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Monday, November 24, 2008

Video: Nanosatellites To Open Up The Heavens? (Israel)

When it comes to space above us, one realizes two things: there is a large amount of sky to cover, and launching anything into orbit is very expensive.

While companies like SpaceX may be able to reduce the price tag overall, launching a satellite for a small business may still be too expensive--unless of course you a nanosatellite.

(Israel 21st Century) The Israel Nanosatellite Association (INSA) is planning a first launch of two small satellites sometime between July and September 2009, most likely from the launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India. "This will be a proof-of-concept for new Israeli satellite technologies," says Dr. Raz Tamir, head of INSA and of Israel Aerospace Industries-MBT's newly minted nanosatellite department.

It will also make the case for the nanosatellite as a cost-effective alternative to its larger cousins. As the name implies, nanosatellites are small satellites with a mass between one and 10 kg (2.2-22 lb), designed to work in formation. Cheap to build and to launch, a constellation of 60 low-earth orbit (LEO) nanosats can cover the earth.

Because a nanosatellite is significantly lighter, several can be launched at a time - at a cost of about $150,000 per satellite, as compared with $15 million per launch of a single regular LEO satellite.

Although there will be many companies (and governments) who will need large satellites built for various reasons, nanosatellites could provide the key to open up the satellite industry to third world countries and medium sized corporations.

Hopefully the Israel Nanosatellite Association can prove these tiny machines worth, as it could help jump start the satellite industry as a whole (not to mention help Israel regain its foot hold into space).

Israel: Turning Garbage Dumps Into Garden Parks

(Hat Tip: IsRealli, Image Credit: Ayalon Park)

When it comes to discussing the future of garbage dumps, many cities usually consider two options: how to expand it, or where to find a new location (as the current spot becomes full).

While some may always argue we will always have space to place more garbage, it looks as if a few citizens outside of Tel Aviv decided to change the outlook of their landfill from a stinky one to one that has more of a green perspective.

(Tree Hugger) For decades, Hiriya, a 2,000 acre garbage dump, has sat on the outskirts of Tel Aviv as an ecological and aesthetic blight. At its center was Hiriya Mountain—a massive 230 foot mound of waste. But after an intensive national revitalization effort the eyesore has reemerged as Ayalon Park, and the mountain is being transformed into an eco-tourism attraction replete with terraces, ridge groves and footpaths for hiking. When completed, it will rank as one of the largest metropolitan parks in the world.

Ayalon Park will serve as a 24 hour destination for recreation in Israel, as well as a learning center designed to educate visitors about recycling and other ecologically friendly practices.

It's great to see Ayalon Park being used to demonstrate how humans can change their environment for the better (not to mention providing an excellent example to kids on how to take care of our planet).

The city of Tel Aviv began this project last year, and while they probably still have a long ways to go, hopefully other cities in the country (as well as the world) will adopt their methods in order to make a greener future for all of us.

Michigan Seeks Out Israeli Tech

With the economic crisis severely affecting the auto industry, it looks as if the Governor of Michigan is seeking to add some job diversity to the region by attracting tech companies from the Jewish state.

(Israel National News) After meeting with Prime Minister Olmert, the governor signed a joint agreement with Indusry and Trade Minister Yishai. The partnership between Israel and Michigan will include a research team that will focus on innovative technology to increase energy efficiency, improve water quality and increase water reuse. [...]

Gov. Granholm also held meetings in Haifa with technology companies that she hopes will help create jobs in her home state. She visited Senso Optics, a homeland security and defense company that creates technology for lenses used for airport security and border control, and sensors for day and night vision.
While the governor expects the partnership to provide up to 1,000 extra jobs for Michigan, she might want to consider checking out what Israel is doing in the auto-tech field ranging from electric cars to hydrogen cars (unless a flying car suits her style).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Alfabetic: Universal Translator For Blogs And Websites? (Israel)

For those of you who read TechCrunch, you may remember Alfabetic from the TechCrunch50 event two months ago.

Originating from Israel, Alfabetic's goal is to make it easier for blogs and websites to have their content published in other languages where the vast majority of users are not familiar with the English language.

(Israel 21st Century) If you are a content owner of a news website or blog monetizing your content through ads, millions of hits will never reach your site simply because potential readers can't read it. A new Israeli company Alfabetic, is taking a major leap towards changing the way the non-English world consumes content, creating new business opportunities for content owners, while making the Internet a truly democratic forum. [...]

Broshi explains that a new breakthrough in the academic world in statistical machine translations, has enabled superior machine learning of languages recently. These algorithms from the academic world paired with Alfabetic's own technology, and an international team of translators, creates top-notch translated content, as though it were produced by the world's best translators. But without the high costs, of course.
Even though the reception among the bigger blogs out there was not as warm (as many of them have international writers in various markets), Alfabetic's technology and services may suite smaller blogs who would probably be willing to pay a small fee to have a human review a post translation (hint: like IsraGood!!!).

The site is currently in beta right now, although users can sign up in order to be informed when the site launches towards the public.

Israel's M.I.L.B.A.T Partners With Toys 'R' Us

(Hat Tip: IsRealli)

M.I.L.B.A.T., an organization that creates many accessories for disabled adults and children is partnering with Toys 'R' Us in order to help make toys more play friendly for kids with special needs.

(Ynet News) For the first time in Israel, the M.I.L.B.A.T. Center for Technology and Accessibility, which helps develop accessories for disabled children and adults, together with the Toys 'R' Us toy store chain, is launching a catalogue of products which will make games more accessible for children with special needs. The booklet includes about 100 different products suitable for the use of children with special needs. All products presented in the catalogue have been tested by M.I.L.B.A.T. professionals. [...]

"Through the catalogue, parents can pick toys which develop eyesight, hearing, thinking, feeling, social skills, self-esteem, language, frisky or gentle motors, and creativity. The association's volunteers can be found in the toy chain's various stores and will personally tailor the designated toy to each child."

According to Ynet News, M.I.L.B.A.T. is not charging parents for the labor and time for modifying the toys, although they may have to pay a minor fee for materials.

This service only only available in Israel (at least through M.I.L.B.A.T.) so unless you feel comfortable paying international shipping, Europe and the US may have to look elsewhere for inexpensive toys for kids with special needs.

(Image Credit: M.I.L.B.A.T catalog)

IsraTech: Medical Images From Doctors Via Your Cell Phone?

(Hat Tip: Israel Times, via Israel 21st Century)

After announcing his plan six months ago to enable doctors to transmit critical medical images to cell phones, it looks as if Professor Boris Rubinsky (from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem) may finally see is innovative idea come to life.

Note: I have seen similar ideas for smart phones (such as the iPhone, which should be entering Israel in the hopefully near future).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Israel: Chicks With Sticks Plus IDF Equals Fuzzy Hats?

(Image Credit: Chicks With Sticks)

Even though Israel is located in a very hot neighborhood (politically as well as temperature wise), the country is also cold enough to receive snow (which is good news for those of you who enjoy snow ball fights).

While some people may enjoy the cold air (at least every once in a while), many soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) may not enjoy it as much--especially if their heads are freezing.

In order to help soldiers stationed at freezing locations combat the cold, a group called Chicks With Sticks (via the A Package from Home organization) has knitted fuzzy hats in order to help keep the IDF heads warm.

(Israel National News) The "Chicks with Sticks" project has distributed more than 2,000 hats so far, each with a special label sewn inside assuring its wearer in Hebrew that it was "Knit for you with love and warmth." They're also knit with special care: each hat must be knit to rigorous specifications set by the IDF that include a certain pattern due to the strict uniform regulations. [...]

It's a tough job, but there are plenty of people out there who are willing to do it. In addition to Israeli knitters, participants have joined the project from as far away as the United States and Canada. Most are Jewish, but not all. Most are women – but not all. Any and all hats that follow the pattern are welcome, says Koppel.
Since knitting is not my greatest skill (as I can barely sew pillows, book bags, and patches onto clothes), I would encourage the pro's to visit A Package from Home for instructions on how to knit these hats together (not to mention donate as well if you have any spare change available).

Israel's Bojam Attempts The Impossible (Music Revolution)

A controversial woman once said "Music--makes the people--come together," and it looks as if one Israeli startup by the name of Bojam is aiming to do just that by allowing artists to collaborate together--even if they are physically separated by mountains, oceans and continents.

(Israel 21st Century) Covering the world of music, Bojam has created a platform that lets musicians anywhere in the world collaborate on their music. It means a guitar player in Seattle can record with a Chinese zither player in China, while simultaneously working on a recording with a singer in Germany.

Bojam, which was founded in May 2008 and launched in alpha stage at TechCrunch in September, follows a worldwide trend started by Wikipedia and other open-source content and software creators, to make music into a collaborative, community event. [...]

Advanced editing tools, and sound effect tools can be used to clean up the song, which can then be shared for the next musician to play a role in. The result is a mass collaboration of music - a wiki-style platform says the company - for adding song info, lyrics and instrument tabs.
Bojam announced its presence to the world a few months ago at the TechCrunch50 (which allows startups to announce their presence to not only the world, but to investors as well).

While their main goals is to help artists/bands create music together, regardless of their location, Bojam also is attempting to challenge distribution giants such as iTunes and Amazon (which are my favorite places to shop online).

The company is still in beta (as of this post) and it will be interesting to see how much impact this site has on the music industry a year from now (who may see Bojam as a potential threat).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Video: Israeli Doctors Helping Chinese Hearts

(Hat Tip: IsRealli)

After previously helping out children from Iraq and Kenya, it looks as if Israeli doctors from the Save A Child's Heart foundation will be heading off towards the far east in order help out kids in China.

(Haaretz) The Save A Child's Heart medical team, comprising 15 members, said it would try to treat as many children as possible during its stay in China.

This is SACH's eighth mission to China, where Israeli medics working alongside Chinese colleagues have performed surgery on more than 100 children. During the mission, team surgeon Dr. Lior Sasson - who heads the Cardiothoracic Surgery Department at the Wolfson Medical Center - will workd at the Hebei Children's hospital alongside Dr. Han Jiangang, a surgeon trained in Israel last year. [...]

Already in China, word has spread about the event, prompting hundreds to travel by foot, bicycle and train hoping to benefit from the surgical mission, according to SACH.
According to Haaretz, a camera crew will be tagging along in order to document everything that goes on.

Note: Here is a video from one of their earlier missions to China (with subtitles for those of us who have yet to speak Chinese).

Making New Friends: Israel And Indonesia Teaming Up For Emergency Services

If one were to measure how warm relations between Indonesia and Israel with just one word, "frosty" would probably be the perfect description.

Despite the fact that Muslim clerics in Indonesia have begun to warm up towards the Jewish state, the government has thus far kept its distance.

Regardless of the diplomatic feelings (or rather lack thereof), it looks as if medical teams from both countries will be teaming up in order to help the worlds largest Muslim nation meet the medical needs of its citizens.

(Israel 21st Century) Last week marked another milestone for MDA when Dr. Sudibyo Markus, the head of Indonesia's Muhammadiyah organization, arrived in Israel last week on an official visit to establish cooperation between his organization and Magen David Adom. Official visits between Indonesia and Israel are rare as the countries do not have diplomatic ties.

Markus was the guest of honor at the signing ceremony of a preliminary agreement of cooperation signed by the chairman of the Indonesian Rescue and Emergency Service, Prof. Aryono Pusponegoro, also of the Indonesian College of Surgeons; the chairman of MDA's Board of Directors, Dr. Noam Ifrach, and MDA director-general Eli Bin. Pusponegoro said: "I am 76 years old, and delighted that I have succeeded in fulfilling my childhood dream of coming to Israel." [...]

Muhammadiyah is the oldest and largest Islamic social welfare organization in the world, established in 1912. It is a moderate faith-based group with a mandate to improve civil society, serve the poor, and promote tolerance and pluralism. Muhammadiyah operates dozens of clinics, hospitals, orphanages, schools and universities in Indonesia. It has over 28 million members and has been recognized by the Indonesian government and by international organizations.

This is a good first step between both countries, as it gives the people of Indonesia a glimpse of Israel's medical expertise (not to mention display their more charitable side).

This is not the first time Israel has reached out towards diplomatic enemies, and it probably will not be the last time either. Hopefully this trend will continue, as Israel's medical advances could help heal the divide and open up the Muslim world towards cooperation with the Jewish state.

Image Credit: Rachel from Israel 21st Century

Monday, November 10, 2008

IsraScience: Using Hormones To Stop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD for short) is a condition that probably affects millions of people around the world who have survived life threatening events (such as war, natural disasters, etc.).

Although a range of treatments has been developed in to help patients overcome PTSD, a group of Israeli scientists from the Ben Gurion University may have found a unique way of thwarting PTSD by using hormones.

(Israel 21st Century) New research by Israeli scientists from Ben Gurion University and Tel Aviv University, suggests that a large dose of a stress hormone may reduce the risk of PTSD, and its associated symptoms. The researchers, who report successful results in an animal model, are hoping this therapy could one day restore life to people who have experienced trauma. [...]

Using mice, the researchers took a control group and a group of mice presented with a stress stimulus: litter soaked in cat urine. In about 25 percent of the cases, those presented with the cat urine litter exhibited symptoms of extreme stress, such as an increased startle response and behavioral freezing when exposed to reminders of the stress. [...]

The researchers found that those mice that were given high doses of a cortisol-related substance, corticosterone, immediately after exposure to a stressor could be spared from the negative consequences of the stress.
While people may be nervous about using drugs (of any type) to deal with a psychological problem, this drug could work as a "last resort" if other means of treating PTSD fail.

Even though more research has to be done before humans are involved (as their is a lot of "red tape" whenever one deals with the government--unless its paying your taxes), this drug may help soldiers returning from the front lines deal with the trauma that they have encountered (not to mention survivors of floods and tsunami's as well).

iSkoot: The Coolest Android App In Town? (IsraTech)

(Hat Tip: TechCrunch)

Despite the fact that I do not own a G1 Phone (as I can only have one love in my life), I am thrilled with the fact that iSkoot (a San Fransisco/Israel based company) has developed a program connecting Skype lovers with phones powered by Android (a mobile OS developed by Google).

Here is a brief video below.

While I am not sure whether or not iSkoot will be able to dethrone TuneWiki, it does give users one more incentive to "jump ship" from their carrier over to T-Mobile's network.

Note: Since the iPhone is "rumored" to be entering the Israeli market (thanks in part to iDigital's Apple store), does anyone know of any carriers planning of launching Android powered phones in Israel?

Investers Heart Israeli Cleantech

With news of the global meltdown, upcoming worldwide recession and the massive layoffs affecting plans for the holidays, one would figure that most companies would be a little hesitant about investing their money into startups.

While most companies would probably find it impossible (or at least very hard) to find wealthy individuals willing to finance a project, it looks as if Israeli startups within the cleantech (or green technology) industry are still attracting investors in New York and Boston.

(Globes Online) Investors in New York and Boston participated in two meeting of the Israel Cleantech Investor Conference last week for Israeli water and alternative energy technology start-ups and venture capital funds. The Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute and the Israeli economic attaché in New York organized the conferences. Participants said that the conferences were great successes, belying earlier worries that the global financial crisis would keep away potential investors. [...]

Oren added that the economic difficulties currently facing many countries are an opportunity, not an obstacle, for companies offering advanced technologies aimed at solving global problems. "One of the results of the financial crisis will be a significant rise in unemployment in many countries, probably including in the US. One of the usual solutions for dealing with unemployment is government spending on infrastructures. This creates opportunities for cleantech, and the proof is the great interest shown by investors in Israeli technologies."
Most of the startups represented were "water-tech" companies, which included:

  • Aquatal: a company who creates water treatment and water dispenser systems.
  • Cequesta Water: a startup in the business for wastewater treatment (as well as sludge dewatering).
  • AquaPure: Another wastewater treatment company.
  • CheckLight: This innovative startup uses glowing bacteria to determine water safety.
  • En Gibton: Yet another water treatment company (note: are you noticing a trend here *smiles*).
  • E.P.C.: This company provides onsite water waste treatment (which may separate them from the rest).
The second group included energy and geek tech startups such as:
  • Coriolis Wind: These guys (and/or gals) have an innovative approach when it comes to wind power (note: hopefully I will be able to do a future post regarding this company).
  • CQM: This company has found a way to clean heating and cooling towers (with a green twist).
  • Leviathan Energy: Uses both wind and water power (hydro and oceanic) to produce green energy.
  • RealiteQ: According to them, they are "a platform that facilitates the monitoring and controlling of remote distribute devices over public or private networks."
  • Engineuity: They are focused on alternative energy sources (although they do not disclose what "field" they are operating in).
Hopefully this is just the beginning for Israeli corporations, as the tiny Jewish state has a lot to offer the world (at least as far as green technology goes).

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Israel: Water From Aether, Powered By Green Energy

Water, water everywhere--but what about pulling it from the air?

Even though there are many ways to pull water from the air (as anyone with a dehumidifier or an air conditioner would inform you), one company from Israel called EWA (or Extraction of Water from Air) has created a way to not only pull and filter water from aether, but power their device via green energy.

(Israel 21st Century) Essentially EWA (which stands for Extraction of Water from Air), has developed a clean technology that extracts water from the air, while using little energy in the process. The key is in its unique water adsorption technology - which employs a solid desiccant to trap the water - and a special energy saving condenser that reuses more than 85 percent of the energy input to the system.

Renewable energy sources, such as solar power, biofuel, waste heat or even the heat from organic matter are compatible with the system. [...]

The technology, Bar tells ISRAEL21c, works in three steps: first is the absorption of air's humidity, then the removal of water from a solid desiccant (silica based gel granules) which holds the water, and third, condensation. The absorption of the humidity is an exothermic process (involving heat release), humidity absorption occurs spontaneously, and only minimal energy is used as the air is pumped through the unit. Heat recovery techniques are integrated as part of the condenser, reducing the cost for producing water to a reasonable price, similar to other processes, such as desalination.
Demand for EWA devices is already heating up, with the company predicting sales of $5 million by the end of this year (and a $100 million by 2009!).

EWA's various products (which produce anywhere from 10 liters to 1,000 cubic meters of water daily) may spell the difference between life and death for many regions--many who lack the means to pump water due to lack of electricity or clean streams (or even both).

EWA could also be used for disaster areas (whether they are caused by nature or by war), as power and water can be scarce for regions affected by the trauma (at least in the east).

Note: EWA and other water tech companies (such as Nirosoft and Water Sheer) may help the Jewish state abroad, as the government could heavily promote these technologies in order to help build bridges between "rowdy" countries.

Video: A New Way To Watch Television? (Israel)

(Hat Tip: IsRealli and USA Today)

As anyone who has ever watched baseball or football game, it is usually not until after the game (and your favorite team has lost) that most of the key stats, analysis, etc. are revealed.

While hindsight 20/20 may benefit the announcers (who often annoy you with their "he should have done this/that rhetoric), SportVu has created an innovative way to benefit coaches (and fans) in the present.

(SportVu) Broadcasters are able to show live tactical ("radar") views of the players' deployment on the playing field as well as instantly display statistical performance data through automatic analysis and semantic extraction. In addition to delivering dramatic viewing enhancements, an attractive new platform for sponsors, new interactive advertising opportunities, and other revenue generation options to broadcasters, the system also enables rights' owners to leverage their properties by offering live graphical presentation of the event over the web, on a gaming console, or to a mobile handset. SportVU addresses the major action-oriented, spectator sports: American football, baseball, hockey, basketball, and soccer.

With sports being a major commercial industry in the world (note: as it gives people something positive to focus on--provided your team wins), I would not be surprised to see SportVu's technology (or something similar) being used within every major sporting event within half a decade.

Hopefully SportVu will consider expanding beyond television, as there are plenty of iPhone lovers who would dream of this software within the palm of their hands.

Israel To Construct Joint Airport With Palestine?

First they were cleaning rivers together, then creating operating systems (note: watch out Microsoft!) and last their was that whole industrial park story posted earlier.

Am I sensing a trend?

( The Israel Airports Authority (IAA) is considering building a joint Israeli-Palestinian airport on the Poleg beach south of Netanya, authority chairman Ovadia Eli said this weekend.

Addressing an economic conference at Ben-Gurion Airport, Eli said that the airport would be jointly managed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. To facilitate Palestinian access, it would be connected to the West Bank via a tunnel. "This would be a confidence-building measure that would enable international fund-raising," he said. "There are high-level talks [about the proposal] on both sides. Former British prime minister Tony Blair is also involved in the matter."
Even though this news may not be as entertaining as the West Bank Story, its intention (and overall purpose) is similar--to help bring Israeli's and Palestinians together in peace (as opposed to war).

While there is no word on whether this airport would be international or merely serve the middle east region, its construction could help ease the tensions between both sides (not to mention help bring about peace in the region for at least a season).

Monday, November 03, 2008

CorAssist: Helping Weak Hearts Become Strong (Israel)

Of all the muscles in your body, your heart is probably the most valuable. Without this muscle, it would be nearly impossible for your body to pump the 10 pints (or 1 1/4 gallons) of blood that circulate throughout your veins.

But what happens after your heart weakens through disease or from a heart attack? While there are some "natural ways " for patients to help strengthen their favorite muscle, CorAssist has developed a unique method for treating heart failure by targeting a certain muscle that other technologies may overlook.

(Israel 21st Century) While some devices to treat systolic heart failure (SHF) are already in clinical trials, no devices to treat diastolic heart failure (DHF) are available. CorAssist's solution presents the first device-based approach to treat DHF, being a one-of-its-kind product in the market.

After a heart attack, or with heart muscle disease due to obesity and other conditions such as genetic defects, the heart muscles have a difficult time squeezing blood to the body (the systolic phase), and then back again into the heart (the diastolic phase). CorAssist is focusing on the second condition - DHF - where a person's heart inadequately relaxes, and is impaired in its capability to return blood from the body back to the heart. [...]

CorAssist's main product is the ImCardia, which works from outside the heart. It's a self-expanding device that attaches to the external surface of the left ventricle. When the heart muscle squeezes, energy is loaded into the device, which absorbs this energy, and releases it to the left ventricle in the diastolic phase. This keeps the muscles elastic, giving it a small "work out" to improve heart health.

While this new med-tech is promising, ImCardia is still in the early experimental stages, as it only has been tested on three people (all which have been successful according to Israel 21st Century).

CorAssist is currently seeking to conduct a much larger trial, and while they have not mentioned any plans of reaching across the Mediterranean (towards Europe), they do seem eager to enter within the US market.

(Image Credit: Yale University)

BioJerusalem: All Your Bio-Med Companies Should Migrate Towards Us

(Hat Tip: Globes Online)

It looks like the Jerusalem Development Authority has started a program called BioJerusalem, who is currently seeking out bio-med companies (which is med-speak for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device/tech businesses) to migrate towards Israel's eternal capital (which just happens to be Jerusalem).

(BioJerusalem) A half an hour drive from Ben Gurion International Airport and a 45 minute drive from Tel Aviv, the financial hub of Israel, Jerusalem is the only centrally located city in Israel to enjoy national development zone A status. This status entitles technology-based companies and investors to the best grants and tax incentives available in Israel today.

Life sciences companies choosing to launch operations in Jerusalem are eligible for prime financial support incentives and are given special preference. In addition, companies with a presence in Jerusalem can also benefit from a series of municipal incentives offered by the Jerusalem Development Authority which provides support to companies doing business in Jerusalem.
While often seen as a religious/historic city, Jerusalem is home to a thriving biomed community, and it seems as if the local officials want to ensure that the city stays that way (as it could help reshape the cities image globally).

Jerusalem is offering NIS 30,000 (or about $8,000) in grant money per employee, with even more benefits to help convince a few companies (and startups) to consider moving towards the nation's capital (note: can you say tax exempt for ten years).