NoCamels - Israeli Innovation News is the leading news website on Israeli innovations. We cover all the latest innovation in the fields of technology, health, environment and lifestyle.2015-08-05T09:53:00Z Roseanne Tabachnik, NoCamels <![CDATA[Novel Eye-Tracking Device EyeControl Enables ALS Patients To Communicate]]> 2015-08-05T09:51:28Z 2015-08-05T09:53:00Z

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

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

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

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

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

An invention inspired by personal connections

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

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



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

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

To get the device to market, the company has launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in hopes to raise $30,000. Since the start of the campaign on July 7, the startup has exceeded its $30,000 goal, reaching $42,000 with two days to go until the campaign funding closes. Despite the company’s time-crunched Indiegogo campaign, Retzin could not confirm a product release date.

A screen-free and affordable device 

EyeControl has set its sights on making a difference in the lives of ALS patients by teaming up with the non-profit organization Prize4Life and its CEO Shay Rishoni, an ALS patient, to help raise the funds needed to get the product on the market.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Roseanne Tabachnik, NoCamels <![CDATA[3D Print Artistic Designs On Your Cappuccino With The Ripple Maker!]]> 2015-08-02T11:29:08Z 2015-08-04T11:28:41Z

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

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

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

The Ripple Maker

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

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

SEE ALSOMagazine Votes Tel Aviv ‘Outstanding Culinary Destination’

The Ripple Maker

The Ripple Maker

Customized latte at your fingertip 

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

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

The Ripple Maker

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


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

The Ripple Maker

“Making a ripple on the world”

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

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

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

The Ripple Maker

Photos and video courtesy of Steam CC

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

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

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

SEE ALSO: Israelis Bring Archaeological Landmarks Back To Life

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


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

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

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

“She jabbed at me with her spear”

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

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

bonobo in captivity

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

Rebuilding the cultural traditions of apes 

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

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

Photos: Jeroen KransenRob Bixby

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

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

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

SEE ALSO: Technion Discovers Embryonic Stem Cells In Amniotic Sac

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

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

SEE ALSO: Researchers Identify Embryonic Stem Cell Renewal Mechanisms

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

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

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

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

Video: Courtesy

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Cannabis Heals Bone Fractures, Makes New Bones Even Stronger]]> 2015-07-30T06:49:08Z 2015-07-30T06:09:28Z

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

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

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

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


Undeniable clinical potential

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

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

SEE ALSO: How Israel Became A Medical Marijuana Powerhouse

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

Separating the components out

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

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

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

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

Photos: Tiina Allik

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

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

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

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

SEE ALSO: Will Computers And Humans Make Decisions Together?

Carbon nanotubes

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

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

SEE ALSO: Fruit Flies Inspire Scientists to Optimize Computer Networks

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

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


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

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

Photos: MstroeckSimetrical

Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Startups Set New All-Time Record, Raising $1.12B In Last Three Months]]> 2015-07-28T12:39:41Z 2015-07-28T12:39:41Z

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

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

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

Azrieli Towers, Tel Aviv, Israel

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

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

MoneyBreeding ‘unicorn’ companies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos, infographics: IVC Research Center

Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Stunning Hanging Garden Will Cover Israel’s Busiest Highway]]> 2015-07-27T13:00:29Z 2015-07-27T12:10:25Z

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

SEE ALSO: Can Vertical Gardens End World Hunger?

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

Rendering of the park above the Ayalon Highway

Rendering of the park above the Ayalon Highway

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ayalon Highway

Ayalon Highway today

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

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

Ayalon Highway today

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

Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[Revolutionary: Israeli Researcher Says He Can ‘Erase’ Memory Of Addiction]]> 2015-07-26T10:16:37Z 2015-07-26T10:09:39Z

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

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


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

“Eternal Sunside” of the addicted mind

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

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

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


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

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

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

SEE ALSO: Researchers Identify Mechanism That Causes Alcoholics To Relapse

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

“Acute, robust, targeted” treatment

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

DNA methylation_small

An illustration of the process of DNA methylation.

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

Could rehabilitation be as simple as taking a daily supplement?

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


Prof. Gal Yadid

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

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

Photos: Jamal Benamer/ Tomer Appelbaum

Roseanne Tabachnik, NoCamels <![CDATA[These Boots Are Made For Lady Gaga: Kobi Levi Takes The Shoe Industry By Storm]]> 2015-07-23T12:37:47Z 2015-07-23T12:37:47Z

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

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


Double boot designed by Kobi Levi

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

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

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

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


Lady Gaga

Taking the shoe world by storm

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

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

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

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

Israeli shoe designer Kobi Levi

Israeli shoe designer Kobi Levi

“Wearable sculptures” 

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

 shoe designed by Kobi Levi

The bubble gum shoe


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

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

Harp-shaped shoes designed by Kobi Levi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hacker at work

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

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


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

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

Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[Check Out CeeLo’s Crazy-Cool Interactive Music Video For Robin Williams]]> 2015-07-21T16:26:43Z 2015-07-21T16:18:57Z

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

Check out the crazy-cool video for yourself:

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

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

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


Scene from “Like a Rolling Stone” video.

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

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

Photo: Interlude

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Israeli companies to merge 

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

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

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


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

54 Israeli startups and $5.3 billion in six months 

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

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

Tel Aviv: Skyline (night)

Photos: 401(k) 2012

Roseanne Tabachnik, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israel’s SightDx Detects Malaria In Blood In Only Three Minutes]]> 2015-07-20T13:13:08Z 2015-07-20T13:10:50Z

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

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

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

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


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

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

Navigating blood cells with the power of computers

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

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

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

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


99 percent accuracy

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

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

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

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

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

David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Israeli Fraud Prevention Tech Wins Prestigious ‘Silver Stevie’ Award]]> 2015-07-19T13:35:36Z 2015-07-19T13:34:50Z

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

SEE ALSOiOnRoad Uses Augmented Reality To Warn Drivers

mifold booster seat

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

mifold booster seat
The goal: Reducing the risk of injury 

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

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

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

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

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

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


Some people age faster than others 

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

SEE ALSO: Why Do Our Brains Age?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family holding hands together closeup

Your lifestyle affects your aging process

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

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

Assessing one’s true age could prevent diseases 

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

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

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

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Light Beams, Not Pacemakers, Could Be The Future Of Heart Treatments]]> 2015-07-15T12:26:03Z 2015-07-15T12:25:34Z

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

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

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


A standard pacemaker

Pacemakers: an inefficient solution

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

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

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

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

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

A new approach to a long-standing problem

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke Tress, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Israeli Startup Breeds Protein-Rich Edible Insects To End World Hunger]]> 2015-07-14T09:01:51Z 2015-07-14T09:01:51Z

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

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

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

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

SEE ALSO: New Insects Introduced To Jordan River


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

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

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

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

Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[Acclaimed Israeli Architect Omer Arbel Sheds Light On His Multifaceted Approach To Design]]> 2015-07-13T13:38:45Z 2015-07-13T13:37:56Z

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

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

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


‘23.2 House’

Changing forms

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

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

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


’14’ at the Hotel Alexandra in Spain

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

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

Arbel's '2.4 Chair'

Arbel’s ‘2.4 Chair’

Light that speaks volumes

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

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

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


Arbel and Hunt with their winning Olympic medal design

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

Photos: Bocci/ GlobalTVBC

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Watch Out Botox: Researchers Discover Scar-Free Skin Rejuvenation Method]]> 2015-07-09T12:59:25Z 2015-07-12T08:30:56Z

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

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

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

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


An (effective) shock to the system

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

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

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


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

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

Photos: Isaac Torrontera

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doron Myersdorf, CEO of StoreDot

Doron Myersdorf, CEO of StoreDot

Instant car charging 

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

$58 million in three years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Endless opportunities for app designers

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

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

Photos and videos courtesy of StoreDot

Eunice Lim, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Artist Reimagines World Leaders: ‘Hipster’ Obama As You’ve Never Seen Before!]]> 2015-07-08T14:36:08Z 2015-07-08T14:29:59Z

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

SEE ALSO: Israeli Artist Creates Culturally Iconic Collages

Barack Obama by artist Amit Shimoni

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

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

SEE ALSO: Artists Preserve Old Tel Aviv With Graffiti Furniture

David Ben Gurion by artist Amit Shimoni

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

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

Hillary Clinton by artist Amit Shimoni

“I want my art to be everywhere”

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

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

Ronald Reagan by artist Amit ShimoniPhotos courtesy of Amit Shimoni

Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Tycoon Teddy Sagi Takes London’s Iconic Camden Market Into The Digital Age]]> 2015-07-08T12:28:15Z 2015-07-08T12:28:15Z

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

SEE ALSO: Israeli Billionaire Buys Up More Of Camden Market

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

Camden Market
No more market stalls?

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

SEE ALSO: Who Is Afraid Of Online Shopping?

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

Camden Town
Startup incubator could revitalize the area

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

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

Camden Town

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

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

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

Camden Market - record store

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

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

Camden Market at night

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

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

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

Camden Market Sweet Co.

Photos: Sheep purple, Camden MarketCristian BortesHorst Michael Lechner

Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[Google And Waze Launch Ride-Sharing App In Israel, Competing With Uber]]> 2015-07-07T18:31:48Z 2015-07-07T18:29:58Z

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

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

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

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

SEE ALSO: Israeli Company Mobileye Gearing Up For Driverless Cars

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

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


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

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

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

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Open Sesame: Israeli Researcher Gives Favorite Middle Eastern Grain A Boost]]> 2015-07-08T12:38:43Z 2015-07-06T12:13:48Z

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

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

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

sesame seeds

An essential ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisines 

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

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

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


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

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[The Nose Knows: ‘Smell Fingerprint’ Could Help In The Early Detection Of Diseases]]> 2015-07-06T12:00:36Z 2015-07-06T12:00:36Z

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

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

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

Health News - Sense of smell

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

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

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

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

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

The olfactory fingerprint

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

Assessing matches for organ donation

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

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

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

Photos: Eneas De Troya , Weitzman Institute, Dennis Wong

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Competitive Athletes Are More Prone To Gambling Addictions, Research Finds]]> 2015-07-05T19:42:17Z 2015-07-05T19:42:17Z

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

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

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

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


Winning vs. fitness

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Photos: vperkins/ JPA Photographs/ Viri G

Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[The Pita Ploy: Hackers Steal Sensitive Information Using Pita Bread-Sized Device]]> 2015-07-02T12:48:01Z 2015-07-02T12:48:01Z

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

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

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


A portable hacking device, inside a pita

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

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

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

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


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

Photo: Tel Aviv University/ Jay

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

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

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

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

Andy Ram

Former tennis champion Andy Ram, founder of Pulse Play

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

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

Where technology and racket sports intersect

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

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

SEE ALSO: The Top Israeli Apps Taking Over Apple Watch

Apple Watch - tennis app

One of the tennis apps on Apple Watch

A Pro Athlete Turned Entrepreneur

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

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

play pulse app

The Pulse Play iPhone app

Small factory, big ideas

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

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

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

Play Pulse smartwatches

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

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

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

Photos: Pulse Play, Sporti

David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Doctors Remotely Control Microchips That Will Disperse Medicine Inside Your Body]]> 2015-07-01T12:21:54Z 2015-07-01T12:15:47Z

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

In-body microchips that deliver medicine in doses either pre-determined or controlled by doctors from outside the body could be the next big thing in drug delivery, and Teva Pharmaceuticals has jumped onto the bandwagon.

The company announced last week a new partnership with US firm Microchips Biotech to deliver Teva-made drugs to patients using the American company’s implanted microchip. It’s the first deal for Microchips Biotech – and the first ever that seeks to commercialize what some consider to be a controversial technology.

SEE ALSO: The Top 10 Israeli Technologies That Are Changing The World


To some, an in-body chip that delivers drugs automatically and eliminates the need to measure out meds – or to even to remember to take them – sounds like the height of convenience and safety, perfect for the elderly and others who often miss doses.

Others – including libertarians concerned over a further erosion of privacy by digital devices and technologies, as well as Christians who are opposed in principle to implanted microchips, are likely to be aghast over what the two companies are doing.

Nevertheless, both fans and foes of in-body drug delivery are going to have to get used to the likelihood that at some point in the future, a doctor will suggest that they, too, be implanted with a chip that doses out drugs in pre-determined increments.

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

Roseanne Tabachnik, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Company Mobileye Gearing Up For Driverless Cars]]> 2015-06-30T13:56:46Z 2015-06-30T13:32:04Z

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For many drivers who have known the grating experience of spending hours in traffic, the prospect of owning a driverless car has been a long-awaited dream. Now the prospect of an automated vehicle that allows you to take you hands off the wheel and feet off the gas, is rapidly becoming a reality as car manufacturers race to produce an entirely autonomous car.

And one Israeli company is taking a big step in that direction.

Mobileye, the world leader in advanced driver assistance systems aimed to prevent road collisions, is paving the future for driverless cars. The Jerusalem-based company initially garnered the world’s attention last August after going public in the US and setting a record$1.02 billion IPO. Today, Mobileye’s market cap is at $11.2 billion, a clear vote of confidence in its revolutionary technology.

      SEE ALSO: 2014: The Year Of The Israeli IPO


Over the past few years, hundreds of automakers – such as General Motors, BMW, and Volvo, to name a few – have equipped their vehicles with Mobileye’s collision avoidance technology, protecting drivers, passengers and pedestrians from crashes and accidents.

Founded in 1999, Mobileye has been developing its technology for nearly 16 years, and has been at the forefront of road safety technology since 2007 when its camera system first debuted on the Volvo S80.

“True autonomy will be transformative”

Now, Mobileye’s co-founder and Hebrew University researcher Prof. Amnon Shashua further advances the technology as he looks into the future of the vehicle industry. The first step is to introduce a consumer-grade, hands-free vehicle, which will eventually lead to a completely autonomous, or self-driving car.

“In the next 10 to 20 years, I believe cars will be completely autonomous,” Shashua, co-founder, CTO and chairman of Mobileye, tells NoCamels. “Completely autonomous cars will start being built five years from today. And true autonomy will be transformative.”

     SEE ALSO: Will Tesla’s Driverless Car Be Powered By Israel’s Mobileye Technology?

Prof. Amnon Shashua, co-founder, CTO and Chairman of Mobileye

Prof. Amnon Shashua, co-founder, CTO and Chairman of Mobileye

Mobileye works directly with the car industry, selling technology in the form of a chip with algorithms installed in new cars that helps prevent collisions. The company distributes its chip-based systems to 23 automakers, including BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Peugot, Volvo, Tesla, and truck manufacturers MAN SE, Scania, and IVECO. Mobileye also markets systems to existing fleets, such as the recently announced partnership with New York  yellow cabs.

Indeed, cab companies in the Big Apple are turning to Mobileye’s road safety alert system in hopes of improving driving experience for both passenger and drivers, by alerting drivers if they get too close to cars in front of them, veer out of the lane, or tailgate.

Collision-detecting technology evolves into driverless vehicles

Mobileye’s collision-detecting technology operates on the company’s third-generation EyeQ3 chip that originally launched on the Audi A7 and Volvo XC90 in the first quarter of this year. The goal at large, however, is to focus on developments that will lead to a new method of driving where the driver can completely let go of the wheel.

While hands-free driving has yet to be considered a mainstream form of transportation, Shashua expects to launch a technology with such capabilities next year. The Mobileye-integrated, hands-free vehicle will have two main uses, Shashua notes. The first is to activate the system when commuting along a long stretch of highway, and the second is to use the system during a traffic jam. “The car can manage itself and stop and go automatically, and then you can disconnect from the driving experience until the traffic starts moving again,” Shashua, who “drives” a driverless, autonomous Audi A7, explains.


Mobileye’s hands-free technology will retail at $3,000 to $5,000; as the technology becomes more commonly used, and within a 10-year time span the price range of the technology will decrease to several hundred dollars (excluding the price of the car), according to Shashua.

“Our first hands-free driving capabilities, combined with features to allow the car to detect traffic signs, curbs and traffic, will have a very high level of machine perception to carry itself autonomously on highways,” Shashua says.

This set of techniques is designed to mimic the human brain. “It is very similar to how the human brain is structured. Those layers have millions of parameters, and you find their value using a very large database of images,” Shashua explains. “Networks with sufficient data and computing capabilities could reach the human level perception.”

While the technology is not intended to completely replace humans’ role in driving, the goal is to create an improved and more convenient experience. Though the system may compensate for sudden changes on the road, the driver is still expected to be alert and awake when behind the wheel.

Photos and video courtesy of Mobileye

David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Agritech Firm ‘Phytech’ Is Brining Novel Plant Alert System To America]]> 2015-06-29T15:30:05Z 2015-06-29T15:30:05Z

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

Phytech, an Israeli agritech firm that is bringing the Internet of Things to the plant world, has teamed up with ADAMA Agricultural Solutions to sell its plant-alert system to farmers in North and South America.

The deal, said Phytech CEO Sarig Duek, is a key one for the company. “We believe that ADAMA’s grower-focused approach will ensure the successful implementation of the technology for the benefit of growers worldwide,” he commented.


Phytech and Adama will bring IoT tech to farmers in North and South America

ADAMA is the new name for veteran Israeli company Makhteshim-Agan — once one of the world’s largest supplier of insecticides and herbicides, and today a part of even-bigger ChemChina, which acquired the Israeli firm in 2014. ADAMA still operates as an independent unit, and is as dominant in the business as ever; the company’s 2014 revenues were about $3.2 billion, up $200 million from the previous year.

SEE ALSO: Perfecting The Art Of Smart Gardening Is The Name Of GreenIQ’s Game

As a result, Phytech should have no problem reaching customers globally for its PlantBeat service, which equips crops with sensors that record information about the growing environment. The system keeps track of how much water the plants have been getting, how moist the soil is, the soil temperature, and other data. The sensors upload the information to a cloud server, where it is analyzed and migrated to a mobile app that Phytech users download. The app indicates how healthy a plant is, and what to do to improve its performance.

Like a physician who measures a heartbeat, explained Phytech Vice-President Itay Mayer, their system measures “plantbeat,” the physical signs given off by the plant — hence the name of the sensor monitoring system.

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

Eunice Lim, NoCamels <![CDATA[Breastfeeding May Reduce Risk Of Childhood Leukemia, Study Shows]]> 2015-06-28T13:48:56Z 2015-06-28T13:48:56Z

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More than 3,000 American children were diagnosed with leukemia last year, according to the American Cancer Society. But these numbers could potentially drop if more mothers would breastfeed their babies for longer periods, a recent study by Israeli researchers says. The study presents a hopeful correlation between breastfeeding and a lowered risk of contracting childhood leukemia, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of all childhood cancers.

SEE ALSO: Why Leukemia Recurs After Successful Chemotherapy

Patients with leukemia, a type of blood cancer, suffer from a weakened immune system, poor blood clotting, and frequent fatigue, among other symptoms. But this disease could potentially be prevented, according to the University of Haifa study, which suggests that babies who are breastfed for six months or longer have a 19 percent lower risk of contracting leukemia, compared to those who are given formula or are breastfed for a shorter amount of time.


SEE ALSO: Breastfed Babies Are Less Likely To Develop ADHD

While it is unclear what exact properties of breast milk lower the risk, the researchers state that breast milk contains “many immunologically active components and anti-inflammatory defense mechanisms that influence the development of an infant’s immune system.”

The study, conducted by Dr. Efrat L. Amitay and Dr. Lital Keinan-Boker, is based on a meta-analysis of 18 previous studies and was recently published in the esteemed scientific journal JAMA Pediatrics, part of the Journal of American Medical Association.

“There are so many proven benefits seen in babies who are breastfed”

Critics have challenged the findings on the grounds that they are not sufficiently rigorous to support or refute the claim that babies who are breastfed are at a reduced risk of childhood leukemia. Additionally, the studies reviewed by the Israeli research team only considered the association between breastfeeding and one specific type of leukemia known as acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Still, the findings are considered significant, considering that three out of four leukemia cases among children are ALL, according to the American Cancer Society.

All criticisms considered, Amitay and Keinan-Boker still vouch for breastfeeding and its health benefits, in light of the fact that over the past 50 years there has been a sharp decline in breastfeeding, especially in urban areas of developed countries, where more women are entering the workplace. “I think women want to breastfeed but they have less time to do so, and less experience,” Keinan-Boker tells NoCamels. “They don’t live in tight-knit communities anymore where older women traditionally would help them through the process.”

BreastfeedingAmitay and Keinan-Boker hope that their findings provide another compelling reason for women to breastfeed, and breastfeed exclusively. “Of course, leukemia prevention is not the main or only reason to breastfeed,” Keinan-Boker says. “There are so many proven benefits seen in babies who are breastfed, such as higher IQ, lower risk for ear infections and intestinal diseases, which are much more common in babies.”

However, others are heeding against the guilt that is assigned to women who cannot, or choose not to breastfeed. According to, “The decision to breastfeed or formula feed your baby is a personal one. Weighing the pros and cons of each method can help you decide what is best for you and your baby.”

Photos: Aurimas Mikalauskas

Roseanne Tabachnik, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Company ‘X-Test’ Trains Mice To Detect Explosives At Airports]]> 2015-06-25T12:24:31Z 2015-06-25T12:06:25Z

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Animals are known for their impressive ability to respond to external stimuli, and mice are no exception. While some may consider the furry creatures to be vermin that spread diseases, one Israeli company is debunking that perspective by harnessing the traits that make rodents particularly extraordinary. It turns out, these small mammals can sniff out explosives at airport security checkpoints and save travelers and authorities time and money.

Mice are currently trained by Israeli company X-Test to detect explosives at airports. These specially trained mice will be carried in cages to different checkpoints in order to discreetly smell people and their possessions, alerting officials when they sense a potentially lethal substance.

     SEE ALSO: Israeli Nano-Sensor Can Sniff Out Explosives From 16 Feet Away


This unique system was developed by Israeli company X-Test, a member of The Tamar Group established in 1998 by former Israel Defense Forces officers to detect and neutralize explosives. Now, the company is expanding into uncharted territories by utilizing mice’s keen sense of smell to detect drugs, explosives and foreign substances at border crossings and airports.

“You don’t have to take them for a walk”

In line with Pavlov’s classical conditioning, the rodents are trained (or conditioned) to identify and signal when they come across an unfamiliar odor. The man behind this latest development, former bomb-disposal expert Yuval Amsterdam, 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.  “They’re cheap, and you don’t have to take them for a walk. Once they are trained, they become bio-sensors.”

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

X-Test’s system is also designed to train mice with biological sensors to track patterns in heart rating, breathing, and other factors. Their reactions are then recorded by a computer, which analyzes the bio-data and alerts inspectors to potential suspects. When the mice smell an unfamiliar scent, they signal the security inspector to further investigate the matter. So, if the mice start going crazy in their cage, the security officer will know they’re on to something.

While no mice have yet been officially enlisted to safeguard our airports, their detection capabilities can be be utilized in identifying any contraband and foreign substances that have a scent: explosives, drugs, and even smuggled ivory!


Photos: Kim Carpenter, X-Test, US Transportation Security Administration

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[New System Tells People Which Deadly Diseases They Are Most Likely To Contract]]> 2015-06-24T13:15:16Z 2015-06-24T12:50:14Z

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Two years ago, Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy after she found out she was carrying a genetic mutation that greatly increased her risk of contracting potentially fatal breast cancer. This March, the actress also revealed she also had her ovaries removed due to a second health scare.

Now two major revolutions, one genomic and one in informatics, are completely changing the face of preventive medicine. Every day all over the world, millions of genetic sequences — from disease-related genes to complete genomes of plants, animals, bacteria and viruses — are resolved, identified and dissected.

One Israeli researcher is using this information to tell patients which diseases they are at risk of contracting and to construct genetic sequences that could protect people from such diseases in the future. Dr. Yuval Tabach, a researcher from IMRIC — the Institute for Medical Research Israel‑Canada at the Hebrew University – has developed a new Internet tool that will allow any investigator, physician or patient to analyze a gene according to its evolutionary profile, in order to alert patients of imminent genetic diseases and cancer.

     SEE ALSO: Study Discovers Link Between Back Pain And Your Genes

DNA code analysis

Genes are our biological fortune-tellers

One example of a known mutation which increases the likelihood of developing breast and ovarian cancers is in the BRCA1 gene. Interest in this gene was highlighted when Angelina Jolie discovered that she had inherited the dangerous mutation from her mother, who died of cancer aged 56. However in the majority of cases, both for breast cancer and other genetically transmitted diseases, the identity of the gene responsible for the disease is unknown.

By using the methods of genetic analysis developed by Dr. Tabach, researchers can now identify genes within the same network as the BRCA1 gene, or other associations of genes, simply by scanning the evolutionary profiles of tens of organisms with a single click. The number of organisms that can be scanned in this way is anticipated to increase to hundreds in the near future.

The technique is simple and based on the fact that genes that work together or those that play an important role in biology will be present together in organisms that need them. Conversely, genes connected to a particular function like vision will disappear from species that have lost the power of sight, and may therefore be identified by a comparison to the genes in normal animals.

Dr. Tabach’s application is a product of his continued research, which he began as a Fellow at Harvard University in collaboration with researchers and physicians from all over the world. This research revealed the possibility of comparing the evolutionary profiles derived from multiple organisms to predict the biological functions and clinical relevance of given genes. One of the most important applications of this approach is the possibility to identify genes associated with genetic diseases and cancer.

      SEE ALSO: The ‘Memory’ Of Starvation Stays In Your Genes For Three Generations, Tel Aviv Researchers Show

“The significance of this tool is that anyone, physician or researcher, can input results from genetic mapping studies concerning suspected genes, and the tool will identify evolutionary, and probably functional, connections to known genes with association to diseases” explains Dr. Tabach. “The process is rapid, without cost or time wasted, and enables the identification of genes responsible for diseases.”

Identifying the vampires among us?

An interesting example of a gene that could be identified using this phylogenetic profiling approach is the so-called “Vampire’s Disease,” more professionally termed porphyria. Representing a family of genetic diseases characterized by abdominal pain, sensitivity to sunlight, purple urine, and psychotic episodes, porphyria probably forms the basis for the prevalent myths of vampires. These diseases are rare, but there is evidence for hereditary porphyria in European royal families, and it may have been responsible for the madness of King George III, as well as for the psychotic behavior of the painter Vincent Van Gogh, misdiagnosed as a depressive schizophrenic. Dr. Tabach demonstrated how, with one click, it is possible to identify essentially all the genes known to be associated with porphyria as well as other genes that, based on their phylogenetic profile, are very likely to be involved.

Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh

The bioinformatics methods developed by Dr. Tabach have formed the basis for the establishment of a company dealing with computational pharmaceutics which will identify new indications for existing therapeutic agents. This could dramatically decrease the time and expense required to bring a new drug to market, and facilitate the development of treatments for rare orphan diseases.

In the coming years, Dr. Tabach’s laboratory intends to focus on the identification of genes that prevent aging and protect against cancer, by consideration of the genes of some fascinating species of organisms with increased longevity and an almost complete resistance to cancer. In addition the laboratory is working with a model which describes almost 40 neurological diseases with a related etiology including Huntington’s disease, ataxia, and fragile X‑syndrome.

The research paper, co-authored with collaborators from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, appears in the journal Nucleic Acids Research as “PhyloGene server for identification and visualization of coevolving proteins using normalized phylogenetic profiles”. Support for the research came from Hebrew University of Jerusalem start-up funds.

Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[VCs, Angels, Crowd Funds: Who Rules The Israeli Investment Landscape?]]> 2015-06-23T19:19:08Z 2015-06-23T13:57:20Z

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The startup industry is Israel’s wunderkind, the prodigious offspring everyone raves about and wants a piece of. With a record $3.4 billion raised by Israeli startups in 2014, and nearly $1 billion in the first quarter of 2015, local and global investors are pouring a sea of cash into budding Israeli startups.

But who rules the investor seas? How do venture capital firms, angel investors, and crowd-funding platforms like OurCrowd share in the bounty, and what is their respective power? For a better understanding of the investor landscape in Israel, NoCamels met many of Israel’s leading investors and experts.

Tel Aviv, Israel

Venture capital firms

VCs, or venture capital firms, are the rainmakers of the Startup Nation, pouring billions of dollars into Israeli companies every year.

The VC industry first took off in Israel around 1993, when the Israeli government funded 10 venture capital firms in a program called “Yozma” (Hebrew for initiative). Since then, the industry has flourished rapidly, and today there are more than 50 active Israeli and foreign VCs, mainly international funds with offices in Israel. In total, these VCs manage billions of dollars in funds, mostly from institutional investors such as pension funds from the US.

While Israeli VCs started out in the early 90s, the majority of foreign VCs came here towards 2000. Sequoia Capital for example, was founded in the US in 1972 and prior to venturing into Israel had been active solely in Silicon Valley. “Israel was our very first experiment,” Tal Morgenstern, partner at Sequoia, one of the world’s largest VCs, tells NoCamels. “It was our first location outside the US.”

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

Israel’s top VCs are Pitango, JVP, Carmel Ventures, Genesis, Magma, Aleph and 83North. The largest foreign VCs with offices in Israel include Sequoia Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners and Battery Ventures. For startups, these VCs are the kings of the investment jungle, the guys and gals to impress most. Startups all know that to have VC backing significantly improves their chances of success and further financial support.

Angel investors

But if VCs rule the investment landscape, angel investors are often the matchmakers, smart lone wolves who typically make the first “seed” investments in early-stage companies. Angels, as they are called, are people who invests their own money, as opposed to VCs that invest on behalf of others. Since angels get involved early on, they have unique relationships with startup founders. “Angels usually have strong chemistry with the founders of the startup,” experienced angel investor Barak Rabinowitz tells NoCamels. “That’s why good companies have a choice who to let in, and they’re typically letting in the angels who bring real value beyond the money.”

Barak Rabinowitz

Angel investor Barak Rabinowitz

At the start of a startup, “entrepreneurs look at their angels as advisers, and they become very close,” he says. “Typically, an angel doesn’t take a board seat or special rights, but they have a lot of influence over the startup by virtue of that strong chemistry.”

While VCs invest millions of dollars in each company, angels typically invest tens of thousands of dollars for a meaningful stake at an early stage. “That’s a good deal if you believe in the team and vision,” Rabinowitz says.

Crowd-funding platforms

While angels and VCs have been around for decades, recent years have introduced a new player to the Israeli investor landscape: The crowd funds. These funds are wielding increasing power, raising tens of millions of dollars from a large number of people who want to invest small sums of money (typically starting at $10,000) in Israeli startups.

But while crowd-funding firms typically join VCs in financing rounds, they only rarely lead funding rounds themselves.

On the forefront of this industry is OurCrowd, the largest platform of its kind in the world, which has raised $130 million from thousands of investors for 70 startups since its inception in late 2012. “It’s all about building a portfolio of investments for our clients,” Jon Medved, founder and CEO of OurCrowd, tells NoCamels. “If you think you can pick one startup company to invest in, go to a casino instead and play roulette.” Still, Medved agrees that crowd-funding can be risky, just like venture capitalism. “It’s a wild ride,” he asserts. “There are companies that fail – that’s just life. But the good news is that out of our 70 portfolio companies only one has failed.”

Jon Medved, founder and CEO of OurCrowd

Jon Medved, founder and CEO of OurCrowd

Another newcomer to this arena is iAngels, which combines angel investing and crowd funding. Founded in 2013, this platform gives investors the opportunity to angel invest by participating in funding rounds alongside top-tier angel investors like Israeli angel Gigi Levy and American angel Joey Low, both referred to as “super angels,” since they invest larger amounts of money – as much as $500,000 in their best startups.

Corporate and private equity investments 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Along with angels, VCs and crowd funding platforms, Israel also enjoys investments from international conglomerates, such as Microsoft – which has a local investment arm and a startup accelerator. In addition to corporates, significant investments are made by Israeli and foreign private equity firms such as FIMI and Apax, providing additional channels to the local investment landscape.

But while corporations invest in Silicon Wadi (Israel’s alternative to Silicon Valley), they typically do not compete with the VCs. “Corporations provide many benefits to the startup ecosystem, including office space and funding but more importantly, partnerships and validation,” Barak Rabinowitz says. “They’re here to find innovation and are glad to partner with VCs as passive investors in funding rounds.” 

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

Despite the copious amounts of cash pouring into Israeli startups, venture capitalists say there’s no bubble to pop in Israel. “The Israeli talent is strong, with much experience, but since it’s not a very competitive market compared to Silicon Valley, companies’ valuations are typically lower and that’s why the yields are considered high – you get a bigger bang for your buck,” Daniel Cohen of VC Carmel Ventures tells NoCamels. “The Israeli high tech industry is correlated with NASDAQ, so if anything – the bubble is not local, the hype is global.”

Daniel Cohen

Daniel Cohen, partner at Carmel Ventures

“The Israeli market is hotter than it has ever been”

OurCrowd’s Medved says “there’s never been a better time to start a company” thanks to all the money pouring into Israel. “The numbers are off the charts, I’ve never seen anything like this.” He points out several major factors that play into the current investment hype: The coming of age of Israeli technology and entrepreneurs, who are now more professionally mature and experienced than ever; the influx of new investments from Asian VCs, primarily from India and China; the rise of later-stage capital – the growth of private equity firms that “write $150 million checks”; the growth of crowd-funding; and the fact the Israeli researchers and developers happen to excel in products the world needs right now: Robotics, drones, optics, machine vision, cyber security, medical equipment and big data.

Rabinowitz agrees. “The Israeli market has strong fundamentals,” he says. In 2000, during the internet bubble, “there were a lot of innovative companies that lacked earnings but saw high valuations driven by hype,” he says. “Now, companies are doing exciting things, but they’re also making money.”

Still, Israel has room for more “unicorns,” the new buzzword for companies that have surpassed the $1 billion valuation. “The yields are nice, but there’s still room in Israel to create larger companies which could be worth several billions of dollars, like Mobileye and Check Point,” Daniel Cohen says. “Such companies create jobs and breed talent that goes out and starts additional companies. It pushes the economy forward.”

Photos: OurCrowd, Carmel Ventures

Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israel Launches Its First-Ever Natural Gas Powered Truck]]> 2015-06-24T08:04:28Z 2015-06-23T13:23:52Z

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Just as the Israeli parliament deliberates the fate of its recently discovered natural gas reserves, CNH Industrial and Fiat Chrysler announced the commercialization of the first-ever natural gas vehicle on the Israeli market. According to reports, the agreement is part of an earlier Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between Fiat Chrysler, CNH Industrial and Israel’s Fuel Choices Initiative (IFCI) for sustainable fuel replacements.

The first vehicle to be commercialized is an Iveco Stralis 4×2 heavy truck, a huge tractor-trailer-sized truck that is powered by an Iveco Cursor 8 Compressed Natural Gas engine. The group that manufactures the vehicles, CNH Industrial, believes that this is the first step to replacing diesel engine trucks.

     SEE ALSO: Fiat Chrysler Turns To Israel For Alternative Fuel Solutions

Iveco natural gas-powered buses that may soon be used in Israel.

Iveco natural gas-powered buses that may soon be used in Israel.

So how do natural gas trucks compare to run-of-the-mill diesel-fueled trucks? First off, natural gas is a completely clean form of fuel that has at least 95 percent less particulate emissions than typical diesel fuels. In addition, natural gas-powered vehicles emit 35 percent less nitrogen oxide, a compound that contaminates ground water and is said by critics to be one of the biggest culprits for global warming. Another harmful chemical that natural gas-powered vehicles significantly minimizes is carbon dioxide (CO2), which dangerously deteriorates the ozone layer protecting us from the sun. In fact, natural gas, or biomethane, decreases CO2 emissions from 161.3 pounds per British termal units (Btu) in diesel fuel vehicles to 117 pounds per Btu in natural gas-powered vehicles.

Then there’s the issue of price. According to studies conducted by Israel’s IFCI and CNH Industrial, the use of natural gas where it is abundant accounts for up to a 40 percent decrease in fuel expenses, which is great news for an oil-barren country like Israel.

     SEE ALSO: Israel’s Secret Project: Super-Battery To Reduce World’s Oil Thirst

The dealer of Fiat vehicles in Israel, Mediterranean Car Agency, announced that it will also import a 39 foot (12 meter) natural gas-powered Iveco bus. Trial runs and demonstrations on the bus will be conducted over a two month period in Israel. The cooperation between Fiat Chrysler, CNH Industrial and the IFCI, an initiative begun by the Prime Minister’s Office ten years ago, is meant to help the agency realize its goal of making Israel an alternative fuels knowledge hub.


Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[Bloomberg Donates $100M To Groundbreaking ‘Cornell Tech’ Program]]> 2015-06-22T11:25:50Z 2015-06-22T11:13:45Z

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Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg broke ground last week at the Cornell Tech high-tech campus – the new applied sciences campus of Cornell University and Israel’s Technion located on Roosevelt Island – together with his successor and current NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

After touring the campus site, Bloomberg announced that he would donate $100 million to fund a portion of the construction of the campus’ facilities on the island. As such, the first academic center on the Cornell Tech campus will be called the Bloomberg Center, in honor of Mr. Bloomberg’s two daughters, Emma and Georgina.


At the groundbreaking ceremony, Bloomberg expressed that the establishment has long been a dream of his for the City of New York, “New York became the greatest city in the world because we dare to dream bigger than anyone else and this project, I think, is part of that tradition.” In addition, he expressed that the school is likely to produce “thousands of jobs” for New York, a sentiment that was shared by de Blasio in his comments, “This is how you build a future and it’s happening right before our eyes.”

     SEE ALSO: Apple’s Incredible Spaceship-Like Campus To Be Built With Israeli Tech

The new campus will span over 12 acres on the 147 acre island and will include academic buildings, offices and a housing complex for student and staff use. Even the “dorms” at the Cornell Tech campus will be state of the art, marking the first residential high-rise in the world that meets “passive house sustainability standards,” consuming between 60 to 70 percent less energy than typical buildings. The campus is expected to open some time in 2017.


A rendering of the Cornell Tech campus.

Inspired by the Technion?

Cornell Tech was founded in 2011 as a winner of the applied sciences initiative of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, a call-to-action to encourage the development of a lively tech industry in the city. While it awaits the completion of what is set to be an impressive campus on New York’s Roosevelt Island, Cornell Tech students are studying out of Google’s former offices in the hip Meat Packing District in Manhattan. Since 2011, Cornell Tech’s Dean Dan Huttenlocher reports that 100 students have graduated, including 75 in the last month.

     SEE ALSO: First Of Its Kind In Israel: 3D Metal Printer Gets To Work At Technion

Currently, Cornell Tech offers Masters Degrees in a number of fields in the tech industry including: health tech, computer science, connective (social) media, as well as PhD programs and a Startup Postdoc. As part of its cooperation with Israel’s leading technology institute, the Technion, the school houses the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute that encourages an academic partnership between the two institutions. Indeed, the partnership between the institutions was initiated as a founding principle of the school in 2010, based on the fact that Israel is home to the largest concentration of startups outside of California’s Silicon Valley.


Irwin Mark Jacobs, the Founding Chairman and former CEO of Qualcomm.

Besides communications mogul Michael Bloomberg, Cornell Tech has received donations from other notable figures in the business and tech worlds. Charles F. Feeny of the Duty Free Shoppers Group donated an impressive $350 million to the school in 2011 through his charity Atlantic Philanthropies, one of the largest private foundations in the world.

The school’s Jacobs Institute was established with a $133 million donation from Irwin Mark Jacobs, the Founding Chairman and former CEO of tech giant Qualcomm in April 2013. And Verizon Wireless gave $50 million to see the construction of the Verizon Executive Education Center and Google, as mentioned above, donated the use of its offices to the school until construction is completed on its permanent campus.

Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Tel Aviv’s Norman Hotel Is Voted World’s Best Boutique Hotel]]> 2015-07-09T07:40:56Z 2015-06-21T12:14:12Z

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Luxury American tourism magazine Jetsetter has just named the world’s best boutique hotel, and it’s none other than the stunning Norman Tel Aviv.

“The term ’boutique hotel’ can be applied to everything from major chains’ brand extensions to indie sleeps one step removed from B&B status, but Tel Aviv’s smart, stylish Norman is the real deal,” Jetsetter explained of its vote, which was based on reviews by 200 international journalists.

Overall, the magazine examined 23 hotel categories, such as business hotels and all-inclusive beach resorts.

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

The Norman Tel Aviv Hotel

Located just a few steps away from Rothschild Boulevard in the heart of Tel Aviv, the plush Norman Hotel is housed in two reconstructed Bauhaus-era buildings, surrounded by a luscious Mediterranean garden. Of the hotel’s high-end interiors, Jetsetter magazine points to the beautiful “hand-painted tile floors, high ceilings, creamy leather seating and original Israeli artwork.”

The hotel – which has only 50 guestrooms, many of which boast private balconies – also has the first international branch of British-Japanese small plates restaurant Dinings, in addition to the Norman Restaurant; a cocktail bar called the Library; and a stunning rooftop infinity pool. For guests looking to pamper themselves, The Norman offers spa treatments, an in-house yoga instructor, and an ultra-modern gym.

The Norman Tel Aviv

Originally built in 1925 for a wealthy Jewish family, the Norman Tel Aviv was opened in 2014, following eight years of renovations totaling $10 million. Starting at $415 per night, the room price includes à la carte breakfast and a free shuttle ride to the beach. Managed by Olivier Heuchenne and Yaron Liberman, The Norman is famous for for its elegant suites and penthouse units, which range from $700 to $3,300 a night. The hotel is named after the late businessman Norman Lourie, whose grandson is rumored to have shares in the hotel.

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

The Norman Tel Aviv

Jetsetter Magazine’s runners-up in the boutique category are the rustic, yet elegant Hotel La Semilla in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, and the ultra-modern The Serras Hotel in Barcelona, Spain. First-place winners in other categories include The Shangri-La Hotel in Paris, France, named best hotel for “big-city sleep;” the Mondrian London, which won the newcomer category; and The Miami Beach EDITION, named the best designed hotel in the world.

Photos and video: The Norman Tel Aviv,

Roseanne Tabachnik, NoCamels <![CDATA[Can Vertical Gardens End World Hunger?]]> 2015-06-19T11:31:05Z 2015-06-19T06:12:37Z

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Food insecurity is a major global concern for our growing planet. Research shows that by 2050, the world will have to produce 50 percent more food to feed Earth’s population. But Israeli gardening experts have decided to act now, and they’re already marketing a unique system for sustainable, independent food production: Vertical gardens, in which residents of high-rise buildings can grow their own food, with minimal amounts of water and soil.

Will urban agriculture sustain the needs of city dwellers in the future? The founders of Israeli company GreenWall hope so, and that’s why they’re building vertical gardens around the world, allowing people to grow any plant along their walls, including rice, corn and wheat.

GreenWall is currently participating in the Expo Milano 2015, the world fair in Italy, displaying a 230-feet-long and 39-feet-tall green wall at the Israeli pavilion. This vertical garden was planted with rice, wheat, and corn.

     SEE ALSO: Ben Gurion University Warns: Increasing CO2 Levels Will Lead To Dietary Deficiencies

green wall

GreenWall, which was founded in 2009 by engineer and gardening pioneer Guy Barness, has developed an advanced technology with which it erects gardens that line the walls, both inside and outside of buildings, taking up less space compared to conventional gardens. GreenWall provides fertile soil, which is capable of growing almost every plant species with proper care. “We want to give an urban person an opportunity to grow plants in their home, using modern technology,” Barness tells NoCamels.

How does it work? Well, vertical gardens seemingly defy gravity, and that’s why the plants are densely planted in a vertical planting system inside small modular units, preventing the crops from falling out. These small pots can then be removed or replaced to refresh or change the design of the garden. The water reaches the cell of each plant through a special system, operated by a computer. In order to crop the yield, the wall is temporarily taken down and laid out at a horizontal position.

green wall

GreenWall uses cutting-edge drip irrigation technology developed by Israeli company Netafim, known for having pioneered the technique. GreenWall also developed its monitors, sensors and controls with the help of Israeli water-management company Galcon.

Growing food while conserving water 

The technology behind the vertical structures helps control and conserve water. In comparison to conventional crop-growing methods, the vertical garden only takes 1,500 liters of water to produce one kilogram of rice, as opposed to the standard 3,000 liters. Environmentalists claim that vertical gardens may be the solution to growing crops in cities as well as in areas that are scarce in water, food and energy.

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

For decorative flowers and plants, vertical gardens use 90 percent less water than traditional gardens, according to GreenWall. “In the city, you don’t have a lot of space, and you can use this space to grow food and a lot of other plants,” Barness says. “Now, you can have a building and use the wall space to bring the nature back to the city without taking up too much space.”

green wall

Vertical gardens have become a growing trend around the world with a variety of companies offering green wall installations: GSky, Green Over Grey, and The Living Wall. Still, Israel-based GreenWall seems to have captured the attention of large corporations: Google, Apple, Intel and Facebook are some of the company’s high-profile clients, according to Barness.

Homeowners can purchase GreenWall’s vertical gardens in small quantities of only a few yards in size, with a price point beginning at $650. In the meantime, the idea of the vertical oasis has already taken off around the world, with many gardens being built these days throughout North America and Europe. Barness notes this is only the beginning. “The world is now going toward a different direction,” he explains. “I hope GreenWall will eventually replace the regular garden in urban environments.”

Photos and video: Rob Deutscher, GreenWall, Israel Expo Milano 2015, SpaceoThelmadatter


NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Watch The Latest Episode Of Our Series ‘TheOffice’ – Episode 2: Nautilus]]> 2015-06-18T09:53:17Z 2015-06-18T09:31:24Z

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NoCamels ‘The Office’ – Ep. 2 AOL’s “Nautilus” on Vimeo.

Kyla Blumenfeld, NoCamels <![CDATA[Meet The Hottest Israeli Fashion Designers Who Dress The Stars]]> 2015-06-17T16:59:59Z 2015-06-17T15:11:39Z

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In recent years, the Israeli fashion scene has weaved itself onto haute couture runways with its silky fabrics, sophisticated embroidery and Middle Eastern pizzazz. Since its humble beginnings with fashion houses Maskit and Gottex in the 1950s, Israeli fashion has evolved into a global trendsetter, and Israeli designs are now worn by some of the world’s most glamorous women.

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

From Beyoncé and Lady Gaga to Lindsay Lohan, celebs are clamoring for dresses by these five Israeli designers:

fashion show

Alon Livné

Alon Livné‘s popularity has skyrocketed since Beyoncé and Lady Gaga were spotted wearing gowns with his signature structured metallic bodice. Beyoncé, enamored with Livné’s sci-fi chic evening wearcommissioned the quirky designer to create her wardrobe for her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour in 2013. Even the widely popular Hunger Games film series had Livné designing outfits for its protagonists.


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

Prior to conquering Fashion Week in 2013, the designer apprenticed at the famous Alexander McQueen and Roberto Cavalli fashion houses. Following his successful 2013 show, supermodel Naomi Campbell and fashionista Nina Garcia were added to the list of stars to be spotted in a Livné gown.

Yigal Azrouël

Yigal Azrouël is a veteran Israeli designer, whose eye-catching work promulgated him onto the international fashion scene early on. Building a prestigious fashion label in New York City, the designer showed his first collection in 1998 and has been designing for the stars ever since.

Celebrities love Azrouël for his edgy, but feminine evening and ready-to-wear collections, with bold draped patterns and cuts that enhance the female body. American model Chrissy Teigen wore his cream-wrap skirt at the Billboard Women in Music event last year; and television personality Khloé Kardashian was seen donning his organza “Eyelet” leather jacket on a night out.

Israeli-American fashion designer Yigal Azrouël and model

Israeli-American fashion designer Yigal Azrouël with one of his dresses

Other celebs to wear his designs are Lindsay Lohan, spotted partying in Azrouël’s green sequined dress, and actress Anne Hathaway, who rocked his ivory angora coat for her iconic role as Andy in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Idan Cohen

Showing at the last Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York was another esteemed Israeli designer, Idan Cohen. His bold evening and bridal collections celebrate the female figure in all its glory. “My collection is very sexy, but still conservative,” Cohen tells NoCamels.

Israeli fashion designer Idan Cohen

Israeli fashion designer Idan Cohen

Cohen first broke onto the New York fashion scene when otherwise “cut-throat” fashion author and publicist Kelly Cutrone was impressed by what she called “an impeccable collection.” Most recently, he dressed musician Nicki Minaj and his design was featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine. “When you see a woman in a gown of mine, I want you to see a confident, strong-minded woman who knows what she wants,” says Cohen.

idan cohen dresses

At Mercedes Benz Fashion Week

Ronen Chen

Ronen Chen has been one of Israel’s successful fashion exports since the brand launched in the 1980s. The designer has since opened boutiques across Israel and in London, focusing on designs for “real women”, of all shapes and sizes. His collections are sold to over 400 independent stores in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. Over the past five years, he has supplied American upscale fashion retailer Nordstrom with his fashions. 

Israeli fashion designer Ronen Chen and model

Israeli fashion designer Ronen Chen and model


Rounding up our list is a veteran fashion house leaping towards an international revival. Founded in 1954, Maskit is the brainchild of Ruth Dayan, the first wife of the late Israeli army chief and politician Moshe Dayan. At age 98, Dayan, as the chairwoman of Maskit, still works closely with head designer Sharon Tal, who apprenticed with internationally acclaimed couturier Alexander McQueen. Tal says her traditional, yet chic designs reflect the roots of Middle Eastern fashion, with a modern twist.

After its dissolution in 1994, Maskit has recently undergone a makeover. Gaining the support of billionaire industrialist Stef Wertheimer in 2013, Maskit showed at Moscow’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week the same year.

Sharon Tal, head designer for Maskit

Sharon Tal, head designer for Maskit

Photos and videos: Kyla Blumenfeld, Alon Livné, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, Maskit, Ronen Chen, Yigal Azrouël, Tel Aviv Fashion Week

Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[UN And Israel Sign Agreement To Apply Israeli Space Tech To Disaster Zones]]> 2015-06-16T12:47:05Z 2015-06-16T12:37:45Z

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During the 58th session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in Vienna, Austria, the United Nations’ Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) signed a cooperation agreement with Israel to use the country’s satellite technology to save lives following natural disasters and in space emergencies.

According to the agreement, Israel will apply its satellite technology, namely the Earth observation satellite “OPTSAT 2000”, to gather information on issues of environmental protection, water management, urban planning, humanitarian assistance following natural disasters and more. The cooperation agreement with Israel is part of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space’s latest agenda item called “Space and sustainable development,” with the committee discussing potential applications of space technologies for developing sustainable policies.

     SEE ALSO: New Antibacterial Material Purifies Water In Space


Satellite image of Hurricane Katrina approaching.

The newly appointed Israeli Minister of Science, Technology and Space, MK Danny Danon is quoted by the “Times of Israel” as stating that the agreement is “a small step into the UN agency, and a big step for Israel.” He continued, “This agreement proves that Israel is a leader in space technology, and that it has a great deal to contribute to humanity in this area, especially in satellite development and research.”

Israeli space tech soars

The agreement precedes the up-and-coming 66th International Astronautical Congress to be held for the first time in Jerusalem, Israel this October. One of the world’s preeminent conferences that brings together major space agencies, it is an honor for Israel to be the conference host, albeit a fitting one.

In recent years, Israel has become an industry leader in developing satellite and space technologies. The Israel Space Agency has worked closely with NASA and the European Space Agency over a number of decades to make their space programs the most advanced and impressive in the world. For instance, Israeli inventions like the Vivid-q Cardiovascular Ultrasound system is used to monitor astronaut’s health in space and is responsible for discovering that a prolonged period in space can cause the heart to shrink, a condition called cardiac atrophy. In addition, Israeli tech was used to control the Curiosity rover while it explored the possibilities of life on Mars.

     SEE ALSO: SpaceIL’s Mission To The Moon Says Its Chances Of Winning Google Lunar XPrize Are High


Model of the SpaceIL ship.

Israel’s national team competing for the major Google Lunar X Prize, a project aimed at landing a small spacecraft on the moon, SpaceIL is one of the competition’s frontrunners due to its innovative ideas and impressive staff roster. From experienced entrepreneurs like Yanki Margalit to leading aeronautical researchers like Yigal Harel, Israelis aren’t the only ones placing their bets that the SpaceIL team will make it first to the moon.

The recent UN cooperation to apply Israeli technology for life-saving missions on Earth and beyond is further confirmation of Israel’s impressive space tech repertoire.

Photos: EUMETSTAT/ Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[Israeli Home Device Turns Trash Into Biogas Fuel]]> 2015-06-17T06:53:59Z 2015-06-15T12:46:07Z

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The Western world may have grown accustomed to microwave ovens and electric burners, but the majority of developing populations still cook their food and heat their homes over an open fire. While that may seem like a more “pastoral” and healthy way to live, the World Health Organization reports that up to four million people die from the direct and indirect effects of cooking with solid fuels, like wood, charcoal and coal.

This staggering statistic hadn’t come to the attention of the Israeli inventors of the HomeBioGas system, until the information was pointed out to them by none other than United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. During a visit with Israeli President Reuben Rivlin last year, Ban expressed the global need for a sustainable and safe solution to this dire issue, naming Israel’s HomeBioGas’s bio-digester as a very viable answer.


The HomeBioGas team meets with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

From trash to treasured cooking oil

HomeBioGas’s TevaGas (TG) device is the first family-sized bio-digester made available on the market, which, according to Marketing Director Ami Amir, “is as easy to use as a dish-washer.” For those who don’t know what a bio-digester is, it takes organic material (like left-over food) and converts it into a fuel, known as biogas, through an anaerobic process carried out in a warm atmosphere. This fuel can then be used by a household for other purposes, like heating. According to Amir, this system does not even generate any foul odors.

“The basic underlying principles of bio-digester are, well biological,” Amir explains, “There are bacteria or microbes that thrive in conditions where there is no air (anaerobic) that are able to break down organic matter into their components. One of the results of this process is known as biogas, a combination of methane gas and carbon dioxide.”

     SEE ALSO: Israeli Company Brings Light To Third World Countries

By feeding the remains of their dinner , or any organic trash for that matter, into the bio-digester, users are able to generate clean, renewable biogas to cook three meals a day. In addition, the remaining soluble chemicals left over from the biogas breakdown process (about 10 liters according to the company) can be used as liquid fertilizers for gardens and vegetable crops, a very useful addition for agriculturalists and sustainable farmers.


Drastically improving the standard in bio-digesters

While it sounds similar to composting, something many of us do already, Amir stresses that HomeBioGas’s system is nothing of the sort. “Composting is feel-good, but it doesn’t provide a lot of real value,” mainly because many people who compost don’t actually treat the organic matter themselves. He adds: “Composting generates methane that is not treated and is therefore much more harmful to the atmosphere.”

The bio-digester itself is no novel innovation; The Israeli inventors of the HomeBioGas system, CEO Oshik Efrati and COO Yair Teller, became familiar with cheaper home bio-digesters, but sought out a way to make them more efficient, and accessible. “People have been developing and building devices similar to ours for about 20-30 years,” Amir states of the history of bio-digester technology. However, the majority of these devices in developing countries like China and India are “very primitive and basic devices that are a pain to install and difficult to operate.”

The HomeBioGas team spent years improving on existing Indian and Chinese bio-digester models, but soon realized that underprivileged populations were in need of an entirely new model. “The intention was to develop the best product that will provide biogas from waste for the under-served populations of Latin America, Africa and Asia,” says Amir. Of course, before releasing their product to the world-at-large, the team wanted to test it out at home, which is why the first functional models of the system were introduced to a Bedouin community in Israel’s Negev Desert. Amir explains: “In these communities, there is little or no means of waste disposal and hardly any connection to utilities.”

For environmentally-minded First Worlders too

Since their launch, HomeBioGas has launched other aid projects in the Palestinian territories, supported by USAID and the Peres Center for Peace, as well as in the Dominican Republic, where rural populations contribute heavily to the problem of deforestation, because of the need for cooking wood. “People from the Dominican Republic told us that each family destroys about ten trees a year and that usually the woman in the family is made to carry up to 6 tons of wood a year,” Amir says.

Since the company serves mainly under-resourced communities, many of its clients don’t have the funds to support the shipment of the product. This means the company needs to rely on hefty subsidies from governments and non-governmental organizations, which can be hard to come by.

Yet due to a surge in awareness of environmental issues, like recycling, composting and homebiogas-ing, the company is even earning some support in developed countries like the United States, Australia and some European countries, who want the system for their own homes. According to Amir, “The need of middle class populations may not be as dire, but some still want a ‘smart can’ that can take their waste and turn it into something useful like cooking gas and fertilizer.”

     SEE ALSO: MobileOCT: The Incredible Social Startup That Uses Mobile Phones To Detect Cancer In Third World Women

Currently, the system is sold separately at a price of about $2,500 (NIS 10,000). And while HomeBioGas doesn’t have any direct competitors per say, the cheaper, simpler alternatives available in China and India represent a challenge only due to their drastically lower price.

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Israeli Researchers Discover Neighboring Galaxy With One Million ‘Young’ Stars]]> 2015-06-14T09:40:43Z 2015-06-14T09:40:43Z

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It may have been written in the stars. While monitoring and studying galaxies in space, a team of Israeli and American researchers were surprised to discover more than one million ‘young’ stars forming a tiny neighboring galaxy.

     SEE ALSO: New Research Maps The Location Of Our Gigantic Galactic Supercluster – Laniakea

The astronomers from Tel Aviv University and the University of California, Los Angeles, have discovered a cluster of stars in a hot, dusty cloud of molecular gases found in a small galaxy near our own. The star cluster is buried within a massive gas cloud, and, although it’s a billion times brighter than our sun, the galaxy is barely visible, hidden by its own hot gases and dust. The star cluster contains 7,000 massive “O” stars: the most brilliant stars, each a million times more luminous than the sun.

NGC 5253 Galaxy

3 million years young 

This gas cloud is dubbed “Cloud D,” and the tiny galaxy is called the NGC 5253 dwarf galaxy. “This cloud has created a huge cluster of stars, and the stars have created an unprecedented amount of dust,” TAU’s Prof. Sara Beck said in a statement.

     SEE ALSO: Top Israeli Scientist Says Alien Life May Have Existed 13 Billion Years Ago

According to the researchers, “NGC 5253 is home to hundreds of large star clusters. The most spectacular cluster, cocooned in the massive Cloud D, is about 3 million years old, remarkably young in astronomical terms. The proportion of gas clouds, which eventually become stars, varies in different parts of the universe. In the Milky Way, for example, less than 5 percent of gas in clouds the size of Cloud D transforms into stars.” In the newly discovered Cloud D, however, the rate appears to be at least ten times greater.

“A process assumed to be ‘turned off’ 10 billion years ago is occurring today in a nearby galaxy”

“Extreme and extraordinary things are happening right in our very own astronomical neighborhood,” Beck continues. “In astrophysics we assume that, unless proven otherwise, basic processes are the same everywhere. But here we’re witnessing globular cluster formation — a process which we assumed was ‘turned off’ in our galaxy ten billion years ago — occurring today in a nearby galaxy.”

supernova, galaxy, stars

“This discovery is not an isolated finding, but the temporary culmination of a long search which began with a faint radio emission in 1996,” Beck says. “We have been working for almost 20 years on extreme star formation. Along the way, we started asking why these clusters were being born at a precise time and a certain place. We are still hard at work on this, so this certainly isn’t the end of the road for us.”

The researchers expect that in the future, Cloud D could be destroyed by stars that turn into supernovae — spinning all of the gas and elements into interstellar space. For the study, which was recently published in the scientific journal Nature, Beck collaborated with Prof. Jean Turner of UCLA.


Photos: Hubble Space Telescope

David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Israeli Researchers Discover Flower That Can Treat Diabetes]]> 2015-06-11T10:30:06Z 2015-06-11T10:30:06Z

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

Israeli researchers have found that a plant that grows in Israel, as well as in other parts of the Middle East, is effective in treating diabetes.

     SEE ALSOIsraelis, Palestinians Join Forces To Explore Local Flowers To Combat Cancer, Diabetes

Dr. Jonathan Gorelick of the Judea Research and Development Center will present the results of his study of Chiliadenus iphionoides (sharp varthemia), an aromatic shrub that grows in Israel and throughout the Middle East, at the 25th Judea and Samaria Research Studies Conference in Ariel University on Thursday.

Chiliadenus iphionoides (sharp varthemia)

Gorelick and his team, who have published the results of their study of sharp varthemia in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, found that consumption of the yellow-flowering plant increased sugar absorption in skeletal muscle and fat cells and reduced blood sugar levels in animals.

According to the researchers, while many plants have traditionally been used to treat diabetes, only few have been successful as marketable medications. His research team is working on isolating the active ingredient in sharp varthemia so that it may be made into an accessible treatment for diabetes patients.

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

Photos: Eitan F.Gideon Pisanty

Roseanne Tabachnik, NoCamels <![CDATA[How Israeli Cyber-Security Startups Are Battling The World’s Riskiest Online Hacks]]> 2015-06-10T13:50:40Z 2015-06-10T13:07:59Z

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Remember the Jennifer Lawrence nude photo leaks? While our first reaction was to remove any photos we wouldn’t want our moms to see from the “cloud”, a recent spate of cyber-security breaches, including against SONY and even the White House, also made it increasingly clear that cyber-criminals are getting smarter, faster, and more dangerous.

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

The data breach against Target stores in the US, where unknown thieves compromised millions of customers’ credit and debit card numbers, cost the chain nearly $150 million in losses. But while big-name companies were just the latest targets in a series of data invasions, the majority of victims are everyday Internet users and small companies.

Hacker at work

That’s why hundreds of cyber security startups have sprung up in recent years in the Startup Nation, battling some of the world’s most serious cyber threats. Indeed, Israel now accounts for 10 percent of global network security technology sales, which topped $60 billion in 2014, according to Israel’s National Cyber Bureau.

NoCamels reviews three of the most nepharious security threats to our digital lives, and the leading Israeli startup companies fighting them.

Spear-phishing catches you off-guard 

Spear-phishing, a form of email spoofing fraud, has become a burgeoning hacking method in recent years. Hackers target organizations and individuals with seemingly innocuous emails that pretend to be from co-workers, friends, or family members, but are actually infected with malware. According to the anti-virus company Trend Micro, 91 percent of malware is delivered through these email or downloads.

Cyber-security expert Itay Glick, CEO of Israeli cyber startup Votiro, says that 80 percent of people get fooled into opening these email messages. “If you work in HR and get a CV in an attachment, your job is to open that attachment,” Glick tells NoCamels. “Once you open that attachment, the virus will attack your computer.” “It is almost impossible to predict which email is infected,” Glick notes.

      SEE ALSO: Technology To Protect Your Children From Dangerous Online Relationships

Cybersecurity israel

Votiro’s cyber security technology inspects files and attachments that are sent digitally even before they make their way into your inbox. Incoming email messages are automatically routed directly to the Votiro cloud‑based email gateway, where its Spear-Phishing Protection Service checks all attached files for known threats. To neutralize unknown and zero-day threats, the service introduces microchanges to the files’ structure and metadata and then rebuilds the files, thus preventing exploits from attacking and spreading malware throughout your network.

Sanitized and harmless, the email messages and their attachments continue on to your organization’s email server. “The entire process is invisible to users, does not disrupt business activity—and takes less than a second!” says Glick.

Another approach is the one taken by two-year-old Israeli cyber-technology company IronScales, which teaches users how to spot a fake email that is infected with malware through a tutorial. The process is simple, yet effective: The cyber tech company sends out different emails to employees at a firm as a test, and if an employee falls for the bait, they’re redirected to an informational tutorial on safer online practices.

Celebrity nude photo scandal calls for mobile and cloud protection

According to the American information technology research firm Gartner, attacks on mobile phones are maturing and such breaches are a major concern not just for enterprises, but for people browsing the Web at home – from their smartphones. Following the massive celebrity nude photo leak of 2014, protecting data stored on your mobile phone is just as important as keeping your computers clean of infected files. Gartner predicts that by 2017, 75 percent of mobile security breaches will be the result of app misconfiguration. In other words, the misuse of personal cloud servers through apps on our devices could essentially lead to data leaks. Using Wi-Fi at public locations like airports leave our phones especially vulnerable to such occurrences.

Luckily, the up-and-coming Israeli startup Lacoon Mobile Security, founded in 2011, protects iOS and Android devices from any breaches. The mobile app, acquired by Israeli cyber giant CheckPoint for $100 million last April, runs in the background, protecting users from data theft, remote takeovers, and attacks on mobile apps. The company’s most notable customers include the Israeli Police, Samsung, and major credit card companies.

Another Israeli mobile defense startup is Skycure, which made headlines after detecting an attack on LinkedIn’s mobile application last year. This app guarantees to guide users to mobile phone safety by creating a firewall that watches for security threats, while not impairing usage and battery life. Skycure recently raised $8 million.

Social network breaches? Human intelligence to the rescue! 

While keeping up with Twitter and Facebook has become a cultural barometer of our time, many of these social outlets may in fact be full infected files. Israeli startup SenseCy, which launched last year, conducts deep-Web searches to prevent our social networks from being compromised through a unique method referred to as “virtual HUMINT” – short for human intelligence. This proactive and preventative tech scans public forums, discussion groups, and websites for viruses through the help of online avatars.

The company explains: “Our Cyber Security Analysts operate a cadre of Virtual Entities embedded in deep web platforms, on password-protected forums and in exclusive social media groups. By operating these avatars inside cyber adversary networks, we extract valuable intelligence regarding attack planning and intent, data leakage, vulnerabilities and exploits.”

While getting hacked is not a pleasant experience, to say the least, new technologies and startups are constantly working to diminish the likelihood of mass attacks. With a plethora of cyber-security startups launching throughout Israel, preventing hackers from invading our personal space has certainly become a national achievement, which will hopefully make our digital world a safer place for years to come.

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Israeli Researcher Makes Key Breakthrough In Combating Antibiotic Resistance]]> 2015-06-09T14:28:16Z 2015-06-09T14:28:16Z

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At its annual assembly in Geneva last week, the World Health Organization approved a radical and far-reaching plan to slow the rapid, extensive spread of antibiotic resistance around the world. The plan hopes to curb the rise caused by an unchecked use of antibiotics and lack of new antibiotics on the market.

Now Tel Aviv University research published in PNAS introduces a promising new tool: a two-pronged system to combat this dangerous situation. The system wipes out antibiotic resistance in selected bacteria, and renders other bacteria more sensitive to antibiotics. The research, led by Prof. Udi Qimron is based on bacterial viruses called “phages”, which transfer “edited” DNA into resistant bacteria to kill off resistant strains and make others more sensitive to antibiotics.

     SEE ALSO: This Remarkable Discovery Proves Bacteria Are Becoming Tolerant To Antibiotics And Even Explains The Interesting Reason Why

According to the researchers, the system, if ultimately applied to pathogens on hospital surfaces or medical personnel’s hands, could turn the tide on untreatable, often lethal bacterial infections.

“Since there are only a few pathogens in hospitals that cause most of the antibiotic-resistance infections, we wish to specifically design appropriate sensitization treatments for each one of them,” Prof. Qimron says. “We will have to choose suitable combinations of DNA-delivering phages that would deliver the DNA into pathogens, and the suitable combination of ‘killing’ phages that could select the re-sensitized pathogens.”


Reprogramming the system

“Antibiotic-resistant pathogens constitute an increasing threat because antibiotics are designed to select resistant pathogens over sensitive ones,” Prof. Qimron says. “The injected DNA does two things: It eliminates the genes that cause resistance to antibiotics, and it confers protection against lethal phages.

“We managed to devise a way to restore antibiotic sensitivity to drug-resistant bacteria, and also prevent the transfer of genes that create that resistance among bacteria,” he continues.

Earlier research by Prof. Qimron revealed that bacteria could be sensitized to certain antibiotics — and that specific chemical agents could “choose” those bacteria more susceptible to antibiotics. His strategy harnesses the CRISPR-Cas system — a bacterial DNA-reprogramming system Prof. Qimron pioneered — as a tool to expand on established principles.

     SEE ALSO: Israeli Researchers Discover Protein That Could Replace Conventional Antibiotics And Kill Bacteria

According to the researchers, “selective pressure” exerted by antibiotics renders most bacteria resistant to them — hence the epidemic of lethal resistant infections in hospitals. No counter-selection pressure for sensitization of antibiotics is currently available. Prof. Qimron’s strategy actually combats this pressure — selecting for the population of pathogens exhibiting antibiotic sensitivity.

“We believe that this strategy, in addition to disinfection, could significantly render infections once again treatable by antibiotics,” said Prof. Qimron.

Prof. Qimron and his team are now poised to apply the CRISPR/phage system onpseudomonas aeruginosa — one of the world’s most prevalent antibiotic-resistant pathogens involved in hospital-acquired infections — and to test whether bacterial sensitization works in a more complex microbial environment: the mouse cage.

Prof. Qimron is a member of the Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine.

Photos: adil alkatheri/ NIAID

Jonathan Neff, NoCamels <![CDATA[World Oceans Day 2015: Israeli Tech HARBO Cuts Down Response Time To Oil Spills To 20 Minutes]]> 2015-06-09T06:19:10Z 2015-06-08T15:13:33Z

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We’ve all seen it on the news: tragic oil spills that destroy entire marine ecosystems, often spreading hundreds of miles within the first 24 hours. Just last month, a ruptured pipeline in California leaked over 100,000 gallons of crude oil along the coast of Santa Barbara.

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.

Oil Spill

Israeli startup company HARBO Technologies aims to tackle this devastating 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. In the future, each location will have 6,000 feet of boom, which can contain 800,000 gallons of oil (25,000 tons). This new tech is an alternative to the traditional technology used to respond to oil spills in the ocean.

   SEE ALSO: Volcanic Rock To Clean Up Oil Spills

Until now, oil cleanup teams have attempted to contain spills with much heavier containment booms until they’re skimmed, dispersed, or burnt on site. This drag-contain-dispose protocol is the traditional method of cleaning up oil spills, which has barely changed in half a century.

The existing technology is considered bulky, sometimes weighing up to 10kg per meter, according to co-founder and CEO of HARBO Technologies, Boaz Ur. Teams typically take at least 10 hours to respond to a crisis, a time frame too long to be efficient. “By then, oil can spread too far and too deep to be contained and dealt with,” he tells NoCamels.

HARBO says its solution is less bulky, easier to operate, and requires minimal training for on-site personnel, This, in comparison to traditional oil booms, would be able to cut response time down from hours to just about 20 minutes. The size of a lifeboat, HARBO’s oil containment technology is optimized for any type of wind, current, or wave conditions.

     SEE ALSO: Harnessing Energy From Ocean Waves, Eco Wave Power Establishes First Plant In China

However, the company is keen to point out that it is not looking to replace current prevention technology, but to add an extra emergency layer. “The introduction of the sprinkler didn’t stop the use of firetrucks”, Ur says, and likewise implementation of HARBO’s alternative tech doesn’t mean the end of today’s oil spills prevention.

In order to prove its concept, HARBO’s team put their solution to the test in late 2014 in the Ohmsett testing facility in New Jersey, which is operated by officials from the US Department of the Interior to test oil spill solutions and response methods. After that initial test proved successful, HARBO is now approved to provide oil spill solutions in several US areas.

Oil spill in Israel sparks world-changing idea 

The idea was born after a spill in Southern Israel back in June 2011. HARBO’s founders tried then to apply ocean spill solutions to land leaks, only to find that they were outdated. That’s why the team began to work on a new solution, and in October 2013 received a $60,000 grant from the Office of the Chief Scientist of Israel. Since then, HARBO has raised $190,000 from private investors (a $2.5 million round is underway) and has been through over 40 prototypes of its technology.

Oil spill - Environment News - Israel

HARBO has passed the initial phases of patenting its technology, with patents pending in 30 countries – including the US, Canada, China, and most of Europe. Ur says he is expecting the first patents to be granted within the next 12 months.

By the end of 2016, HARBO expects to have its technology commercially available, at which point a price will be set. According to Ur, there are “over 50,000 potential installations for our technology – including oil rigs, tankers, large ships, and coast guard response teams,” which means the market for HARBO’s solution is huge – and so is the company’s potential to save our oceans.

Photos and video: Harbo Technologies, NASA