Tech Talk: The social side of hi-tech

8200 EISP (Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Program), is the first and only accelerator in Israel that is a nonprofit organization.

PARTICIPANTS TALK at an 8200 Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Program last week in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: Courtesy)
PARTICIPANTS TALK at an 8200 Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Program last week in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Many Israeli start-ups are creating technologies that aim to benefit society and bring about social engagement.
Veterans of the IDF Intelligence Corps Unit 8200, which is responsible for collecting signal intelligence and code decryption, have created a venture called 8200 EISP (Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Program), the first and only accelerator in Israel that is a nonprofit organization. The program promotes early-stage entrepreneurs, and only 20 percent participants are 8200 alumni. EISP also encourages the ultra-Orthodox and women to apply.
Some 30% of the program’s graduates are women.
VoiceITT is an app that enables people with speech difficulties to make themselves understood. A calibrator sits with a user and creates a dictionary word by word.
“We don’t do speech recognition. We do pattern recognition,” says Danny Weissberg, the cofounder and CEO of VoiceITT.
EyeControl is an innovative technology that allows sufferers of ALS, and other degenerative disorders, who don’t have use of their limbs to control devices through eye movement. Because these technologies are expensive, EyeControl has designed a camera that sits on your glasses and allows you to control your Internet browser by moving your eyes up, down, right, left and winking. It also works on smartphones.
Vitalitix is a social responsibility platform that connects seniors, caregivers and social angels, following a new phenomenon called “crowd caring.” In this phenomenon, community members care for other people living near them with whom they have no connection.
Vitalitix enhances seniors’ quality of life by reducing their sense of loneliness, improving their safety and allowing them to stay independent both indoors and outdoors.
Lokela is a system that helps the hearing impaired stay connected by using sign language and software that translates language to sign language and providing the written text on users’ smartphones.
Users can access this program from any location, thereby remaining in control of their lives and in contact with those around them every moment of the day.
GiveNTake is an extension of Agora, the Hebrew-language website through which you can give away or find used items for free. GiveNTake intends to take this platform and make it available in multiple countries around the world.
DemOS is a decision-making management system that can be very useful in communities such as kibbutzim, moshavim or nonprofit organizations, since it offers transparency and can involve a large number of members. The program is able to organize all the information and messages that are entered into the system and display the most common opinions, making it easier for groups to make final decisions.
Swappit is a program designed to reduce the incidence of no shows at doctor’s appointments, health treatments and checkups by optimizing existing line-management systems. Swappit’s aim is to shorten waiting times for appointments.
Shopgoood is the first social shopping mall where you can purchase socially responsible gifts for employees, suppliers and customers. Shopgoood aims to help nonprofit organizations and socially- responsible enterprises break into the field of corporate gifts, thereby channeling funds from the business sector into the socially-friendly business sector.
SheCodes is a community of female software developers with over 5,000 members that holds events several times a week across Israel. During these events, members can work on a project, learn a new language or hear an inspiring or technical lecture. One of SheCodes’s goals is for 50% of software developers to be women within a decade.
Blink intuitive vision aids offers a series of innovative products to improve the spiritual and physical quality of life for the visually impaired by enabling users to carry out daily activities. These accessories solve many design problems that currently exist in medical products, which make them inaccessible to the visually impaired.
“Work for the haredi community” is a sociotechnological venture that helps members of the ultra-Orthodox community find a job by acting as an intermediary between job seekers and potential employers. The venture utilizes Facebook, WhatsApp, voice mail and the Internet. It has had 930 successes so far in just the last 12 months. The start-up founders themselves also hail from the haredi community.
Israeli technologies provide tremendous assistance to users: Amit Goffer founded ReWalk after he became paralyzed and wheelchair- bound following a traffic accident.
ReWalk is a wearable robotic exoskeleton that provides powered hip and knee motion to enable individuals with spinal cord injuries to stand upright and walk.
ReWalk recently received FDA approval and is available for purchase worldwide.
It seems like almost everyone these days has a smartphone, but people with disabilities are not always able to use them. Sesame Phone developed a device that enables people who do not have use of their arms to control their phone using a combination of voice recognition and head movement.
OrCam is a venture that helps the visually impaired to read and understand what’s in front of them. The device, which is small and easy to use, takes a picture of what’s taking place in front of you and “translates” this activity and the information (including text and objects). You can use the device to read the newspaper, or hold it in front of you while you’re shopping to see what’s on the shelves.
Project Ray Smartphone is another app for the visually impaired that allow users to access their smartphone without ever taking it out of their pocket.
Inpris is a unique operating system for the visually impaired that is a new type of Braille. Inpris has developed a touch screen that can identify a user’s hand movements. The software can already identify more than 16,000 hand movements.
WIZE organizes evening events Our thirst for knowledge has become absolutely insatiable. In the past, one had to attend a university to acquire higher levels of knowledge. Today, with the endless amounts of information available on the Internet, this is no longer true. And yet, young people still desperately need the interpersonal interaction found at these institutions.
WIZE is a movement that aims to change youth culture and nightlife in Israel by holding evening events to which interesting, quality people are invited. They begin with a 90-mintue lecture and then they hold a party. The young people in their 20s who started WIZE, an apolitical nonprofit organization, want to spread these changes to the rest of the world, too.
WIZE events cover a variety of subjects, from popular science and hi-tech to culture and politics. Events are held every week in either Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Beersheba, and more than 200 people attend each event.
Among the leaders of the venture are psychology Prof. Dan Ariely, who is author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions; Prof. Daniel Zajfman, president of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot; The Israel Democracy Institute vice president of research, Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer; Prof. Rivka Carmi, president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; Yanki Margalit, entrepreneur and veteran hi-tech investor; Modi Rosen, founder and managing director at Magma Ventures; and Prof. Yair Tauman, academic director of the Zell entrepreneurship program at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.
Correction from Cellcom TV article: In contrast with other services, Cellcom TV services have been translated to Hebrew.
If you run a young start-up, have developed an interesting app or have a question, please feel free to contact [email protected]
Translated by Hannah Hochner.