Noknok, Woojer?

Israeli companies continue to churn out hi-tech innovations.

The noknok user can enjoy its benefits without the party at the other end of the line being required to install the app. (photo credit: Courtesy)
The noknok user can enjoy its benefits without the party at the other end of the line being required to install the app.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Unperturbed by efforts to squelch the spirit of the start-up nation, Israelis continue to create, design, innovate and develop. This week’s column features two diverse products: an app for your smartphone that aims to eliminate unfair charges when abroad, and a dual-purpose device that seeks to enhance your music listening experience as well as benefit the hearing-impaired.
Noknok all over the world Going abroad? Faced with the dilemma of how to keep in contact with friends and family in Israel as well as communicate with people locally, without running up exorbitant roaming charges? There are various solutions on the market. My mobile service provider offers a multi-digit code to precede the contact’s number. This package – which costs a packet – includes a range of different rates depending on whether you are making a local call, or receiving/sending a call or text message from/to Israel. I used this option once, came home to a humongous bill and swore to never do so again.
If you plan to remain in one country, you can buy a local subscriber identity module (SIM) and purchase a prepaid plan. Apps such as Viber, Skype, Tango and WhatsApp allow you to communicate over mobile networks and Wi-Fi for free, but the party at the other end of the line must also download and install the app in his phone. And not everyone owns a smartphone that supports these software programs.
Idan Bachar and Oren Noy are young, experienced hi-tech developers who founded noknok in late 2012, to provide a solution for people who want to communicate with each other wherever they are in the world. What makes noknok distinct from other solutions of this kind is that the noknok user can enjoy its benefits without the party at the other end of the line being required to install the app, too.
Noknok communicates over Wi- Fi and 3G and 4G mobile networks, using technology that bypasses standard mobile provider routes. In this way, the user avoids roaming charges because the provider is not aware that a call has been made.
Incoming calls are not only free for the noknok user, but are a means to earn free minutes for outgoing calls. Explains Amit Halperin, vice president of business, “There are two ways to pay for outgoing calls. The user can either purchase minutes for a relatively small sum or alternatively earn minutes by encouraging incoming calls or recruiting new noknok users.
“For example, if my bank manager calls me while I’m abroad – on a landline or his mobile, it makes no difference – I can use the call to earn extra minutes for free outgoing calls. The longer we speak, the more minutes I earn.”
The app is simple to use. On download, a new user is invited to spin a virtual wheel of fortune to add up to a potential 100 free minutes.
When your plane lands on foreign soil, tap the button on the Activate tab to route all incoming calls from abroad through noknok. To make an outgoing call, go to the Contacts tab to make a call anywhere in the world to the contacts in your phone’s address book. The option to send and receive text messages is currently unavailable but, says Halperin, will be introduced in the future.
Their website includes a very comprehensive FAQ section covering almost every aspect of noknok usage.
Noknok also lets you know how much talk time your payment has bought you. For example, $10 will buy you about 250 minutes. The number of remaining minutes is displayed prominently on the screen.
Continues Halperin, “Downloading and installing noknok allows a user to travel abroad and to communicate with anyone wherever they are located in the world. We are now beginning to market the app in Europe and the US, and will be global in a few months.”
Noknok is compatible with smartphones running Android or iOS operating systems. The company currently registers around 180,000 users.
Download from: www.noknokapp. com/
Feel the sound How many times have you sat in a train or bus and been an inadvertent audience to the sound of music blaring from the headset of a fellow passenger? “The reason the volume is so high is that when you listen to music with a headset, you hear the music but you don’t feel it,” says Neal Naimer, cofounder of Woojer, a matchbox-sized device that is designed to make you feel you are at a live concert.
Says Naimer, “Due to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, a large proportion of music, movies and video games is consumed via a headset instead of speakers. When you listen to music with a headset, you hear the music, but it’s somewhat flat and two-dimensional. To get that buzz that most people want from their music, they increase the volume of their headset to levels that are audible to anyone in the general vicinity.”
According to Naimer, the pleasure derived from listening to music stems from feeling it, rather than simply hearing it. When you’re at an event that has a strong sound system – typical Israeli weddings, for example – the lower frequencies generate the vibration that is felt through the floor.
It is these lower frequencies – under 500 Hz – that provide the emotional excitement one experiences when listening to music.
The Woojer seeks to simulate the vibrations produced by strong speakers. “The music gets into your whole body,” says Naimer. The Woojer is also used to enhance the explosions and other sound effects used in video games and movies, to give you the feeling that you are actually participating in the game.
The device also has benefits for the hearing-impaired. “Wedding halls and discotheques usually have wooden floors, and the hearing-impaired feel the vibrations of the strong speakers through the floor. They feel the sound.
“There is a lot of excitement about the Woojer in both the music industry and among the hearing-impaired,” claims Naimer.
The Woojer, a play on words with Woofer, connects to a computer, tablet or phone with a standard audio jack and clips on to your belt or shirt.
It is backward compatible to any audio source or headset.
Woojer is a fully funded Kickstarter project, and the company is currently filling 1,070 advance orders.
To order a Woojer, go to:
The writer has worked for over 20 years in hi-tech. If you have a question about any of the products featured in this column or have developed a product you’d like to share, contact patricia.jpost@