Tech Talk: Student code contest

Hundreds of Israeli schools are participating in the biggest programming contest in Israeli history

Web-based game Codemonkey (photo credit: COURTESY CODEMONKEY)
Web-based game Codemonkey
The Israeli technology scene is extremely varied. Many young startups receive mentoring from veteran companies such as Intel, which is an active participant in global technological developments. Hi-tech companies involved with the music industry, for example, are creating exciting new successful apps that are receiving international attention.
Largest programming contest
Hundreds of Israeli schools are participating in the biggest programming contest in Israeli history. It has begun in middle and high schools throughout the country. Winning schools will come away with prizes totaling NIS 100,000. The purpose of the contest is for students to learn to write code using CodeMonkey, an interactive computer game that was developed by an Israeli startup. The contest was initiated by the Israel Center for Educational Technology and international technology companies such as Qualcomm and Marvell.
CodeMonkey is a Web-based game in which players try to help the monkey gather as many bananas as possible while at the same time trying to overcome a variety of obstacles by writing code. The game has 90 levels and exposes players to an array of computer-sciences subjects and helps them develop skills such as problem solving, architectural design, geometric reasoning, math and even English language.
CodeMonkey was founded by brothers Jonathan and Ido Shor two years ago. It has won numerous awards and has been used by computer-engineering students the world over.
TechnoArt, a unique incubator, will invest in cultural and artistic technology ventures, offering them business support for an entire year, as well as a $100,000 grant. Among the mentors involved in the venture are musicians Dan Toren, Maor Cohen and Gilad Kahana. The venture is being backed by social-terminals, the first intelligent social-media platform that has a groundbreaking, innovative approach to building an online presence, along with Deloitte accounting firm, Yigal Arnon law offices and UNIK PR firm.
A group of hi-tech entrepreneurs and artists joined efforts to found TechnoArt, which is the first startup that invests in technological ventures involved in art and cultural projects. TechnoArt was created not only to develop innovative technologies, but also to provide a solution for artists who are many times left without compensation and adequate income from these ventures. These days, many corporations involved in media market their services to the masses and reap huge profits, but rarely do these funds reach the artists themselves.
It’s always been difficult for artists to make a living, and technological advances and innovative platforms such as YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Books and Netflix have not improved the situation.
Startup ventures that are accepted into the incubator will receive $100,000 in logistical and consulting services over a 12-month period. Every quarter the startups need to prove that they still follow the criteria, including presenting a business plan, demonstrating how their technological innovation benefits the art world and showing an understanding of their target audience.
A number of leading Israeli artists are involved in the incubator to mentor the young entrepreneurs, including musicians, filmmakers and producers. Each startup is matched up with an artist mentor and a business mentor so that they can reach their full potential and succeed as an independent business.
Joint cooperation between IBM, Twitter
IBM and Twitter are the first to offer cloud computing services that enable entrepreneurs to base future activity based on information gleaned from Twitter. More than 100 clients have already begun using of this new service and are now making business decisions based on data available on social networks.
Businesses can leverage real-time information gleaned from social networks to help them make smart decisions, but only if they succeed in isolating and identifying which data within the millions of pieces of information are significant. IBM has succeeded in rising to this challenge by performing cross-analysis of the sources in fields, such as weather, company sales or a store’s stock.
Bluemix, a new cloud platform as a service (PaaS) developed by IBM, is an analytical service that allows businesses and developers to build applications that integrate information from social networks by tapping and analyzing data available on Twitter.
Some new Israeli apps
Similar to the way last-minute flights and hotels are booked on Hulyo, Holisti is an app that lets you reserve massages and holistic treatments. The Holisti app enables you to locate a practitioner, pay for a treatment or massage or even research other customers’ comments and feedback about a specific masseuse before booking. Treatments cost NIS 99 at the clinic and NIS 149 at the client’s home. There are already more than 260 therapists who offer services through Holisti. It is available on iPhone and Android.
Squeek is a unique app that allows information to be shared among users around the world on any and every topic that someone might want to know about. People can ask questions, which will be translated into the local language, and anyone can respond. This way people can learn about people, places and things in any location around the world. Launched on February 27, meerkat enables users to stream video in real time on Twitter. Available in the meantime only on iPhones, meerkat streams are available to followers via push notifications. All you have to do to start streaming is click on the link. People can only watch video live, though – meerkat does not keep any of the videos on the cloud. If you want to keep a copy of the video, you need to keep it on your phone. TV personality Jimmy Fallon used meerkat live on TV, which gave the app incredible exposure. The company is currently in the midst of a $12 million round of funding.
Password keyboard: This iTunes app is the ideal app for people who have a hard time remembering the passwords to all their different accounts and apps. The app helps you create a list of passwords for all your accounts that is simple and easy to use. You can access the list from all your apps by using this unique password keyboard.
East Asia app competition
The Asian market in general and the Chinese market in particular are important for every technological venture. Recently, a number of Chinese conglomerates have invested in Israeli app makers. Efforts made by the Economy Ministry ’s attaché in Hong Kong, Elad Goz, have been key in helping Israeli companies that have entered the competition. Registration for the competition will close on April 10.
If you run a young startup, have developed an interesting app or have a question, please feel free to contact [email protected]