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.2015-01-28T16:36:30Z NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Many Seniors Turn To Substance And Alcohol Abuse After Retirement, Study Finds]]> 2015-01-28T15:39:53Z 2015-01-28T16:36:30Z

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Close to three million Americans aged 55 and older suffer from alcohol abuse — and this figure is expected to reach nearly 6 million by 2020. While alcohol abuse remains prevalent among them, the rate of illicit drug abuse in adults over 50 more than doubled between 2002 and 2013.

Many of the older Americans suffering from substance abuse are retired. But according to Tel Aviv University research in Israel, it is not retirement alone that leads to drug and alcohol abuse, but rather a host of circumstances surrounding leaving the work force, which often coincides with painful later-life events such as the death of spouses and friends.retirementjar

More than lack of work

According to the study, published in the inaugural issue of “Journal of Work, Aging and Retirement,” older adults often lack the skills required to cope with the sudden vacuum produced by retirement as well as painful events in later life. The research also pointed to the impact of circumstances and conditions of retirement on feelings of depression, purposelessness, and financial strain, which are known to lead to substance abuse.

     SEE ALSO: Want To Save $19K? Meet FeeX The ‘Robin Hood Of Fees’ That Eliminates Your Hidden Charges

“We found that the conditions under which people retired — whether they were pushed into it or it was something expected, which they planned for — had great bearing on alcohol and drug habits,” said Prof. Peter A. Bamberger. “The worst combination we found was among people who took early retirement from jobs they loved because they were terrified their companies were going under. Among all groups studied, this one exhibited the highest incidence of substance abuse.

“Our second major finding was that the conditions experienced once in retirement influenced alcohol and drug habits,” Prof. Bamberger continued. “Even if an individual plans for retirement, he/she might not fully grasp the changes that must be made to his/her lifestyle. As a result, many people experience serious financial straits. Feeling unstable, lonely, and depressed, it isn’t surprising perhaps — but it is unfortunate — that many retirees look to alcohol or drugs for comfort.”

The study, conducted as an annual phone-based survey of 1,200 service, construction, and manufacturing workers aged 52-75, also found that retirement can cause marital strain, and this too may precipitate or exacerbate substance misuse or abuse. “Financial strain and marital strain, both potential consequences of retirement, elicited problems with sleep. This in particular explained much of males’ misuse of alcohol,” said Prof. Bamberger.


More retirees are turning to harmful habits in order to cope with difficult life factors.

A silver lining for the silver years

Much can be done to prevent retirees from bottoming out, including screening and brief interventions aimed at identifying behavioral changes that could lead to substance abuse. “Sometimes awareness alone is enough to bring about positive change,” said Prof. Bamberger. “Even short phone calls or brief Internet-based feedback can be so instrumental. The other way of reversing this trend is to provide ways of coping with the stresses of retirement. Retirement groups and mentors are often able to pick up on signs of deterioration before they become a problem.”

     SEE ALSO: Study: ADHD Medicine Can Reduce The Risk Of Falling In The Elderly

Prof. Bamberger is currently working on a new NIH-sponsored study examining the alcohol-related consequences of the college-to-work transition among younger people.

Published in the inaugural issue of ‘Journal of Work, Aging and Retirement,’ the comprehensive ten-year study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was conducted by Prof. Peter A. Bamberger of TAU’s Faculty of Management and Cornell University’s Smithers Institute, and Prof. Samuel B. Bacharach of Cornell University. The two also co-authored ‘Retirement and the Hidden Epidemic’ (Oxford University Press, 2014), a layman’s summary of their many studies on the subject.

Photos: halthem msahbin/ American Advisers Group/ Dieter Mueller Photography

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Faces Of The Startup Nation: Q&A With Hotshot Entrepreneur Ron Gura]]> 2015-01-28T15:40:32Z 2015-01-28T15:34:52Z

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Ron Gura is a young Israeli entrepreneur and investor, focusing on e-commerce, the consumer Internet, Internet of Things, FinTech and big data. Gura recently left his position at Israel’s eBay Innovation Center to become an Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Eden Shochat and Michael Eisenberg’s ‘Aleph Ventures,’ an Israeli VC focusing on early-stage and seed investments. Gura was also the CEO and co-founder of ‘The Gifts Project,’ a social group-gifting platform that allows friends to chip in for gifts purchased on ecommerce websites, which was acquired by eBay in 2011.

What were your first steps into the business world? When I was 14, I bought a used Fender Jaguar Guitar (1967) in Colorado because I thought it was underpriced. I sold it a few months later in Israel for five times what I bought it for, so that was a sweet deal. All downhill from there.

What is your hidden talent? I can move my ears.

Falafel or Shawarma? Falafel #veggie

What are some of your favorite weekend activities? Friday’s breakfast with the house specialty “egg in a nest”.

If you were a selfie, what would you look like?

Selfie - me and my friends

What is your homepage? The Daily Pig (by @yonbergman)

What is the best place you’ve ever traveled to? Cinque Terre, Italy

Who was your first celebrity crush? Jennifer Love Hewitt

The ultimate 90's sweetheart.

The ultimate 90’s sweetheart.

Star Wars or Star Trek? I don’t really watch Star Wars, but love Star Trek.

What are you totally addicted to? Labneh cheese

What (or who) is your biggest inspiration? My brother Eyal. He’s a fearless and visionary entrepreneur who’s constantly looking around for new pains to solve.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? Saying no to acquisition offers can keep you up at night.

Bar Refaeli or Gal Gadot? Gal who?

If you weren’t an entrepreneur, what would you be? Busy making the best sandwiches ever.

If you could be a movie character who would you be? Ari Gold from the show ‘Entourage’.

Ari Gold from 'Entourage'.

Ari Gold from ‘Entourage’.

Tel Aviv or New York? Really? do you enjoy freezing your ass off? Tel Aviv.

What is the best advice that you ever got from your parents? Whatever you do, wherever you are – do not sleep with your socks on.

Burger or green juice? Can I combo the two into one big juicy veggie burger?

What is your favorite Hebrew word? ‘Baduk’ meaning ‘For sure’.

NoCamels “Faces of the Startup Nation” features the leading entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and visionaries to give you an exclusive peak into the movers and shakers of Israel’s innovation scene. If you want to suggest a “Face”,  write us in the comments below!

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[First Of Its Kind In Israel: 3D Metal Printer Gets To Work At Technion]]> 2015-01-28T08:22:59Z 2015-01-27T16:20:42Z

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A revolutionary 3-D printing system has recently been put into operation at the Israel Institute of Metals (IMM) – a research institute operating under the Technion R&D foundation. It is the first printer of its kind in Israel designed for metal components based on the melting of metal powder particles by an electron beam (EBM). The system is intended to be used to print metal components such as titanium for the aerospace industry, dental implants, bone substitutes, and more.

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

Three-dimensional metallic component manufacturing printing technology, or “stratification” (its professional term), is considered an innovative field that has come to be known as the “third industrial revolution.” This technology enables the production of components with high geometrical intricacies, eliminating the need for complicated and tailor-made machining processes for every part. This technology is predicted to become an integral part of research and production in aerospace, and health care industries (medical and dental medicine), as it is relevant to any area where tiny metallic component production is required, especially those characterized by a particularly complex geometry or are designed to work in extreme conditions. The system at the Technion has already printed a fuel tank prototype for a nano-satellite, also developed at the Technion. Future plans include the printing of engine blades, knee implants and more.

ARCAM's 3D metal printer

ARCAM’s 3D metal printer


The new system, manufactured by Sweden’s ARCAM Company, uses an electron beam (EBM), or a vacuum that manipulates electric and magnetic fields to melt metal powder particles. Its innovative melting process is safer, cheaper and more reliable than the prevailing methods used today, which are based on laser beams. Another advantage of this new system is its ability to work with a variety of metal alloys, since the transition between them is much simpler than laser-based systems. The total cost of the system (purchase, installation, training and input and output devices) amounts to approximately €850,000 ($982,000), was partially funded by the Office of the Chief Scientist in the Ministry of Economy.

     SEE ALSO: You Won’t Believe What This Is!

Until today, there were only three 3-D metal printers in Israel, all operating on the older laser technology. The new system at the Technion is, as a matter of fact, the very first 3-D metal printer ever installed in an Israeli academic institution. “IMM, which is at the forefront of research in this area in Israel, enjoys good exposure to Israeli industry, making it the most natural place for leading and deploying innovative technology of this kind in the country,” explains the Director of the Institute, Haim Rosenson. “The establishment of three-dimensional printing center at IMM will help promote this industry in Israel, provide for current and future needs, and encourage the conversion of manufacturing facilities to production using advanced technologies.”

Photos: courtesy

Ariel Halevi, Vayomar <![CDATA[4 Steps To Creating A Memorable 60-Second Pitch]]> 2015-01-27T12:53:21Z 2015-01-27T12:16:22Z

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60 seconds – a minute.

A lot of things can happen in 60 seconds:

250 babies are born around the world, 1.8 million ‘likes’ are made on Facebook and Americans eat 21,000 slices of pizza. But what can you do in 60 seconds?

Would you be prepared if someone asked you to pitch your startup in just 60 seconds? It sounds impossible. How can you be expected to give out all the necessary details in only one minute? The startups showcasing at the MassChallenge Israel launch event on February 11 will have to face that challenge.

Believe it or not, 60 seconds is plenty of time to introduce yourself, your startup, and your goals. All you have to do is follow these easy steps in order to create not just a 60-second pitch, but a GREAT 60-second pitch.

Technology News: With $800K In The Bank Emaze Want To Reinvent Presentation Design

Step 1: The Opening

Every famous speech needs a powerful opening to capture the audience’s attention, and that’s exactly what your pitch needs. Whatever it is you do, relate it to what you’re speaking about. It could be a quote or a statistic, something dramatic to really pull the crowd in.  It could be a question or a request for a raise of hands, something to get the audience involved. It could even be something as simple as wearing a funny accessory or holding a funny prop, something to make people look at you. You need to clearly communicate what it is you’re pitching within the first 10-15 seconds.

Step 2: The Essence

Now that you’ve introduced yourself in an interesting way, it’s time to move on to the bulk of your speech: what exactly your company is about.  The trick here is to use the fewest words possible. There is no real correlation between the innovation of your company and the time it takes to talk about its essence. Your audience just needs to understand the importance of what you’re trying to say. After another 15-20 seconds, you should have communicated the field your venture is in (i.e. transportation, technology, etc.), the value this idea brings, and the innovation.

     SEE ALSOCEO Of World’s Largest Accelerator, MassChallenge, Talks To NoCamels About The Startup Nation And Launching In Israel

Step 3: The Traction

30 seconds have gone by and you’ve already captured your audience’s attention and fully explained the core of your company. Now is the time to tell your audience about the progress you’ve made. They will need facts, not just ideas, to prove that you can actually further your company. Talk about the money you’ve made so far, the advisors you’ve recruited, partnerships you’ve formed, anything to show that you’re serious about the future. Talk about the team you’ve put together, where you want to improve upon or advance in the short and long terms. In these 15-20 seconds, you should prove to potential investors that you have a solid foundation and know how to take your company to the next level.

mass challenge pitch night

Step 4: The Conclusion

At the end of your pitch, you must clearly communicate what it is you want from your audience. If it’s money for the company, potential partnerships, or something else – your audience must be made fully aware. Thank the audience for their time, and your 5-10 seconds will have been worthwhile.

Think you can create an amazing 60-seconds pitch?

Apply now to pitch at “Minute to Pitch It” at the MassChallenge Israel program launch event, where startups at all stages and from all industries (whether they apply for MassChallenge, or not) will showcase their startups to approximately 200 of the leading investors, corporate executives, government officials and other entrepreneurs of the startup ecosystem.

Betty Ilovici, NoCamels <![CDATA[From Lego-Style Buildings To Mega Hotels, Legendary Israeli Architect Moshe Safdie Still Stuns The World]]> 2015-01-27T09:11:32Z 2015-01-26T19:21:34Z

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Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie is a legendary name with breathtaking architectural projects under his belt that range from the famous Habitat 67 in Montreal, Canada, to the new Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore. Safdie is known for his culturally and socially sensitive designs that respond to human aspirations – regardless of the size of the project: while Safdie used small Lego blocks to design his famous Habitat 67 complex in Montreal, his ingenuity also lies in the structural sophistication of his mega-buildings.

The Architect, urban planner, educator, theorist and author, now aged 77, was recently awarded the most prestigious recognition in the field of architecture: the 2015 American Institute of Architects Gold Medal. The award was given to Safdie thanks to his 85 futuristic designs of public and cultural spaces in three continents. Specifically, the award recognized Safdie’s most recent work in Singapore – the $6 billion Marina Bay Sands Hotel, owned by American billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. The hotel features one of the most magnificent tourist attractions in the city – an infinity pool built over the roofs of Singapore skyscrapers, along with a museum, theaters, and other entertainment venues. The colossal structure with 56 floors, which dominates the skyline, is reminiscent of Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England.

SkyPark Marina Bay Sands

In Safdie’s written nomination for the award, President of the Boston Society of Architects Emily Grandstaff-Rice noted that he “has continued to practice architecture in the purest and most complete sense of the word, without regard for fashion, with a hunger to follow ideals and ideas across the globe in his teaching, writing, practice and research.”

“Meaningful, vital, inclusive social spaces”

The Marina Bay Sands Hotel is not Safdie’s only project in Singapore. Safdie has recently launched his design for “Project Jewel” – a mixed-use addition to Singapore’s Airport. This megastructure dominates roughly 134,000 square meters. The facility features a glass dome with a thriving indoor garden and waterfall, in addition to shops, leisure and entertainment venues. The complex will be ready by 2018 for use by more than 53 million passengers per year.


But don’t be misled by the impressive scale of Safdie’s works; the foundation for all of Safdie’s projects is his spiritual design philosophy. “I try to make buildings humane. Countries and places have a history, a story, and a culture. I want my buildings to take root and look as if they’ve always been there,” he told Vanity Fair in 2012.

The goal of architecture, as stated on the Safdie Architects website, is that of creating “meaningful, vital, inclusive social spaces,” in addition to “mitigating the dehumanizing of the mega-scale,” as architecture caters to increasingly dense populations in urban centers.

     SEE ALSO: Israeli Super Architect Moshe Safdie Designs Singapore Airport’s Incredible Bio-Dome

Critical acclaim at age 33

Safdie and his innovative approach to architecture was recognized internationally when his face was splashed on the cover of Newsweek at the age of 33. “The Shape of Things to Come” was the title of the Newsweek story, which portrayed the up-and-coming architect in 1971. That was four years after Safdie had designed his first solo project, the celebrated Habitat 67, as part of his master’s thesis at McGill University. The housing project was then built as a pavilion for the 1967 International and Universal Exposition in Montreal, Canada.

The futuristic residential complex of 158 stacked concrete units designed by the young aspiring architect earned him global acclaim. Habitat 67 redefined urban living by addressing high-density housing and improving social integration through architecture. In an interview for CBS in April 2014, Safdie described the story of his famed Habitat 67: “It was like a fairytale.”

Habitat 67 by Safdie

Montreal – QC – Habitat67” by WladyslawOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Before the fairytale began, Safdie had lived in Haifa, Israel, where he was born in 1938. At age 15 he moved to Canada with his family, where he later attended McGill University, pursuing a degree in architecture. Before becoming a big name himself, Safdie apprenticed under the famed 20th-century architect Louis Kahn, who also was a recipient of the AIA Gold Medal. Following his apprenticeship with Kahn in the US, he returned to Montreal to oversee the master plan for the 67 World Expo. After establishing his own firm, Safdie opened a Jerusalem branch office in 1970, marking the beginning of his immense involvement in the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

Over the years, Safdie designed some of the most stunning buildings in Israel, including the David’s Citadel Hotel, Mamilla Promenade and IDF Square in Jerusalem. In 2004, he planned the airside building of terminal 3 in Ben Gurion Airport, which like its Singaporean counterpart also features a central waterfall surrounded by shops.

Following his work in Israel and in Canada, Safdie created a rich variety of projects, including cultural, educational and civic institutions, neighborhoods and parks, urban centers and airports, as well as master plans for new cities around the world. Some of his most acclaimed projects include the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, the United States Institute of Peace Headquarters on the Mall in Washington D.C., and the Khalsa Heritage Memorial, a museum dedicated to India’s Sikh people. In addition to designing some remarkable monuments around the globe, Safdie has taught at Yale, McGill, and Ben Gurion Universities, as well as served as director of the Urban Design Program at Harvard University.

     SEE ALSOIsraeli Architect Plans Green Paradise In China

Institute of Peace

Symbolizing life through structurally sophisticated monuments

In order to comprehend Safdie’s spiritual design, one must look closely at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, which was built through a mountain. Safdie thought the story of the Holocaust was so horrific, that it could not be commemorated with an ordinary building. He wanted to reflect introspection, so he built underground. Safdie created a structure that takes you deep into the earth and then emerges at the other side of the mountain, a symbol that life has prevailed.

Yad Vashem

Safdie turns symbolism into structure. Most of his buildings are, as he has said, “drenched in light” because this reflects peace and transparency – hence the glass structure of the US Institute for Peace in Washington D.C. The facility is not only filled with light, but is also shaped to reflect the light of a dove.

At age 77, Safdie continues to infuse his projects with his philosophy and vision, whether they are in Canada, Singapore, Israel, or anywhere else in the world. Safdie, who typically shies away from the press, has said he uses light and water to achieve what rhythm and melody do in music. He has claimed that architecture has the same effect that music has on us, because it is beyond utility – it has to do with spirituality: “Every project, the sublime and the ordinary, has critical issues of humanity, of social responsibility.”

Photos, renderings and video: Wladyslaw, Someformofhuman (both via Wikimedia Commons), Las Vegas Sands Corp., Safdie Architects

Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels <![CDATA[Tel Aviv’s Pastel Brasserie Is Voted World’s Most Beautiful Restaurant]]> 2015-01-25T16:00:40Z 2015-01-25T16:00:40Z

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The most stunning restaurant on earth is apparently in Tel Aviv, Israel: The Israeli designers of Pastel Brasserie and Bar in the Herta and Paul Amir Building at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art have won the 2014 International Space Design Award–Idea Tops for the world’s best-designed restaurant. Alon Baranowitz and Irene Kronenberg’s entry won among 4,000 projects from 35 countries entered in the competition (in various categories). The global competition was held in China earlier this month.

The building itself was designed by architect Prof. Preston Scott Cohen of the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The interior design of the restaurant was created by architects Baranowitz and Kronenberg. The couple (in business and in life) is known for designing some of the hippest restaurants in Europe. In addition, they recently designed the Wyndham Grand Frankfurt Hotel in Germany.

     SEE ALSO: ‘Saveur’ Magazine Votes Tel Aviv ‘Outstanding Culinary Destination’

Pastel Brasserie and Bar

Baranowitz graduated from the Pratt Institute in 1990. Kronenberg graduated from the Technion – Israel’s Institute of Technology – in 1981. They founded the BK studio in 1999. Last year, they won the Restaurant and Bar Design Award for the Topolopompo restaurant in Tel Aviv for the best-designed restaurant in the Middle East and Africa.

Pastel Brasserie and Bar

Pastel Brasserie and Bar, which opened in 2013, was designed by BK Architects inside Tel Aviv Museum of Art’s new wing. Its white, sculptural ceiling, combined with the mahogany hues of its countertops and furniture, create a dynamic space. The interior of the restaurant shimmers in bright daylight, and diners seated on the balcony can view the museum’s sculpture garden.

Pastel Brasserie and Bar

The building’s “envelope” is drawn into the interior of the restaurant, sculpting the seating area and bar, which are richly outfitted with upholstered booths, antique wooden flooring, a deep burgundy-colored bar, multi-hued marble surfaces, and Art Nouveau lighting fixtures made out of crystal and gilded metal.

Inside the restaurant, BK developed a narrative inspired by two opposite worlds: the new world, represented by the hyper-geometric architecture of the new wing, and the old world of the brasserie – a two-centuries-old culinary bastion of the western world. The dynamic envelope of the new wing is sucked into the space to become the interior envelope of Pastel. According to Kronenberg, the new world is represented by the vigorous geometry clouding Pastel with its endless shades of white. The southeast light bounces onto the grey stone flooring and renders the ceiling with a soft appearance. The brasserie world, on the other hand, is reflected by booth seating, crystal chandeliers, voluptuous marble tops and vintage chairs.

Pastel Brasserie and Bar5


The new wing: $45 million, 430 cement panels 

After winning the 2004 Herta and Paul Amir Competition, Cohen designed a new building for the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, with a budget of $45 million. The new wing, which opened in 2011, dominates roughly 19,000 square meters and is known for its hyperboloid form. The building’s exterior envelope, an extended “folding” surface that breaks at certain angles, is a dynamic ornament made of 430 polished cement panels manufactured on location.

“We tried to keep the design of the restaurant within the contextual scenery of the iconic new wing,” Baranowitz tells NoCamels. “We felt very lucky to work inside Cohen’s building, and we incorporated the language of its exterior in the interior.”

Prior to designing Pastel, Baranowitz and Kronenberg researched both French brasseries and museum restaurants around the globe. “We have to be respectful of whatever is in the museum,” he says. “In the Whitney Museum or the Museum of Modern Art, you can really see how the language of the museum finds itself inside the restaurant.”

Tel Aviv Museum of Art

“Design is everything” 

Interior design for Pastel cost roughly $2 million, and its façade is in line with its surrounding, high-end area. Similar to the Lincoln Center in New York, the restaurant’s piazza is also home to the Israeli Opera, the Cameri Theater and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. While Baranowitz agrees this area may be intimidating to some people, he hopes the design of the restaurant itself is inviting. “I don’t think the restaurant looks expensive from the outside,” he says. “I don’t find it intimidating. It’s well done, very accurate and sharp-looking.”

The restaurant looks inviting, Baranowitz says, but the surrounding area is “quite austere; it’s not the friendliest space.” He admits that to some extent, “Pastel is within that context.”

In his view, design is key to restaurants’ success. “If the food is shitty but the atmosphere is great, you’ll keep coming,” Baranowitz says. “Food is redundant; the design affects the success of the restaurant. Design is everything today.”

     SEE ALSO: Too Beautiful To Eat? Israel Museum’s Restaurant Offers Art-Inspired Dishes

amir building tel aviv museum

Photos courtesy of: Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Pastel Brasserie and Bar, BK, Preston Scott Cohen, Inc.

David Shamah, Times of Israel <![CDATA[Samsung Invests In Two Israeli Companies In One Week]]> 2015-01-25T12:58:35Z 2015-01-25T12:58:35Z

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

Korean tech giant Samsung will invest $10 million in Israel patient monitoring firm EarlySense, part of a $20 million financing round.

“EarlySense has developed and brought to market a unique, breakthrough technology that will improve the lives of consumers through health parameter sensing and monitoring,” said Gonzalo Martinez de Azagra, head of Samsung Ventures Israel, the company’s investment arm. “Our investment is evidence of our belief in the need to bring sensors to hundreds of millions of consumers and we will do all that is in our hands to contribute to EarlySense’s accelerated growth.”

In business since 2004, EarlySense developed a system that monitors patients who are sick enough to require continuous tracking, but are unwilling or do not need to be connected physically to monitors and sensors. Designed for use in non-emergency room or even home settings, the system uses sensors embedded into a mattress or chair cushion to monitor heartbeat, respiration rate, and movement. It operates on the theory that the more a patient moves around in bed, the healthier they are, in general.

EarlySense's smart hospital bed.

EarlySense’s smart hospital bed.

The data is transferred to a monitoring station, either local or remote, with the system setting off alarms in the event that something appears amiss. The system is use in thousands of hospitals, nursing homes and home settings around the world, and according to hospital studies, over 90 percent of staff said that the system was useful in stemming and preventing patient deterioration.

     SEE ALSO: Samsung And Israel’s E-Virt Partner On Tablet To Allow Children In Hospital To Study Remotely

For Samsung, the investment in EarlySense is about far more than healthcare. Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier in January, Yoon Boo-keun, head of Samsung Electronics’ consumer products unit, said that the company was planning to more aggressively develop technology for Internet of Things. During his speech he specifically named EarlySense’s technology as one the company would be able to deploy for IoT products.

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

Photos: Samsung

Yuval Haimovits <![CDATA[App Of The Week: Slipnote, The Crazy Child Of WhatsApp And 9GAG]]> 2015-01-24T18:43:13Z 2015-01-24T18:26:42Z

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App Name: Slipnote Available For: iOS & Android Price: Free Developer: Heykuers LTD

The Promise: “You’re hilarious,” is exactly what your friends will say when you start messaging them with Slipnote.

Messaging avenues like text messaging, Whatsapp, iMessage, and Facebook Messenger are just a portion of the huge instant messaging ecosystem. Whatsapp recently reported that it handled 50 billion messages per day for every day of 2014. This number, among other statistics, proves that people prefer this method of communication option over others, and instant messaging is here to stay.

Now, a new Israeli app is trying to take available messaging options a step further with a new creative platform – Slipnote.

     SEE ALSO: App Of The Week: ‘GetYou’ – Can Others Guess Your Age And Profession Based On A Photo?

Slipnote is a doodling, photo editing messaging app that will let you create artistically funky messages you can send to your friends. You just choose a photo, edit a fun cut-out, add text and doodles and send it to your friends – your very own personalized meme.

Our Experience

After downloading the app from the App Store or Google Play, Slipnote asks you for your phone number to activate the app, just like WhatsApp. Not my favorite method of registration, but this app is too cute not to try. Following a short tutorial, you can get to work making your first message. First, you choose an image; you can take a photo with your camera, choose one from your existing library of photos or search for images on Google Images through an internal search. The app creators have also provided users with a crazy photo album containing images of famous memes like Borat and the grumpy cat.

Slipnote app and camels

The creator of Slipnote created us some camels craziness

The process continues with some photo editing and adjustments (done by touch) that is paired with absurd elevator music to give the whole process an artisan vibe. Then you can add text and doodles to make your image even more outlandish, and, that’s it, you’re ready to send it to your friends. You can send messages to your friends who are also users of the app, to groups of friends and my favorite choice, you can export the image and send it to your WhatsApp contacts.

The creators added other cool features like public groups (organized by category) that allow you to share your bizarre creations. One group is called “Cats on Drugs” and it’s just hilarious! Another cool feature is the “inspire me” button that leads you to a photo gallery feed with all the creative ideas shared by other Slipnote community members.

cats2 cats1

The app is easy to use, designed clearly and colorfully. My only problem was the elevator music during the photo editing process. I tested the app while standing in line at the bank and needless to say, when this odd music unexpectedly started playing, people stared. Worse, there is no way to turn the music off.

But overall, Slipnote is a great app that can enrich your texting habits and could put a smile on your friends’ faces. I don’t know if I’ll continue to use it in the long run, but I’ll for sure turn to it for creative ideas whenever I want to goof around with my texting pals.

The Verdict


You can download Slipnote for iOS and Android.

Jordana Wolf, NoCamels <![CDATA[Music Moguls Love Israeli App ‘Music Messenger’, The ‘WhatsApp’ Of Song Sharing]]> 2015-01-23T09:52:16Z 2015-01-23T09:52:16Z

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‘Music Messenger’ is ready to take the world by storm, as it has positioned itself to become the largest music sharing company on the planet, surpassing industry leaders like Sony, Universal and Warner Music Group. Just three months in and the app is already backed by some of the most influential members of the music industry like, David Guetta, Tiesto, Nicki Minaj, Dave Holmes (Coldplay’s manager) and Gee Roberson (manager of Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne). The young app has two million users that it has won over by creating a simple way for people to share music with their friends, or the ‘WhatsApp’ of song sharing. Much like WhatsApp did for text messaging, Music Messenger may too have the potential to change the way that we share and interact with music, for good.

Music to our ears

Based in Israel and developed by David Strauss, O.D. Kobo, Shai Azran and Uzi Refaeli, Music Messenger began as a way for the friends to share music amongst themselves. This led them to identify a key feature missing in existing technologies, namely the ability to share your favorite music with your friends in an easy-to-access message (and not over social networks with platforms like SoundCloud). Strauss explains, “With the iPhone, it is very difficult to send music from one person to another. Spotify is not available across all countries and their libraries can be limited. We wanted to create a messaging platform that would make sharing music easy.”

     SEE ALSO: Will Israeli App Loudlee Become Music ‘Pinterest’?

It didn’t take long for the app to reach music moguls across the globe. “Gee was one of the first to show interest. He really flipped out,” Strauss says. “He got on the phone, asked how he could get involved, and jumped on a plane to Israel within 48 hours. That’s when we really knew we had a company.” Within days, the company had over 16 investors on board, all renowned figures of the music industry, raising $5 million from strategic investors at a company valuation of $25 million in just eight weeks. One month later, on September 25, 2014, the company was launched.

Changing the way we share music

Music Messenger’s platform is ‘music’ to big industry ears because it succeeds in wrapping all steps typically required to send and receive music into one simple package. Even better, and unlike a number of other music platforms, Music Messenger is fully compliant with copyright laws since the app doesn’t actually host original content. The way it works is that the company taps into open source sites like YouTube, SoundCloud, Yahoo and Baidu, giving them the ability to aggregate a music library of several hundred millions of songs in any language and from many regions. And, as long as those sites grow, and for the meantime they continue to, so does the Music Messenger music library, which is updated on a constant basis. In addition, users can create music libraries and playlists of songs shared by their contacts, as well as search for specific songs that they just have to hear.

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

However, Strass clarifies, “Music Messenger is a music messaging tool and not a music service.“ Music services like Spotify request annoying fees due to copyright and licensing laws and the service is restricted in some countries. Music Messenger, available for download on Android and iOS devices, has the upper hand here because it is a messaging tool that can  be used to share music with an unlimited number of people, everywhere. “To service one million users, is the same cost for us as to service 50 million users,” boasts Strauss. “That’s why people in the industry flipped out. We have the ability to send, receive and listen to millions of different songs without having to worry about the costs.”

Taylor Swift performed an exclusive concert for a small group of fans to promote her new album.

Taylor Swift performed an exclusive concert for a small group of fans to promote her new album.

Despite a sour history with crowd-created music platforms like the infamous Napster and uTorrent, the music industry seems to be on board. When it comes down to it, thanks to YouTube, the majority of music has become free and easily accessible. “We didn’t make it this way, but it’s how the music industry has become,” Strauss explains. Consequently, musicians aren’t placing a heavy focus on music sales anymore, but rather searching for innovative ways to use technology to promote their work (take Beyonce and Taylor Swift’s decision to release their latest albums without promoting them with traditional marketing venues) Music Messenger hopes to maximize on the latest trend by allowing artists to endorse their music on mobile devices, where users can send and receive their tracks, with personalized messages attached, for free.

China, a new musical frontier

When you take a look at the team behind Music Messenger, it’s no wonder that the often stringent minds of the music industry are so willing to expand their horizons. One of the team’s members, O.D. Kobo, has seen rampant success, selling two of his previous companies for impressive amounts—the teen social network Pheed that sold to Mobli for $40 million after 18 months of operation and the Koolanoo Group that sold for $80 million to East River Capital.


While the app has been steadily gaining users in the US and Europe, placing among the top 100 apps in the US market during the last three months, the Music Messenger team is getting ready for a big marketing push in China. With roughly 600 million mobile phone users in the country, the app has the potential to really go viral in such a market. Launching in China is a given for the co-founders, since several of them have spent several years in China operating previous enterprises. “When we launch in China, we will be able to provide citizens with almost every single Chinese song ever recorded in history. This gives us great positioning in a really great market,” Strauss exclaims.

This summer, in collaboration with many of its investors, Music Messenger will launch a large promotional concert tour in five cities across Asia to help introduce the app to the Asian market. Big-name performers like Nicki Minaj, Coldplay, and will take part in the concert series that is set to attract a good deal of attention.

For Strauss and his team, the famous names that have expressed interest in the platform are a validation of Israeli tech as a whole: “It’s very cool to have so many celebrities that have never worked with an Israeli company so eager to invest,” says Strauss, rather humbly. “We are so happy that the music world and Israeli tech space are finally getting the chance to meet.”

Photos: Music Messenger/ Todd Owyoung

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Tel Aviv Engineering Students Bring Clean Water Solution To Tanzania]]> 2015-01-21T18:19:56Z 2015-01-21T18:19:56Z

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Like many good stories, this one began with food. A group of students at TAU’s Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering organized a campus beer and bratwurst sale to kickstart fundraising for a volunteering project in Africa. Many sausages later, and with a lead donation from Arison Group’s Shikun & Binui construction company, a TAU team arrived in Tanzania to build a system that would provide hundreds of students at a local high school with clean drinking water.

Leading the TAU delegation was electrical engineering student Eran Roll, the director of TAU’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), which initiated and supervised the project. EWB is an international organization dedicated to bringing engineering solutions to disadvantaged communities.


Roll explained that the project’s genesis went back to 2007, when engineering alumnus Itai Perry saw the hardship caused by contaminated water during a TAU-affiliated volunteer trip to the northern Tanzanian village of Minjingu. The residents’ drinking water was saturated with exceptionally high levels of fluoride, causing skeletal deformities and severe dental problems among the local children. Seven years later, Roll and four others came to Minjingu to build and install a 48,000-liter rainwater harvesting and advanced filtration system that would allow the 400 students and staff members at Nkaiti Secondary School – the only high school in the region – to drink and cook with clean, safe water. They also trained school officials and volunteers on how to operate and maintain the system, and they kept in touch with local residents to ensure that any bugs would be worked out. The team created the system with the help of Israeli rainwater harvesting expert Amir Yechieli.

      SEE ALSO: Award-Winning NGO Brings Israeli Innovation To Africa

Once the project was complete, the school’s principal, Mr. Tango, wrote the TAU team a letter of gratitude. “Thanks to this project, we are now one family with you. Let us maintain our relationship more and more,” he wrote. “We hope that you will bring more projects for the development of our school.”


(From left) Maayan, Tomer, Eran, Roey and Meital


The learning process

Before Roll and his team – electrical engineering student Maayan Raviv, MBA student Meital Shamia, neuroscience student Roey Ravits and industrial engineering graduate Tomer Avitzur – were able to build the water system, they needed to determine how best to help the people of Minjingu. “Without going there and seeing the problems with our own eyes, we wouldn’t know what to do,” said Roll. He, Raviv and water engineer Idit Zarchi traveled to Tanzania a year before the full delegation to assess the community’s specific needs, speak to local leaders and villagers and to set a goal that was within reach.

“When the people in Minjingu saw us return after a year, they said, ‘the first time you came here you were boys, now you are men,’” Roll recalled, explaining that the Tanzanians were used to being promised humanitarian projects that never came to fruition. “We came through with our promise, and it meant a lot to me,” he said.

     SEE ALSO: Israeli Technology Turns Air Into Drinking Water For Troops

As he continues to plan for the upcoming projects and to recruit volunteers, Roll is proud of the success the small delegation has achieved so far. “It felt like we really made a difference,” he said. “When the project was done, my friends and I just stood there after everyone had left. We felt like we had accomplished something – something big.”

When funding permits, the team plans to return to Tanzania to expand the existing rainwater harvesting system to 160,000 liters and to create a similar one for the village’s medical center, for which they will also install solar panels.

Photos: courtesy

Jacob Ryan, NoCamels <![CDATA[Want To Save $19K? Meet FeeX, The ‘Robin Hood Of Fees’ That Eliminates Your Hidden Charges]]> 2015-01-21T10:45:52Z 2015-01-21T09:50:28Z

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How much money are you losing in hidden fees you’re unaware of? Grey charges are everywhere, especially in your bank accounts and pension plans. Israeli startup FeeX, the self-proclaimed ‘Robin Hood of Fees’ is now helping consumers to get their money back. It may be pennies per month for each consumer, but in the US hidden charges add up to a frightening , multi-billion-dollar sum every year. Hidden charges can be anything from products you never signed up for, such as ringtones for your smartphone, to services such as a gym membership you’ve already canceled – all the way to your 401(k) plan and bank account.

The first step in eliminating these hidden charges is educating consumers on the nuanced world of grey fees. According to FeeX, these fees affect everyone in one way or another, whether you see them or not. “Last year in the US, customers paid $600 billion in financial fees alone”, FeeX CEO Yoav Zurel tells NoCamels. “These fees are going straight out of our pockets in ways and methods that we don’t understand and can’t see.”

Zurel says the goal is to be the ‘Robin Hood of fees.” The website analyzes financial data from its community of users and compares the amount you pay in fees. FeeX gives you a score on its “sucker meter” to let you know how much you are overpaying in fees. It also provides insight into how much you should really be paying.


FeeX prides itself on a three-step process: find your fees, reduce your fees, and retire with more. The process is quite simple. Once you sign up and upload your financial disclosure form, FeeX scans your accounts and finds the grey fees in a matter of minutes. This financial disclosure form is provided to consumers by their financial institutions. However, these forms can be hard to understand for the typical consumer with a limited financial background.

Once the form is uploaded, the users then fill out personal information about their accounts and the process is underway. In a matter of minutes, FeeX shows its users the fees that drain these plans and provides ways to keep the money in the consumer’s hands.

FeeX looks at reports from the FDIC, AARP, U.S. Census Bureau and the Federal Reserve in order to figure out how much money people spend on fees. The team found that $150,000 is spent over the course of a career on 401K fees, while most Americans believe their 401K plan is free.

Following the account review, FeeX provides its users with financially viable alternatives with lower fees. These suggested alternatives are solely based on reducing your fees. However, it’s important to remember that FeeX does not serve as an intermediary between the financial institutions and consumers – Feex will not call the bank for you. It is still the consumer’s responsibility to make changes to his or her account.

     SEE ALSO: Waze Founder’s ‘FeeX’ Raises $3M To Help You Avoid Hidden Retirement Fees

“We’re paying too much in fees”

While fees at first may appear minor and seemingly insignificant, this could not be farther from the truth. Once the fees are compounded, a different picture is revealed, leaving the consumers footing the tab. “When you’re paying one percent you’re really paying 30 percent,” Zurel explains. This is because these hidden fees add up, and what may seem like an insignificant fee will balloon years down the road.

The problem is that the grey fees are often hidden in the disclosure forms, leaving the average consumer unable to understand the financial implications. Free and clear information to the consumers is priority. “As consumers, we don’t know how much we are paying in fees, and therefore, we are paying too much,” Zurel says.

This seems ever more important today, in a time where the most recent US National Retirement Risk Index estimates show that more than 50 percent of households will not have enough retirement income to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living, even if they work until they’re 65.

“Our mission, our purpose, our objective is pretty simple. Connect any kind of financial product that you have and we will crunch the numbers, pull out the fees and show you how to reduce them and start saving serious money,” Zurel says.

FeeX has undergone three rounds of funding, with its most recent round totaling 6.5 million dollars from venture capital firm Horizons Ventures. The company’s services are currently free and offered in both Israel and the United States, looking to expand elsewhere in the near future. The FeeX staff is led by founders David Weisz, Eyal Halami, Yoav ZureI, and former Waze co-founder Uri Levine. Waze sold to Google for an estimated $1.3 billion in 2013.

     SEE ALSO: Meet The Winners: Top 15 Israeli Startups And Innovations Of 2014

feex staff

27.7 percent of financial assets are hidden fees

Currently, the company claims it has 70,000 users, mostly in the US and in Israel, who have a total of $1 billion in assets, of which $277 million were marked as hidden fees by FeeX. In other words, FeeX says that nearly 28 percent of all their users’ financial assets are grey charges. By finding these hidden charges and alerting its customers, FeeX claims it saved each of its clients $19,000 on average, although this couldn’t be verified by NoCamels. FeeX supports both savings and investment accounts for free at this point, but the company plans to charge for premium services in the future.

FeeX is not alone in its efforts to empower consumers to reduce their fees. Israeli company BillGuard has stated that “it’s not only hackers, but legitimate merchants who are taking advantage of us with charges we’re purposefully meant to miss or forget about.”

BillGuard also offers services to help consumers monitor hidden fees, but contrary to FeeX – which primarily scans disclosure forms from financial institutions to find grey fees – BillGuard mainly helps people fight credit card fraud by using the wisdom of the crowds. BillGuard has developed a solution that can take an alert raised by one of their users and send it to every other user that might also be affected. The company warns them about excess credit card charges, billing errors, fraud, or other charges of which they are not aware. In other words, all problematic charges or complaints go into the BillGuard server and every user who has an account at BillGuard gets an update about the problem if it is relevant to the user’s purchasing history.

So far, Feex has marked millions of dollars in hidden fees for its clients – but now the challenge is theirs. Users then need to track down clerks and account managers, fill out paperwork and request that changes will be made to their accounts and plans. Hopefully, they won’t be charged for making these changes!

Photos courtesy of Feex, 401(K) 2012

David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Israeli-Created Game ‘Linebound’ Goes Viral In App Store]]> 2015-01-20T13:36:56Z 2015-01-20T13:36:56Z

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

Israeli game publisher TabTale‘s new Linebound game, released last Sunday, has been downloaded over a million times in its first 72 hours on the 120+ App Stores worldwide.

The TabTale team has racked up several app industry awards in the past year. In December, TabTale’s Airheads Jump was selected as one of the App Store’s Best of 2014 Games; in August, the company was rated as one of the Top 10 Games Publisher Worldwide (iOS and Google Play combined) by a top industry site; and, by the end of 2014, it reported that a total of over half a billion of its 300 titles had been downloaded since its first game came out five years ago.

     SEE ALSONew Game Turns Your iPad Into A Piano

Linebound: Life on the Line, distributed by TabTale’s Crazy Labs “casual” gaming label (Crazy Labs’ titles are aimed at teens and adults), advertises itself as a “fast-paced arcade game that requires lightning reflexes,” with networking capabilities that let people around the world play each other, and display their accomplishments on Facebook and other social media, with “endless gameplay” — all free.

Linebound Game Linebound Game Linebound Game

Nearly all of TabTale’s downloads are based on a freemium model, with the app or game available for free and extra features available for a fee, from which TabTales derives much of the approximately $20 million of its annual revenue. In Outdoor Baby, one of its popular games, for example, users can play for free and buy virtual goods, like tents and flashlights, for real money.

The company raised $12 million in Series B funding last year, for a total of $13.5 million to date. Based in Tel Aviv, it has over 300 employees in Israel, the US, Macedonia, Ukraine, and Bulgaria, and Hong Kong.

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

Andrey Kastelmacher, NoCamels <![CDATA[Meet The ‘Designer’ Strains Of Marijuana Bred In Israel To Treat A Wide Range Of Illnesses]]> 2015-01-20T12:28:32Z 2015-01-20T11:41:51Z

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Purple Kush and Lemon Haze may be items on a menu of an Amsterdam coffee shop that offers different kinds of ‘high,’ but different types of medical cannabis can now be used to treat diverse conditions. Thanks to Israeli researchers, who are working on a ‘menu’ of medical marijuana strains that will cater to various patients, this potent weed is now used to soothe anything from depression to epilepsy.

Nowadays, progressive legislation and new research allow modern science to delve into the various medical uses of cannabis, as well as to create new “designer” strains of marijuana. Israeli scientists, who have been at the forefront of marijuana’s genetic engineering for years, are now modifying marijuana to treat a range of diseases.

Health News - Research: Tiny Quantities Of Marijuana Protect Against Brain Damage

Nearly 5,000 years of medicinal history

Marijuana is gradually becoming a genetically modified organism (GMO), produced in greenhouse-laboratories to treat very specific conditions. By using genetic markers to control molecule counts, scientists modify the plant so it can better treat certain symptoms, thus helping millions of patients worldwide.

     SEE ALSO: World’s First Precision Medical Marijuana Inhaler Hopes To Remove Stigma Of Smoking The Green Stuff

Medical marijuana was said to be used in China as early as 2,900 BC and was described as a medicinal power-flower throughout history. Israel pioneered marijuana research in 1964 when Dr. Raphael Mechoulam discovered “D9-tetrahydrocannabinol”, also known as THC, one of 70 cannabinoids (the active molecules in cannabis). Today, Israeli researchers lead the scientific world in cannabinoid research, inventing new methods of mapping the cannabis genome, while discovering new medical uses for the plant. In the last six years, with the help of the Israeli Health Ministry, the number of patients treated with cannabis grew from 100 to tens of thousands.

“A healthy kid, not a ‘high’ kid”

Agrobreeding, a computer-controlled breeding method that genetically modifies plants, creates a closely monitored, controlled environment in which scientists grow and farm marijuana strains. This selective breeding method uses big-data computers and analysis techniques that provide growers and researchers with insightful plant information, including the amounts of active THC and CBD in marijuana.

THC is responsible for the “high” feeling, while CBD is the non-psychoactive component that has been proven to have several health benefits. Cannabinoids are generally used to reduce pain, stress, as well as to increase appetite, among other uses; however, further research is necessary. “Out of 70 Cannabinoids, we have really only mapped and studied THC and CBD,” genetics researcher Yoav Giladi of the Hebrew University tells NoCamels. “The most interesting Cannabinoid is CBD, since it has proven to treat epilepsy very well. We are now able to identify the biosynthetic pathway leading to CBD formation and to create a cannabis strain with a high concentration of CBD. We want a healthy kid, not a ‘high’ kid.”

Israeli company BreedIT is combining the power of science and technology with the medical power of cannabis, helping growers breed biogenetically engineered marijuana. Collaborating with doctors and researchers from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, BreedIT manufactures agrobreeding systems for growers. These systems use big-data computers that measure molecules and DNA structures, providing tools for the genetic modeling of plants. The Intelligent Decision Support System (IDSS) that BreedIT uses speeds up the process of monitoring, analyzing and cross-referencing genetic information.

Marijuana by Seach

From sleep disorders to epilepsy – medical cannabis soothes a range of conditions

BreedIT exports its systems worldwide mainly for the use of marijuana growers, who acknowledge that cannabis is a potent medicine – not just a drug. “After all, eating well, sleeping well and avoiding stress are all part of good health” and medical cannabis can help patients do all that, Giladi says.

BreedIt and Seach, another Israeli company, have formed a joint venture called KanaboSeed, which uses the agrobreeding method and scientific research to provide strains specifically requested by physicians. In other words, this joint venture creates designer strains, such as Avidekel, a non-psychoactive CBD strain for treatment of epilepsy.

     SEE ALSO: Marijuana Prevents Post-Traumatic Symptoms, Study Shows

Avidekel is one of the strains Tikun Olam is growing. Tikun Olam, which means “heal the world” in Hebrew, is one of the first Israeli companies to grow different strains of medical cannabis. Its facility in the northern Galilee region of Israel is considered one of the world’s most advanced in agrobreeding.

Marijuana by Seach

A $2.7 billion industry – and growing, literally  

While medical marijuana is a growing industry, cannabis for recreational use is also gradually being legalized. In addition, hemp – which is refined into products such as hemp seed foods, hemp oil, wax, resin, rope, cloth, pulp, paper and fuel – is a multi-billion-dollar industry. In the United States, cannabis is now legal in 23 states and de-criminalized in most, which means you will not be arrested if marijuana is found in your possession in small amounts.

According to Chris Walsh, editor of the Marijuana Business Daily, the cannabis market tops $2.7 billion dollars in the US and patients who use medical marijuana spend an average $156 a month on cannabis, according to research. Medical marijuana is prescribed in the US for cancer, AIDS, asthma and glaucoma, as well as an antidepressant and an appetite stimulant. Cannabis is also used as an anti-convulsant and anti-spasmodic, with many clinical studies still ongoing.

In Israel, “cannabis treatment is prescribed by neurologists and trauma specialists for chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, Neuropathias and many other conditions”, says Dr. Oshrat Kastel, owner of a private family clinic in Shoham, Israel.

In the US, Israel and elsewhere in the world, the use of medical marijuana is expected to expand in the next decade, thanks to new growing methods and increasing government support. And since there are many cannabinoids to study, researchers hope to reveal additional uses for marijuana in years to come.

Photos and videos courtesy of BreedIT, Tikun Olam, Seach

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Essential Protein May Be Key In Slowing Down Biological Clock]]> 2015-01-18T12:36:42Z 2015-01-18T13:45:15Z

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Fertility rates in the United States have dropped to an all-time low in recent years, a trend many experts believe is tied to the economic aftershock of the Great Recession in 2007. In order to address fertility problems, many women turn to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) methods, which involve removing eggs, fertilizing them with sperm in the lab and re-injecting them into the woman’s ovaries. Other women have taken to regular hormone treatments in order to up their egg count, and still others use traditional thermometers and holistic methods.

But the difficulty of conceiving for many women may now be relieved due to a new discovery by researchers at Tel Aviv University and Sheba Medical Center that was effective in boosting the fertility lifespan of lab mice by up to 20 percent.

     SEE ALSO: Antioxidants Could Reduce Your Chances Of Getting Pregnant

Their new research reveals a linkage between the genes of the innate immune system — immunity with which human beings are born, rather than immunity they acquire during their lives — and ovarian longevity. The study, published recently in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” was the doctoral work of Dr. Shiri Uri-Belapolsky, overseen by Prof. Ruth Shalgi.

Mother playing with her baby boy son on bedNeutralizing the risks

According to research conducted on laboratory mice, the genetic deletion of the protein Interleukin-1 (IL-1), a key player in the innate immune system, could improve the number of eggs available for fertilization as well as improve the ovarian response to hormonal stimulation involved in IVF procedures. This could prove especially effective in women who initially respond poorly to hormonal treatment.

”We revealed a clear linkage between the genes of the innate immune system and female reproduction,” said Dr. Uri-Belapolsky. “The results of our study, which point to neutralizing the effects of the IL-1 protein to slow down the natural processes that destroy the eggs, may set the basis for the development of new treatments, such as an IL-1 blockade that would raise the number of eggs recovered during an IVF cycle and reduce the amount of hormones injected into women undergoing the treatment.”

CDC fertility statistics

CDC fertility statistics for the US

The connection between IL-1 and fertility was discovered by accident in the course of research performed by the scientists on the role of IL-1 in atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries. In a surprise result of the research, the fertility lifespan of IL-1-deficient mice was found to be up to 20 percent longer than that of control mice.

Keeping the clock ticking

Female mammals, including humans, are born with a finite number of eggs and are subject to a biological clock that dictates the end of the reproductive lifespan at around 50 years of age. Over the past decade, a trend of postponing childbearing into advanced age has led to a corresponding upward trend in the number of IVF treatments. “Identifying a possible culprit, such as Interleukin-1, may offer new insight into the mechanisms responsible for egg loss as well as practical interventions,” the study reports.

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

“Our revelation is secured with a patent application, and naturally, further study in mice and in humans is required to examine this therapeutic opportunity,” said Prof. Shalgi. “I believe we will take this research forward into human clinical trials. However, there is still research to be done before we can start these trials.”

Dr. Shiri Uri-Belapolsky is at doctoral student at TAU’s Sackler School of Medicine and the research was overseen by Prof. Ruth Shalgi, of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Dr. Yehuda Kamari and Prof. Dror Harats of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sheba Medical Center, and Dr. Aviv Shaish of Sheba Medical Center.

Photos: cvrcak1/ PBR

Dyana So, NoCamels <![CDATA[Perfecting The Art Of Smart Gardening Is The Name Of GreenIQ’s Game]]> 2015-01-18T12:20:09Z 2015-01-18T12:20:09Z

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Here’s a little known fact: having green thumbs doesn’t necessarily mean you have the most environmentally friendly home. While maintaining a garden may be good for the soul, it can lead to serious resource waste, not to mention water and electricity bills through the roof.

Two companies that offer smart gardening technologies, GreenIQ and Parrot, have joined forces to provide garden lovers with an efficient, eco-friendly and economical way to keep plants healthy. Their collaboration not only paves the way for a new sector of home-use Internet-of-Things (IoT) technologies, but gardens and our planet could become greener because of it.


Greener gardens as a common purpose

CEO of Israeli company GreenIQ, the creator of the app-controlled, WiFi-connected garden computer, Odi Dahan reached out to established French wireless products manufacturer Parrot when he realized that they both offered consumers similar smart gardening devices.

With GreenIQ’s Smart Garden Hub, sprinklers don’t go off when rain is pouring outside and the outdoor lights know to turn on just as the sun sets behind the hills. Their smart garden computer automatically activates the wireless sensors installed into implanted gardening devices, watering and caring for plants according to weather information and daylight schedules collected from the nearest weather station. GreenIQ complements what Mother Nature already provides for your garden by giving it a ‘brain,’ allowing plants to take care of themselves.

     SEE ALSO: GreenIQ Will Save You Half Of The Water You Use In Your Garden

By contrast, Parrot’s Flower Power product gives plants ‘a voice’ by constantly collecting information on their health and growth status. Flower Power itself is a small device implanted in the soil next to plants that uses wireless sensors to let plant-owner’s know when they should water their plants or add more fertilizer. According to Dahan, “Parrot Flower Power gave a voice to plants. The GreenIQ Smart Garden Hub hears that voice and automatically takes care for all plant’s watering needs.” At the recent 2015 Consumer Electronics Showcase, Parrot released a new feature of its Flower Power system – a ‘smart pot’ that detects when plants are receiving enough light and fertilizer, and waters them when needed.


Parrot’s recently revealed ‘smart pot’

Now the weather-based irrigation system, the Smart Garden Hub, and an astute gardener’s dream, the Flower Power, have joined forces to create the ultimate gardening machine that communicates over the cloud. “Cloud communication between GreenIQ and Parrot Flower Power will create an eco-system that provides garden owners with all relevant information they need in order to make their gardens green, smart and environmentally friendly,” says Dahan. This development gives gardeners the option to fully customize their smart garden systems with the tools they need, while keeping the possibilities open for connecting to other gardening technologies over the shared GreenIQ-Parrot cloud network.

Cooperation is the name of the ‘smarthouse’ game

GreenIQ, which last week presented at CES 2015, the global consumer electronics and consumer technology tradeshow, and Parrot’s collaboration is only part of a growing and competitive market of smart-home technologies. When we think of a ‘smart house,’ images of futuristic, robotic homes may spring to mind, as well as the thought that humans are becoming lazier due to a reliance on technology. But the automation GreenIQ and Parrot’s product provides strives to send the opposite message: the smarter the house, the smarter the people living in them, because they’re saving money.

     SEE ALSO: Coral ‘Carpets’ Could Be The Saving Grace For Disappearing Coral Reefs

GreenIQ and Parrot recognize that the applications for their product extend beyond improving individual homes and gardens, having designed their products with the impeding global threat of water scarcity in mind. “There are a lot of customers who are aware of the need to save water, and they appreciate the opportunity that GreenIQ provides them to save water,” Dahan tells NoCamels.

Is the grass green on GreenIQ’s side?

As more smart gardening startups come into play, Dahan believes that it’s GreenIQ and Parrot’s innovative integration that makes them unique from their competitors. “We believe we provide a wider solution to the garden and not targeting specific issues.” Dahan says.

Now, with a strong partnership on hand, GreenIQ plans to strengthen its presence in the public gardens sector, appealing to municipal bodies with the promise of cutting maintenance costs. “We know that millions or maybe hundreds of millions of dollars are being wasted on inefficient watering of public gardens,” says Dahan. “Our next generation of products would be more suitable for this market.”

Recently GreenIQ secured $450,000 in funding from Entree Capital to support its plans for global market expansion and further partnerships. Based in Israel and founded in 2013, GreenIQ has made many strides since its humble beginnings with Dahan as its sole founder and employee, but there is still progress to be made.

While the collaboration between GreenIQ and Parrot enhances the services provided to the smart garden, the green-thumb team has yet to expand their horizons to a possibly more profitable sector in greater need of such smart technologies – agriculture.

Photos: GreenIQ/ Parrot

Einat Paz-Frankel and Anouk Lorie, NoCamels <![CDATA[From Kibbutz To Empire: WeWork Building $5 Billion Global Startup Community]]> 2015-01-15T17:02:01Z 2015-01-15T13:53:59Z

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When Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey started renting out office space through Craigslist in 2008, they didn’t envision that by 2015 they would own a $5 billion empire that is transforming office real estate as we know it.

This year, the two are on a mission to triple the size of their shared working space company, which was founded in New York, and is slated to open new offices in Spain, among other locations.

Six years ago, the duo rented out desks to some startups in an office space in Brooklyn, which filled up within a few days. The young business partners – wunderkind Neumann (34), who grew up on a Kibbutz (a collective community in Israel), and architect McKelvey (41), who spent his childhood in a five-mother collective in Eugene, Oregon – realized that companies were looking for a shared community, rather than just real estate, and recognized the need to revolutionize office space rentals: why rent a whole office when all you really need is a desk or two?

And so in 2010, they established WeWork, now the largest shared office space community in the world. “They realized they were on to something – the world needed a new kind of office because the nature of business was changing,” Benjy Singer, Director of WeWork Israel, tells NoCamels.

Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann, founders of WeWork

Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann, founders of WeWork


Since then, the company has experienced explosive growth, reaching 16,500 members in 32 locations in US cities (New York, San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, Seattle and Miami), in Europe (London and Amsterdam) and in Israel (Tel Aviv and Herzliya). This year, the company is expanding in London and Amsterdam. This expansion means hundreds of new startups in any of the super-trendy WeWork offices, sharing everything from dining and rest areas to bar and shower areas.

Neumann, a tall and charismatic nonconformist, tells NoCamels he doesn’t run a traditional real estate company and his clients are community members, not tenants. Roughly 400,000 new businesses are launched every month in the US, many of which are tech startups that are looking for a different kind of office vibe, he says. Singer adds: “In the beginning, these startups can work from a coffee shop, but as business grows, it becomes more serious, and you actually need physical space – with no kids and no pets – or else it’s hard to focus.”

According to Singer, many startup companies have exhausted all alternatives, including startup incubators and accelerators. But what really propels startups to join WeWork is being around other people with whom they can brainstorm and create joint ventures. A recent survey conducted by WeWork found that 57 percent of its members have collaborated with one another; 63 percent of the WeWork businesses said they grew since joining.


Transforming physical space into a community

“90 percent of people can work from anywhere, so if you do go to the office, there should be some added value there,” says Singer, “and that’s what we provide. We have transformed the physical space into a community.”

That added value is also reflected by the design of the WeWork space, which is not just hip or trendy, it also serves a purpose. “The design, the community and the sharing aspects are intertwined,” Singer says. “There are glass walls and partitions with vinyl stickers on the lower part of the glass, so when you sit down you have some privacy. Standing up, you’re looking at everybody. You have to be a complete anti-social person not to interact with others.”

Also, the common areas bring people together to chat. “If you want to eat or get coffee or have a beer – how can you have coffee without having a conversation with whomever is next to you? It’s almost impossible,” Singer says. “Everyone here wants to succeed in business, so they help each other. It happens organically.”

Tamar Schoppik, co-founder of digital content marketing company SHEvooking, agrees. “We like the idea of a community that we can network with,” she tells NoCamels. SHEvooking joined WeWork in Tel Aviv a couple of months ago, after searching for office space elsewhere in the city. “There are a lot of holes-in-the-wall that are called offices,” she tells NoCamels. “Many people turn apartments into office space, but it’s not very nice that your conference room is the dining room.”

The five-floor Tel Aviv office includes 422 desks for 118 companies, and has four kitchens and ten meeting rooms.

“Rebellion against tradition”

Following a recent visit to Israel and the UK, Neumann wrote to WeWork’s community members: “The people I met there spoke different languages, came from divergent cultures, and inhabited very different landscapes, but they shared one great thing in common: they were all consumed by the passion to do what they love.”

Apparently, Neumann appreciates this kind of entrepreneurial environment. Prior to establishing WeWork, he was the co-founder of the co-working firm Green Desk, which helped transform the Dumbo neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, into a hub for small, creative companies.

Joey Low, founder of New York-based Star Farm Ventures, which has invested millions of dollars in WeWork, tells NoCamels that Neumann’s leadership and vision is what led to his significant investment in the company. “He’s a very impressive, charismatic young man, very engaging,” Low says. “He’s probably the most exciting Israeli businessman around. His mind is racing all the time. His vision – changing how people live and work – is contagious.”

Low, whose investment in WeWork alone tops all of his other investments in startups  (such as Taboola and Ringya) combined, compares Neumann to legendary Apple founder Steve Jobs, who was “unbelievable and famously difficult. Adam can remind you of that. He just runs so fast. He has the personality and the vision, but so far he’s also executed.” Low feels he “acted out of character to put so much money into WeWork,” especially after friends had warned him that WeWork’s valuation was too high. “It is still is too high,” Low admits. “Everyone said, ‘don’t do it,’ but I was taken in. I drank the Kool-Aid.”

However, WeWork is not all about Neumann’s magnetism. “The more you learn about the company, the more you are impressed. People don’t want a traditional office. It’s a rebellion against tradition.”

Neumann declined to comment on WeWork’s valuation or whether it would go for an IPO. However, the young maverick did share with NoCamels his vision for the coming years: “My dream is that 20 years from now, when we talk about how the sharing economy and millennials changed the way people work and live, WeWork will be one of the companies synonymous with this movement and renowned as a catalyst for a meaningful, positive change.”

Asked what inspired him to launch WeWork, Neumann answers: “The kibbutz, Kaballah (Jewish mysticism) and my wife.”

Neumann is married to Rebekah Paltrow Neumann (cousin of actress Gwyneth Paltrow), who serves as chief brand officer at WeWork. Apparently, Neumann can already afford to cash in on WeWork’s success: he reportedly purchased a $10.5 million Greenwich Village townhouse for his family in January 2014, according to The Real Deal.

     SEE ALSO: Meet The Winners: Top 15 Israeli Startups And Innovations Of 2014

WeWork israel

WeWork, which was initially backed by billionaire real estate mogul Mort Zuckerman of Boston Properties, recently raised $335 million, at a company valuation of nearly $5 billion. This is the company’s second funding round following an angel round in January 2012 in which it raised $6.85 million. In addition, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal, the company plans a public offering within the next two to three years.

However, Neumann stresses that “while there will be talk in the upcoming months of our company’s ‘value,’ we want to be clear that for us, our real value is determined by how many lives we make better,” he recently wrote to members of WeWork. “Our ability to do this is solely based on our members, who are the basis for all the connectivity, collaboration, and inspiration that make us WE and give us the ability to impact the world in a meaningful way.”

In the meantime, WeWork’s co-founders, Neumann and McKelvey, have ambitious expansion plans for 2015: they hope to grow membership to 50,000 by the end of this year, primarily by adding new locations in major cities around the globe. “It’s clear to me that there are many more people all over the world who will soon join our community of creators, and it’s even clearer that our work is just beginning,” Neumann said in a written statement.

WeWork New York

Neumann also reportedly plans to launch “WeLive”, presenting the concept of the collective community to the residential sector. WeWork is reportedly redeveloping an office building with adjacent small residential units (300-600 square feet each) and shared common spaces in the Washington DC area, according to the Wall Street Journal. Additional WeLive locations are expected to open in coming years. WeLive will offer affordable housing of sorts, which might appeal to young people in sought-after, expensive cosmopolitan cities like New York and Tel Aviv. Sources close to WeWork  told NoCamels that WeLive would feature small residential units; however, the concept is still under the radar.

Cheaper office space, richer collaboration

Meanwhile, WeWork’s offices are almost 100 percent occupied with technology startups, online marketing firms, and a range of other businesses, such as taxi company Uber and dinner party enterprise Eat With. Prices in Tel Aviv range from 700 NIS ($180) per month for a desk in an open space to 2,000 NIS ($511) for a desk in an office. That price includes taxes, utility bills, coffee and even beer. In comparison, on average real estate companies rent out office space for 90 NIS per meter a month in central Tel Aviv, which translates into 4,500 NIS ($1,151) per month for a 50-square-meter office – taxes, utilities and coffee excluded.

“The average office sits on about 20 square meters but at WeWork it is 7 square meters on average,” Singer says. “You never pay for more than you use, which is normally what happens in traditional office space. But we also offer the flexibility of growing your business here. You don’t know what is going to happen with your company six months down the line. Here, you can move to bigger or smaller spaces.”

Singer (48), whose brother Saul co-authored the seminal book ‘Startup Nation’ and coined the prevalent expression that describes modern Israel, moved from New York to Israel when he was 20 years old. Growing up in New York and doing business in Tel Aviv, Singer believes WeWork is beneficial to large cities. “We’re creating businesses and using a quarter of the space everybody else is using. Any mayor in the world wants jobs created in their city, because jobs – and people spending money – are driving the local economy.”

     SEE ALSOFrom Startup Nation To Scale-Up Nation, Israel Reached New Heights In 2014

Benjy Singer of WeWork Israel

Benjy Singer, Director of WeWork Israel

Photos and video: Einat Paz-Frankel, Shiran Carmel, WeWork

Kyla Blumenfeld, <![CDATA[The Next Social Network? ‘Space Tag’ Allows Users to Leave Eternal Tags Around The Globe]]> 2015-01-14T09:20:09Z 2015-01-14T09:14:01Z

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Stayed in a great little hotel and want a way to share it with others? You could leave a note in the age-old visitor’s book, leave a review on a site like TripAdvisor, or even upload a photo on Instagram. With ShopCloud’s new Space Tag application, users can now tag specific places and objects to leave eternal notes in “space” for themselves or others. When other potential guests come in proximity to the hotel, they would then see your tag and image pop up.

Launched in December 2014, Space Tag is available for free on Apple’s App Store and on Google Play. CEO Gil Devora claims it is the first app that enables you to look at your space in a new way and leave your mark – for generations to come. Just snap a picture and Space Tag uses an indoor positioning system (IPS) that locates objects or people inside a building, using radio waves, and other signals collected by mobile devices (similar to Apple’s iBeacon).

     SEE ALSO: Pinvolve App Turns Facebook Pages Into Pinboards

Space Tag’s creators have studied the human brain and even the Sahara Desert ant, to develop a navigation and mapping system that’s built on crowdsourcing. A large database of images and locations is provided by users of the application, which in turn provides a localized, mapped community of taggers. The app even contains a hardware-free alternative to Apple’s iBeacon, which is a Bluetooth-connected device that sends a signal and a notification to your smartphone when entering other beacons’ proximity.

Algorithm that’s based on an ant’s internal pedometer

According to Shop Cloud’s CTO Tamir Fridman, this technology is similar to the human brain. “We are often perplexed by the fact that the human brain never gets overloaded with all it does in a single moment”, he says. “The brain is capable of recognizing objects in its environment, of understanding where to go without having to question or position itself every few steps.”

During the development of Space Tag, Fridman’s team went as far as researching the Sahara Desert ant, which easily reaches its target, even though it has poor eyesight. The ant positions itself according to the sun and, contrary to humans, counts its own steps along the way. The ant appears to use an internal pedometer to count its steps in a harsh environment where odors quickly vanish, enabling it to “count back” to its nest,

This pattern of steps is translated into an algorithm, and voila, your smartphone is now an expert navigational device. Add intelligent learning tools, and your device can now identify the images of stores and restaurants around you while associating them with the correct location. You can even receive recommendations about specific dishes in a restaurant that previous guest “left” there.

Beware the Foursquare effect

Despite the team’s enthusiasm, Space Tag developers may need to learn from other location-oriented apps, which have come and gone in recent years. For example, the trendiness of Foursquare’s check-in app eventually wore off. It had to reinvent itself as it struggled to appeal to users, which are now using mostly Facebook and Instagram.

“Space Tag focuses primarily on tagging a space, not so much on the user,” Fridman explains. The goal of the app is therefore to preserve the user’s mark on that location, more so than checking in. According to Fridman, there are fewer advertising ploys in Space Tag, compared to other location-based apps.

Devora is trying to revolutionize social networking. “We believe that in five years, social networking will be localized”, he says. People will be able to experience the same space or event, yet from completely different perspectives. One person might post a picture of the food at a restaurant and comment on it, while another simply likes the overall look of the venue.

The Space Tag application certainly has much potential, but at this time, it is not not flawless. On the localized map menu, the pins reveal many tags, however, the images and captions lack focus. People tag everything from restaurants to cats, with no major location indication. There is no drop-down list that enables users to pick their venue. Alas, no epic panoramic shots of a mountain top yet. And although the main tagging screen has a small telescope that enables users to look at tags from farther away by tapping on the green virtual beacons, the tags once again lack in focus and interest. We have yet to see how ShopCloud hones the large database of tags being slowly harvested in its vortex.

     SEE ALSO: iPhone App Aims To Become Foursquare For Parents And Babies

The rise and fall of check-in apps

But the app is still only in beta phase, and users can expect a pleasant concoction of more advanced technology in the future. Leaving your mark is going to become a lot more tech savvy, yet personal. “With our technology we can create a community. You feel that bond and connection and it can be anywhere you wish”, Devora says, “Users will be able to be notified of a nearby friend, and navigate to them.”

Space Tag is looking into future collaborations with retailers to create virtual shopping paths, but for now we’ll just have to be satisfied with leaving our mark everywhere we go, hoping that the next person appreciates what we have left for them.
space tag by shop cloud
Photos and video courtesy of Shop Cloud

Jordana Wolf, NoCamels <![CDATA[Study: The Weight You Gain When Quitting Smoking May Actually Be Muscle]]> 2015-01-14T09:38:01Z 2015-01-13T17:12:16Z

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Here’s a new and better reason to quit smoking, and for good. A year-long study led by researchers at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, revealed that quitting smoking may actually help boost muscle strength; the first evidence of its kind proving that ending your relationship with nicotine can physically make you stronger.

For all the smokers out there worried that quitting smoking is synonymous with weight gain, take note that a good portion of that weight is actually muscle! Researchers followed 81 smokers in Israel, finding that although they gained an average of 11 pounds (five kilograms) after quitting, 26 percent of that came in the form of bigger muscles. This is because smoking circulates carbon monoxide in your system, preventing your muscles from getting enough oxygen to use for energy. In fact the researchers found that, on average, those who quit smoking may be able to increase their strength by up to 20 percent.

     SEE ALSO: Want To Quit Smoking? Omega 3 Supplements May Be The Answer

The dreaded weight-gain may actually be from muscle

To carry out the study, researchers tested the body composition and muscle strength in 41 heavy smokers who smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day. Their dietary intake and physical activity levels were estimated using questionnaires to ensure that they did not influence the results. Researchers began tracking this group immediately after they quit and then again a year later. About a quarter of participants were able to stay smoke-free throughout the whole year.

The body composition of each participant was measured using two different scanners, allowing for a fast, safe, and comfortable way to assess the breakdown of their fat, muscle and bone. The results were then used to determine total body fat percentage and changes in regional body composition.

Muscle strength was further evaluated by comparing chest press, leg press, and handgrip performance before and after the study. An analysis of the results shows that after one year, those who were able to wean off smoking gained an average of 11 pounds, while those who continued smoking gained less then two. Following analysis, it was shown that of the weight gained by those who quit, 74 percent was fat while the remaining 26 percent had transformed into pure muscle!weightlifting

     SEE ALSO: Pulsing Magnetic Waves In The Brain Could Help Heavy Smokers Ditch Their Habit

According to the researchers, quitters were able to regain a good deal of muscle due to the fact that tobacco significantly reduces oxygen availability to the muscles during exercise. Oxygen is important for the functioning of all energy systems in the body and therefore any mechanism that interferes with oxygen transport also interferes with energy production and athletic performance.

Strong enough to remain nicotine-free

As the study came to an end, researchers concluded that former smokers were stronger after quitting, achieving 17-23 percent more strength than those who continued to smoke. They also improved their bone mineral content and bone mineral density, a change that did not occur for the smokers.

We all know that there are many reasons to quit smoking. Quitting can help reduce risks of lung cancer, heart disease, and many other respiratory diseases, helps save you money and improve your lifestyle. Now there’s one more reason to add to the list; quitting smoking makes you stronger.

This study was co-authored by Prof. Dror Aizenbu chairman of the Department of Orthodontic and Craniofacial Anomalies at Rambam Health Care Campus, and Prof. Abraham Reznick, a molecular biophysicist at the Technion.

Photos: Man lifting weights /The Greatist

Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[Wildlife Photographer Ofer Levy Wins International Acclaim With Awe-Inspiring Images Of Birds]]> 2015-01-14T09:36:57Z 2015-01-12T15:12:32Z

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The saying ‘as free as a bird’ is spoken by many yet truly understood by few, except perhaps for the likes of award-winning Israeli wildlife photographer Ofer Levy. The recent winner of the prestigious ANZANG Nature Photography award in Australia and New Zealand, Levy has spent his entire career photographing our avian fellows for some of the world’s leading nature magazines. Levy’s photographs, which have been praised by the BBC, Australian Geographic and many others, are impressive not only for their artistic caliber, but for their ability to eternalize the riveting lives of some of the world’s rarest and most beautiful birds.

Blue-winged Kookaburra

Blue-winged Kookaburra

A childhood passion turned profession

Levy’s love story with birds began as a child in Haifa, Israel, where he grew up across from a vast field of chrysanthemums. According to Levy, “It was in this field, where I saw lots of turtles, hedgehogs, birds and other animals roaming around, that my passion for the natural world developed.” By the time he was a teenager, Levy went out and bought a film camera and a lens and began to photograph every bird in sight. Lucky for Levy, nearly 500 million birds make their way through Israel and the Levant twice a year during the fall and spring migratory seasons, when the birds of Europe embark on their very own summer vacation in Africa.

     SEE ALSO: A Bug’s Life: Extraordinary Images By Israeli Photographer Capture Nature At Its Freest

“The diversity and richness of bird species in Israel, especially during the fall and spring migration periods, is definitely one of the things that inspired me to photograph birds,” Levy tells NoCamels. “However, my continuous meetings with the unique and beautiful birds near my childhood home is also what inspired me to focus on birds. I really felt that I had a whole safari of animals right outside of my house and wanted to document them.”

Grey-headed Flying Fox

Levy also photographs other animals, in this case the grey-headed Flying Fox

The other aspect that drove Levy to photograph birds was what he calls, “the tremendous difficulty” inherent in the art. “The challenge is what makes photographing birds so special because a bird is here one minute and gone the next, so the ability to preserve a fleeting moment with a bird is really magical, being able to capture their behavior and their aesthetic qualities.”

Levy’s gift lies in confronting a challenge

Levy’s craving for a challenge is what ultimately influenced his decision to leave Israel and make his home elsewhere – in Australia – where the diversity, richness and beauty of the wildlife and avian populations is beyond comparison. It is there, photographing some of the rarest and most stunning birds in the world, that Levy was able to make a name for himself as a wildlife photographer, winning four Australian titles in wildlife photography, this being his third win of the title ‘ANZANG Nature Wildlife Photographer of the year.’

Internationally, Levy was a finalist for the ‘BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ in 2010, and in 2012, he was awarded the honor of having one of his photographs printed in the anniversary edition of the publication, his photograph selected as the best from a historical collection. Currently, Levy has an ongoing exhibition showing at the Australian Museum in Sydney and he is the moderator for the world’s largest site for bird photography.

Red-necked Avocets

Red-necked Avocets

According to Levy, gaining attention as a wildlife photographer is not as difficult as it may seem: “Today, it’s not so hard to get exposure, usually I just submit to publications and they tend to like my work. I tend to get a lot of offers for calendars, advertisements and newspapers.” Besides being published for their beauty by publications like the BBC and Australian Geographic, his photographs are also used to raise awareness by the Israeli Environmental Protection Agency, among others.

     SEE ALSO: It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! No! It’s The World’s First Mechanical Bird

Levy has already made his a household name in the world of bird photography, but that doesn’t mean he’s lost his sense of adventure: “I photograph because I don’t have a choice. It is something that I am so passionate about that it’s almost like a drug. I spend a lot of time and effort to get just the right picture and I couldn’t be happier about it. It fulfills my craving for a challenge.”

Rainbow Bee-eater Pair

Rainbow Bee-eater Pair

Soldier Crabs fighting

Soldier Crabs fighting

Red capped Plover

Red capped Plover and chick

Rock Wallaby joey

Rock Wallaby joey

Great Crested Grebe family

Great Crested Grebe family

Crested Terns

Crested Terns

All Photos: Ofer Levy


NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Parents Should Teach Children How To Write Before Kindergarten, New Research Finds]]> 2015-01-11T12:45:39Z 2015-01-11T12:45:39Z

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Children of the Information Age are inundated everyday with written words streaming across smartphones, tablets, and laptop screens. Yet the constant exposure doesn’t mean a necessary improvement in their literary capacities. A new study from Tel Aviv University finds that preschoolers should be encouraged to write from a young age — even before they take their first step into a classroom.

The study explains why early writing, preceding any formal education, plays an instrumental role in improving a child’s literacy level, vocabulary, and fine motor skills. The research, conducted by Prof. Dorit Aram and colleagues, assessed the merits of early parental mediation of children’s literacy and language in English, and recommended useful techniques to that end.childwriting

“Parents in the US are obsessed with teaching their kids the ABCs,” said Prof. Aram. “Probably because English is an ‘opaque’ language. Words do not sound the way they are spelled, unlike ‘transparent’ Spanish or Italian. Parents are using letters as their main resource of teaching early literacy, but what they should be doing is ‘scaffolding’ their children’s writing, helping their children relate sounds to letters on the page even though the letters are not transparent.”

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

“Grapho-phonemic mediation”

Prof. Aram has spent the last 15 years studying adult support of young children’s writing. A major component of this support is what she calls “grapho-phonemic mediation.” Through this method, a caregiver is actively involved in helping a child break down a word into segments to connect sounds to corresponding letters. For example, parents using a high level of grapho-phonemic mediation will assist their children by asking them to “sound out” a word as they put it to paper. This contradicts the traditional model of telling children precisely which letters to print on a page, spelling it out for them as they go.

“Early writing is an important but understudied skill set,” said Prof. Aram. “Adults tend to view writing as associated with school, as ‘torture.’ My experience in the field indicates that it’s quite the opposite — children are very interested in written language. Writing, unlike reading, is a real activity. Children watch their parents writing and typing, and they want to imitate them. It is my goal to assist adults in helping their children enter the world of writing by showing them all the lovely things they can communicate through writing, whether it’s ‘Mommy, I love you’ or even just ‘I want chocolate.'”


Building a scaffold

In the study, recently published in “Early Childhood Research Quarterly,” 135 preschool children (72 girls and 63 boys) and their parents (primarily mothers) in an ethnically-diverse, middle-income US community were observed writing a semi-structured invitation for a birthday party. The researchers analyzed the degree of parental support and assessed the children’s phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, word decoding, vocabulary, and fine motor skills. Overall grapho-phonemic support was most positively linked to children’s decoding and fine motor skills.

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

Prof. Aram and her counterparts found that “scaffolding,” or parental support, was most useful in developing early literacy skills. “The thing is to encourage children to write, but to remember that in writing, there is a right and a wrong,” said Prof. Aram. “We have found that scaffolding is a particularly beneficial activity, because the parent guides the child. And, if that parent guides the child and also demands precision in a sensitive and thoughtful way — i.e. ‘what did you mean to write here? Let me help you’ — this definitely develops the child’s literary skill set.”

Prof. Aram is currently researching interventions to promote the early writing of children from low socio-economic backgrounds, parental writing mediation for a digital world, and different schools of thought on parental writing mediation. She is a professor TAU’s Jaime and Joan Constantiner School of Education. The study was conducted in collaboration with Prof. Samantha W. Bindman of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and other colleagues in the US.

Photos: Nuri KAYA/ phil wood photo/ Thinkstock

Yuval Haimovits <![CDATA[App Of The Week: ‘GetYou’ – Can Others Guess Your Age And Profession Based On A Photo?]]> 2015-01-11T07:28:51Z 2015-01-11T07:28:51Z

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App Name: GetYou Available For: iOS & Android  Price: Free Developer: GetYou

The Promise: Discover how friends and strangers perceive you at first glance.

Most everyone is eager to know how society perceives them, and particularly how their looks and actions affect what others think about them. Who wouldn’t like to hear juicy inside information on themselves?

So, we publish status updates and photos on social media outlets with the hope of getting positive feedback from our family and friends, but can we really know if they are being completely honest with us?

The GetYou app wants you to better understand what people think of you. GetYou is a social game that let you guess your friends and your friends’ friends characteristics based on their looks alone. Sound a bit too shallow? Not so, because it’s actually a really interesting social experiment, and you’ll be surprised about what you are able to guess about others, and what others assume about you.

Our Experience:

After a short registration process, you’ll find yourself in the main screen of the app, choosing game card packs. After that, you’ll start to play. The app presents you someone’s photo, a personal question about them like “Where is ‘X’ from?” and five multiple choice answers (including the correct one). The most common questions you’ll be asked to answer are about the individual’s profession, their favorite music, relationship status, age, and origin. Sounds fun, right?

After you answer the short quiz, you’ll get the results, as well as the option to add the person as a contact. In addition, you get access to more detailed information regarding the individual like their expanded profile, what other people thought about them and first impression ‘keywords’ that appear in cute flying bubbles.

GetYou App Screenshot

But wait a second, what happened to finding out more about what other people think about you? As you complete more quizzes, people will start inspecting your appearance and guessing things about your life. Which is really fun, but in my opinion, the fun ends here.

     SEE ALSO: App Of The Week: ‘Wooof’ Could Become The Waze Of Dog Owners

GetYou is a cute app, and you’ll probably find yourself playing it over and over again, especially the first 15 minutes. But will you continue to use this app? Is there any added value? I’m not sure.

There are some critical issues that need to be fixed, and not just minor glitches or an app crash – I’m talking about concept and content. For example, why are the default answers  so absurd and repetitive? Why can’t we choose the true as well as the wrong answers? The multiple choice asks if I’m from Israel (correct), Burkina Faso, Niger or the British Virgin Islands. While I suppose it is possible I’m from Burkina Faso, if you looked at my picture it’s likely you wouldn’t select that option. If you have my Facebook details, I expect smarter options, or to allow me to select the answers I think would be most relevant.

British Virgin Islands? For real?

British Virgin Islands? For real?

GetYou has a lot of potential, but for now doesn’t really fulfill its main goal of helping you “learn about yourself.” However, with a bit of content and data tuning, it could be a much better platform.

The Verdict

You can download GetYou for iOS and Android.

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Visualize Einstein’s Genius With Incredible Collection Of Digital Papers]]> 2015-01-12T11:29:08Z 2015-01-08T12:00:27Z

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To mark the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s earth-shattering Theory of Relativity, a new website called the ‘Digital Einstein Papers’ was launched, showcasing virtual copies of thousands of his very own transcripts, scientific and personal papers.

Einstein’s theory of relativity is largely believed to have transformed our understanding of physics and astronomy, superseding the physical theories forged by Sir Isaac Newton some 200 years prior. Notably, the theory of relativity helped clarify the relationship between elementary particles and was the basis for nuclear theory, black hole theories and the understanding of other astrophysical phenomena.

A copy of Einstein's Nobel Prize in Physics, 1921.

A copy of Einstein’s Nobel Prize in Physics, 1921.

In order to commemorate Einstein’s genius, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, an institution that Einstein himself helped establish, and the Princeton University Press spent no less than several decades studying over 80,000 original documents penned by Einstein. Now the universities, together with the California Institute of Technology and the Tizra publishing platform, will put all of Einstein’s transcripts online, giving billions of people access to the postcards, letters, papers and diaries composed by one of history’s greatest minds.

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


Einstein’s high school dipolma


The Digital Einstein Papers contain text transcripts that link to a number of digital images that are part of the Hebrew University’s Einstein Archive Online, a complete catalogue of over 80,000 documents and high-quality digital images under the Hebrew University’s possession. As one of the most loyal supporters of the Hebrew University, together with other notable names like Sigmund Freud, Martin Buber and Israeli President Chaim Weizmann, when it was established in 1925, Einstein bequeathed his writings and intellectual heritage to the university, as well as the rights to use his image.

Einstein's marriage certificate to first wife Mileva Marić

Einstein’s marriage certificate to first wife Mileva Marić

“Together with the Hebrew University’s Einstein  Archive Online, the Digital Einstein Papers will serve as a primary resource for researchers and historians, scientists and students to learn more about Albert Einstein,” says Dr. Roni Grosz, curator of the Hebrew University’s archives.

     SEE ALSO: Hebrew University Student Invents World’s First Bacteria-Free Food Packaging

Some of the documents that appear in the online database include a French essay penned by 17-year-old Einstein entitled, ‘My Plans for the Future,’ in which he profoundly states, “young people especially like to contemplate bold projects.” Another entitled “Letter to Mileva Marić” (Einstein’s first wife) reveals that Einstein fathered a daughter out of wedlock named Lieserl. Also included on the database is Einstein’s first notice of employment, the telegram and letter he received notifying him of his Nobel Prize win, as well as a diary of his travels to America, Spain, the Far East and Israel.

A travel diary recording his experiences in America

A travel diary recording his experiences in America

At the launch of the Archive only 5,000 documents will be made available, but the remainder of the materials is set to be uploaded eighteen months following the release of the print publication of his works entitled ‘The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein,’ published by the Princeton University Press.

Photos: The Digital Einstein Archive/ screenshots of the archive

David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Meaty Initiative: Israeli Scientists To Serve Up Test-Tube Steak]]> 2015-01-08T11:03:01Z 2015-01-08T11:03:01Z

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

Cultured meat — also known as in vitro meat — is as real as any meat, says long-time animal rights activist Koby Barak. To encourage its use, his Modern Agricultural Foundation, together with Tel Aviv University, has begun a trailblazing feasibility study concentrating on chicken breast production.

“By the time meat gets to the consumer, it’s been processed far beyond its original form,” Barak told The Times of Israel. “If we’re already processing it to that extent, why not go all the way and develop a cultured meat industry that will produce meat that will be healthier for people, and for the environment?”

The MAF and TAU study will determine, among other things, how cultured meat, which is grown in a lab or factory from animal stem cells, could be manufactured commercially, and will examine the costs, technology, and potential problems that are involved.

     SEE MORE: Eating A Steak Could Cost Us Our Planet, Researchers Find

Cultured meat is produced by taking stem cells and placing them in a growth culture (an example would be fetal bovine serum, which is extracted from cow uteruses and is rich with energy substrates, amino acids and inorganic salts to support cell metabolism and growth). The cells would divide and grow, creating solid pieces of meat. The science to develop cultured meat – based on tissue engineering – has been around for several years, and research on developing ways to produce it commercially is being conducted around the world.

Such research is being conducted as well at Tel Aviv University, where Professor Amit Gefen, one of the world’s leading experts in tissue engineering, will lead the first feasibility study on cultured meat production that will be available to the general public, scientists, and manufacturers. “There are a couple of companies working on developing cultured meat, but they are privately held, and are not sharing their research with anyone,” said Barak. “We will share the results of this study, enabling manufacturers and investors to determine what they will need in order to commercially produce cultured meat, how much it will cost, what problems will need to be solved to enable commercial production, and so on.”

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

Einat Paz-Frankel, <![CDATA[CES 2015: The Best Of Israeli Tech]]> 2015-01-14T06:41:28Z 2015-01-07T11:19:44Z

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Whether it is the winning Zuta robotic pocket printer, or the 30-second phone charger from StoreDot, the Israeli companies showcasing this week at CES 2015 are wowing the crowds with their cool products and gadgets.

For the first time in the show’s 40-year history, Israel has brought an official delegation to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) taking place in Las Vegas this week. Drawing in 160,000 attendees globally, CES is the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow.

The International CES has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies, considered the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace. This much hyped conference is produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the technology trade association representing the $211 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry.

Israel has roughly 500 consumer electronics and digital media companies whose offerings span a range of innovative solutions. They are active in the mobile device industry, smart home and smart TV, video and gaming, wearables, automotive, Internet of Things (IoT) field, and many other arenas.

Proving Israelis are on everyone’s lips at the conference, Zuta Labs, the Israeli developer of  the smallest mobile printer in the world, has just been announced as the winner of the ‘Best of Innovation Award’ in the computer accessories category.

Take a look at some of the coolest Israeli products and gadgets at the conference:

MUV Interactive

MUV Interactive‘s Bird transforms any surface into a touchscreen through its wearable fingertip sensor, which uses light projection on a range of surfaces. The interactive display of smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc., can be brought to life simply by connecting these devices to a projector, turning anything from a table to a blank wall into an active touchscreen.


ZUtA Labs

Thought your printer would never fit in your pocket? Think again. ZUtA‘s pocket printer is a teardrop-shaped robot printer that can be placed on any page and scurries back-and-forth, printing as it goes along. Instead of having the paper feed through the printer in order to print, the small robot runs on the paper and prints while doing so.

The printer, designed by Israeli firm Nekuda, works on Bluetooth and wireless networks, which means it can interact with smartphones, tablets and laptops. The company claims it’s the first mobile printer – the smallest printer in the world that can print on any size of paper, anywhere you are. That’s probably why Zuta Labs won the Best of Innovation Award in the computer accessories category at this year’s CES.



Charging your smartphone shouldn’t take a whole hour. StoreDot‘s FlashBattery is a Smartphone battery that charges in 30 seconds. The product frees millions of people from worrying about not having enough battery life. This device’s colorful display is also eco-friendly, compared with technologies that use toxic and polluting substances, such as cadmium selenide.



Another Israeli charging gizmo is that of Humavox. With the growing number of devices, charging has become a daily hassle. Now, Humavox provides a simple charging solution called ETERNA. Its wireless charging solution is elastic enough so it can take on many shapes and forms, while fitting into endless types of devices and products. Humavox’s charging station, designed by another Israeli company named Nekuda, looks like an elegant vase – no cords whatsoever.

Humavox charging solution


Green Ride

As more and more cities limit the movement of cars within their boundaries, more and more urbanites are switching to alternative means of transport. Green Ride’s INU, a portable electric vehicle, may be the solution for them. INU is lightweight, portable and folds on command, plus, you can actually give it a voice command or a hand gesture and it’ll fold. You can even take this eco-friendly bike on your train ride to the office.

Green Ride

     SEE ALSO: Qoros Unveils What Might Just Be The World’s Coolest Electric Bicycle



Sensibo’s system turns every ‘dumb’ air conditioner into a smart air conditioner. It works with every air conditioner that can be remote controlled and makes it smarter and more efficient. Sensibo’s pod is attached to your AC unit, which can then be controlled by your smartphone – or a number of additional devices. Sensibo can also cut your electricity bill because it senses whether or not you’re home.


Traditional noise reduction methods use foams and barriers. But they suffer from a major drawback: when implemented as sealing material, they block the airflow. Silentium’s Active Noise Control solution, on the other hand, allows for airflow. The company’s Quiet Bubble is a spatial noise reduction solution that provides a personal quiet zone around the user’s head. The technology allows significant noise reduction in a specific area around a person’s head, so that noise can be reduced without the use of headphones. In addition, unwanted sounds such as known audio and video signals can be reduced, thus creating an individual audio zone. The system can be integrated within the headrest on a pillow.

     SEE ALSO: Lightbox, The World’s Smallest Social Camera, Is Giving GoPro A Run For Its Money



HumanEyes is a panoramic video camera, which can record 3D movies of 360 degrees by means of several video cameras, whose output is combined into one video. The system comprises a small, portable video recorder with independent power source for recording simultaneous, synchronized video streams from multiple, integral camera sensors.

The video data are recorded on a small memory device, from which the data is subsequently transferred to a personal computer, on which the data is processed in order to generate a 3D, stereophonic video file. The generated file is intended for viewing by a helmet with an integral HD screen that senses the viewer’s movements and adjusts the viewed area accordingly, thereby recreating the experience of a person viewing the original scene.

HumanEyes Camera

Photos and videos courtesy of the companies

Kyla Blumenfeld, <![CDATA[Breast Cancer Survivor Creates ‘Pink Perfect Nipples’ To Give Women A Sense Of Wholeness]]> 2015-01-13T10:04:10Z 2015-01-06T10:40:36Z

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Many breast cancer survivors feel they cannot face their spouses for fear of being exposed. They feel their femininity has been taken away from them by the disease. To give women a sense of wholeness, one breast cancer survivor created the “Pink Perfect nipples”. The company produces silicone adhesive nipples that are applied to cancer survivors’ breasts after reconstruction surgeries.

The adhesive nipples are carefully crafted by Michelle Kolath-Arbel, owner and CEO of Pink Perfect, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. Arbel then underwent a lateral (one-sided) mastectomy, leaving a zipper-like scar across her breast.

Following a mastectomy, patients go through reconstruction surgery, as surgeons use the “origami technique” to rearrange the skin and create a protruding nipple. Arbel opted for several prosthesis options but was not pleased with what was available on the market. That’s why she started manufacturing them by herself. Realizing her prosthesis appealed to many breast cancer survivors, Kolath-Arbel started manufacturing and marketing them from her home in Kfar Saba, Israel, two years ago.

Since then, Pink Perfect changed the lives of 200 Israeli breast cancer survivors – and more worldwide – as they leave behind their scars.

Arbel Pink Perfect

“I felt like a guy”

After her reconstructive surgery, Arbel had breast implants, but no nipples. “In the breast cancer survivor community, we call them `Barbie breasts,’ a breast with no nipple,” Arbel explains.

That’s why she was seeking artificial nipple reconstruction surgery. Awaiting approval for the second surgery, Arbel was browsing a magazine at the doctor’s office, as her eyes caught a nude female celebrity. However, her breasts weren’t completely exposed; they were covered in stars. “At that point, I realized that what made them breasts were the nipples,” Arbel recalls.

     SEE ALSO: Researchers Find Promising Therapy For ‘Treatment-Resistant’ Breast Cancer

Sadly, she was rejected for a procedure she thought would give her that sense of wholeness – a second surgery which would have given her complete breasts. “I cried more than when they had told me about my diagnosis. I had hoped that maybe I could finally face myself after the surgery,” Arbel says.

Not only do they feel incomplete without nipples, many breast cancer survivors feel they cannot face their family members and daily life for fear of being exposed. They feel their femininity has been taken away from them by the disease. “I was bald, hairless; I had no hormones, which meant no sex drive. I felt like a guy”, Arbel says.

     SEE ALSO: Breast Cancer: Hadassah Designs Simple Blood Test That Reveals Women At Risk

Intimate product means no mass production

For Arbel, finding the perfect nipple with the color and transparency that seamlessly blends into the skin wasn’t an easy task. At first, Arbel opted for products by American and Asian companies but they felt rigid and looked like they belonged on a Barbie doll. Arbel pushed further and pursued studies abroad in silicone prosthesis making, and shortly thereafter, in July 2012, she launched Pink Perfect.

She has built her business without raising funds from investors. The self-made entrepreneur has no intentions of growing her business exponentially. “It is such an intimate product that I didn’t feel the need to mass produce it,” Arbel says. “I want to know exactly who it’s going to.”

When she participated in the Susan G. Komen Israel Race for the Cure, she handed out Pink Perfect samples to cancer survivors. “One woman tried the nipples on and burst into tears. She didn’t want to take them off,” Arbel recalls.

Another client of Arbel’s, Yulia, says: “A moment before the surgery, Michelle actually cloned my nipples just before they got removed.” Customer Linda says the prosthetic nipples gave her more confidence. “Seeing a complete breast in the mirror has made the most incredible difference. I look and feel whole again, which has translated to improvements in other areas of my life.”

Breast cancer survivor Ayelet Saidi agrees. “I was relieved that I found Pink Perfect, my self-esteem as a woman came back,” she tells NoCamels. “The surgery was hard, and Michal came like a light in the dark for me. The nipples felt real, the silicone stuck well and the colors look so real.”

Eight shapes and colors

But the first step in finding the perfect nipple is choosing the right shape, size and texture. The impact of a realistic prosthesis that feels and looks real can be life-changing. Breast cancer survivors can now choose from eight Pink Perfect color variations – ranging from light pink to mahogany – that come in natural, modest and bold. Even the texture of the areola can be replicated (bumps or no bumps).

A set of Pink Perfect nipples costs $280, including shipping and a free adhesive bottle. An impression kit helps the customer mold the exact shape and texture. Clients who prefer the custom-made ensemble, will pay $370; an optional impression kit for $50 is also available.

Pink Perfect Nipple

Pink perfect owes its name to the color of breast cancer awareness and the vision that every nipple should be perfect. However, even the most impeccable nipple cannot replace the sense of inner beauty that needs to be regained. Says Arbel: “My product helps women on this journey of survival. They are made to feel feminine and beautiful again. But women also need to know they are sexy from the inside.”

Photos and video courtesy of Pink Perfect

David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Samsung And Israel’s E-Virt Partner On Tablet To Allow Children In Hospital To Study Remotely]]> 2015-01-05T08:49:38Z 2015-01-05T08:49:38Z

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

Many kids complain about being stuck at school, but for some, like those laid up in the hospital for long periods, going to school is a privilege they can only wish for. To help kids who are long-term residents of Schneider Children’s Hospital in central Israel, electronics giant Samsung and Israeli e-book distributor E-vrit are teaming up to provide an educational experience that will allow them to keep up with their classmates.

(L to R) Samsung Israel CEO Karyen Kai; South Korean ambassador to Israel Lee Gun-Tae; Or Wilhelm, a nine year old oncology patient at Schneider Children's Hospital; Professor Yosef Peres of Schneider Children's Hospital; and MK Miki Rosenthal (Photo credit: Aviv Hofi)

(L to R) Samsung Israel CEO Karyen Kai; South Korean ambassador to Israel Lee Gun-Tae; Or Wilhelm, a nine year old oncology patient at Schneider Children’s Hospital; Professor Yosef Peres of Schneider Children’s Hospital; and MK Miki Rosenthal (Photo credit: Aviv Hofi)

Children in cancer wards and other long-term care facilities at hospitals in Israel are provided with a range of services to afford them as “normal” a growing-up experience as possible. At holiday time, the hospital and service organizations hold parties, kids get presents on their birthdays, there are plays, game activities, and other events on a regular basis, and so on. And hospitals host schooling programs in ward learning centers, enabling kids to keep up their studies so they don’t fall too far behind their classmates and can easily reintegrate into school life when they leave the hospital.

    SEE ALSO: Spider-Man Window Cleaners Surprise Children’s Hospital On Purim

Unfortunately, many of the kids in hospital are unable to attend these organized classes because they are bedridden or not strong enough to get to the learning center.

So last week Samsung brought its Hope Library to Schneider. Under the Hope Library program, started in 2012, libraries and smart classrooms – learning centers equipped with computers, advanced audiovisual equipment, etc. – have been set up in places like Iraq, rural India, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, and other developing areas. In Israel, company officials took a different tack when applying the program locally – helping out kids in Schneider Hospital’s hematology and oncology units, where many are bedridden for months at a time.

Schneider Center for Children Medicine

Schneider Center for Children Medicine

Children laid up in hospital beds will receive a Samsung tablet, which will be connected over a local network to the hospital’s learning center where teachers conduct classes for kids who are able to attend. The tablets will work in sync with the learning center’s smart whiteboard, with text, graphics and apps loaded or written on the board automatically showing up on the tablet. A video stream of the class and an audio connection will let kids see and hear everything that is going on, and enable them to speak out and participate in classes.

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

Photo: Courtesy

Yuval Haimovits <![CDATA[App Of The Week: ‘Wooof’ Could Become The Waze Of Dog Owners]]> 2015-01-04T14:00:04Z 2015-01-04T14:00:04Z

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App Name: Wooof Available For: iOS  Price: Free Developer: Wooof Network Apps Ltd

The Promise: The experience for you and your dog.

Dog owners love to meet each other at public parks and gardens, sitting and chatting about their best furry friends while their dogs are busy running around and sniffing each other.

While social networks for dog lovers are nothing new, many of the available applications seem to be missing two key features: time and location. Now, a new Israeli app called Wooof is trying to improve the social experience for dog owners and lovers.

Wooof allows you to create a social profile for your dog with full details like their name, gender, breed, and even a picture. After completing this stage, the app allows you to go out there and meet some new four-legged friends and their proud “parents.” You start your activity by tapping the “start to walk” button. The app then acts like an activity tracker that displays your location on a map. Other dog owners who are app users can now see you and contact you (and vice versa), maybe even meet up with you mid-walk. The map also shows you popular parks and gardens nearby where you can find more dog-loving friends.

Woof App Woof App

The app also has a cute “Instagram-like” dog photo feed with the latest adorable dog pictures from all over the country. In addition to the feed, you can post and read dog-related tips, find vets, pet shops, dog walkers and even warn your friends about the poo pick-up police. Did anyone say Waze for dogs?

     SEE ALSO: App Of The Week: ‘Clean’- The App That Makes It Easy To Delete Old Photos

Our Experience

The app has a nice look to it, and gives off a kind of vintage feel. The illustrations are great to make you feel at home in this dog lovers community. I was surprised by the relatively high numbers of users for such a new app. Being able to see other dog owners walking their dogs on the live map is a great plus, and the feed is updated every few minutes. There were a couple of bugs in the setup stage (Facebook login and dog profile creation), but I’m pretty sure these will be fixed in later versions. One thing I was less enthusiastic about at the end of my walk was when the app asked me to rate the quality of my dog’s “waste”, which felt a little unnecessary (and  bizarre), although it was presented in a humorous way.

Woof App

What did we score? For Real???

Bottom-line, with this kind of app, it’s less about the great user experience and design and more about the marketing skills and timing of the team behind it. So to know whether Wooof could be the next successful social network for dog owners, we’ll just have to wait and see.

The Verdict


Download Wooof here.

Jonathan Neff, <![CDATA[New Israeli Cancer Vaccine Triggers Response In 90% Of Cancer Types]]> 2015-01-01T13:31:57Z 2015-01-01T13:10:42Z

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There’s no doubt that cancer is one of the world’s most vicious diseases. For decades, scientists have been trying to find a cure for cancer, a terminal illness that kills 8 million people worldwide every year. With 14 million new cancer cases diagnosed around the globe every year, according to the World Health Organization, the need for prevention is vital. Now, an Israeli biotechnology company is developing a vaccine for cancer, which is not designed to treat the disease – but to prevent it from returning.

Vaxil BioTherapeutics, based in Nes Ziona, Israel, has spent over half a decade developing ImMucin, a prophylactic cancer vaccine, which can trigger a response in about 90 percent of all types of cancer, according to the company.

Immunotherapy: A hybrid cross between a vaccine and a drug

“Vaxil is developing a drug to keep the cancer from coming back,” Julian Levy, Vaxil’s CFO, tells “We are trying to harness the natural power of the immune system to fight against cancer by seeking out cancer cells and destroying them.”

Levy explains that ImMucin is not a replacement for traditional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation. Rather, the company is targeting a different stage in the patient’s battle against cancer, specifically the early stages of the detection, as well as during remission. That’s why, unfortunately, the drug won’t be helpful to many cancer patients – specifically those who are in advanced stages of the disease – because it requires a relatively healthy body to be fully effective.

     SEE ALSO: Israeli Researchers Create ‘Trojan Horse’ Of Chemotherapy

Even though ImMucin is a vaccine, it is given to people who are already sick, unlike traditional vaccines. So, while ImMucin’s scientific mechanism is one of a vaccine, from the point of view of the patient, it acts exactly like a drug that has physiological effects when introduced to the body.

“Many preventative cancer vaccines today are not actual vaccines against cancer,” Levy says. “Young women can take a vaccine for the HPV virus, which doesn’t combat cancer; it’s a vaccine against a virus that has been proven to lead to a more serious cervical cancer.”

Training the immune system to attack cancerous cells

ImMucin works by stimulating a part of the immune system and teaching it to attack certain cells with certain markers that indicate the presence of cancer. When the drug is introduced during an early stage of cancer, the hope is that as a patient’s cancer begins to creep back, the immune system is trained appropriately to know which cells to destroy and which to leave be.

This immune response has been consistent throughout Vaxil’s clinical trials on the vaccine over the past few years. The company ran trials exclusively on Multiple Myeloma patients until January 2014, when it began trials on breast cancer patients.

Vaxil’s current switch from successful myeloma trials to breast cancer trials would certainly turn some heads in the biotech community. That’s because typically, when a drug has this much success on a certain type of cancer, a company would provide more resources to finish the trials (through Phase III) and get it to market – it wouldn’t delve into new projects.

     SEE ALSO: For Cancer Patients Mistletoes Have More Value Than A Christmas Kiss

Vaxil’s most recent valuation is just under $3 million. In the US, clinical trials and ongoing research and development can cost hundreds of millions of dollars per drug, and it’s very possible that Vaxil doesn’t have the cash to push ImMucin to the market at this point. However, Levy is confident that ImMucin will be on the market by the end of this decade.

Vaxil BioTheraputics has promising technology and initial clinical success, especially since ImMucin has the potential to treat 90 percent of cancers found in patients. Certainly, this kind of immunotherapy for an illness previously thought of as incurable, gives hope to millions of patients and their families.

Editor in Chief Anouk Lorie and Contributing Editor Maya Yarowsky <![CDATA[From Startup Nation To Scale-Up Nation, Israel Reached New Heights In 2014]]> 2015-01-01T10:31:52Z 2014-12-31T16:25:51Z

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A roundup of the biggest hits of 2014, what to expect in 2015 and a talk with stars of the Startup Nation – Gigi Levy, Yifat Oron, Rami Beracha and Jon Medved.

As we enter 2015, it’s safe to say that 2014 may have been the best year yet for Israeli tech. From the largest number of Israeli Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) since the dot com boom, to the faith placed in Israel’s breakthrough cybersecurity and big data sectors by governments and multinational companies, this was a year of unprecedented progress and earnings for the Startup Nation.

In 2014, Israel still boasts the largest concentration of startups per-head in the world, with almost one thousand new firms launched every year.

And, according to Deloitte, international investors place nearly as much faith in their Israeli investments as they do in their American counterparts, a notable achievement for an economy 301 times smaller than the US.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Partner Rubi Suliman, like many industry experts, believes that Israeli tech has reached a new peak in 2014: “The stars seemed to be aligned just perfectly this year for the local industry, and brought about such unprecedented success.”

The hard numbers:

  • According to data collected by PwC, this year saw a total of 70 exits and IPOs worth approx. $15 billion. This is despite the fact that one of the biggest acquisition in Israel’s history, the sale of Waze to Google for $966 million, occurred in the previous year.

Capital Raised by Israeli High-Tech Companies Q1-11-Q3-14x640

  • By September 2014, the famed 100 club (Israeli companies worth over $100 million) had already garnered a combined revenue of $3.6 billion, according to data by TheTime. In addition, fifteen companies reached the $100 million mark in 2014, compared to six in 2013.
  • Eighteen Israeli companies went public this year (13 in the US and five in the UK), raising a total of $9.8 billion in their offerings, compared to $1.2 billion in 2013. Mobileye, the world leader in car-collision avoidance systems, was the real star on this front, raising $890 million.
  • Israeli startups were acquired at a faster pace than ever, within an average of 3.95 years, according to data collected by the Dow Jones VentureSource. This is compared to a period of 5.5 years before acquisition last year and 8.59 years in 2009. In addition, investors in Israeli startups that were acquired saw a 6.2 times return on their investment, compared to just 2.2 over the same time period in Europe.
  • The number of jobs in Israeli high tech went up by 3.2 percent in 2014, compared to to 1.5 percent in 2013, according to Ethosia human resources.
  • According to data collected by Deloitte, global investor confidence levels waned over Brazil and China, while Canada, Israel and the UK showed increased investor confidence levels. According to the overall confidence levels of venture capital investors, Israel was second only to the US in venture capital confidence.

  • 2014 saw the largest-ever foreign investment in Israeli tech, with Intel injecting nearly $6 billion into upgrading its Kiryat Gat chip plant and promising to spend up to $550 million in the Israeli economy in the next five years.

     SEE ALSO: 2014: The Year Of The Israeli IPO

The leading sectors:

  • Automotive: Although Israel doesn’t have its own native auto industry, it excels in automobile technology. The most notable achievement this year goes to the inventors of the collision alert system Mobileye, used by major automotive brands like General Motors and Honda, that issued the largest IPO in Israel’s history, raising $890 million at a company valuation of $7.5 billion. Now other leading automotive brands like BMW, Fiat, and Toyota are turning to Israel to develop cutting-edge auto parts and cool technology to deck out their latest models. Another up-and-coming Israeli company, Argus Cyber Security, is taking two industries Israel excels in – automotive and cybersecurity – and combining them into one, providing protection against attacks on the web-connected cars of the future.

Mobileye’s technology warns the driver before an imminent collision.

  • Cybersecurity: As companies and governments shift the bulk of their data online, their information becomes more vulnerable to cyber attacks (the recent attack on Sony is just one example). Israel has long been at the forefront of defense technologies, which is why its cybersecurity industry is more mature and diverse than that of many other countries. As the CEO of CyberArk, one of this year’s most successful cybersecurity companies that also held an impressive IPO, Udi Mokady summed it up, “Everybody understands that you buy Swiss watches from Switzerland and information security from Israel.”
  • Wearable technology (AKA Internet of Things): Connecting wearable devices to the Internet is a booming sector still only in its infancy, and Israel is making some important contributions. Companies like Omek, creating gesture recognition software and acquired by software-giant Intel for $40 million, and LifeBEAM, connecting helmets and hats to the Internet to track your workout progress, are changing the way inventors worldwide think about wearable technology. Others, like OrCam, are innovating with a social cause, bringing the first smart glasses that can identify objects for the visually impaired to the market.


  • Israel also reached unprecedented heights in other sectors this year, including big data analytics, with companies like SiSense and BigPanda leading a lucrative industry that has taken on the task of storing all of our online data. Israel is also behind some major innovations in online marketing, with companies like Outbrain and Taboola thinking up creative new ways to promote content on the Internet. Finally, ‘FinTech’ (Financial Tech), a sector breaking down the barriers of the internet economy, is starting to welcome some major players in Israel, with companies like BillGuard and FeeX helping reducing fraud, ease payment processes and save users money.

Some words of caution

Despite the stellar startup activity in Israel this year, a number of serious challenges to the country’s ‘Startup Nation’ title remain. For one, there are still not enough jobs being created for the country’s growing population. This is due in part to the lack of big companies that contribute to Israel’s native stock exchange, the TASE. Many multi-national companies come to Israel to get the best of its brainpower (Intel, Microsoft and Google) while many large Israeli companies, like Teva Pharmaceuticals and CheckPoint, choose to move their business aboard. Despite the large number of startups, many still decide to exit early or go public overseas, lowering their real value for the Israeli economy as well as threatening the longevity of the Israeli high tech sector.

Data collected by Dow Jones VentureSource suggests Israeli startups still decide to exit quickly because of the impressive acquisition offers they are able to attract. Analyzing data from eight companies acquired during the third financial quarter of 2014, it was found that companies were acquired within 3.95 years after raising a median of $5.5 million in total. It may be easy to understand why these companies favored acquisition, with the acquisition median amount totaling $34.10 million, meaning that investors saw a 6.2 times return on their investments in companies acquired this year. Add this to the fact that most venture capital goes to young startups (80 percent of venture capital funds in comparison to 52 of similar funds in the US), it’s no wonder that the infamous Israeli exit has yet to go out of style, for better or worse.

     SEE ALSO: Meet The Winners: Top 15 Israeli Startups and Innovations Of 2014

Ask the pros:

NoCamels interviewed four of the biggest investor names in Israel to get their take on Israeli tech in 2014, as well as trends to watch in 2015. Star angel investor Gigi Levy, Pitango Venture Capital partner Rami Beracha, LeumiTech CEO Yifat Oron and Jon Medved, founder and CEO of OurCrowd gave us their insight.



They all agreed on one thing: Mobileye’s IPO was a defining moment in 2014. Not only because it was the largest-ever IPO of an Israel company, but also thanks to its success in a field previously untapped in Israel.

“Mobileye’s IPO is a phenomenal success in a field in which Israeli companies do not typically excel,” Gigi Levy tells NoCamels. “This is proof that not only can we create great companies that can exit for hundreds of millions, but we can also sustain multi-billion-dollar public companies.”

In addition to Mobileye’s IPO, Rami Beracha mentions other high-quality IPOs of Israeli startups, Varonis, Borderfree and CyberArk. Jon Medved mentions the IPO of ReWalk, the robotic exoskeleton that allows paraplegics to walk, and says that one of the most exciting moments for him in 2014 was “to watch half a dozen ReWalkers walk with their exoskeleton through Times Square.” He is also proud of Rafael’s air defense system Iron Dome, which “showed the world what Israeli technology is truly capable of.”

When asked what led to so many Israeli IPOs in 2014, and whether this boom is expected to continue: Levy, Beracha and Yifat Oron agree that market conditions in 2014 were favorable. “Looking into 2015, market conditions in most fields seem to still be favorable for IPOs, and I see at least a few more IPO-ready Israeli companies, so we will probably see a few more IPOs in 2015,” Levy predicts.

Beracha: “The market wasn’t ready for IPOs for a while, which created a waiting list of companies ready to go public.” In addition, “the appetite to go public, as opposed to be acquired, is increasing. I expect this trend to continue, but not necessarily to grow.”

According to Oron, low interest rates in world economies made alternative investments less attractive and drove investors into the tech sector. “Institutional investors were searching for investments with potential to appreciate in time and provide meaningful returns”, she tells NoCamels. “There are a few Israeli IPOs expected in the near future, which should be successful.”

What were some of the hottest trends in 2014? Internet of things (wearable technology), big data analytics, security, healthcare IT, gaming companies, web services and FinTech (financial technology), experts told “New companies that emerged in 2014 will continue disrupting the traditional banking business in areas like currency trading, remittance, savings and lending,” Levy says.

The companies people should keep an eye on in 2015 are “Consumer Physics, Scio, BillGuard (with credit card fraud being as serious as it is), Biocatch which gives you vast authentication to prevent attacks like the one on Sony, and companies like BT9, focusing on preserving food security and the food chain,” Medved estimates (they are all OurCrowd portfolio companies). Beracha believes in Taboola, Outbrain and Iron Source, because “they are the most mature.” Oron says: “The interesting companies, as always, are those that are based on a strong technology core: Internet of things, analytics, cyber and FinTech.”

These promising startups, and others, are expected to help Israel maintain its title ‘Startup Nation’. However, Israeli tech companies shouldn’t rest on their laurels. “To maintain this title, we need to successfully take early-stage startups into a safer stage of real viability,” Beracha says. “If we do not do that, it will have an adverse effect on the appetite of early-stage investors to continue to pour funds into young, seed stage startups.”

In 2015, up-and-coming managers are expected to turn startup companies into large corporations. “The new generation of entrepreneurs and managers, who managed large multi-national operations, will lead the startup nation in 2015 with bigger and better enterprises,” Oron says. Levy concludes: “While there are many challenges in the long-term availability of funding, the core Israeli tech ecosystem is stronger than it has ever been, with more great companies, better managers and more entrepreneurs who have worked for the world’s best companies. Hence, I am pretty sure that Israel will remain the world’s leading startup nation.”

Photos: IVC/ Deloitte

Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[2014: The Year Of The Israeli IPO]]> 2015-01-01T17:04:03Z 2014-12-30T14:43:42Z

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When NoCamels asked some of Israel’s most influential investors, including OurCrowd’s Jon Medved, serial angel investor Gigi Levy and Rami Beracha of Pitango Ventures, what they thought was most the most memorable event for the Startup Nation in 2014, the answer was resoundingly: “The rise of the Israeli IPO.”

Until this year, Israeli companies were often criticized for their eagerness to “sell out” quickly in pursuit of an early exit. With a historic 18 initial public offerings (IPOs) in New York and London in 2014, compared to just three in 2013, this year seemed to usher in a new age for Israeli companies.

Here are the top ten Israeli companies that went public international stock markets this year:

Mobileye- MBLY


The largest IPO in Israel’s history, Mobileye surpassed expectations when the company went public in August, raising $890 million at a company valuation of $7.5 billion on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Similar to CyberArk, Mobileye also saw share prices spike on the first day of trading, from $25 at the opening bell up to $37 by the end of the day. This was before investors and financiers understood the real value of Mobileye’s technology, an understanding that drove the share price up further to $60 per share (today the share price is around $43). The idea behind Mobileye’s technology is simple enough: a camera-based technology that alerts drivers of potential collisions and accidents. The company is now using the money it raised in its August IPO to beat out Google and Tesla in the creation of the first driverless car. In the meantime, the Jerusalem-based company’s technology is being applied to new General Motors, Honda, BMW Group and Nissan car models and is available for stand-alone purchase in Israel and other markets.

CyberArk- CYBR


If you’ve been following the business headlines lately, you probably know that 2014 saw the most successful public offering in history; the Chinese ecommerce platform Alibaba raised $300 million at a world record $25 billion valuation. Just as Alibaba was stealing the headlines, Israeli cybersecurity company CyberArk’s shares also went public on NASDAQ, with what some finance experts might call more impressive success. On the first day of trading, CyberArk’s strike price of $16 doubled to $32 per share, before it settled at around $30 that same week. Though it touts only a third of Alibaba’s $90 share price, CyberArk was the first and only Israeli cybersecurity company to go public overseas since Radware in 1999.   With cybersecurity in increasingly high demand among businesses and governments, CyberArk saw its Wall Street success soar, with the company raising $85.8 million in the offering. CyberArk gears its cybersecurity products towards companies, protecting their systems from potentially dangerous external threats. A company like Sony, whose systems were recently hacked in anticipation of the release of a comedy film about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, could have surely used CyberArk’s services to protect against such a damaging system hack. This is only an example of the demand for cybersecurity solutions, placing numerous other Israeli cybersecurity companies in a good position to go public and raise money on foreign markets.

     SEE ALSO: The Other Silicon Valley: The Role Of Multinational Companies In Israel’s Startup Ecosystem

SafeCharge- SCH


PlayTech, SafeCharge and Crossrider owner Teddy Sagi.

In 2014, Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi’s companies were IPO all-stars, especially on European and British markets. SafeCharges’s public offering on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in April was one of the most successful, raising $125 million at a company valuation of $400 million. SafeCharge, a payments solutions provider for the Forex industry and online gambling sites, wasn’t the only Sagi-controlled company to reap profits on the AIM Stock Exchange this year; Crossrider, an Internet optimization company, raised an impressive $75 million at a company valuation of $250 million in August. SafeCharge was voted the “Most Innovative Financial Product” in November 2013 at the Forex Magnates London Summit, which made the AIM IPO a no-brainer for Sagi. Since, Sagi has continued to milk the London markets, steering clear of the US, most notably with his recent acquisition of most of London’s famous Camden Markets, which he purchased this year for the sum of $623 million (£400 million). This, and his IPO success with e-gaming company PlayTech in 2006, has driven Sagi to continue to take his companies public in London, avoiding potentially more competitive markets across the pond.

ReWalk- RWLK


Created by Dr. Amit Goffer after he was severely paralyzed in an ATV accident, the ReWalk exoskeleton is not only one of the more impressive technologies to come out of Israel in recent years, in 2014 it also had one of the most notable public offerings. Becoming the first and only exoskeleton approved by the US Food & Drug Administration, ReWalk is an assisted walking device for paraplegics, allowing them to stand, walk and even run on flat surfaces. Used by US Army Veterans and paraplegic marathon runners alike, following FDA approval ReWalk made the decision to go public in September, issuing $12 shares, only to see them spike to $31 by the end of the same week. The company ended up raising $36 million on NASDAQ at a company valuation of $250 million, not bad for a young company (founded in 2011) with a very sector-specific technology. To commemorate ReWalk’s success, the company invited owners of the device to a mass “walk about” in New York City’s Time Square, dubbed one of the “events of the year” by OurCrowd founder Jon Medved. Next up, according to Dr. Goffer, is the development of a similar technology to aid quadriplegics called UPnRIDE, a device that will hopefully be on this very same list in years to come.

     SEE ALSO: Going Public Is The New Exit: Six Israeli IPOs To Watch

Borderfree- BRDR


A number of weeks following Varonis’ IPO, another Israeli company decided to jump on the “going public” bandwagon. The ecommerce technology company Borderfree went public on NASDAQ in March, pricing its shares at $16 apiece and raising $80 million at a company valuation of $488 million. Following the IPO, the company’s share price jumped up 33 percent to $20 a share, a testament to the faith placed in ecommerce related companies by investors. Though it was founded in Israel, Borderfree, the provider of ecommerce tools to retailers like Macy’s, Aeropostale and Under Armour, moved its offices to New York prior to the IPO in order to help more American retailers expand their business overseas. The company still has a research and development center in Israel and continues to raise funds from Israeli venture capital firms like Pitango and Delta Ventures.

Varonis Systems- VRNS


Another Israeli IPO that surprised this year was Varonis Systems’, a business-technology startup that saw its share price double on the first day of trading. Early this year, Varonis went public on NASDAQ and saw its stock price rise to $44 a pop, giving the company a whopping valuation of $1 billion! And Varonis is no Facebook or Twitter, which is why the success of the offering was so unexpected. The company specializes in providing “big data” information management tools to businesses, a rising sector in field of software development gaining the attention of corporations and investors alike. Like many big data companies, Varonis struggled to make a profit before its public offering, which is why the company and its investors at Pitango Venture Capital and Evergreen Venture Partners were so pleased with the surprising success of the IPO.

XLMedia- XLM


CEO of XLMedia Ory Weihs

Teddy Sagi isn’t the only Israeli entrepreneur going after London’s rich AIM market for a public offering; the Israeli gaming sites traffic generator XLMedia raised $69.4 million (£41.8 million) at a company value of $154.2 million (£92.9 million). The extent of money raised by the company came as a surprise to the company management and its shareholders, but it seems that London is the market for gaming-geared companies (like Sagi’s PlayTech). Following the March offering, XLMedia stated that it planned to use the funds to invest and develop its position in the blooming Scandinavian gaming market and to expand its presence in other countries, especially in the United States. XLMedia generates traffic for more than 150 gaming sites worldwide, including the Israeli-founded gaming giant 888.

MacroCure- MCUR

Blood cell therapy developed for wounds that won't heal

Another Israeli biotechnology company that saw relatively notable success was MacroCure, a company developing a system for treating hard-to-heal wounds by harvesting white blood cells from donor blood. Though the company initially sought a share price of $13-15 per share, the company’s July offering on NASDAQ was priced below this range at $10 per share. The company raised $54 million, although it anticipated to raise up to $75 million, which would have been a first for an Israeli biotechnological company, following in the footsteps of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. The company’s product, CureXcell, has already been approved for usage in Israel to treat wounds like diabetic foot ulcers and venous leg ulcers and is still undergoing Phase III clinical trials by the US Food & Drug Administration.

     SEE ALSO: So Much For Alibaba: Israeli Companies Prove ‘Far More’ Successful With IPOs

VBL Therapeutics- VBLT


The biggest Israeli IPO drama of 2014 was the last-minute cancellation, and successful refiling of Israeli biotechnology company VBL Therapeutics’ offering. In August of this year, the company, developing novel treatments for cancer and respiratory illnesses, raised an impressive $65 million at a company value of $222 million, only to have the offering cancelled after a US-based investor could not come through with the money to buy his shares. Not ready to give up on their dream of going public, two months later VBL issued another public offering on NASDAQ, raising significantly less, $40 million at a company value of $120 million. Due to the failure of their initial offering, investors were hesitant to bet on the success of the company’s shares, causing the share price to drop 2.5 percent to $5.85 per share on the first day of trading. Still, the company is confident with its public success as its treatments enter Phase III clinical trials in the US at the start of 2015.

Matomy Media- MTMY

Matomy CEO Ofer Druker.

Matomy CEO Ofer Druker.

Besides cybersecurity and biotechnology companies, another sector that Israel excels in is internet advertising, a specialty that company Matomy Media proved to be particularly profitable when it raised $63.6 million (£41 million) on London’s AIM stock exchange. The Matomy IPO was actually even floated on the High Growth Segment of the stock exchange, a list with special trading conditions for companies know for their impressive growth. The IPO gives the advertising company, one of Israel’s largest, a $315 million valuation (£203 million), lower than the company’s initial estimates. The success the of the Matomy IPO was questionable as the company decided to pull its original offer in April due to a lack of investor interest. Putting it off until July, the company was aware that the delay would have some effect on the success of the offering, but as company CEO Ofer Druker told “The Financial Times,” “We were delighted to announce our offering with such strong investor support.” Matomy serves over 1,500 customers with different advertising and promotion tools, and counts among its clients American Express, Experian and Zynga.

What’s next?

So the big question remains: will the record-breaking number of Israeli companies that pursued an IPO (instead if an exit) in 2014 herald a new age of companies focused on long-term success, or is this just a fleeting trend? Despite all this year’s IPOs, interestingly enough the country remained a world leader in the number of acquired companies in 2014. According to a “Wall Street Journal” report, more Israeli companies pursue exits in comparison to their European counterparts, and at speedier pace than ever before. Data collected by Dow Jones VentureSource showed that in comparison to 2009, when the lifespan of companies was on average 8.59 years before acquisition, now Israeli companies are acquired after an average of 3.95 years. The latter statistic is even more shocking when compared to the same statistic from 2013, when companies waited almost two full years longer before considering an exit. The numbers speak for themselves, but according to a number of high tech experts and economists alike, the Israeli economy will begin to feel the absence of large, long-term companies if its startups continue to chase after speedy exits.

Photos: Wall Street/ReWalk/ Zef Nikolla, NASDAQ OMX/ Wall St. Daily/ Eyal Toueg

Jordana Wolf, NoCamels <![CDATA[Artists Preserve Old Tel Aviv With Striking Graffiti Furniture]]> 2014-12-30T07:06:30Z 2014-12-30T08:00:23Z

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Swathes of bright colored graffiti cover the walls, the smell of sawdust permeates the air, and the steady hum of hammers and saws ricochet off the walls down an old narrow alley tucked away in the southern Tel Aviv neighborhood of Florentin. Carpenter’s Alley, as its been called since the 1950s, is still home to many carpenters and artists and it’s where Ariel Zuckerman’s art studio is located. Its also where he and long time friend, Eran Shimshovitz got the inspiration for their project “Street Culture,” to turn alleyway graffiti into high-end furniture.

The project, which started out as a completely spontaneous endeavor, began just one year ago when Zuckerman and Shimshovitz had the idea to create a design that would combine the daytime hustle of nearby factories with the nighttime bustle of hip, young, and artsy Florentin. “Everyone creates furniture here, and we thought we would take what happens here in the day time, which is furniture making, and combine it with the nightlife, which amounts to lots of art and graffiti, showcasing the two very different worlds here,” explains Zuckerman, “sort of like the Jekyll and Hide of Florentin.”


Anonymous artists – the key ingredient

The artists began their project by attaching several blank wooden boards to the graffiti covered walls by their studio. Day after day they waited patiently, eager to see what would come of their experiment. Leaving no directions for the street artists, it took several days before any sketches appeared, but eventually more followed. A month later, the duo had finally found something that they were satisfied with.

     SEE ALSO: Israeli Studio Sfog Recycles Your Old Objects To Create New Furniture


Taking a two-dimensional plate and turning it into three-dimensional furniture was an interesting challenge. Zuckerman and Shimshovitz first had to gain inspiration from the paintings to establish a clear vision of what they wanted. Then, they began making sketches of their ideas and used 3D computer programs to help with the design. The artists built many of the individual pieces and parts in their studio, but some of the more complex pieces were created using a CNC machine (computer numerical control), which produces shapes that are difficult to achieve manually. The last step for Zuckerman and Shimshovitz was to assemble the furniture and to protect it with acrylic paint, preserving the authentic street art that they had uncovered.

“The table and the drawers were the first two pieces we made,” explains Zuckerman.


The first pieces of graffiti furniture created by the artists.

“People began to talk about our work and it became a bit famous. At first, we didn’t know who the graffiti artists were. But when we exhibited our work at ‘Fresh Paint’ [Tel Aviv art fair] someone came to us and said ‘Hey guys, I did this painting.’ She used to have a studio near us, so now we want to collaborate with her. Soon, some other street artists wanted to be involved.”

Collaboration is fundamental

While the project started out as a completely authentic and spontaneous undertaking, it has now become a collaboration with local street artists.  Collaboration makes things much easier in terms of logistics and time, explains Zuckerman. “Now I can see the artists style before I create the furniture,” he says. While this may take some of the charm away from the project, it makes it easier to find high quality work. The artist still paints whatever he wants and all pieces are 100 percent original.  Artists  get compensated for their work too depending on the artist involved and the complexity of the painting. It’s no wonder than many artists are eager to contribute.

     SEE ALSO: Hanoch Piven, The World Famous Israeli Artist Who Creates Culturally Iconic Collages 
So far Zuckerman and Shimshovitz have created nearly 20 pieces of graffiti inspired furniture, and with the help of Tel Aviv street artists, they continue to create more. Their work is currently being featured in Saga Gallery in Jaffa and the duo is constantly approached by owners of galleries, businesses and boutique hotels, who request custom-made pieces. Pieces run from $2,000 to $6,000, but Zuckerman and Shimshovitz have plans to develop the collection to create smaller pieces that will have more accessible price points.

It seems that people like the idea of preserving a part of their city. “In this particular project, you can really see Tel Aviv’s influence.  In Tel Aviv, life is in the streets. Everything happens outside,” says Zuckerman of the project. “Carpenter’s Alley, is going to soon vanish and it will be replaced with modern buildings, gardens and parks. We want to capture these rare moments,” says Zuckerman.

With so much success surrounding the project, the team hopes to eventually take their project global, preserving the hidden gem of cities – its graffiti – that sometimes needs to be taken out of context to be really appreciated.

Photos: Courtesy

Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[Exposure To Air Pollution In Womb Raises Risk Of Autism, Study Finds]]> 2014-12-31T08:24:30Z 2014-12-29T17:17:52Z

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For years, researchers have struggled to understand the spike in instances of autism, believing that genetics alone could not account for the worrisome trend. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism is becoming an increasingly common disorder, with 1 in every 150 children born with the condition in 1992 growing to 1 in every 68 born in 2002. This means that the chances for a child to be born with autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder that makes it difficult to socially interact and communicate with others, more than doubled in the span of a decade, and not necessarily due to an increased genetic propensity.

One explanation that was suggested for the rise in autism cases posits that environmental factors, such as pollution and air quality, could account for this unexplained phenomenon, but it is uncertain how and when such toxins take their effect. Now a new study examines the connection between exposure to air pollution and incidences of autism, showing that this association is particularly strong when a woman is exposed to toxins in the third trimester of pregnancy. Raanan Raz, a visiting scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health, explained the new perspective he took in examining the connection, and what can be done to control autism, and other possible pollution-induced disorders.


Narrowing down the parameters to understand the trend

In an observational study, Raz and principle investigator in the study Marc Weisskopf collected data on pregnant women’s exposure to fine particulate matter across the United States, dating back to 1989. To clarify, fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5, is made up of liquid droplets or solid particles in the air that measure less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, such as those found in smoke or haze. Raz tells NoCamels that fine particulate matter is important in this case because, “due to their small size, they are capable of getting deep into the human lungs and from there, some of them may even get into the bloodstream.”

     SEE ALSO: The Upside Of Suburbia: Green Spaces Found To Significantly Increase Child’s Birth Weight

Of the 116,000 pregnant women Raz and his team collected data from, 245 of the resulting children were born with autism. In order to understand whether the environmental conditions during pregnancy influenced the chances of contracting autism, the autistic group was compared to a group of 1,522 developmentally sound children. In addition, air quality data collected from the US Environmental Protection Agency was used to record the mothers’ environments before, during and after the pregnancy.pregnancy

Raz’s resulting discovery may be a breakthrough in understanding the spike in autism cases of late; he found that exposure to high levels of fine particulate matter during the third trimester of a woman’s pregnancy, or weeks 29-40 and through to the due date, increased a baby’s risk of being born autistic. According to Weisskopf, “Our data adds additional important support to the hypothesis that maternal exposure to air pollution contributes to the risk of autism spectrum disorders.”

Women in urban and industrial areas face biggest risk

So in which kinds of areas are we more exposed to harmful particulate matter according to the research? Raz suggests that pregnant women in their third trimesters should avoid dense urban areas and industrial zones:  “While PM2.5 exists naturally (from sources like natural dust, forest fires or sea water), human combustion of fossil fuels, such as coal, natural gas or oil-based power plants, vehicle engines, and various industry activities, all generate additional PM2.5. Another source for PM2.5 is human combustion of biomass. Urban and industrial areas are usually exposed to higher levels of PM2.5.”

If you are or know a very pregnant truck driver or city dweller don’t call her up in a fret just yet. This is an epidemiological study and the theory, connecting air pollution to a higher risk for autism, remains causal, according to Raz. However, there is reason to believe that Raz’s and other researchers’ assertions regarding the link bear truth: “It is very difficult to study the mechanism of action of harmful exposures in humans, and autism is not a disorder we see in animals,” Raz explains. “One hypothesis, though, is that the effect of air pollution on the fetus is mediated by processes of inflammation. This hypothesis gets support from various studies that present links between brain inflammation in utero and autism, and from studies, mostly in animals, which show that PM2.5 is capable of causing immune responses in the brain.”


Raz: It is important to lobby our governments for regulation

Due to the lack of biological evidence for the link between air pollution and autism, Raz is not ready to rest on his laurels. “We are currently running several studies that are expected to shed additional light on the link between air pollution and autism, the largest one being in Israel. We expect to have additional results from these studies that will point to which air pollutants and emission sources are more relevant to the effect in utero and during which pregnancy weeks.”

Narrowing down the data will make it easier for researchers to assert a clear connection, but Raz reiterates that strictly observational research won’t prove anything and that there is need for definitive biological tests. Yet he is confident that air pollution can be singled out as the culprit in the rise of autism cases, reminding us that scientists have already discovered that air pollution causes early death, lung cancer, heart disease and other grave health issues.

     SEE ALSO: Can iPad’s Improve Autistic Kids’ Social Skills?

In another recent Israeli study, conducted at Tel Aviv University, researchers found a clear link between high exposure to air pollution and an increases risk for congenital malformations in babies, or serious physical defects. It was the first study to look into the possible association between different modes of conception, spontaneous conception (SC) and assisted reproductive technology (ART), as they relate to air pollution, finding that infants conceived through the latter method had a higher risk for birth defects when exposed to air pollution.

At the end of the day, Raz wants expecting mothers to be aware of risk they expose their baby to living in a densely polluted area during pregnancy, and for the public to rally governments for effective environmental policies. “In order to lower the risk of autism, and other diseases, from air pollution, one must reduce the exposure to air pollution, especially during pregnancy. The most effective way to do that is through public policy, and we hope that this study, along with others, will help to convince policy makers to take actions in order to reduce ambient air pollution levels as low as possible.”

Photos: CDCNora TamOla Pemberton

Yali Barkan, <![CDATA[Leave The Mess To ‘Guesty': Israeli Startup Manages Your ‘Airbnb’ Property For You]]> 2015-01-20T12:46:48Z 2014-12-28T11:03:53Z

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Renting your property through Airbnb for short periods can be quite a hassle: tourists come and go frequently, and you’re left with the mess and the dirt. For people trying to sublet their room or apartment from abroad, the deal becomes even trickier. That’s why two Israelis started an online company that offers property management services for Airbnb hosts.

Guesty is your personal Airbnb assistant. It is an online service for managing Airbnb rental listings everywhere in the world. It was founded by the Israeli twin brothers, Amiad and Kobi Soto, in December 2013. The purpose of Guesty is to take the hassle out of vacation rentals by offering various tools to manage your property.

Customers can choose between using one, some or all of the tools for the price of 3 percent of the original Airbnb listing. For example, if an apartment is listed for $100 a night, property owners will pay Guesty $3 per night for its services. The services Guesty offers range from automatic tools, such as screening guests to fit your demands; sending e-mails before and after rental periods; and providing directions to important logistic arrangements, such as scheduling cleanings and key drop-offs. Guesty can even evaluate the prices of hotels and rentals around your area to help you price your property accordingly. Customers can choose services and determine just how involved they are with managing their property.

“Guesty makes me a better host, my guests are happier and it saves me a lot of time,” says Eitan Rubin, a Guesty user from Tel Aviv. “Guesty frees me from dealing with my apartment listings and cleaning”.


In January 2014, Guesty completed its first round of investment, raising $1.5 million, mainly from two well-known companies in the industry – YCombinator, the veteran startup accelerator company that has Airbnb itself under its wings, and Magma VC, the Israeli venture capital firm that has Waze on its portfolio. Or as Amiad Soto, the CEO and co-founder of Guesty puts it – “We’re in good hands”. Over the past year, Guesty, which is headquartered in Tel Aviv, has managed 1,600 Airbnb listings in 35 different countries.

Jumping on the Airbnb bandwagon

The concept of managing rentals for people has been around for years. Some companies have changed their strategies to attend only to Airbnb’s properties and other online listings services; however, most property managers work locally, where they are based.

Guesty is one of the first companies to manage properties listed online on a global scale. “We are available wherever there is internet, like an online cloud for managing properties,” Amiad says. That is also how Guesty manages cleanings without having a local representative in the area of the property. Guesty has a database of cleaning companies and professionals around the world. If you have a preferred company or person, you can ask Guesty to schedule with them for you and Guesty will also add them to its database.

     SEE ALSO: Star Entrepreneur Ori Allon’s New Social Network Startup ‘Urban Compass’ Will Drive Apartment Rentals Online

Guesty’s business strategy relies on Airbnb’s enormous successes in the last couple of years. Lately though, Airbnb has been under attack by municipalities and the hotel industry. New laws in San-Francisco, Berlin and other major cities, restrict short-term rentals. In Barcelona, Airbnb was recently fined 300,000 Euros for breaking local touristic laws.

However, Amiad doesn’t seem to be concerned with the recent controversy. “In the beginning of the 20th century, the car industry took a lot of heat from the horse and carriage industry,” He says. “I am not afraid of regulations; we are on the right side of history”.

As to Guesty’s future, Amiad states several objectives: to perfect the company’s services; to become a leader in its industry; to expand in central popular cities around the world, such as Berlin and New-York city; to improve and expand Guesty’s toolset by managing properties for additional online listings services, such as Tripadvisor and Houstrip; and to offer services for guests as well for hosts. With forecasts suggesting that by 2016 Airbnb will take over 10 percent of the hotel industry, Guesty can expect a busy 2015.


Photos: Mazzali, Guesty

Yuval Haimovits, NoCamels <![CDATA[App Of The Week: Facetune Brings Photoshop To The Masses]]> 2014-12-26T14:43:39Z 2014-12-26T14:43:39Z

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App Name: FaceTune Available For: iOS and Android  Price: $3.99 Developer: Lightricks Ltd.

The Promise: Facetune is a fun portrait and selfie photo editor!

The “selfie” phenomenon has changed the world of photography as we know it. Even the Oxford English dictionary declared “Selfie” as the word of the year in 2013. And as smartphone cameras become sophisticated and powerful, our selfie taking and editing capabilities have reached new heights.

Until now, photo retouching was left for the pros and skilled Photoshop mavens. Now, with the Israeli app Facetune, you can get portrait retouches in a matter of seconds. We took the app for a test drive, and these were the results.

     SEE ALSOApp Of The Week: rinbw – Create Your Very Own Video Phonebook

Our Experience

When you launch the app, you get an option to test out the app’s editing features on a demo photo. A picture of a young woman will pop up, showing off her natural skin and teeth (and all the “imperfections” that go with that). A tutorial shows you how to use the app’s features to eliminate wrinkles and freckles, whiten teeth and even alter head shape. Once you learn all of the features, the app gives you the option of photographing yourself, or using an existing photo to retouch.


I took a selfie of moi and got to work. The results, as you can see, were quite interesting; the app smoothed out my skin texture, wrinkles and visible skin “issues”. While I thought the new “Facetuned” me wasn’t half-bad, my colleagues at NoCamels seem to think the result looks unnatural, almost cartoon-like. I took another photo of our editor, and I got the same feedback.

Facetune before

Me, before the retouch

Facetune after

And now after… What do you think?


The retouching tools are limited, and give images a slightly artificial look. But you can’t argue with the way this app makes retouching your photos simpler than ever before, turning an everyday selfie into a quality portrait.

The Verdict


You can download Facetune for iOS and Android.

Betty Ilovici, <![CDATA[Inspired By Israeli Air Force Simulators, Former Pilots Develop 3D Brain Simulator for Surgeons]]> 2014-12-25T14:31:12Z 2014-12-25T14:10:43Z

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For decades, pilots have practiced for combat missions using flight simulators. Now, brain surgeons are adopting a similar ritual, using flight simulation technology during both rehearsal for and practice of complex microsurgical procedures.

Surgical Theater, founded by former Israeli Air Force officers Alon Geri and Moty Avisar in 2010, developed a revolutionary brain surgery simulation method for doctors. Much like a flight simulator, Surgical Theater helps surgeons with pre-operative and intra-operative surgery preparation, making sure that doctors are fully briefed and prepared before embarking on complex surgical procedures.

Non-Invasive Brain Navigation System Helps to Remove Tumors

Preparation is crucial; nearly 70,000 new cases of brain tumors will be diagnosed in the US next year, 4,600 of them in children, according to the American Brain Tumor Association.

Previous simulators in the medical field were designed for training and teaching, but Surgical Theater takes simulation to a new level of planning and rehearsal. Geri and Avisar have come up with a simulator that enables brain surgeons to rehearse on 3D holograms (images) before actually performing complex procedures, such as removing cancerous tumors and treating aneurysms, on the patient.

Surgical Theater uses flight simulation technology

In addition to rehearsal of complex surgeries, Surgical Theater provides an advanced feature called “fusion,” which combines medical scans and data to create a single, personalized, 3D model. There are two separate simulation devices, individually called SRP and SNAP, both successfully cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2012 and in 2014. Surgeons use the 3D Surgical Planner (SRP) device for case analysis before surgery and the SNAP device during operation.

SRP itself is used before treatment to rehearse and prepare, allowing surgeons to manipulate the simulated tumor or aneurysm with tools reflective of those in the operating room. Doctors have the opportunity to practice each case, an extraordinary advance in comparison to previous methods, which were primarily based on 2D images.

     SEE ALSO: Israeli Researchers Track Post-Traumatic Stress In The Brain

Once in the operating room, surgeons can use the Surgical Navigation Advanced Platform (SNAP), a simulation device that does not offer surgery tools, but instead, connectivity to a surgery navigation system, or the “GPS” of the brain. The technology loads patient data and shows surgeon navigation within the brain during surgery. Surgeons have access to different angles of view and can visually manipulate the 3D model. An example would be the use of a navigation probe to freeze and rotate the model of a tumor – allowing surgeons to make critical decisions regarding the status of a tumor.

Surgeons use Surgical Theater

Behind Surgical Theater’s innovation and scientific achievement is a personal story. “[As a former pilot] taking my expertise and putting it into saving somebody’s life is mind blowing,” Geri tells NoCamels, “standing three feet from the patient with his head open is very emotional for me because I’m able to touch those patients, help them recover faster and get back to their lives quickly.”

World-renowned medical centers acknowledge that Surgical Theater is paving the way in advanced medical exploration. At the time of the writing of this article, leading surgery centers around the US, including the Mayo Clinic, the NYU Langone Medical Center and Mount Sinai Hospital, have installed Surgical Theatre systems with hopes to make their operating rooms more advanced than ever before.

Even the most experienced doctors need to rehearse

The simulation devices were recently brought for testing at Sheba Medical Center in Israel, leading to further acknowledgement of Surgical Theater’s potential as part of the surgery of the future.

“I believe this is going to be the best way for a surgeon to master one of the most complicated surgical tasks,” Dr. Sagi Harnof, deputy chair of the department of neurosurgery at Sheba Medical Center, tells NoCamels. “Any modern neurovascular surgeon should own such a system to keep the highest level of aneurysm surgery.”Surgical Theater Full System

Surgical Theater is hoping to collaborate with additional medical centers in the US and Israel, and to expand to markets in Europe and the Far East. Additionally, the company aims to continue research and innovation into cardiovascular and spinal surgery technologies.

After four years of ‘thinking out of the box,’ bringing flight simulation technology to the operating room, the company is experimenting beyond the navigation system, hoping to connect the simulation devices to microscopes. Geri says it only sounds like science fiction. “It won’t be fiction, just science.”

Photos and video courtesy of Surgical Theater 

Jordana Wolf, NoCamels <![CDATA[Meet The Winners: Top 15 Israeli Startups And Innovations Of 2014]]> 2014-12-24T10:40:54Z 2014-12-24T09:07:11Z

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On the eve of 2015, the culture of innovation is more robust than ever and Israel, the self-proclaimed “Startup Nation,” is doing all it can to maintain its title. Israel fosters a culture at the brink of innovation, and in 2014, the country out-did itself, creating cutting-edge technology, enabling breakthrough medical devices and vaccines, new platforms for businesses, and one concept in particular that is revolutionizing the workplace environment.

Meet the Israeli companies and innovations that made 2014 a year to remember!

1. Consumer Physics: SCiO 


When Consumer Physics launched their Kickstarter campaign for SCiO, a USB-sized molecular scanner, no one could have imagined that in just 30 days, the company would raise $2 million in funding from more than 10,000 backers. The pocket-sized device made such big waves because of its disruptive technology that scans materials or physical objects to analyze their chemical makeup. It could tell you, for example, whether your apple is still good to eat, or whether your plant needs more water. Destined to create a digital database of our physical world, SCiO may one day allow us to become hands-on molecular biologists and better understand the chemical composition of every object that surrounds us.

2. BreezoMeter


Staying healthy in today’s bustling cities can be a real challenge. Air quality is often poor and pollution high, making it difficult to keep those lungs pink! But, an Israeli team of environmental engineers has created a new app called BreezoMeter that measures air quality levels in real-time and provides health recommendations to its users. A big-data analytics platform, BreezoMeter gathers data from thousands of air-monitoring sensors worldwide, using analgorithm to track and interpret air pollution levels. The app currently maps air quality levels throughout Israel and will soon be available for use in the US. Recently selected out of over 600 startup ideas, BreezoMeter was chosen by the major American cable news network CNBC as one of the “20 hottest startups in the world.”

3. PlayBuzz


Trying to figure out your New Year’s Resolution? What kind of holiday party you should throw? Maybe you’re just wondering which reindeer channels your inner energy? PlayBuzz, an open network for the creation and free distribution of playful content, may have the answers. Founded in 2012 by Shaul Olmert, the son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and launched just one year later, this startup is now the most shared site on Facebook, beating out household names like “The Huffington Post” and viral content competitor BuzzFeed. Playbuzz succeeded in stealing these popular sites’ traffic in just a matter of months, with only $3.8 million dollars in seed funding. October alone brought over 60 million unique viewers to the site according to quantcast, and with over 250 million users across the Playbuzz network, it seems that the site’s quirky quizzes are taking the world by storm.

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

4. Houzz

Technology News: Israeli Home Design App Houzz Gets $35M Shot In The Arm

If you’re looking to spruce up your home in 2015, look no further than Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. In just five years, Houzz has become the largest residential design database in the world, drawing in more than 25 million visitors to its site each month and generating more traffic than big retail names like Nordstrom, Gap, and Staples. By connecting homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals from across the US and the globe, Houzz provides people with the tools they need to improve their homes from start to finish. In late September, the company unveiled an online marketplace where consumers can buy items directly from the site, a welcomed convenience that is likely to generate even more revenue for the company. Betting that Houzz will acquire a big chunk of the $300 billion US design and decor market, venture investors now value the company at more than $2 billion.

5. StoreDot

StoreDot's Organic Technology Can Charge A Phone In 30 Seconds!
This Israeli company claims to have developed a technology that can recharge your mobile phone in only 30 seconds. Using nano-technology to manufacture artificial molecules or “nano-dots”, StoreDot, a venture sprung out of Tel Aviv University’s nanotechnology department, has developed a battery that can store and retain a high charge very quickly. While the current prototype is much too bulky for current models of mobile phones, the company believes that by 2016 the battery will be sleek, slim and ready to market. The company has already raised $48 million in two rounds of funding and is backed by a leading mobile phone maker in Asia that has yet to be named. Soon we won’t have to worry about running out of battery at those inopportune moments!


6. Yo!


This ridiculously simple social application was all the rage this summer as it swept across the mobile platforms, attracting millions of users in just weeks. The concept allows users to communicate by sending a one-word message “Yo” to other users who can then send the same “Yo” message in response. Yo! founders Moshe Hogeg and Or Arbel were not afraid to admit that theirs is a rather “stupid” application, though it seems like the joke is on us. June was a big month for the app, becoming the number one social networking application in the US Apple App Store. Soon after, Yo! raised $1.5 million in funding, valuing the app between five to ten million dollars. While the app has released updates that include several new features allowing users to send Yo! links and images to one another, some are branding it a purely one-off viral sensation. But seemingly proving detractors wrong, Yo! still has big brands signing up to its index regularly, with names like USA Today, Lonely Planet and the NBA using it to communicate with their followers.

7. WeWork

New York City based startup WeWork, led by 35 year-old Israeli Adam Neumann, is now valued at a whopping $5 billion according to the Wall Street Journal. The company, which just raised $355 million in its latest round of funding, has been on an extraordinary roller coaster ride since founding in 2010. Buying up real estate in trendy neighborhoods around the globe, the company transforms buildings into beautiful, collaborative shared working spaces, providing the infrastructure, services, and technology that businesses depend on. The company prides itself on generating an entrepreneurial spirit, bringing together a community of creators that can inspire, excite, and encourage each other. With 32 locations so far, the company’s offices are quickly spreading across the globe, and plans to open many additional WeWork offices are in the works. Rumor has it that WeWork execs plan to announce an initial public offering sometime in the next two to three years.


8. CyberArk


As the world becomes increasingly dependent on information and communication systems for daily activities, a vital need arises to eliminate computer threats and keep our information secure. By combining its exceptional high-tech capabilities with the skills its acquired over decades of combating terror threats, Israel has emerged as a world leader in the cybersecurity space. CyberArk, one of the leading cyber security companies in Israel, recently became the first such Israeli company to go public in the US since 1999. On its first day of trading, the company raised $85.8 million at a company valuation of$473 million. The company, based in Petach Tikva, Israel, is the only security company focused on eliminating the most advanced cyber threats, usinginsider privileges to access information. That’s why it has become trusted by some of the world’s leading companies, including 35 percent of the Fortune 100 and 17 of the world’s top 20 banks.

9. Protalix


The Ebola virus has left its mark on 2014, leaving more than 7,000 people dead and over 20,000 people infected, making it one of the worst epidemics in history. That’s why in October of this year, Israeli-based company Protalix made headlines after suggesting that they had engineered resources to mass produce the experimental Ebola vaccine, ZMapp, whose limited supply had been nearly exhausted. Protalix stocks jumped more than 20 percent after Israel’s Channel 2 News reported that the company’s facility in northern Israel was one of the only places in the world with the technology to mass-produce the vaccine using antibodies from tobacco plants. But, it seems that this assertion is more hype than true to the facts. While future collaboration for the production of the ZMapp vaccine is indeed possible, Protalix has no plans to begin producing the vaccine on a massive scale.

10. BiondVax


Preparing for flu season used to be stressful; that is, before BiondVax researchers developed the world’s first universal vaccine. Designed to provide multi-season and multi-strain protection, this vaccine will, for the first time, enable year-round protection against most existing and future influenza strains. Now researchers will no longer have to develop a new vaccine each time a mutated version of the flu pops up, allowing for mass production planning and potentially on-demand worldwide distribution. This represents a major breakthrough in the flu vaccine arena. BiondVax has been developing the vaccine at the Weizmann Institute since 2005 and currently holds patents in United States, Hong Kong, Australia, China, Russia and Mexico. This year, BiondVax was also granted patents by both the European Union and Japan extending their reach dramatically. The company says that it can now enter into more wide-scale development programs with pharmaceutical companies and governments that can license its technology to ensure that everyone has access to this potentially life-saving vaccine.

11. ReWalk


Marine Derek Hererra walks again.

In 2014, Derek Herrera, a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, became the first paraplegic trained on the ReWalk Personal System to have the option of purchasing the life-changing exoskeleton. That’s because in June, the US Food & Drug Administration announced that the company’s wearable robotic exoskeleton was cleared for use at home. This incredible system, the brainchild of Israeli scientist and quadriplegic Dr. Amit Goffer, provides powered hip and knee motion to enable individuals with spinal cord injuries to stand upright and walk. As of now, this is the only exoskeleton that has been approved by the FDA after many clinical studies and extensive performance testing. At a cost of $69,500, the device is still very expensive and not yet covered by insurance, but the company hopes that this will change soon. ReWalk Robotics listed an initial public offering on NASDAQ in September 2014, raising $36 million at a company value of $250-300 million.

12. Taboola

taboolacontentThere is an overwhelming amount of content on the Internet. So, how can you find relevant content out there when you don’t even know where to start looking? Launched in Tel Aviv, and now headquartered in New York, Taboola studies how people interact on the web to predict and expose content that visitors are likely to be interested in. Publishers and brands use the platform to distribute their content hoping to drive more users to their site. Many of the  most frequently visited sites, including USA Today, NYTimes, TMZ,, Business Insider, and others use Taboola’s platform, which reaches 400 million unique visitors and provides over 150 billion recommendations every month. According to ComScore’s monthly distributed content report in September, Taboola now reaches more US Internet users on desktops than Facebook, Google sites, Yahoo or AOL. Currently, the company is mulling an IPO in the US, but will wait until the financial conditions are just right.

     SEE ALSO: Top 10 Furry Innovations: When The ‘Startup Nation’ Turns Its Eyes To Pets

13. Kenshoo



With the introduction of new media, and specifically social media, the world of marketing and advertising has changed dramatically, becoming more personalized and controversial for its privacy breaches. Now advertisers need to be more creative with how they distribute ads, which is where Kenshoo comes in. Kenshoo is a global leader in predictive marketing software used by social network giants like Facebook and Twitter. The company, just included on Forbes’ ”15 Social Media Companies To Watch In 2015”, became the first digital marketing platform of 2014 to match individuals’ online activity to their user profiles on Facebook, helping their clients double their revenue. The Tel-Aviv based company has yet to make an initial public offering but has plans to do so next year, which could value the company at about $750 million according to CEO Yoav Izhar-Prato.


14. Crossrider

crossrider ipo

This digital marketing and advertising provider is a browser extension that provides tools to make designing, creating and publishing extensions quick and easy. Founded in 2011 by Koby Menachemi andShmueli Ahdut, the company was acquired by Israeli billionaire Tedi Sagi in 2012 for $37 million. Since then, Sagi has transformed this company into an industry leader, acquiring two Israeli startups, Definiti Media and Ajillion, folding them both into Crossrider. In October of this year, Crossrider held its IPO on London’s AIM Stock Exchange,raising $75 million at a company valuation of $250 million. That means  that in just 18 months Sagi was able to quintuple his investment!

15. FeeX


Fees and expenses are important considerations for all types of retirement plans and it seems that these days, retirement fees are really going through the roof! Fortunately, now we have a new service developed by Yoav Zurel, David Weisz, and Uri Levine (founder of Waze) that can help users find and avoid hidden fees in their retirement funds. So far FeeX has over 60,000 users with more than $1 billion in assets, discovering about $277 million in hidden fees and ensuring that no one is pulling a “fast one” on our retirement savings.  In August, the company finished its second round of funding, raising $6.5 million that founders say will be used to continue their expansion in the United States and extend the company’s services to find hidden fees in more kinds of accounts.

Einat Paz-Frankel, <![CDATA[Zano’s Micro-Drone Follows You To Capture HD Selfies From The Sky]]> 2014-12-23T13:06:30Z 2014-12-23T13:06:30Z

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Forget about cameras, tripods and even selfie sticks: a miniature drone will soon follow you wherever you go to capture that perfect selfie or action shot. This coming spring, Zano’s portable unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will be available to consumers and photography aficionados worldwide. It looks like this “sky selfie” gadget will free you from worrying about falling off the cliff when taking your own photo on an adventurous trek. Plus, you can leave your dog at home – this trendy little device will follow you around, so you’ll never be alone.

The drone, called Zano, raised nearly £1 million ($1.5 million) on Kickstarter in merely two weeks, far surpassing the £125,000 ($195,000) it was aiming for. Zano, which is a tiny, portable UAV that takes photos and videos, is turning out to be one of Kickstarter’s biggest success stories – not far behind the 10 highest-funded projects, which received $3.4 million to $10.3 million, according to Business Insider.

     SEE ALSO: Six Israeli Startups That Raised Over $1M Using Israeli Crow-funding Platform ‘OurCrowd’

Behind Zano’s success is an Israeli company called OriginGPS, which has developed a small GPS receiver with an integrated antenna. The company recently announced that the Torquing Group – a British corporation that provides unmanned aerial solutions mainly to the defense industry – has integrated OriginGPS’ technology in Zano, in order to provide location information for automated flights while acting as a hands-free camera.

Challenging the competition with a $265 device

Zano’s device will record HD videos and snap 5 megapixel photos, and will also be capable of tracking the user from a distance of up to 30 meters. It will sell for an estimated $265, a fraction of the price competitor AirDog charges for its UAV camera – $1,295, according to AirDog’s website. Torquing is expected to unveil its much-hyped drone on January 5, 2015.

According to OriginGPS, Zano’s location capabilities are made possible through the 10mm-by-10mm GPS module developed in Israel. Thanks to OriginGPS, Zano’s drone measures 65mm by 65mm and weighs only 55 grams, which fits in the palm of users’ hands. Its ability to fly autonomously will provide new possibilities for users seeking to capture images and videos. It connects directly with smart devices run on iOS or Android via Wi-Fi to upload and share images or videos instantly. With the help of OriginGPS, Zano is able to know exactly where it is in relation to a smart device, even when powered off.

Gal Jacobi, CEO of OriginGPS, said that “with the help of OriginGPS, Zano can draw on extremely accurate positioning information to provide the advanced controls that will delight its users while maintaining a small and sleek exterior.”

Not only for military use

Zano is the brainchild of Ivan Reedman and his team of engineers at the Torquing Group. Over the past four years, they have worked to reduce the size of UAV devices, without diminishing their capabilities. Initially targeting the defense, industrial and law enforcement markets, the idea for a consumer version of this Nano UAV technology was first raised in October 2013 at the weekly Torquing Group team meeting. The team decided to get this technology out to the consumer and make aerial photography and video capture accessible to anyone with a smartphone.

Talking about the Israeli GPS technology behind Zano, Reece Crowther, head of Sales and Marketing for the Torquing Group said: “To put it simply, Zano would not exist without OriginGPS. The GPS feature of Zano is the heart and soul of the product. Picking OriginGPS to power Zano was a no-brainer.”

Zano via smartphone

Jordana Wolf, NoCamels <![CDATA[3D Print Your Own Homemade Superfood With Israeli Tech ‘Green Onyx’]]> 2014-12-22T09:05:25Z 2014-12-22T07:46:30Z

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If we’d told you about “superfoods” ten years ago, chances are you wouldn’t have known what on earth we’re talking about. Today the term “superfood”, which right or wrongly ascribes “super” health benefits to certain foods, like kale and spinach, is everywhere.

But many of those superfoods are often not readily available at the average supermarket, which is why one Israeli company has come up with a technology that will allow people to “print” a trendy new superfood, called Khai Nam, right from the comfort of their home.

'Green caviar,' also known as Khai Nam

‘Green caviar,’ also known as Khai Nam

Khai Nam, meaning “water eggs” in Thai, is a vegetable that thrives in the wetlands of Thailand, Burma and Laos. With a flavor similar to sweet cabbage, and a natural crispy texture, this “green caviar” will delight your taste buds and can be added to almost any food or drink. Grown in the optimal conditions provided by the Green Onyx, the vegetable can reproduce quickly, making it easy to supply a fresh, organic, and ready-to-eat snack.  You won’t even have to travel to the Far East to get it.

     SEE ALSO: Israeli Teen’s Science Project Could Bring Algea ‘Superfood’ To Africa

Instead, Israeli research biologist Dr. Tsipi Shoham and her husband Benny Shoham, a Technion-trained electronics engineer, created a high-tech system, similar to a 3D printer for food, designed to grow and process Khai-Nam using just capsules, tap water, and electricity. The countertop machine then delivers this super vegetable in either liquefied or paste form with the press of a button. Khai-Nam, which, according to the company, is packed with nutrients and comparable to eating kale, broccoli, and spinach, can be easily added to smoothies, soups, salads, and more.



Hassle-free urban agriculture

The endeavor began three years ago when Dr. Tsipi Shoham was looking for nutritious additions to to her family’s diet. With more than 17 years of practice in biological research, she says she realized the important role that a proper diet played in preventing chronic diseases. And in 2011, the couple began to explore alternative options for healthy, balanced and tasty choices.

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


Backed by Ron Guttman, former CEO of consumer goods giant Unilever Israel, and now the third founding partner of the Green Onyx team, this Israeli based startup is getting ready to introduce its “urban farm” to consumers across the US and Europe. Its scientific advisory team includes professors from Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva and from Rutgers University in the US and Green Onyx also collaborates with Dr. Catherine Adams Hutt of the American Institute of Food Technologists, who is considered a leader in the fields of nutrition and food safety.

Green Onyx has already received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration and plans to release its patented appliance following an additional year of product development.

The Green Onyx will be available in three different sizes to accommodate various needs in homes, restaurants and even urban production. Company officials claim that the product is easy to use, through they have yet to set a price, pointing out that families who use the appliance regularly are expected to cut costs on organic food purchase.  “As long as you continue replacing the capsule pack we send you once a month,” Benny Shoham told Israel21c, “the system will run automatically and provide a daily source of fresh produce.”

However, like many other superfoods with “interesting” tastes, the Khai Nam craze may not be for everyone, so before you rush out and buy a Green Onyx for your latest health kick, make sure that you really like the taste of this “green caviar.”

Photos: Obina thomas/ Green Onyx

Einat Paz-Frankel, <![CDATA[Crafting the World’s Smallest Bible, Israeli Nanotech Engineers Insert Scripture In Jewelry]]> 2014-12-24T12:22:20Z 2014-12-21T13:39:42Z

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Sign of the times? The Christian Scripture, which contains 27 different books, is now available on a tiny chip that’s inserted into jewelry, thanks to Israeli nanotechnology. A company called Jerusalem Nano Bible (JNB) recently applied for a Guinness World Record in an attempt to be recognized as the manufacturer of the world’s smallest New Testament.

It all started when Ami Bentov, founder of JNB, saw Israeli President Shimon Peres presenting Pope Benedict XVI with a nano bible five years ago. In 2009, researchers at the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) developed a nano Old Testament the size of a grain of sand.

Bentov believes the same technology can serve all religions, but decided to pursue the development of a nano New Testament first, an endeavor that took him several years to complete. According to the company, Bentov’s next step will be embedding The Quran in a nanochip.

nano bible chip

Sharing a ‘bit’ of peace with the world

A veteran photojournalist, who covered wars and conflicts in the Middle East – many of them revolving around faith – Bentov decided to connect all people to their faiths, right from his office in Israel. “We want to spread good energies of peace from Jerusalem,” Lee Meyuchas, Deputy Director at JNB, told “The unique combination of new Israeli technology and the Holy Scriptures that stem from our region is cherished by believers around the world.”

JNB embeds thousands of written words in tiny silicon wafers. The 450-nanometer letters are engraved in aluminum and the text is covered by a protective silicon layer. JNB’s 3 mm nanochips are manufactured by TowerJazz Semiconductor, another Israeli company, and sold through its offices in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. But not only does JNB create manufacturing jobs, it also employs Israeli jewelers, who embed the minute JNB chip in jewelry pieces such as rings and necklaces, which cost $99. And the company obviously hopes believers will be rushing to buy bible-related presents in the run-up to Christmas.

“Carrying the word of God close to your heart is what believers look for,” Meyuchas explains. “It gives you a sense that there is someone up there, and it better connects you to your faith.”

     SEE ALSO: Netanyahu’s Gift To Obama: Nanotechnology Mounted On Archeology

Faith is in the small things

According to JNB, the chip is a bible book for all practical purposes and can be examined through a special microscope in any nanotechnology lab. What’s inside the chip? While the New Testament is disseminated in multiple languages and versions, JNB chose the original Greek version, the Textus Receptus (Latin: “received text”). This Greek version constituted the translation base for later translations and versions, and is considered the original, most ancient New Testament.

bible on nanochip

How can customers be sure the New Testament is actually inside the necklace they’ve purchased? The product was certified by an expert with what seems to be the most appropriate name – Dr. Jack Pastor. Pastor is the dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Humanities at University of Haifa’s Oranim Academic College.

Pastor says that as part of JNB’s effort to be included in the Guinness Book of Records, he was asked “to be an expert witness to the claim that the nanochip produced by TowerJazz contains a complete and accurate text of the Greek New Testament.”

There are roughly 2.4 billion Christians in the world, obviously an enormous potential market for JNB. The question is whether devout believers, who typically wear cross necklaces, will adopt the Bible necklace. Meyuchas believes the necklace could become as sacred as the Jewish mezuzah, which contains verses from the Torah and is affixed to the doorframe in Jewish homes. Says Meyuchas: “We plan to cooperate with churches worldwide.”

Photos courtesy of Jerusalem Nano Bible 

David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Dario, The Smartphone Glucometer, Goes Global]]> 2014-12-21T07:45:42Z 2014-12-21T07:45:42Z

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

An Israeli medical device is making inroads into the $12 billion diabetes monitoring and insulin delivery market.

There are hundreds of glucose meters on the market – needed by diabetics to measure their blood sugar levels and determine how much insulin they need to administer – but the Dario system is one of just a few that uses smartphones to manage the meter itself.

dario app screen shotdario app screen shot

“Diabetics are very community-minded and share information and knowledge in forums via social media and other methods, and we see a lot of photos of people using the system, with very positive reviews about how much more convenient and easy it is than alternative systems,” said Erez Raphael, CEO of Dario maker Labstyle Innovations.

     SEE ALSODario Turns Diabetics’ Smartphones Into Trendy Glucometers

The app automatically downloads information from the meter and uploads the data about the user’s activity and condition to the cloud, where it can be accessed by medical personnel for analysis. It also sends out reminders to users to check their blood, provides graphs and charts about how their blood sugar levels change throughout the day and even keeps track of calories and carbs, offering food suggestions to users based on their current sugar levels.

The recording and analysis is done by the app, which communicates with the pocket-sized Dario meter. The meter connects to smart devices via the headphone socket, and includes a lancet for blood sampling and cartridges containing insulin strips that can be easily popped out and changed.

The metering process takes about six seconds and there are no batteries; the meter gets its power from the iPhone or Android phone it’s connected to.

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

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[EatWith, The Airbnb For Home-Cooked Meals, Bags ProSieben’s €4 Million Prize]]> 2014-12-23T11:15:06Z 2014-12-18T16:23:54Z

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Companies like AirBnb and Uber have been at the forefront of a whole new way of doing business, known as the “sharing economy”. And investors are paying close attention, encouraging their startups to move away from the “singular” capitalist way of thinking towards something more “collective”.

Gaining traction on this front  is Israeli startup EatWith, which allows strangers to book home-cooked means in people’s homes, kind of like the Airbnb for food. Just last night (Wednesday), EatWith won the ProSieben‘s startup pitch event, hosted by the venture capital arm of the company, 7VPD. At the event that took place in Tel Aviv, EatWith won over an impressive panel of judges including Yahal Zilka of Magma Venture Partners and Micha Kaufmann of Fiverr, bagging a €4 million ($4.9 million) prize in advertising money. ProSieben, one of the leading media companies in Europe and Germany’s largest television network, will now give EatWith the opportunity to spend its prize money on advertisements and promotions on its many TV channels and other media platforms.

     SEE ALSO: Germany’s ProSiebenSat Enters Israeli Startup Market With $8.7M Competition Prize

Regarding EatWith’s win, ProSieben’s liason in Israel, Kevin Baxpehler, tells NoCamels: “EatWith is a fantastic company that has been able to create a whole new dining experience. The startup is successfully scaling its offerings and operations internationally, which makes it a perfect candidate to work with us. The €4 million in TV advertising will have a significant impact for EatWith’s entry in Europe’s largest market, not only driving traffic, hosts and customers to its site, but most importantly building a brand.”

EatWith’s Director of Communication, Naama Shefi commented on the significance of the ProSieben win for the company: “This prize will allow us to bring EatWith to new markets. Because TV airtime is very expensive, startups usually rely on the web as their advertising platform, so we are very excited about this opportunity. We believe that a broad creative campaign will resonate with travelers and locals, and will deliver a strong message about how EatWith is changing the way people eat, travel and make new connections.”

EatWith was founded by Guy Michlin and Shemer Schwartz in 2012 to give travelers the opportunity to experience authentic cuisine and meet interesting locals, but the startup is now increasingly popular with native residents of host cities. The company, which has raised $8 million in a funding round led by Greylock Partners, already has more than 500 active hosts in 160 cities and 30 countries around the world.

EatWith’s vetting process for potential hosts is strict: Before someone can become an official host, the person’s home is checked for cleanliness, safety, food quality etc., and like with Airbnb, guests can leave reviews on the site.

     SEE ALSO: EatWith Will Help You Make Friends And Have A Good Meal Aboard

Anat Topel, who lives in Tel Aviv, Israel, has been an EatWith hostess since the beginning of 2014, after successfully hosting a demo dinner for EatWith auditors. So far, she has hosted six Shabbat dinners at her home in Tel Aviv for guests from the US and Romania. Topel hosts EatWith guests as part of her family’s routine Shabbat dinners. “None of my guests were Jewish, yet they were all moved by the traditional Shabbat dinner,” Topel says.eatwithtable

Instead of having dinner at their hotel or at a touristy restaurant, “my guests chose to see Israel from the inside,” Topel says and adds: “My guests become part of my family, we’re still in touch.”

A full Shabbat dinner at the Topel residence costs 200 Shekels, but it takes a group of 20-30 guests to actually make it profitable, Topel says. “I love hosting dinner parties and that’s why I joined EatWith – for fun.”

Second prize in the competition was awarded to MediSafe, a data-driven medical management platform, that was awarded €2 million towards advertising on ProSiebenSat’s channels. Third place was awarded to TinyTap, a social platform that allows families and communities to create education games and applications, which received €1 million in advertising funds. ProSiebenSat.1 and its venture capital arm 7VPD just recently entered the Israeli market with hopes to widen their cooperation with Israeli technology companies and to aid growing startup companies in their transition into the vast European market.

Photos: Courtesy

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Faces Of The Startup Nation: Q&A With Gambling Great Eyal Shaked Of 888]]> 2015-01-28T10:54:57Z 2014-12-18T13:30:30Z

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The owner and shareholder of the successful online gambling corporation, 888 Holdings Ltd, Eyal Shaked is also one of the company’s co-founders. When he’s not enveloped in the world of online gaming, Shaked is a “super angel” investor for early stage to A round startup companies, with a focus on those companies looking to disrupt the world of online gaming and gambling, BI, payment monetization, and marketing. Shaked is the owner of Shaked Ventures and is a graduate of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, receiving a degree in information technology and business management.

What is your biggest inspiration? My biggest inspiration is my father, Avi Shaked, who founded 888. He taught me everything I know about the business world and poker. It’s a privilege to be around him since he founded the company. I still seek his advice and consult with him when necessary.

Who is the one person, past or present, you’d love to have dinner with? Barak Obama, as a leader of the free world and a pretty good basketball player.


Falafel or shawarma? Definitely Shawarma! Preferably Emil’s or Bambino’s in Haifa. In general, Haifa is the Israeli empire for Shawarma. I would even go on to say that Haifa is the Shawarma capital of the world! I feel lots of other cities have what to learn from Haifa. I like to eat my Shawarma extremely spicy.

What are some of your favorite weekend activities? Horseback riding (I met my wife when we were competing at Israel’s Youth Equestrian Championship when we were only 16 years old) I have been riding since I was 10 years old. Our dream is to have family horse backriding trips when my kids are a bit older.

What is your favorite Hebrew word? “Rak daka”or “shnia”. Of course, it’s never a second! Every Israeli knows this. I always laugh when I have guests from abroad that get this answer when they’re waiting for something and don’t understand why things don’t actually take a second when someone just said it.

If you were a selfie, what would you look like? 

Eyal Shaked _Selfie

What’s your homepage?  Shaked Ventures is our family investment fund that deals with early stage investment in the gaming domain. We specialize in the range between early investments and VCs that are in a much more mature state. We’re interested in startups making their way through the booming industry of online gaming and gambling.

What’s your hidden talent? I’m a chef. I love to cook new recipes, but not Shawarma. I leave that to the experts. I especially enjoy cooking Italian. I love cooking for others. I make the world’s best lasagna! Trust me.

What is the best place that you’ve ever traveled to? Las Vegas is the best city in the world. Lots of business trips with 888 and leisure travel brought me to this conclusion. Las Vegas has transformed from solely gaming-oriented to entertainment and life-style oriented which makes the city even more appealing. Every time I go to the states I do the best I can to stop in Vegas. I owe it to myself. After all, it’s Vegas baby!

Who was your first celebrity crush? Alyssa Milano. I fell in love with her when she was Tony’s daughter on “Who’s the Boss?” When I was 13 I had a huge crush on her. Now I just like traveling to Milano (the city that is).

Milano on "Who's the Boss?"

Milano on “Who’s the Boss?”

What are you totally addicted to? Sushi! I can eat sushi all day everyday! Wherever I travel I choose the best sushi around and have to go there.

Bar Refaeli or Gal Gadot? My wife – Daria :-) She could take Wonder Woman any day!

If you weren’t and entrepreneur, you’d be? Professional poker player! I always wanted to participate in the international poker match and I know that one day I will live up to it.

Tel Aviv or New York? Tel Aviv. As someone who has always lived here I love this city the most. I want my kids to grow up in Israel and I just absolutely hate the weather in NY.  Also, it’s closer to Haifa, where my beloved Shawarma is (I really like Shawarma☺)

What were your first steps in the business world? My first steps into the business world were in 1998 when I started working for 888 and helped develop what was later known as Affiliate Networks. When I finished high school, I immediately joined 888 and worked there while I got my BA. My first stop was in the marketing and affiliate department and I grew to learn a lot about business development. In 2002, I was relocated to Gibraltar, which was an amazing experience.

Burger or green juice? Shawarma with Green juice (told you ☺)


Photos: The Daily Caller/

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Children Feel Pleasure At Friends’ Misfortune As Early As Age Two]]> 2014-12-17T11:11:54Z 2014-12-17T11:11:54Z

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They say there is no pleasure greater than the one that is derived from another person’s misfortune, but at what age do we start developing and expressing this complex emotion?

Until now, researchers believed that children didn’t develop such sophisticated emotions until the age of seven, but a new study conducted at the University of Haifa found evidence of ‘schadenfreude,’ the German word describing the emotion, in children as young as two. “The study strengthened the perception that schadenfreude is an evolutionary mechanism that develops within us as we cope with situations of inequality,” said Prof. Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory, who led the study.

Schadenfreude is our evolutionary way of coping with inequality

In German ‘schadenfreude’ literally means deriving pleasure from the misfortunes of others, and it can be rooted in jealousy, competitiveness, or sometimes even hatred. According to one theory, schadenfreude is an evolutionary mechanism that develops as a result of competition over limited resources, for example, the struggle between two siblings over their parents’ attention. This mechanism, which develops at an early age, turns later on into a mechanism that enables us to feel pleasure at another’s misfortune, even when there is no competition for resources.

     SEE ALSO: Computer Program As Effective As Drugs For Children With Anxiety

Though it was believed that children under the age of seven were not emotionally developed enough to have feelings of schadenfreude, Shamay-Tsoory and her team thought that they could prove that such feelings surface much earlier, at the ages of two to three. To do this, the researchers set up 35 separate groups that included a mother, her child, and a friend of the child who is the same age. The groups were subjected to two situations.

The first was an “equal” situation, in which the mother encouraged the children to play together, ignored them for two minutes, and then began to read a book aloud to herself for two minutes. After those two minutes, the mother was told to take a glass of water that was on the table and pour it by “accident” on the book. In the second, “unequal” situation, after the first two minutes the mother took the child that wasn’t hers on her lap and began reading the book aloud to him or her. Here, too, after two minutes, the mother spilled the cup of water on the book.

The researchers found that when the unequal situation was brought to an end, the mother’s own child showed visible signs of happiness, as expressed by jumping up and down, clapping hands, or rolling on the floor. By contrast, when the water was spilled while the mother was reading the book to herself, there were no similar reactions. According to the researchers, the “misfortune” that made the children happy was the fact that their peer had stopped hearing the story, which strengthens the theory that schadenfreude is a social development that is a reaction to inequality.

Jealousy is still stronger than schadenfreude

During the study the researchers also found evidence of jealousy that expressed itself by children trying to force themselves between their mother and the book, or playing with their mother’s hair while the mother was reading the book to their friend. These expressions were stronger than the expressions of schadenfreude, which upholds the findings of previous studies that show jealousy is a stronger emotion than schadenfreude.

     SEE ALSO: Spider-Man Window Cleaners Surprise Children’s Hospital On Purim

Apparently, the emotion of schadenfreude is embedded in children far earlier than previously thought.  “Social comparisons, in which we compare what we have to what others have, as well as emotions of justice, develop at a very early age and constitute positive evolutionary mechanisms to cope with inequitable situations,” said Prof. Shamay-Tsoory. “Because social-comparison reactions are linked to character traits like self-esteem and altruism, it’s possible that people who think less of themselves are more likely to suffer from feelings of schadenfreude.”

This study was conducted by Prof. Shamay-Tsoory of the University of Haifa’s Psychology Department, along with Dorin Ahronberg-Kirschenbaum of the University of Haifa’s School of Education, and Nirit Bauminger-Zviely of Bar Ilan University.

Photo: Schadenfreude

Laura London, NoCamels <![CDATA[If Nuclear Disaster Strikes, This Israeli-Designed Belt Protects Against Radiation Exposure]]> 2014-12-16T17:05:09Z 2014-12-16T17:05:09Z

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For many living in the vicinity of a nuclear facility, the threat of a leakage, or even an attack is very real. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster of 2011 is a shining example of the damage incurred when little to no measures are taken to protect the public from the grave natural and health effects of radiation exposure.

With that in mind, the StemRad belt was created to protect from life-threatening radiation exposure. Created for first responders to nuclear disasters, the StemRad 360 Gamma belt claims it shields its wearers from the effects of gamma radiation by protecting one of the body’s most vital and sensitive assets—bone marrow.

     SEE ALSO: Israeli Startup Tawkon Launches Its Cellular Radiation Detection App In Japan

Radiation protection goes to first responders, first

Recruited employees of the nuclear reactor are usually the first responders to reach the scene of the nuclear catastrophe, and, according to StemRad CEO Oren Milstein, this can number from ten to fifty employees on any given day. However, in more severe events like the leak at Fukushima or the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, first responders receive support from surrounding fire and police stations, raising the number of individuals potentially exposed to radiation to hundreds, if not thousands.

The aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, 2011

The aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, 2011

In an effort to keep the public safe, these brave men and women can be exposed to high doses of alpha, beta and gamma radiation. Whereas alpha and beta radiation can be repelled by normal clothing, gamma radiation causes severe damage to the bone marrow stem cells. Without stem cells, the body fails to produce white and red blood cells and platelets, which in turn can result in severe anemia, leukemia, or acute radiation syndrome. As mentioned above, these are very serious conditions that necessitate immediate bone marrow transplants, otherwise resulting in death.

“If you lack red blood cells you don’t have a way to carry oxygen, if you lack white blood cells you are prone to infections and if you lack platelets then you have internal hemorrhage, bleeding,” Milstein tells NoCamels.

A 33-pound miracle belt?

The StemRad 360 Gamma belt works by shielding the pelvic area that contains 50 percent of all bone marrow with a leaden harness. This means that StemRad obviously cannot provide full-body protection against radiation, which could be a serious draw-back as some of the most radiation-affected areas of the body include the thyroid and liver.

The 33 pound belt (15 kilograms) is made of differently shaped lead plates layered on top of each other, with Teflon tissue between them to stay flexible. The frame is then covered with fire-resistant Kevlar fabric, to ensure full protection against all of the variables in a nuclear disaster. According to the company, the belt protects up to five percent of the bone marrow in a person’s body, which is enough to regenerate a new healthy batch within a month’s time.
Other useful tools in the StemRad radiation belt include a built-in Geiger counter that serves as a real-time gamma radiation monitor, keeping the wearer aware of potential dangers with a chirping signal. In addition, it contains a cumulative dose decimeter card, displaying the scale of rads a person was exposed to allow for adequate medical treatment.

     SEE ALSO: Biodegradable Balloons Isolate Tumors To Reduce Radiation Risks

“It may look simplistic on the outside but the structure inside is three dimensional and very unique. The idea here was to create a product that on the one hand protects but on the other hand is not over-burdened with weight,” said Milstein.

Despite support from three Noble laureates, StemRad still isn’t a sure bet

So far, Milstein’s argument, and the increasing number of countries weary of nuclear disasters like Fukushima, have done their convincing. The company has already sold to its belts in several countries, including Japan, Israel and Russia and it has pending sales in Germany and in the United States. StemRad also has plans to create a protective belt for civilians that will be much lighter and cheaper than the current product, which runs a price in the thousands of dollars. Recently, three Noble Prize laureates joined the company’s impressive scientific advisory board: Roger D. Kornberg, the prominent American biochemist, biophysicist Michael Levitt and Aaron Ciechanover, in addition to the likes of Prof. Richard Champlin, one of only three Westerners to treat radiation victims in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster.

Photos: StemRad/ Fukushima

David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[Israel Brings Hybrid Solar Power To Off-Grid Locations In Ethiopia]]> 2014-12-15T09:15:54Z 2014-12-15T09:15:54Z

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

Solar energy is an ideal solution for the power needs of the developing world – except for one problem: It stops working when the sun goes down, at precisely the time power is needed to turn the lights on. The solution, according to Zev Rosenzweig, CEO of Israeli energy technology company AORA, is a hybrid system – one that utilizes solar to the fullest, and supplements it with a “backup” system to keep the power flowing when the sun is not high in the sky, using scant resources, with an operating cost of next to nothing.

It’s perfect for developing countries, said Rosenzweig – and after six years of research and pilot projects, and an investment of $40 million, AORA is ready for prime time, he said.

The company announced Tuesday that it had signed a deal to build one of its Tulip solar-hybrid power plants in Ethiopia. “We are transforming our Green Economy Strategy into action and are pleased to partner with AORA to help achieve our vision,” said Alemayehu Tegenu, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy for Ethiopia. “AORA’s unique solar-hybrid technology is impressive and well-suited to provide both energy and heat to support local economic development in off-grid rural locations in Ethiopia.”

     SEE ALSOIsraeli Company To Open Solar Power Plant In Spain

“Off-grid rural locations” are exactly the places Rosenzweig wants to see more Tulips installed. “Our hybrid system uses both solar power and biogas to operate a turbine, with the hot air moving the turbine to generate electricity.”

Enhancing the sunlight are a series of mirrors to heat compressed air to over 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and drive a turbine. When the sun goes down, the system moves seamlessly from solar to biogas in order to power the turbines, with the biogas derived from animal waste, biodiesel, natural gas – just about any material that can be burned for fuel.

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

Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels <![CDATA[Are We Alone In The Universe? Research Says Chances Of Advanced Alien Life Are Slim]]> 2014-12-14T15:55:30Z 2014-12-14T15:36:45Z

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According to the mediocrity principle, adapted by such notable scientists as Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking, it is highly likely that intelligent life exists on other planets because the universe is just too huge. This is the accepted scientific theory that astrophysicists and scientists the world over have adopted as their modus operandi when observing the universe for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life.

However much as we’d like to think that we are not the only intelligent species in the known universe, this may not be the case. As new research conducted by Hebrew University astrophysicist Prof. Tsvi Piran suggests, due to powerfully destructive gamma ray bursts in certain locations in our galaxy and others, the chances that complex intelligent life, similar or more advanced than our own, exists in the known universe are slim. To put this into perspective, of the estimated 100 billion galaxies in the known universe, only about one in ten may be able to support complex life comparable to that on Earth, much less than what was previously thought.

All others are likely too close to these destructive gamma rays, the research found.“The chances of aliens or other intelligent lifeforms is much smaller than we previously thought,” Prof. Tsvi Piran tells NoCamels.

Understanding the chances of gamma ray-induced extinction

Gamma ray bursts are known as the ‘brightest electromagnetic event to occur in the known universe,’ characterized by either small or large flashes of powerful gama ray energy in association with cataclysmic events in space. They were first discovered in the late 1960s in the United States, suspicious of potential attempts by the USSR to conduct secret nuclear tests in space, but have since been confirmed to be naturally-occurring phenomena. And there are two kinds: short gamma ray bursts occur when stars merge with blackholes, and longer, more powerful gamma ray bursts occur when stars burn out, collapse or explode, releasing 100 times the energy as short ones.

It is the effect of these longer, powerful gamma ray bursts on terrestrial events and extraterrestrial possibilities that Prof. Piran and his Spanish colleague Dr. Raul Jimenez sought to examine. Particularly, the researchers wanted to establish the likelihood that a long gamma ray burst could have caused the second-largest extinction event in the Earth’s history, the Ordovician extinction that wiped out about 80 percent of the plant’s species 450-440 million years ago.

     SEE ALSO: Rosetta Mission Lands On Comet To Discover Possible Origins Of Life On Earth

Though gamma ray bursts occur thousands of light years away from the Earth’s surface, the researchers believe that they could still potentially damage our planet (and others), scourging the earth and causing a mass extinction event. “We found that within the last billion years, there is a 50 percent chance that there was an event strong enough to cause an extinction event,” Prof. Piran asserts, “This is the first step in proving that the statistical likelihood that this kind of event could cause a mass extinction.”

Nearly 60 percent of marine life went extinct following the Ordovician extinction.

Nearly 60 percent of marine life went extinct following the Ordovician extinction.

In short, we’re lucky to be from Earth

Piran and Jimenez also showed that the Earth’s location at the periphery of the galaxy has a lot to do with the sporadic effect of gamma ray bursts throughout its history. According to their research, planets closer to the center of the galaxy are 80-95 percent more likely to experience long gamma ray bursts and therefore extinction, which may explain why we have yet to discover intelligent life on other planets closer to the center of the Milky Way (our home galaxy).

“We tried to answer the question of what happens in other places in the Milky Way and we found that the chances of these kinds of gamma ray burst events are much higher in the center of a galaxy, due to the chemical composition of these planets and their environments. This may be a preliminary explanation for why we have yet to discover complex lifeforms on these planets, because they experience a greater concentration of gamma ray bursts.”


Visualization of gamma ray burst striking a planet

The elemental conditions that foster more common gamma ray bursts are very different from those of Earth, so there’s no need to worry about imminent extinction. Scientists recently revealed data that suggests long gamma ray bursts occur in star-forming regions where there are low levels of ‘metallic’ elements like hydrogen and helium, and according to this data Piran and Jimenez estimated the likelihood of such bursts throughout our galaxy. This is what helped them draw the conclusion that the likelihood of complex, intelligent lifeforms on other planets in the galaxy diminishes in relation to the higher occurrence of gamma ray bursts.

     SEE ALSO: SpaceIL’s Mission To The Moon Says Its Chances Of Winning The GoogleX Prize Are High

“We know today that there are conditions that suit the development of life on other planets in our galaxy, in an other galaxies, but have yet to discover decisive evidence of intelligent life. This research explains that lack of evidence.”

The bane of our existence?

After establishing that the chances for the development of intelligent life on other planets closer to the center of the Milky Way are low, what can be said of the other 99 billion galaxies in the known universe? Despite the fact that there is less data regarding their composition and structure, Piran’s research suggests that the chances of intelligent lifeforms developing there are low, though not completely impossible.


NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Telescope finds gamma ray bubbles in the Milky Way

“We aren’t saying that there can’t be life on other planets. What we are saying is that the chances that there is life on other planets in other galaxies is smaller so long as those planets are closer to the center of the galaxy where they are more likely to be affected by gamma ray bursts. We are also saying that the chances that other complex lifeforms could have developed before our own lifecycle is small due to our understanding of the frequency of gamma ray bursts in the past.”

What Piran suggests here is that gamma ray bursts may have been more likely to affect Earth in the past due to different elemental conditions during the planet’s development than those that support life as we know it today. However, following development and due to our distance from the center of the galaxy, the likelihood of such an occurrence today is much lower than in the past, but not equally for all planets in the galaxy, let alone the universe.

Though mankind may like to think of itself as the center of the universe, Piran and Jimenez’s research suggests that it may be just our luck that Earth is located 27,000 light-years from the center of the Milky Way, otherwise an imminent gamma ray burst could be the bane of our existence.

Photos: NASA/ Luis Calcada/ Carl Wozniak/ Warwick University

Yuval Haimovits, NoCamels <![CDATA[App Of The Week: rinbw – Create Your Very Own Video Phonebook]]> 2014-12-14T11:12:24Z 2014-12-14T11:12:24Z

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App Name: rinbw Available For: iOS Devices Price: Free Developer: Web & Mobile LTD.

The Promise: “rinbw gives you a new way to see the contacts in your phonebook in a 5 second looping video clip”.

Nothing much has changed about mobile phonebooks in the last few years. They look and behave the same on almost every kind of smartphone. You can scroll up and down to view your contact list, search for a particular contact, add your close friends to favorite lists and enrich the experience with personal photos. This was the standard, until now.

Israeli company Web & Mobile is trying to make the ‘regular’ phonebook experience into something more flavorful with rinbw. The company describes it as, “a new app that gives you a new way to see the contacts in your phonebook in a 5 second looping video clip. Now you can see what all your friends are up to by viewing their video status straight from this app.”

rinbw app screenrinbw app screen

Our Experience

Using rinbw is fun and easy. The neat, minimalistic but colorful user experience is really intuitive. After launching the app, you are asked to complete a short registration by filling in your phone number and activating the account with a four-digit code – just like with mobile messaging app Whatsapp. Then, the fun part arrives – the app asks you to record a five second video of yourself. You can do something silly, record your surroundings at the moment, or really anything that represents you best. And that’s it, you’ve created your own video status. Now the rinbw app can be used as a secondary contact list, and as you may realize, the ‘secondary’ bit is really the Achilles heel of this app.

rinbw app screen animation gif

As you know, Apple bans replacing native apps like the contact list. That being said, if you want to enjoy rinbw’s hip new contact list, you’ll have to open it up each time you wish to call someone, what seems to be an overly tedious task. Once you do open the app, the next thing you will most likely say is, ‘Wait, where are all of my contacts?’ To view your contacts and their status videos, they will also have to download and register rinbw on their smartphone, and since it’s a new app, we have to say it’s pretty lonely at the moment.

    SEE ALSOApp Of The Week: ‘Clean’ – The App That Makes It Easy To Delete Old Photos

Our Thoughts

The rinbw’s user experience is great, that is when you have friends who are using the app. It’s a fresh new approach to the old-school, standard contact list and phonebook apps. But as long as it acts as a secondary contact list app and you don’t have any contacts using the app, many smartphone users will likely stick with the run-of-the-mill contact list that comes built-in and is easily accessible. Hopefully Apple and other companies will lift the ban on secondary contact list apps so that rinbw users can better enjoy the experience of an integrated video contact list.

The Verdict:


You can download the rinbw app here.

Dyana So, NoCamels <![CDATA[Cyber Security Nation: Why Israel Leads The World In Protecting The Web]]> 2014-12-10T16:07:45Z 2014-12-10T10:40:57Z

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How are imminent, and for some countries already real, cyber security threats being dealt with? For an answer to this question, the world is increasingly turning to Israel.

Israel’s startup spirit and impressive security expertise have made the country a world leader in the cyber security software and services sector. Just today, Israeli security experts found a flaw in China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba, which would have allowed attackers to hijack merchants’ shops, change prices, alter shipment details and shut down the shop.

In fact Israel is now the second largest exporter of cyber products and services after the United States, with over 200 companies and dozens of research and development ventures devoted to developing cyber security.

In 2013 alone, Israel had $3 billion worth in cyber security exports, a sum that accounts for five percent of the global internet security market, which totals nearly $60 billion. Lockheed Martin, even estimates that the global cyber market will be valued soon be valued at $100 billion, which is why the American defense giant recently opened an Israeli subsidiary in the southern city of Beer Sheva.

     SEE ALSO: So Much For Alibaba: Israeli Companies Prove ‘Far More’ Successful With IPOs


But these impressive numbers didn’t accumulate over night; the acceleration of Israel’s cyber security sector is a public and privately driven initiative that has succeeded due to well-harnessed engineering knowledge and the country’s creative entrepreneurial spirit.

A government keen on exporting Israel’s cyber security commodity

“Everybody understands that you buy Swiss watches from Switzerland and information security from Israel,” says Udi Mokady, CEO of CyberArk, the largest cyber security firm in Israel, which protects the accounts of thirty of the world’s Fortune 500 companies and 15 percent of the Global 2000.

Another major factor in Israel’s cyber security prowess is generous government support for both private and public endeavors. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed his faith in the successful cooperation between Israel’s private and public, or military-geared, cyber security sectors, asking that they share information and technology to address even the most complex of threats. Recently, Netanyahu established a new national authority for Operative Cyber Defense, of which he stated, “has major significance to the defense of the State of Israel in the future.” What other countries are hoping is that the initiative might have major significance for them too.


Innovating in cyber security involves a lot of bureaucratic restructuring, a task more difficult for larger countries like the US, but easier for relatively young and small-sized ones like Israel. While issues of cyber security are addressed by one body, the National Security Agency (NSA) in the US, Israel has both public bodies and private companies that are encouraged, and in some cases even forced, to cooperate. As Michael McNerney, cyber security expert and former Cyber Policy Advisor to the US Secretary of Defense, commented to Forbes, “Israel is smart to focus on a collective and participatory approach to online security because the inter-connectedness of online systems and proliferation of mobile devices make every individual a potential point for cyber-breach.”

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

Another essential contributor to Israel’s success is its plethora of military-trained engineers. Military service in the Israel Defense Forces is mandatory from the age of 18, and many going into the army realize the added value of becoming an engineer sooner rather than later. For this reason, Israel’s Education Ministry has set up after school programs for pupils who want to learn about programming and cyber security in middle and high school. Because of the reverence in Israeli society for the elite IDF intelligence unit 8200, these classes are in high demand. Indeed, many of the founders of cyber security startups originated in the 8200 unit, like Gil Shwed, the founder and CEO of the widely successful multinational cyber security company Checkpoint.

Removing and predicting threats

Israeli cyber security startups are good at cooperating with government agencies, but even better at beating them at their own game. Taught to sniff out hackers’ mistakes, companies like CyActive have developed predictive cyber security software that pinpoints the same damaging code hackers recycle in 94 percent of all malware. Other companies are turning to the cloud to provide security, while still others are concerned with closing off the ease of access the technology of the future will provide.

Beer Sheva Cyber Park

Beer Sheva Cyber Park

Many large corporations rely heavily on the Internet to carry out multiple external and internal business operations, meaning that the swift detection of any cyber attack on their systems is crucial in preventing damage. Israeli companies CyberX, ThetaRay, Aorato, Reversing Labs, and Seculert all specialize in anomaly-detection software that utilizes sophisticated cyber-detection strategies to identify the breach. Companies like Votiro and Hexadite provide automatic termination and protection of suspicious activities; Votiro by thoroughly inspecting digital files and removing anything harmful, and Hexadite by immediately investigating the cyber attack while simultaneously notifying the client company of the breach.

     SEE ALSO: Is Israel At Risk Of Losing Its ‘Startup Nation’ Title?

Several Israeli cyber security firms also provide research capabilities into cyber attacks, hackers, and overall trends in cybercrime. Fortscale and SenseCy both help their clients by providing them with informative analytics to better understand the nature of cyber attacks they are vulnerable to. Still others seek to look beyond traditional software protection. BioCatch uses behavioral biometrics technology to study keyboard and mouse behavior on websites for fraudulent behaviors. Argus looks forward to a future of Internet-connected vehicles, but has you covered, ensuring our cars aren’t hijacked by malevolent saboteurs.

“Israel has a great deal to offer in cyber security,” remarked Francis Maude, the UK Minister for the Cabinet Office who is in charge of his country’s cyber defense strategy, to The Jewish Chronicle. “We’ve got a lot to learn from the country.” Meanwhile, the UK and Israel arranged plans to set up a joint academic research fund for cyber security research within the next three years.

The Cyber Security Nation

With a history in manufacturing global cyber products, military training specializing in security against online terrorism, research grappling with new algorithms and understanding the nature of cyber attacks, and the government backing up the country’s presence in the cyber security industry, Israel is positioned to become the leading source for advanced solutions against the shared threat of cyber warfare.

Such a position, however, also poses some problems, namely the issue of trust. The NSA itself protects its own government and military intelligence computer networks with Israeli cyber security, but this raises some eyebrows with some Americans wondering why whether outsourcing cyber security poses a potential threat to national security.

Israel’s dominance in cyber security is fitting, but as the saying goes: with great power comes great responsibility. Israeli government bodies and companies offering their products to international customers may find it difficult to remain neutral in the process. However, if there are two things that Israelis are pros at its technology and security, which may warrant a new title — “The Cyber Security Nation.”

Photos: “Cyber hackers”/ Reuters/ DefenseNews/ JVP/ DLD Magazine

David Shamah, The Times of Israel <![CDATA[From Waste To Wonder: Recycling Sludge Can Mean Big Bucks]]> 2014-12-11T16:40:29Z 2014-12-10T08:00:16Z

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

To the untrained eye, it looks like trash, but rest assured, says Israeli environmental start-up Applied Cleantech (ACT), “there’s gold in that garbage.”

In a new crowdfunding effort, the company is seeking to raise millions of dollars to expand its cellulose harvesting activities, creating a $200 billion a year market — more than Google — by converting sewage into an economic asset.

ACT’s Sewage Recycling System (SRS) technology enables water treatment plants to bypass the production of sludge by extracting the solid waste before the recycling process begins. Sludge, that mixture of waste and water that is left over after the usable water has been “mined” from sewage, is useful as fertilizer, or, in some situations, as a fuel source.

     SEE ALSO: TaKuDu: Using The Power Of Math To Solve The World’s Water Leaks

appliedcleantechcartoonIn most cases, sludge needs to be disposed of by incineration or dumping in a landfill. Instead, said company CEO Dr. Refael Aharon, ACT’s technology recycles the biosolids in sludge, which constitutes up to 50% of the material, into a product called Recyllose — recycled cellulose.

This is a revolutionary commodity, says Aharon. Recyllose can be used to replace wood or processed plant materials in many products, including plastics, insulation, pulp and paper, construction, biofuel production and more. The system can save wastewater processing plants up to 30% on their operating costs, enable plants to handle 30% more sewage than they normally do, and even provide a source of income for governments and plant operators, who can sell the Recyllose to local manufacturers, pocketing the profit for themselves.

To continue reading this article on the Times of Israel site, click here.

NoCamels Team <![CDATA[Precise Diagnostic Method May Be Great News For Brains Of Football Players]]> 2014-12-09T12:44:18Z 2014-12-09T12:30:12Z

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According to data by the National Football League (NFL) up to 30 percent of former major league football players will develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia at some point in their lifetime. This means that the men who sprint, tackle and pitch down the field have a chillingly higher risk of developing serious brain disorders in comparison to the general population.

However, a new MRI diagnostic approach developed in Israel may be able to halt some of the significant brain damage before a player experiences one-too-many bad tackles. By identifying damage to the player’s blood-brain barrier (BBB), or the fine line separating the blood of the brain from the fluid in the nervous system, a new study could help players make more educated decisions regarding the future of their football careers.

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

footballbraininjuryProtecting the blood-brain-barrier

Prof. Alon Friedman, from Ben Gurion University‘s Brain Imaging Research Center, who is behind the study, explains: “Until now, there wasn’t a diagnostic capability to identify mild brain injury early after the trauma. In the NFL, other professional sports and especially school sports, concern has grown about the long-term neuropsychiatric consequences of repeated mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) and specifically sports-related concussive and sub-concussive head impacts.”

The new diagnosis method uses standard Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for the detection and localization of potential blood-brain barrier breakdown in football players, but is able to identify damage at earlier stages than ever before.

“The goal of our study was to use our new method to visualize the extent and location of BBB dysfunction in football players using Dynamic Contrast-Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DCE-MRI) on a Phillips 3-T Ingenia. Specifically, it generates more detailed brain maps showing brain regions with abnormal vasculature, or a ‘leaky BBB.’”

No two athletes are the same

Study participants included 16 football players from Israel’s professional football team, Black Swarm, as well as 13 track and field athletes from BGU who all underwent the newly developed MRI-based diagnostic. The DCE-MRIs were given between games during the season and revealed significant damage. Forty percent of the examined football players with unreported concussions had evidence of a “leaky BBB” compared to 8.3 percent of the control athletes.

“The group of 29 volunteers was clearly differentiated into an intact-BBB group and a pathological-BBB group,” Friedman explains. “This showed a clear association between football and increased risk for BBB pathology [‘leak’] that we couldn’t see before. In addition, high-BBB permeability was found in six players and in only one athlete from the control group.”

Friedman also explains that not all the players showed that their brain had been affected. This indicates that repeated, mild concussive events might impact some players differently than others. This level of diagnosis of individual players can provide the basis of more rational decision-making on “return to play” for professionals as well as amateurs of any age.footballbrain

“Generally, players return to the game long before the brain’s physical healing is complete, which could exacerbate the possibility of brain damage later in life,” says Friedman.

The key to a neurodegenerative cure?

A decade of research in the BGU Laboratory for Experimental Neurosurgery has shown that vascular pathology, and specifically dysfunction of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), plays a key role in brain damage, and may be an underlying cause of neurodegenerative complications, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, following brain injuries.

     SEE ALSO: Study Reveals Oxygen-Rich Air Can Reverse Severe Brain Damage

The BBB is a highly selective permeable membrane that separates circulating blood from extracellular fluid. It protects the brain by preventing many dangerous substances from penetrating, and therefore is not meant to be damaged. Medical researchers, including Friedman’s group at BGU, are working to find ways to find drugs that will target the BBB and facilitate its repair, allowing for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain-related diseases.

Other members of the research team include BGU Ph.D. candidates Itai Weissberg and Ronel Veksler, who developed the new imaging method. Lyn Kamintsky, Rotem Saar-Ashkenazy and Dan Z. Milkovsky conducted the study. Dr. Ilan Shelef, BGU lecturer and a member of the Department of Medical Imaging at Soroka University Medical Center also contributed. The paper, published by researchers at BGU and Soroka University Medical Center.

Photos: CDC/ Brain Injury Institute