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Moment in TIME: Israeli Inventions

David E. Kaplan

Every year, Time magazine highlights the best inventions that are making the world "better, smarter and even a bit more fun". In choosing their 2019 list, Time solicited nominations across a variety of categories from its editors and correspondents around the world, as well as through an online application process. Each contender in the list was evaluated on key factors, including originality, creativity, influence, ambition and effectiveness.

The result: 100 groundbreaking inventions that are changing the way we live, work, play and think about what's possible. Among the Top 100 that appears in Time's December 2 - December 9 issue are nine Israeli-made creations.

Here are the nine Israeli innovations that appear in Time's top 100:

Seeing Is Believing

I was first exposed to this invention over a year ago when I walked into my uncle's sitting room in Rehovot, south of Tel Aviv and saw him reading. Reading! He is virtually blind but there he was, wearing his glances reading the morning paper. Then I saw he had a device and soon leaned it was a MyEye 2.0 by OrCam. It was great; we could argue over politics!

The MyEye 2 is a lightweight smart camera that attaches to virtually any frame of a pair of glasses. Using AI technology, it instantly and discreetly reads printed and digital text aloud from any surface, recognizes faces, products, money notes and more, all in real time. The intuitive device is operated by using simple hand gestures and has more than 20 voice-activated commands. It is designed for all ages, can be used with any level of vision loss and does not require an internet connection.

The portable, finger-sized device can be discreetly clipped to eyeglasses or sunglasses to read out texts from books, newspapers, product labels, and restaurant menus and can even scan barcodes, identify faces and currency, and tell time even without a watch.

"This is the world's most advanced artificial vision device for people who are blind, partially sighted or have reading difficulties," OrCam Director of Media and Communications Rafi Fischer told NoCamels last year. The device is gesture-motivated, so the user only has to point to the piece of text to activate the device or hold their hand out to stop the audio of the reading.

"Fitting all this power into such a small device is like "putting an elephant into a small closet," OrCam co-founder Amnon Shashua told Time. Shashua is also famously the co-founder of Israel's Mobileye, which develops vision-based driver-assistance systems. Intel acquired Mobileye for $15.3 billion in 2017.

Offering CONCRETE Solutions

Man's love of the ocean and building on its coast is all very well for man, though not always for the ocean. The problem lies in the detrimental impact of eco-unfriendly concrete.

Step in an Israeli company ECONcrete - an environmental tech company founded in 2012 by marine ecologists Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel and Dr. Ido Sella. Listed in the "design" category of Time's list of 100 Best Inventions of 2019, ECONcrete develops sustainable concrete for constructing ecologically active infrastructures in coastal and marine environments as well as in urban landscapes.

The company uses "a technique known as bio­mimicry, relying on the shapes, textures and size of natural systems to dictate how the company builds its products," so they blend in with their surroundings and are less intrusive to marine ecosystems.

Earlier in 2019, ECONcrete was listed by Fast Company on its "World's Most Innovative Companies" of 2019. The company was also featured in an episode of the popular web series Nas Daily.

With nearly half of the human population living along coastlines, coastal development and increasing coastal urbanization are inevitable. Concrete is the main construction material globally, accounting for over 70% of Coastal and Marine Infrastructure (CMI). Nonetheless, it is a poor substrate for biological recruitment, and is considered toxic to many marine organisms, mainly due to its unique surface chemistry which impairs the settlement of various marine larvae.

Now, ECOncrete, with a suite of innovative, science-based solutions, is proving that development and sustainability don't have to be at odds.

Bring To a Head

A world leading survey of health conditions across 195 countries found that in every year from 1990 to 2016, migraine attacks remained the second-largest global contributor to years lived with disability. They come with a huge economic cost, too, causing an estimated 25 million sick days to be taken in the UK alone each year. But compared to their health and economic burden, migraines remain one of the world's most under-funded diseases.

An Israeli medical tech company, Theranica, has developed a migraine-zapping wearable device Nerivio and featured in Time's list in the "health care" category.

The device, worn on the upper arm, provides migraine treatment through neuromodulation therapy, altering nerve activity by way of targeted delivery of a stimulus. The treatment is like "a personalized pain-relief program," according to the Netanya-based company.

"We are honored to be recognized by Time and thrilled to see Nerivio listed alongside inventions that are shaping the future," said Alon Iron, CEO and co-founder of Theranica.

"At Theranica, we believe that migraine solutions should be affordable and accessible. We are proud of the non-invasive, low side-effect and drug-free alternative that Nerivio offers and remain dedicated to bringing effective relief to individuals around the world living with migraine."

Home Diagnosis

The "health care" category on the Time list also featured the remote medical examination device TytoHome developed by Israeli telehealth company Tyto Care. A handheld examination device, TytoHome comes with attachments to examine the heart, lungs, skin, ears, throat and abdomen, as well as measure body temperature, to enable remote diagnosis of acute care situations like ear infections, sore throats, fever, cold and flu, allergies, and more.

The device allows users to perform these comprehensive medical exams and send the information to a primary care provider.

The device, at $299, was recently made available to purchase at over 300 Best Buy locations across the USA. It's also available online.

"Tyto Care's mission has always been to make high-quality healthcare accessible on-demand, from any location to as many people as possible," Tyto Care CEO and co-founder Dedi Gilad, said in a statement. "We are honored to be included on Time's Best Inventions list for 2019. This recognition signifies the ground-breaking impact TytoHome is having on people's day-to-day lives and we are excited to continue to deliver the best virtual care experience to consumers across the globe."

Gilad co-founded Tyto Care alongside Ofer Tzadik in 2012, after spending many days and nights in emergency care as a parent of young children. As reported in Nocamels, "Dedi Gilad was a young father of two dealing with fevers, fussy eaters and his daughter's chronic ear infections when he did what few exhausted parents of young children do – he launched a startup!"

Tytocare is a telehealth company bringing medical exams to the comfort of our homes. And like all good ideas, it was born out of necessity. Gilad was spending hours, day and night, at the emergency room with his daughter, getting exposed to germs in hospital waiting areas and losing countless hours of sleep, only to receive the same diagnosis every time.

Home Alone – no more!

Want a beer, ask Temi, an Israeli developed robot billed as the world's first intelligent, mobile, personal AI robot. Featured in Time's list in the "home" category, the 3-foot-tall personal robot with a 10-inch touchscreen for a head is the creation of Israeli startup Robotemi.

Retailing at for $1,999, Temi can answer questions, order groceries, play music and videos, make calls, control your smart home, follow you around your house (except up or down stairs), and call for medical assistance. Users can control Temi remotely from any location in the world via the app and command different actions.

Temi has won a number of prestigious awards over the past year, including 1st prize in the field of robots and drones at the Shanghai CES Asia 2019 Exhibition, a Gold Award in the Personal Robot category at the prestigious Edison 2019 Awards, and the best robot in CES Las Vegas according to Tom's Guide and the International PC Magazine Award for Best of MWC 2018.

Founded in 2015, Robotemi is headquartered in New York City, has an R&D lab in Tel Aviv and a business and manufacturing location in Shenzen, China. Earlier this year, the company announced that world-renown Israeli mentalist Lior Suchard was joining as chief brand officer (CBO).

Out Of Thin Air

If Moses brought forth water for the People of Israel in the desert by striking a stone, today's Israelites are striking water from the air.

Instead of searching below for solutions, Watergen found it above – in our atmosphere – and devised a way to tap into this unlimited resource.

The Israeli company Watergen, which hopes to improve the quality of life of billions who suffer from poor water sanitation or accessibility to safe drinking water, developed a patented technology that makes drinking water "out of thin air". It is its at-home appliance called the Genny that featured on the Time magazine list in the "social good" category.

In the aftermath of the raging fires that wiped out much of Paradise, California, a truck pulled up to a group of residents and rescue workers, parched after a day of cleanup. The driver came out, pointed to a machine in the back and said that the device could pull water out of thin air. He flipped a spout and out came clean, drinkable H20.

"People literally walked around the truck and kept on trying to figure out where this water was coming from. They asked, what magic are you guys doing?" recalled Yehuda Kaploun, the president of Watergen USA.

The device, which looks like a water cooler, is a generator capable of producing between 25-30 liters (6.6-7.9 gallons) of water per day using the company's heat-exchange GENius technology. The generator first collects water vapor in the air and then cools the air at its dew point, after which the water goes through physical, chemical and biological treatment followed by a mineralization process to maintain its cleanliness, tastiness and healthy quality.

The Genny retails at an estimated $1,500, according to TIME. Watergen's generators have been used in countries like India, South Africa, Vietnam, Sierra Leone, China, Uzbekistan, and the US.

Come Fly With Alice

While "these are the largest windows in a commercial aircraft," noted one observer that is not what won it its listing in the Time magazine list in the "sustainability" category.

In June 2019, Israeli aerospace company Eviation Aircraft debuted "Alice" - a prototype of the first all-electric commuter aircraft. Alice is a battery-powered nine-seater which Eviation hopes will help transform urban aerial travel through a "flying taxi" concept. CEO Omer Bar-Yohay has called it "Uber meets Tesla in the sky," with commuters of the future travelling at a fraction of the costs of conventional jetliners ushering in a new era "of flying that is quieter, cleaner, and cost-effective".

Regional trips will be "cheaper than a train ticket" and far more considerate for the environment. The idea of curbing carbon emissions by half by 2050 - an eco-friendly pledge by the aviation industry - is another reason many of the major airlines are exploring electric options.

Alice is "capable of flying with nine passengers at 240 knots and a range of up to 650 miles [1046.07 km]," says Bar-Yohay.

"It's basically a huge battery with a plane painted on it," Bar-Yohay told reporters.

"This plane looks like this not because we wanted to build a cool plane, but because it's electric," he said, "You build a craft around your propulsion system. Electric means we can have lightweight motors; it allows us to open up the design space."

In 2018, the company was selected as the winner in the transportation category of Fast Company's World Changing Ideas Awards.

Hello, Meet ElliO

Making the "special mentions" category on the Time's list is ElliQ, is a robotic companion created by Israeli company Intuition Robotics.

Designed to help the elderly "stay engaged, independent and connected to family and friends," the tabletop social robot mimics human movements and responds to voice, gaze, and touch. ElliQ offers tips and advice, responds to questions, engages throughout the day, makes appointments, reminds those in its care about medications and can suggest content to watch and set up chats with friends.

Useful for those who cannot easily operate a smartphone, ElliQ is meant to address the issues of isolation and loneliness among senior citizens by reading out messages, displaying photos, and answering video calls.

Founded in 2015 by Itai Mendelsohn, Dor Skuler, and Roy Amir, Intuition Robotics' ElliQ was named the Best of Innovation Winner in the smart home category at CES 2018.

Giving Back

Also in Time's "special mentions" section was Israeli insurance tech company Lemonade with its "Giveback" charity component.

Lemonade's concept was coming up with a fresh brand that through the use of technology rather than relying on brokers, could break into the huge and rather staid insurance market.

Customers answer a set of simple questions through a chat with the company's bot, "Maya," and, in seconds, can get their home insured. It takes 90 seconds to get insured, says the company's website and three minutes to get paid, if and when a claim is made.

Unlike traditional insurers, Lemonade takes a flat fee — one that would normally go to the insurance brokers — and sets aside the remaining funds for claims. In a good year, when there's money left unclaimed, the company does not pocket the money but donates it to causes their customers choose.

Founded in 2015 by Israeli entrepreneurs Daniel Schreiber and Shai Wininger, the Lemonade Giveback's mission is "to transform insurance from a necessary evil into a social good". They have designed Lemonade to bring out the best in people, while giving society a push for the better.

When users sign up, they choose a charity or nonprofit organization they care about, and once a year, Lemonade tallies up unclaimed money pooled from policyholders who chose that same cause and donates it to the organization.

Tens of thousands of members are supporting causes they care about, simply by getting a Lemonade insurance policy. As the Lemonade community grows, the social impact emerges stronger.

The philosophy of Lemonade's Schreiber may apply to all of Israel's inventions for 2019. "Great digital brands," writes Schreiber, "transcend borders. Whether in Chicago, Paris, or Singapore, today's consumers listen to music on Spotify, ride with Uber, and stay at Airbnb. Consumers are increasingly cosmopolitan, socially aware, and tech-native."

Israeli inventors and entrepreneurs are in tune with this, hence their phenomenal global success.

 

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Saturday, 24 October 2020

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