Walking around the mall is one of Israelis’ favorite pastimes. Up until now, the visually impaired have had to rely on people who accompany them if they want to shop at large urban centers. But things are about to change in the near future. A new pilot called RightHear, which helps the blind and visually impaired better understand where they are, is being conducted at the Azrieli Mall in Hod Hasharon.
Soon, the pilot will be expanded to other Azrieli malls and the data will be even more extensive. Right- Hear, which was developed by Israeli start-up Zikit, helps the visually impaired find a specific location using sound.
Founded by Gil Elgrably and Idan Meir, Zikit uses iBeacon technology, a protocol developed by Apple, which identifies a user’s exact location indoors, even if there’s no satellite reception or the GPS component is completely inactive. RightHear enables visually impaired people to orient themselves inside the mall, directs them to various stores and enables them to call for help whenever needed. In short, it empowers people who otherwise would not be able to go shopping on their own to be almost completely independent.
RightHear has four main features that help visually impaired users orient themselves: It alerts users to their current location. It gives users additional information about their surroundings. It directs users to a specific requested location. Users can use it to ask for audio help wherever they are.
RightHear is available for Android and iOS.
“We’re extremely proud to be the first ones in Israel to lead this amazing synergy between the iBeacon technology and the world of accessibility,” said Elgrably.
“With our new RightHear app, we can bring about a revolutionary change and create real value for people that have disabilities. RightHear makes their lives easier, of higher quality and simpler. It will help businesses conform with rules and regulations regarding accessibility to places of work and businesses, and at significantly lower costs than existing alternatives.”
Zikit’s offices are located in the Hubanana Project, a nurturing home for entrepreneurs and start-ups established by the Ra’anana Municipality.
No more shaming
Thanks to a new Israeli app, SessMe, teens can now avoid public shaming, prevent stalkers from using their posts, increase their personal security online and “undo” embarrassing photos, even after they’ve already gone viral.
SessMe’s cutting-edge encryption technology continues to be controversial, however, since it makes it more difficult for law enforcement to succeed in their struggle against terrorism.
“There is a real problem with teens who send inappropriate messages. There’s shaming, sexting, blackmail against women, texts from pedophiles,” says Esther Liebersohn Namer, spokeswoman for SessMe.
“I personally suffered from anorexia, and now [as an adult], I work with girls who are suffering from anorexia and they say to me, ‘What do you expect? They are shaming us online!’” People frequently regret sending out hurtful posts and, until now, there was little the average person could do about it once the post was sent. But SessMe’s new private messaging platform, which has had hundreds of thousands of downloads since its October release, allows you to take back that one inappropriate message you wish you hadn’t sent and deletes it from the network–before it’s had a chance to completely mortify you.
“Teens need to be able to protect themselves,” Liebersohn Namer explains. “This is where SessMe kicks in. Kids are sending pictures; let them undo their mistakes and take things back. Let them delete a picture and forget about it. With SessMe, a teen can delete a message even if it was forwarded to millions of devices.”
Nearly everyone has sent out a messaging blooper at one time or another. In the most extreme cases, poorly worded or hurtful posts can lead to public shaming, a phenomenon found in recent years to cause irreparable damage to people’s personal lives – costing people their jobs, bringing on bouts of depression and, in the most severe situations, even leading to suicide.
With SessMe, the entire culture of social media can change for the better, says Liebersohn Namer, who believes SessMe is one of the biggest revolutions to hit the Internet in recent years.
But that’s only one part of the SessMe story. The app, available for Android and iOS, also offers high-security encryption options for messages, photos and videos, in which only the intended recipient can “unlock” the content.
Encryption is a hot topic in the current political climate because it is linked to the war against terrorism.
US and UK authorities have spoken out against encryption due to their fear that it allows suspected terrorists a safe means of communication.
Edward Snowden’s leak of documents in 2013 revealed mass communications surveillance by US and UK intelligence agencies and, since then, companies have begun encrypting their communications much more heavily.
In the US, Google and Apple came under fire last September from FBI Director James Comey for introducing encryption technologies. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris last January, British Prime Minister David Cameron aroused public ire in the UK when he announced his support for proposed anti-terrorism laws that would ensure officials could unlock encrypted data.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has officially announced an innovative program called Ideas Boom, whose goal is to aid Australia in becoming a leader in technology and innovation. Over the next four years, the Australian government has committed to invest over $1 billion in this plan, which will include the opening of two technology incubators outside of Australia, one in Tel Aviv and the other in Silicon Valley.
Australian Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb explained that the purpose of these incubators was to introduce Australian companies to international markets and help them promote their technologies globally.
“We are opening our incubators in the two key innovative centers in the world: Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv,” Robb proclaimed. “This will give Australian start-ups a solid base on which they can build.
“By promoting innovation in Australia, we will be able to create a modern, dynamic economy that is suited for the 21st century,” Turnbull said. “That is the next boom for Australia. Unlike a mining boom... it is limited only by our imagination. I know Australians believe in themselves and I know that we are a creative people with tremendous imagination.”
“The decision to establish the first Australian start-up incubator in Israel is fantastic, and shows us how important Tel Aviv and Silicon Valley are to the start-up world,” said Australian Ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma. “I am very excited about the potential opportunities that will no doubt be created as a result of this incubator. This step ensures that the relationship between the Australian and Israeli hi-tech communities will continue to deepen.”
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Translated by Hannah Hochner.