NoCamels – Israeli Innovation News NoCamels.com is the leading news website on Israeli innovations. We cover all the latest innovation in the fields of technology, health, environment and lifestyle. 2016-06-26T12:08:27Z http://nocamels.com/feed/atom/ Yonatan Sredni, NoCamels <![CDATA[Charity Begins On Your Phone: PocketCause Makes Mobile Donations Fun And Easy]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=46037 2016-06-26T12:08:27Z 2016-06-26T11:08:31Z

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Donating to a noble cause is always good, but it’s not always easy, especially on your mobile.

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

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

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


Hassle-free mobile donation

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

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

Donor social network

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

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

‘Startup nation’ donation

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

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

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Photos: Courtesy

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Rebeca Maia, NoCamels <![CDATA[Taking The Uncertainty Out Of Breastfeeding: MomSense Measures Breast Milk Intake]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45924 2016-06-23T11:53:32Z 2016-06-23T11:53:32Z

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

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

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

50 percent of new moms give up on breastfeeding 

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

SEE ALSO: Researchers Discover Breast Milk Not Always Healthy

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

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

Making sure your newborn gets sufficient nutrition 

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

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

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

momsense

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

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

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

momsense

Photos and video: MomSense

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Shoshanna Solomon, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Smooth Operator: Israeli Startup Airobotics Lets You Control Your Drone With One Click]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=46052 2016-06-23T10:09:28Z 2016-06-23T10:06:24Z

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Airobotics’ drone platform

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

To read the full article, click here

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Lisa Shmulyan, NoCamels <![CDATA[Photomyne Scans All Your Old Photo Albums Into Slick Digital Creations]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=46005 2016-06-22T10:56:12Z 2016-06-22T10:56:12Z

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

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

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

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

Scanning a batch of photos at a time 

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

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

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

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

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

Unlimited album space

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

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

photomyne app

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

Preserving memories from past decades for generations to come

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

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

photomyne app

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

Photos and video: Photomyne

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Yonatan Sredni, NoCamels <![CDATA[Five Super Cool Israeli Technologies Making Air Travel Safe And Smart]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45418 2016-06-21T10:08:00Z 2016-06-21T08:49:15Z

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

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

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

Here are five of them:

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

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

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

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

mouse

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

2. Tracense – The five second security check

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

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

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

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

3. Faception: Facial profiling software to detect criminals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5. Sensority -Smarter use of security cameras

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

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

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

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

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

Photos: Courtesy

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Lisa Shmulyan, NoCamels <![CDATA[Tired Of Folding Laundry? Let FoldiMate Take Care Of Your Pile]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45965 2016-06-20T13:09:28Z 2016-06-20T12:59:59Z

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

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

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

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

10 seconds to fold one garment 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

foldimate

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israel’s BioBee To Ship 500 Million ‘Predatory Bugs’ To Russia]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45941 2016-06-19T12:31:00Z 2016-06-19T11:59:47Z

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Israeli company BioBee Biological Systems will ship 500 million “predatory bugs” to Russia to help its farmers get rid of pests – the natural way.

SEE ALSO: Spider Feeds Itself To Offspring

By employing predatory bugs that attack and kill harmful insects, BioBee has developed a technique free of chemicals.  Already, their solution is being deployed in farms across 50 countries, including Colombia, where BioBee shipped 600 million spider mites.

spider

Also dubbed “Bio Persimilis,” these spiders are as big as the spider mites they chase, about one or two millimeters long. They move quickly, hunt their prey and pierce it, sucking out its fluids.

The predatory bugs shipped to Russia – including Bio Persimilis, as well as other mites – “have been shown to benefit agriculture, eliminating pests in tomato and cucumber fields, as well as in rose fields,” the company said on Sunday. It added: “BioBee is helping Russia exterminate pests in a natural way, without harmful toxins.”

Bumblebees were also sent to Russia in order to encourage pollination of vegetables. In addition, the bees sent from Israel will be deployed in cherry orchards across Russia.

cherries

The natural enemies of harmful pests 

Founded in 1984 in Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, BioBee’s facility mass-produces the natural enemies of harmful pests by harvesting spiders, flies and bees for various purposes.

Selling its products to 50 countries worldwide, including India, Chile and South Africa, BioBee‘s spiders are said to costs about $180 – more than four times the price of gold ($42 per gram)!

SEE ALSO: BioBee To Ship 600 Million Spiders To Colombia

The company maintains that this is a good investment for farmers, who may otherwise be limited in exporting crops that were sprayed with chemical pesticides, which are limited by international regulations.

Benefiting public health 

Bred by BioBee, the Persimilis spider can keep pests under control in several crops; such as peppers, tomatoes, beans, maize, cucumber, melon, strawberries and eggplant. Contrary to other mites, Persimilis is said not to cause harm to the plants it protects.

Experts have long advocated for a decrease in the use of aggressive chemical pesticides, to benefit public health. In addition, pesticides damage the environment, pollute the water and air in their surroundings, as they are easily carried by the wind.

Another reason to reduce the use of pesticides is that, with time, pests develop resistance to extensive pesticide use. This encourages farmers to use more and more pesticides, while generations of powerful super-bugs proliferate.

crop duster agri pesticides

Reducing pesticides by 80 percent 

The alternative provided by BioBee is inspired by what is called in the scientific literature “the biological control phenomenon,” which is the natural balance of the “good bugs” eating the “bad bugs.”

The impact of this method has been measured on crops in Israel, yielding impressive results, according to BioBee: On sweet pepper crops, it reduced the use of pesticides by 75 percent; and on strawberry crops, they were reduced by 80 percent.

biobee spiders

BioBee’s spider mites

Photos: BioBee, Roger SmithAlex KedaInma Ibáñez

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Aylen Silberman, NoCamels <![CDATA[Answering The Call: Yallo Aims To Revolutionize Phone Calls As We Know Them]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45876 2016-06-16T09:14:02Z 2016-06-16T08:59:27Z

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lost your phone? No problem 

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

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

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

man with smartphone

“The future smart voice platform”

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

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

yallo app

Photos and video: Yallo, Plain Loud Visuals

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Yonatan Sredni, NoCamels <![CDATA[Virtual Personal Trainer: LifeBEAM’s Intelligent Headphones Get You In Shape]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45821 2016-06-15T15:27:29Z 2016-06-15T13:18:15Z

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

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

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

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

An awareable wearable

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

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

SEE ALSO: Dario Turns Diabetics’ Smartphones Into Trendy Glucometers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos and videos: LifeBEAM

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Shoshanna Solomon, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Mass Growth: Israeli Startups Boom In Massachusetts]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45795 2016-06-14T11:42:59Z 2016-06-14T11:02:32Z

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

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

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

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

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

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

MIT2-e1382389796928

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

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

To read the full article, click here

Photos and video: Pixabay, Courtesy

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Yonatan Sredni, NoCamels <![CDATA[Curbing Distracted Driving: Cellepathy Prevents Car Collisions]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45287 2016-06-16T11:48:20Z 2016-06-13T12:52:11Z

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

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

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

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

Verify – Solving the ‘passenger problem’

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

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

Ergo – Eliminating annoyance

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Wall Street to all streets

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

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

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

International recognition

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

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

cellepathy-verify

Photos and video: Cellepathy

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Rebeca Maia, NoCamels <![CDATA[Off The Beaten Track: Urban Navigation App Sidekix Bases Walking Routes On Your Interests]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45788 2016-06-13T11:59:00Z 2016-06-13T11:53:23Z

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Yelp of walking tours

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

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

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

Benefiting small businesses

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

sidekix app

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

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

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

Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv

Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Robots Can Fill Humans’ Emotional Needs, Israeli Study Shows]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45754 2016-06-13T04:23:01Z 2016-06-12T07:58:24Z

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In the movie “Her”, Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson portray a human being and a robot who develop an intimate, emotional relationship. But can intimacy between humans and robots actually happen? According to new Israeli research, some robots do in fact generate strong emotional responses in the people they interact with.

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

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

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

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

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

robot idc, Guy Hoffman

Travis, the robot used in the experiments

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

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

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

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

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

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

robot

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

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

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

Photos: IDC Herzliya, Her, Honda, Kobi Zholtack

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Yonatan Sredni, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Startup Nano Dimension 3D Prints Human Stem Cells]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45673 2016-06-09T07:29:51Z 2016-06-09T07:09:28Z

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

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

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

Nano

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

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

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

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

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

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

embryonic-stem-cell

Embryonic stem cell

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

Photos: Courtesy

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Lisa Shmulyan, NoCamels <![CDATA[$17,000 ‘Super-Secure’ Smartphone Solarin Will ‘Break The Rules,’ Says Founder Moshe Hogeg]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45712 2016-06-08T10:18:30Z 2016-06-08T10:07:52Z

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

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

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

SOLARIN smartphone by Sirin Labs

“Cyber-attacks are endemic across the globe”

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

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

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

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

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

A luxury phone for the über-wealthy 

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

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

solarin smartphone by sirin labs

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

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

Photos and video: Sirin Labs

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Microsoft Opens Third Research And Development Center In Israel]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45675 2016-06-07T06:34:04Z 2016-06-07T06:45:59Z

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

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

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

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

Microsoft's new R&D center in Nazareth

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

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

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

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

250 foreign R&D centers

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

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

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

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

Microsoft

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

Photos: Sivan Farag for Microsoft, PikiWiki

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Meital Goldberg, NoCamels <![CDATA[Paid Too Much For An Airline Ticket? FairFly Can Find A Better Deal, Get Refund]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45643 2016-06-06T07:17:01Z 2016-06-06T07:17:01Z

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

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

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

fairfly

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

$100 billion in overpayment 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

fairfly app

Photos and video: Courtesy

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The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Going For The Gold: Israel’s RideOn To Compete In Rio’s ‘Tech Olympics’]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45609 2016-06-05T07:10:09Z 2016-06-05T07:10:09Z

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

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

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

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

rideon4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To read the full article, click here

Photos and video: RideOn

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Yonatan Sredni, NoCamels <![CDATA[Double The Sweetness, Half The Sugar: DouxMatok Tricks Your Brain Into Cutting Sugar Intake]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45082 2016-06-02T08:56:36Z 2016-06-02T08:56:36Z

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There is something about sugar most of us simply can’t resist. With just one small bite, it enters our blood stream and rushes the body with pure energy. Our bodies are hardwired to love it, and that’s why the addiction to sugar is so hard to kick.

SEE ALSO: Thirsty? ‘The Right Cup’ Turns Water Into Your Favorite Drink Using Scent – Not Sugar

Public health bodies recommend eating a diet low in sugar to prevent the onset of diabetes. Fortunately, Israeli startup DouxMatok is coming to the rescue with a healthier solution which could revolutionize how manufacturers and consumers worldwide use sugar. DouxMatok has engineered a new form of sugar that offers the same sugar experience with half the calories. The sugar looks the same, but it’s physically altered to maximally satiate our tongues, so we consume less and protect our health.

Telling your brain: Enough sugar!

To make DouxMatok sugar, the company attaches regular sugar to a micron-sized, food-safe silica molecule (one of the most common substances on earth), using molecular bonding. This greatly increases the particle’s surface area, so when the sugar dissolves on the tongue, the taste buds are exposed to more of the sweet taste, and we feel satisfied.

SEE ALSO: Meet Valiber, The Smart Spoon That Tells You Exactly How Sweet Your Beverage Is

According to founder Eran Baniel, DouxMatok sugar tricks the brain into believing it consumed more than it actually did. “DouxMatok’s technology will allow for a reduction of 30-60 percent of sugar in a product, depending on the application, and with no effect on taste. When we tested it in the UK, our product had the exact same taste profile as sugar, with none of the aftertaste caused by artificial sweeteners.”

The technology would allow us to continue to consume the sugary chocolate and cakes we love, while experiencing fewer of sugar’s pernicious side effects, the most common being unwanted weight gain, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

The tongue test

The product is a lab-based transformation of sugar, which requires no artificial chemicals. The enhanced sugar works by modifying how the molecules interact with the receptors on the tongue. DouxMatok’s technology coats the sugar molecules on to organic carriers using a natural mineral, which transports multiple sugar molecules together to the taste receptors on the tongue.

The gustatory system, through which the body perceives taste, is not a fully efficient process. When consuming food or drink with a sweet flavor, usually containing sugar syrup or powder, many of the sugar molecules move through the mouth and miss the sweet taste receptors.

Consumers ingest these sugar particles without registering their sweetness, and therefore the sweetness of the product as a whole. If people could taste every sugar molecule in a cup of regular soda, they would most likely find it undrinkable.

Sugar

Founded in 2014, DouxMatok won the award for Outstanding Company at “Agravest 2015″, a conference organized by Israel’s Ministry of Economy and other companies. The startup recently partnered with the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry in Boston to optimize its technologies and is currently in the process of raising $4 million for research and development.

The implications of what DouxMatok is doing are far reaching. And who knows, perhaps in the near future, the age-old coffee/tea question ‘one lump or two?’ may soon be replaced with the statement ‘one lump is just as sweet as two’.

coffee
Photos and video: Courtesy

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Can Israel Lead The Way On Sharing Economy?]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45563 2016-06-01T13:28:43Z 2016-06-01T12:49:26Z

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

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

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

gettaxi

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

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

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

via suv

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

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

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

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

The eBay of hotel rooms 

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

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

eatwithtable

“Israel serves as the proving ground”

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

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

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

share

Photos: WeWork, EatWith, Via, GotCredit

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Yonatan Sredni, NoCamels <![CDATA[Bike-Stroller Combo ‘Taga’ Lets Parents Transport Kids The Green Way]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45338 2016-05-30T10:16:13Z 2016-05-31T07:59:20Z

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kids don’t need to take a back seat

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

Intuitive functionality

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

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

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

taga 1.0 stroller bike

Photos and video: Courtesy

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Not Just Asthma: Exposure To Air Pollution Raises Heart Disease Risk]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45526 2016-05-30T08:48:59Z 2016-05-30T08:52:42Z

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Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health, known to cause lung cancer and other respiratory diseases, including asthma. According to the World Health Organization, outdoor air pollution causes 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide annually.

SEE ALSO: Exposure To Air Pollution In Womb Raises Risk Of Autism, Study Finds

But air pollution is not only linked to respiratory diseases. A new Israeli study shows that air pollution can worsen blood sugar levels, cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease, particularly in people with diabetes.

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

The study, which was conducted by Israel’s Ben Gurion University and the Soroka University Medical Center, was recently published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

“The continuous nature of exposure and the number of people affected gives us cause for concern”

“While air pollution is linked with relatively small changes in cardio-metabolic risk factors, the continuous nature of exposure and the number of people affected gives us cause for concern,” Dr. Victor Novack of BGU and the Soroka University Medical Center, who led the study, said in a statement. “Even small changes in glucose levels and glycemic control can contribute to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.”

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

The study examined the effects of air pollution exposure on 73,117 adults living in southern Israel, where levels of particulate matter can escalate due to its location in the global dust belt.

To assess air pollution, the researchers used daily satellite data on how much sunlight was blocked by particles in the air. By examining this and other weather data, the scientists developed a model that allowed them to estimate daily air pollution exposure for each study participant using their address.

They then analyzed the results from 600,000 blood samples taken from the study subjects between 2003 and 2012. All of the study participants were known smokers or were diagnosed with diabetes, ischemic heart disease (a disease characterized by reduced blood supply to the heart), and hypertension (or dyslipidemia), which occurs when levels of fats in the blood are too high or low.

The study found participants tended to have higher blood sugar levels and a poorer cholesterol profile when they were exposed to higher levels of air particulates in the preceding three months compared to those exposed to lower levels of air pollutants. In all, particulate matter exposure was associated with increases in blood glucose, LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol), and triglycerides, or fats in the blood. Exposure to particulate matter was also linked to lower levels of HDL, or “good” cholesterol.

The associations were stronger for people with diabetes; however, those who were taking medications other than insulin to treat diabetes experienced a protective effect. This group experienced smaller changes in blood sugar and cholesterol levels following air pollution exposure.

diabetes

Although air pollution did not have an immediate effect on blood test results taken within as little as seven days of exposure, the researchers found that cumulative exposure over the course of three months was tied to risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

“We found an association between air pollution exposure in the intermediate term and undesirable changes in cholesterol,” researcher Maayan Yitshak Sade of BGU and Soroka University Medical Center said in a statement. “This suggests that cumulative exposure to air pollution over the course of a lifetime could lead to elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Other authors of the study include: Itai Kloog of BGU; Idit F. Liberty of BGU and Asuta Medical Center in Beer-Sheva; and Joel Schwartz of the Harvard School of Public Health. The research was supported by a grant from Israel’s Environment and Health Fund. 

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The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Israeli Company LiveU To Beam Summer Olympics Events Worldwide]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45497 2016-05-29T08:57:06Z 2016-05-29T08:59:45Z

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

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

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

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

Olympic Village, Rio, Brazil

Olympic Village, Rio, Brazil

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

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

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

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

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

To read the full article, click here

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

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[For Obese Airplane Passengers, Shaming Is Worse Than Tiny Seats, Study Shows]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45471 2016-05-26T17:18:35Z 2016-05-26T09:49:40Z

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The obesity epidemic is one of America’s greatest health concerns: Roughly 79 million American adults are obese – more than one-third of adults in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In addition to related health issues obese people have to deal with, such as diabetes, they also have to deal with how society views them.

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

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

Airplane

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

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

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

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

A ‘chosen’ disability?

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

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

Board first, deplane last 

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

scale

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

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

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

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

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Volkswagen Invests $300M In Israeli On-Demand Taxi Service Gett]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45448 2016-05-25T09:29:26Z 2016-05-25T08:58:02Z

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

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

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

gettaxi

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

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

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

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

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

Shahar Waiser, CEO of Gett

Shahar Waiser, Founder and CEO of Gett

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

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

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

Photos and video: Gett, Volkswagen

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Yonatan Sredni, NoCamels <![CDATA[Do We Choose To Erode Our Own Privacy? 73% Of Smartphone Users Willingly Share Their Location]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45107 2016-06-08T07:14:46Z 2016-05-24T10:13:49Z

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

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

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

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

Smartphones - Technology News - Israel

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

Overwhelming willingness to share location on social networks

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

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

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

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

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

man with smartphone

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

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

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[‘Open House’ Offers A Glimpse Into Tel Aviv’s Most Beautiful Homes]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45348 2016-05-23T09:10:30Z 2016-05-23T09:00:54Z

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Open House Tel-Aviv, a city-wide event taking place May 26-28, will give the public a one-of-its-kind opportunity to visit some of the most extraordinary houses and buildings in Tel Aviv, Israel, which is known for its Bauhaus style.

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

“Now, you can discover the city from within its most private spaces, and get to know it inside and out,” according to the City of Tel Aviv.

Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv

Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv

As in previous years, Open House Tel-Aviv will showcase dozens of interesting homes, unique apartments and public buildings, all distinct in their architectural design. Dozens of walking tours will be offered throughout the city, free of charge. Some tours and venues, however, require prior registration.

During the event, city planners will also unveil the seven finalists in the competition to redesign Rabin Square, which is considered Israel’s most prominent public space for demonstrations, and Tel Aviv’s main city square.

chyutin architects

Chyutin Architects’ proposed design for Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square

Open House Tel Aviv, which started in 2007, was inspired by the Open Houses held in London and in New York. Tel-Aviv, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO thanks to its concentration of buildings designed in the International Style, possesses many other architectural qualities in addition to its spirited urban energy.

The event provides “exposure to scores of young architects and designers whose projects are characterized by original thinking, innovative use of raw materials and/or a commitment to preserving the environment,” according to Open House Worldwide, the umbrella organization that collaborates on the event with the City of Tel Aviv (and dozens of other cities around the globe).

With roughly 150 open houses, tours, activities and bike rides, this three-day event will feature some of the most stunning spaces in Tel Aviv. NoCamels highlights a few of them:

The Peres Center for Peace

Designed by Massimiliano Fuksas and Yoav Messer Architects, The Peres Center for Peace is considered one of the most interesting buildings erected in Israel in recent years. The tour will provide an opportunity to get a feel for this special building and watch a presentation about its architectural concept and construction process.

The tours will also include a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the life of former Israeli president Shimon Peres and his efforts to achieve peace in the Middle Est, as well as artifacts dating back to the State of Israel’s early days that belong to his personal archive.

The Peres Center for Peace is located at 132 Kedem St. on the Jaffa coast. Tours will start every hour, May 27, 11 am – 3 pm.

Peres Center for Peace

The Rivka Grinwald House (Alma Home)

Designed by architect Yehuda Magidovich in 1929 and preserved by architect Amnon Bar Or in 2010, this beautiful villa is now used by Alma, Home for the Hebrew Culture.

SEE ALSO: Tel Aviv’s Norman Hotel Is Voted World’s Best Boutique Hotel

alma home

The house was originally built for diplomats Rivka and Victor Grinwald. Their home was a social center in the early days of Tel Aviv. It is known for its architectural details, multicolored flooring, magnificent frescos, and carpentry made by a skilled artisan.

Following the architectural tour, participants will meet Tamar Pariente, Grinwald’s granddaughter, who will share memories from her grandmother’s home.

The villa is located on 4 Shadal St. Tour: May 27, 11 am.

Cinema Hotel

Also designed by Magidovich (in 1939), and renovated by architect Aryeh Debilanski in recent years, Cinema Hotel is a Bauhaus building that used to house the legendary Esther Cinema. Now, it is a boutique hotel. Using original posters and brochures from the 50s, the hotel preserves thematic elements from the former movie theater.

The tour will include preserved spaces and a collection of cameras, projectors and posters that are on permanent display. Visitors will also get a glimpse of some rooms in the hotel and can go up to the balcony that overlooks Dizengoff Square.

Cinema Hotel is located on 1 Zamenhoff St., Dizengoff Square. Tours will be given throughout the weekend. Reservations are required.

cinema hotel

Luxury apartments on 42 Herbert Samuel St.

The event will also provide a chance to visit two upscale apartments that overlook the Mediterranean Sea: One Art Deco apartment designed in shades of black and white with works of art by Keren Anavy and ceramics artist Batya Malka, and one eclectic apartment whose design was inspired by famed fashion designer Missoni, which contains colorful works of art by glass artist Chihuly. Interior design: Iris Rosenheimer.

Tours: May 26-28

SeaOne 42 Herbert Samuel

A renovated apartment in Ramat Aviv

A renovated apartment, located in the neighborhood Ramat Aviv, will open its doors to the public May 27-28. Originally built in the 50’s inside a tenement building, it has a view of a pastoral grove. After undergoing extensive renovations, the apartment is now home to the designers and their two-year-old daughter, and also serves as their studio.

The new design incorporates pine wood elements that function as partitions, as well as works of art, graphics and prints made by street artists and the apartment owners.

Interior design: Dana Gutman and Rotem Solarchik (Studio 37).

16 Noah St., Apt. 2, May 27, 10:30 am – 1 pm; May 28, 11 am – 1:30 pm. 

ramat aviv apartment

Photos and renderings: City of Tel Aviv, Roi Boshi, Studio37Cinema Hotelכ.אלוןSeaOne/Oranim, Chyutin Architects

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Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Check Out Coldplay’s Stunning New Music Video Created By Israeli Wunderkinds]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45162 2016-05-22T06:36:15Z 2016-05-22T06:39:44Z

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

coldplay video heymann

Lilliputian scene from Coldplay’s new music video

To read the full article, click here

Photos and video: Coldplay

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Is Excessive Daydreaming A Psychological Disorder?]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45142 2016-05-19T06:21:15Z 2016-05-19T06:21:15Z

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Daydreaming can be a fun, momentary escape from reality and could also enhance brain performance, according to recent research. But excessive daydreaming could signal the onset of a psychological disorder, Israeli researchers warn.

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

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

dreamcatcher

Dreamcatcher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

daydreaming

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

Photos: Zach BettenYanko PeyankovJaime Handley

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Yonatan Sredni, NoCamels <![CDATA[Chinese Takeout: These Five Israeli Startups Are Taking China By Storm]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44503 2016-05-18T09:02:33Z 2016-05-18T09:01:59Z

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

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

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

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

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

Visualead: ‘Designer’ QR codes

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

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

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

Pixellot: A new way of filming

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

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

AutoAgronom: Saving water, one drop at a time

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

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

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

Tonara: Music education software

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

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

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

ThetaRay: Keeping us safe from cyber threats

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

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

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

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

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

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[The Oscars Of The Culinary World: ‘Shaya’ Named America’s Best New Restaurant]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45165 2016-05-17T13:20:14Z 2016-05-17T12:28:13Z

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Israeli chef Alon Shaya continues to garner top awards: His New Orleans restaurant ‘Shaya’ has been named ‘Best New Restaurant’ by the prestigious culinary organization The James Beard Foundation.

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

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

Chef Alon Shaya

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

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

shaya restaurant

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

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

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

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

baking pita bread at Shaya's

Baking Israeli pita bread at Shaya’s

Israelis win big at the Oscars of the food world

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

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

shaya restaurant

Photos: Alon ShayaMDHawk, Shaya Restaurant

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Meital Goldberg, NoCamels <![CDATA[JoyTunes’ Apps ‘Gamify’ Piano Lessons, Make Practicing Fun]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45112 2016-05-16T09:44:52Z 2016-05-16T09:33:32Z

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

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

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

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

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

SEE ALSO: New Game Turns Your iPad Into A Piano

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

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

piano keys

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

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

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

Keeping students engaged 

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

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

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

learning piano app joytunes

Using the power of games to master musical skills

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

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

Can JoyTunes replace my instructor? 

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

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

joytunes

Photos and video: Courtesy

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David Shamah, The Times Of Israel <![CDATA[LifeBond’s Stomach Closure ‘Glue’ Gets EU Approval]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45080 2016-05-15T11:20:40Z 2016-05-15T11:25:31Z

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

LifeSeal, the no-leak sealant solution for patients who have undergone gastrointestinal (GI) surgery, is now approved for use in the European Union. The sealant, developed by Israel-based LifeBond, will allow doctors in 32 countries to use the unique “glue” that prevents leaks after bariatric and GI operations.

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

In addition, the company said, LifeSeal is now also on the fast track to FDA approval. The product was given the FDA’s Expedited Access Pathway (EAP) designation, and is now eligible for quicker approval consideration, which the company hopes will take place after it begins its new international study, which will include sites in the US and Europe. The FDA reserves its EAP designation for products that provide a solution for an unmet medical need.

LifeBond's lab

LifeBond’s lab

“LifeSeal offers surgical units and hospitals with an innovative, high-quality surgical tool that both easily integrates into the surgical practice, and has been proven in clinical studies to make a major positive difference for patients,” said Ittai Harel, chairman of the board of LifeBond and managing general partner at Pitango, the venture capital firm that led the company’s recent $27 million Series D investment round.

Generally, patients who have undergone bariatric or GI surgery will 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 patient activity like scratching.

SEE ALSO: New Israeli Innovation Can Patch Incisions With No Stitching Or Scarring

To solve this, LifeBond has developed 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.

According to the company, the sealant is stronger and longer-lasting than others on the market, and uses only natural ingredients instead of chemicals, so it is much better tolerated in patients than other sealants.

lifebond

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Courtesy

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Only 50% Of Your Friends Actually Like You, Study Shows]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=45002 2016-05-10T10:42:21Z 2016-05-12T07:37:53Z

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You may have hundreds of friends on Facebook, but have you ever considered how many ‘real’ friends you have? A real friendship, outside of social networks, is a two-way street — but that’s true only half the time, according to a new study.

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

A friend indeed?

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

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

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

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

friends

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

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

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

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

A matter of influence

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

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

friendship

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

Photos: Ben Duchac

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Yonatan Sredni and Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Innovation Nation: 10 Israeli Technologies That Are Changing The World]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44971 2016-05-11T07:34:16Z 2016-05-11T07:40:56Z

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

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

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

israeli inventions

Photos of Israeli inventions currently exhibited at Ben Gurion Airport

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

IceCure: Turning tumors into ice balls 

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

ReWalk: Helping paraplegics walk

If driving is something most of us take for granted, then walking surely is. In the US alone, there are nearly 250,000 individuals with spinal cord injuries that partially or entirely inhibit regular motor functions. For them, standing and walking around freely remains the stuff of dreams. Now, using a revolutionary exoskeleton walking device ReWalk, which was recently approved for home and communal use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US, wheelchair-bound individuals are be able to move freely.

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

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

Mobileye: Preventing accidents

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

Its systems use video cameras and advanced algorithms to identify and respond to other vehicles, bends in the road, pedestrians and traffic signs, providing advanced warning for drivers and thereby preventing road accidents. Mobileye has already embedded its technology into cars made by Audi, Tesla Motors and others.

Founded in 1999 by Ziv Aviram and Amnon Shashua, the Hebrew University professor who developed the technology, Mobileye raised nearly $1 billion in its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in July 2014, making it the largest-ever Israeli IPO.

mobileyepedestrian

Waze: Saving you time on the road

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

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

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

SniffPhone: Detecting deadly diseases on the breath 

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

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

Netafim: Drip irrigation saves precious water 

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

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

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

Solaris Synergy: Floating solar energy

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

Takadu: Smart water management 

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

WoundClot bandages: Stop severe bleeding within minutes

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

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

BioBee: Using insects to control pests

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

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

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

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

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

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Yonatan Sredni, No Camels <![CDATA[Be My Guest: Photos Of Airbnb Hosts, Not Apartments, Affect Renters’ Decisions]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44785 2016-05-10T06:18:32Z 2016-05-10T06:20:03Z

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The popular expression “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” is generally associated with job interviews, first dates, and business presentations, but it may even extend to your Airbnb profile.

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

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

The Seashell House ~ Casa Caracol Isla Mujeres (Airbnb)

The Seashell House, Isla Mujeres, Mexico (offered for rent on Airbnb.com)

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

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

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

Renters are willing to pay more if the host looks trustworthy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The swimming pool of an Airbnb villa near Athens, Greece

The swimming pool of a villa near Athens, Greece (offered for rent on Airbnb.com)

A pictures is worth a thousand… Airbnb guests? 

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

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

airbnb hostPhotos and video: Airbnb

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David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Motorola Solutions Opens Innovation Center In Israel, Scouts For Startups]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44864 2016-05-09T08:12:52Z 2016-05-09T08:14:45Z

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

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

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

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

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

Prime_Minister_of_Israel_Benjamin_Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Press Office

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Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Ride-Sharing Startup Via Raises $100M; Revs Up Competition Against Uber, Lyft]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44920 2016-05-08T10:43:57Z 2016-05-08T10:29:43Z

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

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

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

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

$5 rides 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chicago

Chicago

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

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

via suv

Photos: Via, Andrew RuizSky 269

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Yonatan Sredni and Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Public Transit App Moovit Launches Official Rio Olympics App, Integrates With Uber Taxis]]> http://nocamels.com/?p=44276 2016-05-06T15:20:24Z 2016-05-05T10:52:39Z

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So many moving parts” 

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

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

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

moovit app

A  mapping community

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

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

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

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

moovit

Photos and videos: Moovit, Olympic.org

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

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

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

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

Start diet today

One-third of adolescents are either overweight or obese

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

heart attack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEE ALSO: Israeli Company Mobileye Gearing Up For Driverless Cars

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

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

Wrapped with a bow, delivered straight to your home 

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

beepi car bow

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

SEE ALSO: Charge Your Car In Five Minutes

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

Changing the way people buy and sell used cars 

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

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

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

beepi app

Photos and video: Courtesy

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

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

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

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

rice

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

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

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

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

“Helping farmers reduce their water consumption”

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

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

Improving rice yields 

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

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

A traditional rice field

A traditional rice field

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

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

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

sub-surface irrigation

Subsurface irrigation

Photos: City of Lakewood

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

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

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

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

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

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking

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

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

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

SEE ALSO: NASA And Israel Ink Deal On Space Cooperation

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

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

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

Prof. Jeff Steinhauer

Prof. Jeff Steinhauer of the Technion

To read the full article, click here

Photos: NASA, Technion-Israel Institute of TechnologyLwp Kommunikáció

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

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

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

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

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

Waze

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

Creating fake traffic jams 

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

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

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

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

“Built upon trust”

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

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

waze community

Photos: Courtesy

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

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

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

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

Vegetables - Health News - Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos and infographics: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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

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

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

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

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

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

For kids, inspired by kids

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

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

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

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

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

BRIXO co-founders Amir-Saraf and Boaz Almog

BRIXO co-founders Amir Saraf and Boaz Almog

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

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

brixo

Photos and video: BRIXO, Lego

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

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

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

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

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

Aqwise

Aqwise’s water treatment facility in Mexico

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taj Mahal, India

The Taj Mahal, Agra, India

To read the full article, click here

Photos: Chronic Crippler, Aqwise, Kumaravels

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

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

SEE ALSO: Israeli Makes Breakthrough Discovery In Liver Disease Treatment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Redefining cancer research 

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

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

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Dr. Yaakov Nahmias

An alternative for animal experiments 

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

Photos: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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

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

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

Tal-Ya: Growing more food with less water

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

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

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

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

dew

Phresh: Keeping your fruits and veggies crisp

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

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

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

HomeBiogas: Turning grabage into cooking gas

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

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

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

homebiogas

Opgal: Detecting leaks to prevent pollution

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

BreezoMeter – Tracking air quality around the globe 

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

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

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

Utilight: 3D-printed solar panels

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

BioBee: Using insects to control pests

Before you swat that fly away, think twice; it may be on a mission to help make our planet greener. Israel’s Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, a pioneer in organic agriculture, has successfully left its mark on chemical-free farming with its very own company BioBee. The firm, which was established in 1984, specializes in breeding beneficial insects and mites to help propel agricultural growth in open fields and greenhouses.

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

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

Earth - Environment News - Israel

HARBO: Keeping oil spills contained

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

SEE ALSO: Volcanic Rock To Clean Up Oil Spills

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

Eco Wave Power: Turning ocean waves into energy 

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

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

Eco Wave Power system in Gibraltar

Eco Wave Power’s system in Gibraltar

GreenWall: Grow your own food in a vertical garden

Vertical gardens, in which residents of high-rise buildings can grow their own food, use minimal amounts of water and soil, thereby conserving natural resources. Israeli company GreenWall, which was founded in 2009 by engineer and gardening pioneer Guy Barness, has developed an advanced technology with which it erects gardens that line the walls, both inside and outside of buildings, taking up less space compared to conventional gardens and capable of growing almost every plant species with proper care.

vertical garden in Sydney

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

Photos and videos: Maojin Lang, the companies

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

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

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

baseball-player

“You can observe a lot by just watching”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will the batter hit or miss? 

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

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

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

baseball by Gary Shear

Photos: Gary Shear

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