Right Down to the Wire

The excitement of living in the Start-up Nation can be electric.  You can often feel the buzz from highly charged Israeli entrepreneurs developing their latest wired and wireless innovative products.  You never know, until the last moment, what new life-changing Israeli devices and discoveries are going to be announced. This week I wanted to share some of the latest news that is literally coming over the wire almost every day in the Jewish State.


Regular readers of this blog know that I like to begin with medical news items.  Acwire from Israel’s MediValve is a unique guide-wire tool that has just received European and FDA approval. It helps cardiologists perform the extremely difficult task of implanting heart valves at the exact required spot, thus saving thousands of lives.  In the US, 60,000 deaths from pressure ulcers (bedsores) can also be prevented if more hospitals follow the lead of those installing the MAP (Monitor Alert Protect) system from Israel’s Wellsense. A pressure-sensing mat alerts nurses to reposition patients regularly. 


The wiring of the brain is still a mystery. But as Dr Ofer Yizhar of Israel’s Weizmann Institute explains, the new neuroscience of optogenetics examines light-specific activation or suppression of neurons in the brain.  It could help us understand memory problems, schizophrenia and autism.  Moving further down the body, the Israel transplant center has announced that over 200 patients no longer need to be wired up to dialysis machines thanks to kidney transplants.  Last year 90,000 Israelis signed new ADI organ donor cards, bringing the total of registered holders to 787,087.
They say that all successful entrepreneurs started small.  So it is handy that Yissum, the Research and Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has developed micro-sized electrical circuit wiring from low-cost oxidation-resistant copper nano-inks.  They replace the expensive silver inks that make up circuits in RFID-tags, solar cells, sensors and electrodes for displays.  While we are talking small, Tel Aviv hosts NanoIsrael 2014, the fourth bi-annual conference & exhibition in March.  Over 1,200 nano-tech professionals are attending from over 36 countries. The exciting possibilities include ultra tiny storage systems, contact lens sensors for diabetics, protective clothing, water purification, renewable energy and super-fast computers.
We now travel on the high wire from the micro to the macro. Forty students at Herzliya High School have built a low-cost micro-satellite to be launched by Russia in April.  The 10cm cube will circle the Earth every 90 minutes and form part of a network of international satellites designed to provide a cell phone lifeline to travelers in remote areas.  Back in civilization, Israeli start-up Glove has an app to help mobile phone users select the network provider with the consistently best reception. 


Israeli technology is hard-wired into the core of most of today’s computers and mobile hardware.  Indeed it seems to be chips with everything, what with Israel’s Altair Semiconductor installing its 4G communications chipset in the new Google/HP Chromebooks.  The 4G chips access the Internet at ten times the speed of 3G chips.  You can even put a microchip from an Israeli start-up called Oggii on your dog to check if it’s healthy. Or you can boost the Wi-Fi signal to any laptop, tablet or smartphone with the unique “implicit beamforming” technology from Israel’s Wi-Fi chip manufacturer Celeno.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems will definitely be beaming if its new Iron Beam system performs well at next month''s Singapore Air Show. Iron Beam’s high-energy laser based air-defense system complements Iron Dome by intercepting very short-range rockets, mortar, and airborne target attacks.  Meanwhile, the UK’s Economist magazine gave rare praise to the Israeli whose research led to a radar system that helps avoid collisions – between aircraft and flocks of birds.  And you can watch the ultimate fly-by-wire video as Israel’s unmanned flying car completed its first fully automatic test flights.  The Air Mule Vertical Takeoff and Landing craft from Israel’s Tactical Robotics has great potential for use as an air ambulance.


I’ll finish by descending from the clouds to describe two contrasting Israeli innovations.  You can’t get more low-tech than a collapsible camping grill made from stainless steel wires.  Israeli Roee Magdassi (a student at the Bezalel Design Academy in Jerusalem) has designed the Stakes camping grill that folds up to the size of a paper towel when not in use.  His IDF service inspired him to make a lightweight alternative to the ones he had to carry in his army backpack.  Finally, the makers of the seven-dollar Israeli-developed Keepod “thumb drive” have launched the first project in their program to “computer-enable" some of the world’s 5 billion people who don’t have access to technology.  Via Crowdsourcing, you can wire some funds to help 1500 of Nairobi’s slum dwellers get on-line and have a new chance in life.
Stay wired in for more news of exciting Israeli innovations.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
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