Even when you know you’re good, it’s always fun getting compliments. And so it was nice to read the unusual praise showered on Israeli high-tech by the Wall Street Journal, probably the world’s most important financial newspaper.
“Try as you might,” begins the article published under a picture of a flag of Israel, “it is extremely hard not to be a bit star-struck by the Israeli technology scene. Just when you think you have seen everything, along comes something even more impressive, such as a startup with a nanotechnology that has the potential to disrupt everything from batteries to display screens to semiconductors.”
The writer is award-winning journalist Ben Rooney, who covers technology, entrepreneurship and innovation for the Wall Street Journal Europe, from Israel in the south to Scandinavia in the north, from Ireland in the west to Russia in the East.
Rooney, who had a long career in the British Daily Telegraph and was the launch editor of its website, appears on television and in conferences and recently visited Israel.
In his article, Rooney wonders what is next for the startup nation, noting that it is the scale of Israeli ambition that other startup ecosystems outside the US seem incapable of matching.
“It is Silicon Valley for the rest of the world,” he quotes Saul Klein, a London-based venture capitalist and recently appointed a UK tech envoy to Israel, as saying.
Another quote is from Mark Tluszcz, co-founder and chief executive of Mangrove Capital Partners SA, a Luxembourg-based venture firm that has been investing in Israeli startups since 2007: “On a scale of one to 10, the innovation I see in, say, Germany would be close to zero. In Israel, it is a 10.”
“What’s the secret?” the newspaper asks. “Reasons include the role of the Israeli Defense Forces, and in particular the high-tech Unit 8200; the unique cultural values of a country forged from centuries of oppression; and Jewish mothers.”
Yossi Vardi, introduced as “the larger-than-life so-called father of the Israeli tech scene,” favors that last theory. “From birth,” he says, “your mother will tell you that you have to succeed, that you have to be better than your cousin, or her friend’s son, or whoever.”
Magen David Adom unveiled a multi-million dollar command truck on Sunday designed to direct rescue operations on the most difficult terrain and during cellular network failure.
In an event at the Old Train Station in Tel Aviv, the ambulance service said the creation of the tractor trailer- sized command truck was motivated by the Mt. Carmel forest fire in 2010. During the fire, cellular networks were either too weak for emergency communications, or they crashed because of too much traffic, creating serious communications issues for rescuers.
“It was what made us think about the future,” MDA special projects manager Assi Dvilanski said.
Dvilanski, who supervised the construction of the truck, officially called the “National Mobile Command and Control Vehicle,” said it is the most technologically advanced command vehicle in the world.
Inside the command truck, as many as five dispatchers and 18 officials can observe more than two dozen flat-screen computers and TVs, which display dispatch information and the location of every ambulance in Israel. At the truck’s nerve center, a single dispatcher can control six different monitors and use nine different phones and radios, all arrayed neatly on a desk and connected to the police and rescue networks.
Despite the truck’s hi-tech devices – from a portable tablet computer to a fully equipped videoconferencing system – the most important facet of the truck is perhaps less flashy, Dvilanski said.
The truck’s dispatchers can connect directly into the 101 phone system, he explained. It is the first time in the history of Israel – and, to Dvilanski’s knowledge, the world – that a dispatch center on wheels can connect to the 101 system. This capability is important because it allows the truck to serve as a twelfth dispatch center for MDA or as a full backup, in case one of MDA’s centers goes down.
In addition to the 101 system, the truck can tap into the three major cellular networks and aggregate them. For example, if each of the networks was only working at 10 percent of its capacity, the vehicle could combine those signals to yield a 30 percent signal. The truck is also equipped with satellite phones, in the event that cell networks and landlines are unavailable.
To assist rescuers working over a large area, the truck also has a camera affixed to a mast that can reach a height of 19 meters. The camera can be controlled and viewed by any commander’s smart phone.
At 16 m. long and 4 m. wide, with a large satellite dish and extendable canopy, the new command center appears massive and complex. Yet it only takes about 20 minutes to set up, which means it can be installed and broken down quickly if, say, the wind changes during a fire.
In addition to fires, MDA officials said this truck can be used in many different emergencies, from earthquakes to train derailments to the aftermath of a war. In these cases, “we will still be able to have all the emergency calls come into the vehicle,” Dvilanski said. The vehicle could also be useful in assisting major sporting events or funerals.
The vehicle even has refrigerators so that rescue coordinators can stay hydrated, though Dvilanski noted that any drinks will have to be consumed outside.
Genetic sequencing is no longer for the uber-wealthy and uber-patient: If a decade ago it cost $3 billion and took 8 years to sequence the human genome, that option is available to anyone today who has $3,500 to spend and is willing to wait the 24 hours it takes to do the job. Pretty soon, experts say, the cost for sequencing is going to come down to about $1,000.
So what can you do with your genomic DNA sequence? Soon you will be able to whip out your smartphone and analyze it, using an app developed by researchers at Tel Aviv University. Their app (and website) GeneG makes genetic analysis as simple as sending a text message or making a phone call.
“For the first time you can take your genome home and look at it whenever you want,” according to GeneG creator Noam Shomron. “We are giving you eyes to peer into your genetics.”
Shomron developed the GeneG app and website together with TAU graduate students Ofer Isakov and Gershon Celniker. The app and site will be opened to physicians later this month, ahead of a public release.
GeneG has the potential to make genetic testing as routine as a blood pressure test.
Full story via Times of Israel
Hebrew University is ranked first in Israel and 59th globally, according to the 2013 Academic Ranking of World Universities released Thursday.
ARWU ranks the world’s top 500 universities, placing Hebrew University in the top three in Asia and 11th among universities where English is not the primary language.
Hebrew University is also 17th in number of alumni who have Nobel Prizes or Fields Medals and 39th in the number of faculty who won the awards.
Since ARWU started publishing annual rankings in 2003, Hebrew University has been Israel’s top university and among the world’s top 100.
The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology is ranked 77th this year and the Weizmann Institute of Science is 92nd worldwide. Tel Aviv University is among the 101-150 best, Bar Ilan University and Ben-Gurion University are in the 301-400 best and University of Haifa is among the 401-500 best.
“I’m proud to see the prominent positions of Israeli research universities in these important international rankings, and I’m pleased that once again Hebrew University has been recognized as Israel’s leading university,” Hebrew University President Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson stated. “The fact that the Hebrew University continues to achieve such high rankings is a testament to the hard work of our faculty and the university community and their continuing quest for uncompromising academic and research excellence.”
The top-ranked universities are Harvard University, Stanford University, University of California – Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of Cambridge.
In a statement, Given Imaging president and CEO Homi Shamir said, “With more than 2 million procedures conducted since the first generation of the product was introduced, PillCam SB has had a significant impact on patient care in the US and across the globe. We believe PillCam SB 3 will both enhance the clinical experience for our large base of existing US customers and expand the market for this product among new physicians who have not been performing PillCam procedures.”
On the company’s website, Given Imaging notes that 75% of Crohn’s patients have lesions in their small bowel that can be better assessed using its camera technology. In findings, within three months of using the PillCam doctors changed the treatment for 62% of patients and 40% were prescribed new medication.
The new system offers a 30% greater image resolution that delivers more detailed small bowel images and coverage, Given Imaging said.
A technology for the extraction and analysis of data from cellular phones, which was developed by Israeli company Cellebrite, helped expose a wide-scale crime ring in a recent operation which included the arrest of 46 members of an international crime organization and the confiscation of assets worth €13.75 million (about $18 million).
The crime organization was uncovered in a joint operation launched by the Belgian and Spanish police forces, with the help of the European Union’s law enforcement and criminal intelligence agencies, Europol and Eurojust.
The ring is suspected of laundering some €50 million ($65 million) since 2007, and trading with drugs from Morocco which were distributed in Europe. Investigators seized 5.3 tons of hashish, 77 vehicles, 20 buildings, five companies and €225,000 ($295,000) in cash.
A significant part of the investigation, which lasted a year, was conducted with the help of a technology developed by Cellebrite. Last year, the company launched the UFED Touch device – a special tablet for security and police organizations, which allows the extraction and decoding of data from cellular phones or tablets, even if the information is protected by a code, encoded or has been deleted.
The investigators can also use the device in field conditions and in real time. It looks like a thick and strong tablet with an adjustable touch screen, and is quickly operated by simply connecting the examined cellular phones.
All organizations involved in the investigation had Cellebrite’s equipment, which facilitated the cooperation. The tablet itself was used by investigators to extract information from the crime organization suspects’ cellular phones.
After extracting the data from the phones, investigators used Cellebrite’s UFED Link Analysis software, which can cross-check information and reveal communication links between mobile devices.
Investigators create a sort of “tree” of links between the people which is graphically presented on the computer screen, and can view conversations, correspondences, messages and photos exchanged between the suspects. They can then extract information from the cell phones and analyze it to visualize the links between the suspects and the organization’s activity.
Cellebrite’s equipment has been sold to many intelligence and security organizations around the world. The Israeli technology has helped solve many other cases, which are usually not cleared for publication.