By Brian Blum
From a virtual bartender who speaks with a Hebrew accent to a high-tech mosquito zapper, Israeli startups were buzzing at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, January 3–7.
Here’s a round-up of some of the coolest tech from the startup nation that appeared there.
Aura Air makes a combination indoor air-quality detector and air purifier. Brothers Eldar and Aviad Shnaiderman would spend summers helping at their father’s air conditioning company.
“We saw what was happening on the inside of the units,” Aviad tells ISRAEL21c, “and we thought, ‘Wow, it’s so dirty. This is what we’re breathing?’”
The Aura Air device is affixed to a wall in homes, schools, offices, hotels, trains and buses (it’s currently used in schools in Israel, US, Japan, Germany, UK, Australia and Finland). It checks for smoke and dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide, propane and butane, as well as volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde and acetones.
Aura Air then purifies the air, filtering out tiny particles as small as bacteria, mold and fungi. In an independent clinical trial at Sheba Medical Center, Aura Air successfully managed to filter and remove 99.9 percent of airborne coronavirus.
One $389 device can cover 700 square feet. Alerts are sent to your mobile device. A portable “Aura Air Mini” can sit next to your computer to purify your immediate airspace, including in a public setting such as a coffee shop.
This Petah Tikva-based startup has developed an AI-powered disposable patch worn on the skin to track 14 vital signs including blood pressure, oxidation rate, pulse, skin temperature and sweat.
“Doctors don’t have to measure anything,” BioBeat chief medical officer Arik Eisenkraft tells ISRAEL21c. All the vitals are transmitted in real-time via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to the patient’s EMR (electronic medical record) as well as the BioBeat cloud. Data is then sent to an app on the patient’s smartphone and to the medical team.
The company has received U.S. FDA clearance for its cuff-less noninvasive blood pressure monitoring and has developed a wristwatch device for monitoring vital signs at home. Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center is using BioBeat’s wireless stickers as part of its I-Medata center.
No more buzzing. No more itching. Bzigo detects mosquitos in your room and sends a message to your smartphone with the exact location. What happens next is up to your kindness — Bzigo doesn’t zap the mosquitos, it just provides the data.
CEO Nadav Benedek suffered for years growing up in the rural community of Pardes Hanna where, during mosquito season, his father would scour his room every night before bed to track down and kill the flying critters.
“Killing a mosquito is actually the easy part,” Benedek tells ISRAEL21c. “Ninety percent of the problem is just knowing where they are.”
Bzigo’s smartphone-sized device aims a low-powered laser beam (less intense than a flashlight) at the bug’s location. The device will cost $199 once it’s released later in 2022.
OK, so Cecilia, the Israeli robotic bartender, doesn’t really speak Hebrew-accented English. The eight-foot-tall virtual mixologist, created by the GKI Group, has a touchscreen, an interactive image of a mixologist serving up your drinks, and comes preloaded with alcoholic options.
Using a microphone and voice-recognition technology, visitors to the GKI booth at CES ordered and received their cocktails in just 30 seconds. You can tell Cecilia what you’re in the mood for or let her suggest a cocktail tailored for the specific event. She can pour up to 120 drinks an hour.
Cecilia is named after Mary Louise Cecilia Guinan, an actress who ran speakeasy bars in Texas in the early 1900s.
Lod-based Chakratec aims to make battery charging faster for electric vehicles by suspending floating flywheels in midair by magnetic levitation.
Chaktratec’s flywheels are intended for the charging station, not the car itself. Cofounder and CTO Ilan Ben-David compares Chakratec’s kinetic storage technology to a Hanukkah dreidel. (“Chakra” is Sanskrit for “rotating wheel.”)
“When you put electricity in, the flywheel starts to rotate. Since the flywheel is suspended by magnets in a vacuum chamber, there’s almost no friction. So the flywheel keeps spinning at the same speed.”
The flywheel stores electricity until it’s ready to be transferred to a vehicle, which could help keep the grid from overloading if too many cars plug in at once.
You’ve been circling for 30 minutes, searching for parking when you finally spy an open spot. But it’s too tight for your family sedan. That’s about the time you might wish you had a CityTransformer, the Israeli-built foldable electric car that fits into just 25 percent of a regular car’s parking requirements.
The vehicle has a range of up to 112 miles (180 km) and a top speed of 56 mph (90 kph). United Hatzalah has signed on as an early client, reportedly purchasing 1,000 CityTransformers for emergency medical services in a deal worth $22 million — although passenger vehicles are still the ultimate goal with commercialization reportedly coming in 2025. The vehicles, displayed at CES 2022, can be pre-ordered for $14,500.
If you’re going to get into a car — autonomous or otherwise — you’ll want to make sure it’s immune from hackers. That’s one reason Korea’s LG Electronics acquired Israeli vehicle cybersecurity startup Cybellum for $140 million in September 2021.
Cybellum exposes vulnerabilities without needing access to a vehicle’s software code. Manufacturers can then proactively eliminate their cyber risk in the development and production phases before any harm is done on the roads. The company, which employs 50, has partnerships with Jaguar and Nissan. Cybellum also has cybersecurity solutions for medical devices and assembly lines.
Deeyook’s technology brings navigation via your mobile phone to the indoor spaces like the local mall, where GPS is notoriously poor.
Deeyook doesn’t rely on satellites; rather, the company’s software measures the angles of wireless transmission around you, which is what allows it to work indoors. Deeyook can tell you where you are within 10 centimeters.
Deeyook’s technology is not just for navigating the mall; it can help retailers more precisely target visitors’ phones, so they get the most appropriate ads. Deeyook claims to be “the only wireless tracking solution that [uses] everyone else’s existing infrastructure and transmitters,” explains CEO Gideon Rottem. Deeyook is short for bideeyook, Hebrew for “exactly.”
Autonomous vehicles are on their way, but sometimes you’ll need a human operator — for example, when the vehicle’s self-driving smarts are confused by something unexpected on the road or by poor weather conditions.
DriveU.auto taps into the cameras and sensors already on the vehicle to enable a remote technician to drive. It’s also for autonomous delivery robots that bring lunch and groceries to your home or office. When the robot encounters a blocked sidewalk, it just stops. A human operator can help. Ditto for forklifts and “yard equipment.”
DriveU.auto works with H.265 video encoding and transmission to minimize latency and maintain a continuous 4K video stream. DriveU’s technology comes from sister company LiveU, from which it was spun out.
Most autonomous vehicle software relies on generating maps to guide driverless cars around town. Haifa-based Imagry says we’d be better off ditching the maps and pushing the limits of AI, computer vision and deep learning so that autonomous vehicles can “see” the road and learn in real-time using cameras and sensors such as Lidar and Radar.
Imagry’s neural network mimics and imitates human performance and reactions, while the AI-powered cameras provide constant situational awareness – all without maps. Imagry’s software extrapolates generalizations by drawing on learned behavior to navigate new locations. It’s all hardware agnostic — Imagry can work with almost any self-driving car, shuttle, industrial vehicle or sidewalk delivery robot.
A carton is teetering on the edge of its warehouse shelf, high up enough that it could hurt a worker walking nearby if it fell. Enter Tando, a drone from Israeli startup Indoor Robotics, which monitors for dangerous changes (a screw out of place, a defective shelf) in warehouses and sends an alert to factory managers.
The drones have 360-degree cameras and can fly for 10 minutes before requiring a 30-minute charge. Tando is faster than a human worker — if the fire alarm blares in the middle of the night, Tando can get there in a jiffy.
Indoor Robotics is conducting trials now in the Israeli warehouse for Osem-Nestlé; the company hopes the pilot can be expanded to Nestlé operations worldwide.
You’re watching a movie and it starts to rain on screen. Wouldn’t it be great if you could smell the wet leaves? Or you’re shopping for perfume online — is there a way to get a whiff of the scent without visiting the perfume counter at the closest mall? iRomaScents smells your pain.
The Israeli startup makes a device loaded with up to 45 fragrances that can be released on demand. Each device can store over 5,000 “whiffs” — iRomaScents’ terminology for the odors it emits.
In the theater, if there’s an ad for a coffee chain, an iRomaScents device under the seat will release a whiff of freshly ground beans using a narrow “pencil beam” so the smells only reach a specific, individual viewer. Adding a scent to a video is done using the company’s drag-and-drop ScentTrack editor.
When Intel acquired this high-flying Jerusalem-based startup in 2017 for $15.3 billion, it was primarily for its self-driving car technology. That is due to come online in 2022 when Mobileye launches what may be the world’s first commercial robo-taxi service in Tel Aviv and Munich. The pilot will include eight six-seater compact electric SUVs from Chinese manufacturer NIO.
Mobileye announced two new initiatives at CES: the launch of Eye Q Ultra — an entire system-on-a-chip “purpose built for autonomous driving” — and strategic collaborations with Ford, Volkswagen and Chinese auto manufacturer Zeekr.
Volkswagen will use Mobileye’s mapping data to enhance its ADAS (advanced driver-assistance systems), while Ford will use Mobileye’s REM (road experience management) tech to enable hands-free operation of vehicles.
Moodo isn’t as customizable as iRomaScents but the idea is similar. Would you like to wake up to a citrus smell or fall asleep with soothing lavender? Moodo’s scent “pods” are controlled by a smartphone app or voice (Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri are supported). You can “schedule” the device to emit aromas that change during the day.
Each Moodo diffuser can hold up to four different scent capsules at once (there are 32 overall). Cost is around $30 for each pod, which delivers some 60 hours of aroma. The small, four-inch by five-inch Moodo device, which runs for $130, doubles as a three-layered HEPA air purifier. A travel version dubbed MoodoGo is also available.
Moodo’s scent pods were custom-made by perfumers in Grasse, France, and include such delectable fragrances as “Orange Sunrise,” “Wood Royal” and “Sea Breeze.”
You’re about to run a marathon. What’s the best combination of food to eat before you hit the road? Newt knows. The Israeli startup is a personalized AI-powered nutrition app for amateur athletes.
CEO Gil Krebs worked at Medtronic China on products addressing diabetes, stroke, heart disease, kidney disease and cancer, “all illnesses affected in one way or another by nutrition.”
The problem, Krebs explains, is that “You can’t Google ‘which nutrition is best?’ and get a reliable answer. Every person’s body has different purposes and different limitations.”
Without a product like Newt, he adds, “it’s like you taking medicine without consulting your doctor.” Newt provides users with a customized menu that varies according to their needs. Popular US nutritionist and NBC TV presenter Joy Bauer is advising the company.
With rumors that Apple is getting ready to launch its own augmented reality glasses, is there room for another near-to-eye display device? Israeli startup Oorym says yes.
The company is based on the research of Yaakov Amitai, who invented the “waveguide” technology used in most of today’s AR systems. Waveguides refer to a structure that guides electromagnetic or soundwaves with minimal loss of energy by restricting the transmission to one direction.
Oorym glues a bit of film on top of a simple waveguide; that makes it easy to turn ordinary prescription lenses into smart glasses. The company, which was founded in 2016, also includes Mori Amitai as CEO and Nadav Amitai as head of research.
The Jerusalem-based company, from the founders of Mobileye, is a perennial winner at CES, receiving an Innovation Award for the third consecutive year.
OrCam’s product line includes MyEye Pro, an AI-driven wearable device for people who are blind or visually impaired. The voice activated MyEye transforms text into speech, has a navigation feature that supports walking in public places, and can identify products, colors, people and money. MyEye Pro mounts on the user’s existing eyeglasses.
If MyEye Pro recognizes a face, it will whisper who that person is to the wearer. Operation is by looking, speaking or using hand gestures rather than buttons.
When Facebook — er, Meta — CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the newly rebranded company would be focusing on building out the “metaverse,” he didn’t specify which tools would be required.
Israeli startup Resight could play a key role. The company is “building a visual index of the world, linking users, apps and augmented reality (AR) content to physical locations.”
Resight crowdsources data from its users to build a 3D map of the physical world onto which can be embedded AR images, text and video. All computation is done on the device; no raw data is shared, maximizing users’ privacy.
Resight believes the metaverse will “expand our perception and knowledge, essentially giving everyone superpowers.” Is the next Marvel hero hiding somewhere in Tel Aviv?
In the 1960s TV comedy “Get Smart,” bumbling spy Maxwell Smart would from time to time enter the “Cone of Silence” to conduct a private conversation.
Israeli startup Silentium is building the real thing. The company’s “Quiet Bubbles” use active noise cancelation software (“silence-on-a-chip”) to localize any audio so that only the person in the bubble hears it.
Imagine driving in your car and listening to a podcast from the front seat while the kids in the back are singing along to “Frozen” — with no need for headphones. The same software also makes for a quieter ride, canceling the sounds of loud engines and wind.
Silentium tech can be embedded “at the source” in a device – so grinding the coffee beans in the morning won’t wake up sleeping members of the household. Despite Silentium’s mandate, the company made quite a bit of noise at CES.
Children on their way to and from school often struggle to stand up straight while hoisting a heavy backpack. A study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found that 75 percent of kids between eight and 12 years old complain of back pain. Experts say a child’s school bag should never be more than 10 percent to 15 percent of the wearer’s body weight.
TikBag’s interactive “smart bags” monitor and notify the wearer via an app if the backpack is too heavy in relation to body weight. TikBag can also check if the bag is unbalanced. In the future, TikBag will also monitor a backpack’s contents to ensure that nothing is forgotten. The word “tik” is Hebrew for “bag,” so this Israeli startup is really called “Bag.”
How do you watch TV these days? Do you have a smart television with built-in apps and streaming? An Amazon Fire TV Stick, AppleTV or Mi Box? Israeli startup VBox wants to be your next entertainment service.
The VBox TV Gateway connects to your home network and streams live local TV channels as well as online services. VBox also allows you to record live TV content to a USB, SD card or NAS drive. The box covers satellite, cable and terrestrial broadcasts up to 4K quality.
VBox can “recast” the signal from your TV or from any prerecorded shows to any connected devices across your home; you can even watch different live TV stations from different devices at the same time. Prices range from $130 to $180 per device.
Whether from a home camera or a professional application, images and video have always fared poorly in low light conditions.
Israeli startup Visionary.ai’s applies computer vision, artificial intelligence and sophisticated algorithm to improve the quality of images and videos taken from any camera. Think better night vision, superior recognition of faces and images free from blur.
Visionary has sold to consumer electronics and industrial manufacturers in Israel and the United States. The company’s software is installed on the camera itself and Visionary’s customers are the device makers. Target markets include transportation (cameras on buses and bus stops), drones and mobile devices. The company raised $4.5 million in 2021.
Produced in association with ISRAEL21c.
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