Now is the time to jump on the bandwagon as record-breaking numbers of tourists are entering Israel — 776,000 people in the first three months of 2014, three percent more than the same period in 2013.
Touring Israel on a budget? Download some of these awesome applications to your smartphone to get the most out of your trip.
You don’t need to hire a guide or even access the Internet to take advantage of professional guides’ expertise when you use the iOS and Android Israel App: GPS Digital Travel Guide. Hailed as a tourism game-changer, it provides audio explanations and links to articles and photos of hundreds of popular tourist sites and off-the-beaten-track destinations. Choose from dozens of walking tours or let the app figure out where you’re standing based on GPS tracking. Get directions, search destinations and make hotel and rental car reservations.
This iOS app features six different modules: attractions, map, POI (points of interest) search, translator and world clock. You can find information on attractions, museums, beaches, restaurants, bars, hotels, landmarks and shopping destinations with ratings, reviews, image galleries and daily updates. The POI search also acts as a guide to finding the directions from one place to another via GPS.
This GPS-powered multilingual app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch puts the Red Sea resort city at your fingertips. Eilat City provides location-based information on hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, pubs and bars, diving clubs and more.
Chronus develops location-based, augmented reality Android and iPhone apps for cities and heritage sites, allowing visitors to experience and explore significant tourist attractions as they were in historical times. It added Tel Aviv to its roster last summer. The web interface lets travelers upload tours and stories via a social plug-in.
Screen shot of the VISITLV app
This iOS app from the municipality gives you images and descriptions of Tel Aviv-Jaffa’s most popular attractions, including museums, walking tours, restaurants and bars, sights and hotels.
The Jerusalem Development Authority made this free app for the “independent tourist,” and it makes good sense because the Old City of Jerusalem is a “must see” stop on any Israeli vacation – yet its vast web of alleyways is awfully confusing. Fifteen different GPS-navigated tours (five of them wheelchair accessible and all with an audio transcript for users with hearing impairment) explore houses of worship, marketplaces, eateries, the Temple Mount compound, the Western Wall, the Garden Tomb and other iconic locations. Available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android devices.
The Tour Haifa application matches places of interest to your location in town, allows you to save favorites and supplies useful information about opening hours and other details. Through 2eat, it also provides phone numbers of restaurants, cafés and pubs in the “capital of the North.”
This iOS app presents several self-guided walking tours with detailed route maps and navigation features to get from one site to the next. Included are six museums, the Bat Galim neighborhood, the Bahá’í World Center, nightlife, shopping, architecture and the Ein Hod artists’ colony a short distance from the city.
The Israeli company Espro Acoustiguide makes many of the audio guides in use at museums and tourist sites across the world. It also offers many touring apps. Download its English-language Masada tour iPhone app directly from the website.
Travelers to Israel interested in Tel Aviv’s LGBT scene can download several new apps, including this iOS one, offering information on special events, LGBT bars, clubs and restaurants to people over 17 years of age. TLV Scene (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=il.co.tlvscene.android), for Android devices, offers exclusive benefits and free entrance into LGBT parties and clubs.
The physicians on Grey’s Anatomy are all actors, of course, but the space-age medical imaging technology recently featured on an episode of the popular ABC medical drama is for real.
Viewers of the show saw how RealView Imaging, based in the small Israeli northern city of Yokneam, is making it possible for surgeons to use three-dimensional holography in planning the steps of delicate, complex procedures.
The unique display and interface system projects hyper-realistic, dynamic 3D holographic images “floating in the air” without the need for special eyeglasses or even a conventional 2D screen.
The projected 3D volumes appear in free space, allowing the doctor to literally touch and interact precisely within the image — a breakthrough giving surgeons an unprecedented opportunity for guidance before taking a knife to the patient.
In the episode, Dr. Cristina Yang (played by Sandra Oh) comes across this Israeli cutting-edge technology when she is visiting a wealthy Swiss hospital.
Her former love interest and fellow heart surgeon, Dr. Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington), explains that the holographic reproduction of a beating heart – enhanced with digital the data from X-ray, MRI or ultrasound imaging — can be manipulated and even sliced open virtually,
In real life, the RealView system was incubated at the Trendlines Group’s Misgav Innovation Accelerator and successfully tested at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petach Tikva in a trial together with Royal Philips’ interventional X-ray and cardiac ultrasound systems. The company was founded by a urologist and the technology is meant to improve outcomes for all sorts of surgical procedures.
The Grey’s Anatomy shout-out isn’t the first time Israeli med tech from Yokneam has been featured on TV. In 2010, Argo Medical’s ReWalk exoskeleton helped a wheelchair-bound character on Glee to walk for the first time.
An American-based technology business, with an office near Jerusalem in Moshav Ora, has developed a way to quickly and easily detect breast cancer in its earlier stages through a simple blood test. According to Times of Israel, this method will be an “accurate, cost-effective, immune system-based means of detecting the presence of cancer in the breast tissue”. These tests are designed to detect cancer before it becomes visible by mammograms.
Read More at Times of Israel
Intel said on Wednesday that it presented the government with an investment program to upgrade its giant semiconductor-manufacturing facility in the southern town of Kiryat Gat. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett says the investment could reach $6 billion.
The U.S. company, one of the world’s biggest maker of computer chips and a major source of Israeli exports, did not provide further details. “At this stage, Intel is not providing any details about investing in upgrading the Intel plant, including time frames, costs or the nature of the upgrade,” the company said in a statement mostly devoted to reviewing the company’s long history in Israel.
As a result, it is not clear how many employees it may take on or its wider impact on the Israeli economy.
However, government sources who asked not to be identified said that the company would probably spend $5 billion to $6 billion on the plant upgrade and hire between 800 and 1,000 new employees. Bennett said Intel would be spending at the upper limit of that range and was committed to remaining in Israel at least until 2030.
“We competed with the whole world and Intel chose us,” Bennett said. “In the next few days it will submit a business plan for immediate and direct investments of $6 billion. I can’t think of a better Independence Day gift,” he said. Israel will celebrate its 66th Independence Day on Tuesday.
In all events, the sources said they expected Intel to submit a detailed proposal to the Economy Ministry’s Investments Center, which administers capital-spending subsidy programs, some time in the next several days.
The government has offered the company an investment grant of about $700 million if Intel decides to build an entirely new $10 billion facility to produce 10-nanometer computer chips in Israel, but it also offered as its less preferred option $200 million in government aid for expanding its existing facility. In the past, Intel has said that it was not certain it would build a new facility alongside an upgraded plant.
Assuming that the estimates offered up on Wednesday are correct, Intel would be entitled to government aid amounting to 5% of its spending, or as much as $300 million. The source said the percentage is based on an analysis that the finance and the economy ministries conducted to gauge the impact of the plant expansion on the wider economy.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid welcomed Intel’s plan. “This is a vote of confidence in the Israeli economy,” he said in a statement. “Investment like this will create thousands of workplaces directly and tends of thousands indirectly all for the Israeli middle class.”
Intel is a major player in the Israeli economy. In 2012, for example, Intel Israel’s exports more than doubled to $4.6 billion, or 10% of the country’s total industrial exports. Last year exports dropped to $3.8 billion due to the timing of the orders, but the company still remains far and away the country’s single biggest source of export receipts, the company said. In addition, Intel Israel currently employs a staff of 9,855 around the country, including four research and development centers Haifa, Petah Tikva, Jerusalem and at Kibbutz Yakum, near Netanya, as well as manufacturing facilities in Kiryat Gat and Jerusalem. It purchased some $850 million locally produced goods and services last year alone.
As a result, Intel’s decision whether to upgrade and expand operations in Israel or do so in another country is critical for the country’s economy. In an earlier round of the global competition for an Intel plant, the company chose Ireland over Israel as the site for a new 14-nanometer plant. This was after Ireland offered the company better terms, but also due to the fact that the facilities in Ireland were older and in more urgent need of upgrading.
In September, Intel bought an aging chip-making facility next to its Kiryat Gat plant from another U.S. company, Micron, reportedly with an eye to turning the facility and its 800-strong workforce into the foundation of a new plant. Intel’s Kiryat Gat semiconductor plant, which uses 22-nanometer technology, is facing obsolescence within several years if it isn’t upgraded to the latest 10-nanometer technology. Intel headquarters in Santa Clara, California also must decide where to locate the new 10-nanometer plant.
ZUtA Labs, an Israeli start-up, has created a pocket-sized printer to help denizens of the mobile economy print their memos and presentations on the go, according to the company’s founders.
Featured at Microsoft’s prestigious ThinkNext event and funded over Kickstarter, the 4-inch-long device is basically a printer head in the middle of two opposing sets of wheels, which allow it to print across and then down a page. The ZUtA Pocket Printer will be part of a full range of micro-printers on the market by January, 2015, the company said.
The idea came from classmates Matan Caspi and Tuvia Elbaum at the Jerusalem College of Technology, which provided the initial funding for their prototype.
Watch a video of the Israeli start-up’s pocket-sized printer: