg hopes his technique will help farmers surpass this projection. “The increase in global demand for sesame products as a health food has turned this highly domestic consumption item into an important export commodity for Israel,” Peleg said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: How Chewing 10 Tons Of Sunflower Seeds Brings Arabs And Israelis Together

It’s important to note that in Israel and some other Middle Eastern countries, where falafel is a culturally iconic food, tahini (or tehina) sauce, made from sesame, is an essential condiment. Peleg’s innovation facilitates the use of sesame as part of a farmer’s crop rotation between cereal crops, while at the same time making it high-yield. As a result, it contributes to more sustainable agriculture and helps prevent the development of herbicide-resistant weeds.

falafel

Sesame seeds contain about 20 percent protein, along with healthy oils and carbohydrates. They are also rich in essential nutrients such as iron, zinc and calcium. Peleg’s innovation could improve the availability of these essential nutrients and therefore reap greater health benefits for consumers. In recognition of his finding, the Hebrew University has awarded Peleg the Kaye Innovation Award for 2015.

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NoCamels Team <![CDATA[The Nose Knows: ‘Smell Fingerprint’ Could Help In The Early Detection Of Diseases]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39292 2015-07-06T12:00:36Z 2015-07-06T12:00:36Z

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Israeli scientists have developed a “fingerprint” test based on humans’ sense of smell, which is unique to each and every one of us. The good news is that this “olfactory fingerprint” could potentially do more than just identify individuals by their sense of smell; it could help in the early detection of Alzheimer’s’ and Parkinson’s, as well as in matching organ and bone marrow donors.

Each of us has, in our nose, about 6 million smell receptors of 400 different types. The distribution of these receptors varies from person to person – so much so that each person’s sense of smell may be unique. That’s how Weizmann Institute researchers can precisely characterize an individual’s sense of smell.

SEE ALSO: Sense Of Smell Is Physiological, Not Psychological, Study Shows

Health News - Sense of smell

The implications of this study, which was recently published in the scientific journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS),” reach beyond the sense of smell alone, and range from olfactory-based early diagnosis of degenerative brain disorders to a non-invasive test for matching donor organs.

The method is based on how similar or different two odors are from one another. In the first stage of the experiment, volunteers were asked to rate 28 different smells according to 54 different descriptive words, for example, “lemony,” or “masculine.”

SEE ALSO: Israeli Scientists Teach Humans To Sense With ‘Whiskers’

Members of Prof. Noam Sobel’s lab at Israel’s Weizmann Institute developed a complex mathematical formula for determining, based on the subjects’ ratings, how similar any two odors are to one another. The strength of this formula, according to the researchers, is that it does not require the subjects to agree on the use and applicability of any given verbal descriptor. Thus, the fingerprint is odor-dependent but descriptor and language independent.

The 28 odors make for 378 different pairs, each with a different level of similarity. Using this highly sensitive tool, the scientists found that each person indeed has a unique pattern.

The olfactory fingerprint

The “olfactory fingerprint” of the person in the middle is very different from that of another person (left)

Assessing matches for organ donation

Could this finding extend to millions of people? The researchers say their computations show that 28 odors alone could be used to “fingerprint” some 2 million people, and just 34 odors would be enough to identify any of the 7 billion individuals on the planet.

The research also suggests that our olfactory fingerprint may tie in with another system in which we all differ – the immune system. For example, an immune antigen called HLA, used to assess matches for organ donations, is correlated with certain olfactory fingerprints.

“Fingerprinting” our sense of smell could also be developed into methods for the early detection of such diseases as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and it could lead to non-invasive methods of initial screening as to whether bone marrow or organs from live donors are a good match. This part of the study was conducted with researchers from Israel’s Sheba Medical Center.

Photos: Eneas De Troya , Weitzman Institute, Dennis Wong

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NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Competitive Athletes Are More Prone To Gambling Addictions, Research Finds]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=38531 2015-07-05T19:42:17Z 2015-07-05T19:42:17Z

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The soft signs of compulsive gambling — high energy levels, unreasonable expectations, extreme competitiveness, distorted optimism, and above-average IQs — are often the very traits that characterize competing athletes. However, little research is available on the prevalence of gambling among athletes and the relevant warning signs.

A new Tel Aviv University study indicates that high-schoolers involved in competitive sports are at an elevated risk of falling to a gambling addiction. According to the research, the participation of male high-school students in competitive sports is associated with problem gambling and gambling frequency, and female students who participate in competitive sports are at a higher risk of gambling frequency.

     SEE ALSO: Precise Diagnostic Method May Be Great News For The Brains Of Football Players

“The drive to win underpins both gambling behavior and competitive sport,” said Dr. Belle Gavriel-Fried, who led the study. “Most of the research within this area has been conducted on university athletes, but we wanted to dig deeper, find out whether the link between gambling and physical activities began earlier — before other co-factors emerge — and we found out that, in fact, it does.”

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Winning vs. fitness

For the study, the researchers asked 316 high-schoolers, aged 14-19, from four high schools in Israel to fill out questionnaires to establish their involvement in sports and their gambling habits. “Intensive exercise” was assessed on a frequency rating scale. “Competitiveness” was rated by the number of competitive sports engaged in over the previous year, including varsity or junior varsity sports and other extracurricular programs.

The researchers found a significant difference between youth involved in intense cardiovascular activity (for the sake of exercise alone) and those participating in competitive sports. The latter were more often engaged in regulated lotteries and scratch cards, gambling on other sporting events, poker, and other card games.

“Studies conducted on college-age athletes in relation to gambling might be misleading, because the university environment itself has been found to promote risk behavior,” said Dr. Gavriel-Fried. “Here we made a distinction between youth involved in competitive sport and those involved in intensive exercise. The objective of competitive sports is to win as a team, whereas the objective of intensive exercise is to maintain your health and fitness.

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“There was a clear divide between the two groups. We hope that this study will redirect high schools to integrate gambling prevention programs for youths involved in competitive sports — in order to avoid sticking ‘healthy heads in sick beds,’ so to speak.”

     SEE ALSO: Faces Of The Startup Nation: Q&A With Gambling Great Eyal Shaked Of 888

According to the researchers, due to their competitiveness, athletes as young as 14 should pay closer attention to the risks involved in “harmless” gambling practices, such as card games.

“For competitive athletes, there is an intrinsic impulse embedded within — to win, at all costs. This underpins gambling behavior as well,” said Dr. Gavriel-Fried, who is currently researching high-risk behavior and addictions.

The study, led by Dr. Belle Gavriel-Fried of TAU’s Bob Shapell School of Social Work and her student Idit Sherpsky, was published in The American Journal of Addictions and was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Israel Bronstein of Bar-Ilan University.

Photos: vperkins/ JPA Photographs/ Viri G

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Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[The Pita Ploy: Hackers Steal Sensitive Information Using Pita Bread-Sized Device]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39217 2015-07-02T12:48:01Z 2015-07-02T12:48:01Z

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However cool it may feel to sip your latte and write your business proposal from a café, this urban luxury may be no luxury at all. According to new research from Tel Aviv University, the person next to you nibbling on pita bread could be gaining access to sensitive encrypted information on your laptop computer, including passwords, credit card numbers and more.

Israeli researcher Dan Genkin and his team recently demonstrated that cheap and accessible radio equipment, the size of pita bread, can be used to read electromagnetic pulses off of your keyboard as you type. The team discovered that the pulses, given off by a computer’s central processing unit as it deals with information, have characteristic patterns of radio activity that could be used by hackers to decrypt your private information.

SEE ALSO: How Israeli Cybersecurity Startups Are Battling The World’s Riskiest Online Attacks

workingincafe

A portable hacking device, inside a pita

In their research paper, Genkin and his team present the equipment needed, almost all of which is available for purchase at standard electronics stores, the assembly process and even the instructions of how to fit their PITA system into pita bread. While you may be thinking ‘pita bread is pretty random’, the researchers got the idea to put their decryption system into a piece of pita bread after coming up with the name for the system, Portable Instrument for Trace Acquisition (PITA). ‘Portable’ is really the key word here, because the system can detect most computers’ electromagnetic pulses remotely, while the hacker is in motion.

PITA is able to pick up on keys used in a number of encryption programs and algorithms to protect data. This gives hackers the ability to access passwords, encoded documents, bank account numbers and other sensitive information without having to wait for the user to punch in the keys.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Hacker Saves Gmail From ‘Killer’ Security Flaw

There are limitations to the system, which is a good thing. Made evident in the team’s trials was the fact that hackers can only access information on a laptop computer situated 50 centimeters away, about 1 ft. 8 in. That means that the hacker would likely have to be in the same room as the computer, and sitting very close to it. In addition, the tests were conducted on PC computers, and not Macs, with little protection or grounded metal screens that contain radiation.

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It’s also important to note that a hacker couldn’t just sit down, or walk buy your computer and generate the encryption codes in a matter of seconds. The encryption codes must be triggered with a trick email or message from the hacker, whereby they are able to detect the electromagnetic waves, albeit in a matter of seconds. So if you’re smart enough not to open an email from a strange address, or to inspect your neighbor’s pita bread, this eerie pita ploy may not have an effect on you.

Photo: Tel Aviv University/ Jay

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Eunice Lim, NoCamels <![CDATA[Ace Your Tennis Match With ‘Pulse Play,’ A Smartwatch By Israeli Grand Slam Champion Andy Ram]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=39122 2015-07-02T12:12:00Z 2015-07-01T14:39:15Z

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It’s time to hit the court with Pulse Play, a new Israeli smartwatch and app for racket sports players who are looking for a real game-changer.

Founded by former Israeli Grand Slam champion Andy Ram and entrepreneur Enon Landenberg, Pulse Play aims to create a global network for some of the 275 million amateur tennis, badminton, ping pong and squash players. “The Facebook for racket sports players,” as Ram calls it, will offer services and resources normally reserved for the pros – using nothing but a smartwatch and a mobile app.

SEE ALSO: Will Israeli Tennis Analytics Technology ‘SmartCourt’ Change The Way We Play The Game?

Andy Ram

Former tennis champion Andy Ram, founder of Pulse Play

Pulse Play’s smartwatch can keep and announce scores in real time with the click of a button, record players’ match histories and game stats, connect nearby players looking for same-level opponents, and keep track of ranks at the local, regional, and even international level – for the retail price of $125 for a single Pulse Play or $200 for a pair of Pulse Play watches. The mobile and computer apps, where scores are stored, stats recorded and ranks established, are free.

The app comes loaded with fun features, like achievement badges for “winning five matches in a row” or “beating your mother-in-law,” as well as different voice options to announce scores –  including Elvis Presley, Homer Simpson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and many more. Two potential downsides of the product are that it requires an internet connection on the court and that both players need to have a smartwatch.

Where technology and racket sports intersect

Pulse Play is not the first smartwatch on the market geared towards improving the racket sports experience. For example, Apple’s popular Apple Watch offers apps such as Tennis Watch, which provides simple score tracking; and Smash Wearable, a smartwatch that offers similar features for tennis players, such as keeping track of your technique.

However, Ram is convinced that Pulse Play is different. “Our competitors are dealing only with the scoring problem or only with the problem of finding a partner who plays at the same level,” he tells NoCamels. “But our product is a solution to both problems and one that will hopefully create a community of tennis players.”

SEE ALSO: The Top Israeli Apps Taking Over Apple Watch

Apple Watch - tennis app

One of the tennis apps on Apple Watch

A Pro Athlete Turned Entrepreneur

Ram’s transition from a pro tennis player to an entrepreneur is relatively recent. With three Grand Slam championships under his belt, Ram officially retired in September 2014 after his last match against Argentina in the Davis Cup. While he had a few offers to stay and coach in the tennis world, he decided to take a different route.

During the six months following his retirement from the sport, Ram met with investors and business people who wanted him to invest in everything from clothing stores to restaurants. It was Landenberg, however, who won Ram over with the idea that became Pulse Play. “It has certainly been an interesting transition,” Ram says. “But it’s not my first business experience. Even back when I was playing professional tennis, I was managing teams of people: Paying, hiring, and firing. I also used to manage the sponsorships and the relationships with companies I was working with. But this is by far the most public business venture I’ve been involved with, and the most exciting one.”

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The Pulse Play iPhone app

Small factory, big ideas

To turn his idea into reality, Ram partnered with Landenberg’s venture building team, sFBI (Small Factory Big Ideas), a small team of experts that builds startup ideas to a point where they can operate independently; a startup incubator, if you will.

The Pulse Play team was formed in November 2014 and the progress ever since has been rapid. In just six months, Ram and his small team of a handful of employees developed the first-generation prototype and the app, and have launched a successful crowdfunding campaign where supporters raised funds by pre-purchasing Pulse Play units or purchasing opportunities to meet and even take lessons from Ram himself. These “early backers” will get to test the first batch of slick and colorful Pulse Play smartwatches in September 2015, months before their debut on store shelves in June 2016.

The Indiegogo campaign, which recently ended, raised $77,800, funds that will be used to manufacture the product and facilitate its journey to the shelves. But the funding efforts do not stop here, as the Pulse Play team is looking to attract more investment through private financing rounds. Ram declined to comment on the specifics.

Play Pulse smartwatches

In the next couple of months, Pulse Play will launch a marketing campaign in the US. The company is reaching out to tennis players, coaches, clubs, and leagues. “We’re a startup with limited resources, and it would be a mistake to fire in all directions for the time being,” marketing manager Natalie Edwards tells NoCamels.

According to Ram, there is a growing interest in Pulse Play within the circle of professional tennis players with whom he keeps in touch. “I can’t drop any names right now, but a lot of the players I spent time with on tours know what I’m doing and frequently send messages of support.”

Ram is already thinking of the next steps for the Pulse Play product. “We are thinking about adding even more features on the second-generation models to calculate how much you run on the court, to track your heart rate and to advise you on what to eat before a match. We are always trying to improve.”

Photos: Pulse Play, Sporti

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