Mosquitoes aren’t just annoying, they spread killer diseases and are often called one of the most dangerous animals on the planet
By David E. Kaplan
Many Israelis are alive today ONLY because of the country’s penchant for finding solutions to existential problems. A classic example is the ‘Iron Dome’ – a mobile all-weather air defense system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets from 4 kilometres to 70 kilometres away and whose trajectory would take them to an area populated with Israeli civilians.
Its success has been proven in battle. The Iron Dome hits 90% of rockets aimed at populated areas.
However, there are “populated areas” all over the world under daily threat for incoming aerial attacks of a totally different kind – the dreaded mosquito, and Israeli ingenuity have these critters now firmly ‘in their sights’.
Mosquitoes have killed many more humans than all wars in history.
It is the most dangerous creature in Africa responsible for killing more Africans than any other through the spread of malaria, dengue and other diseases. Malaria kills over a million on the African continent every year, most of these are children under the age of five.
While the threat in Israel is less lethal, they are super annoying. Who is unfamiliar with them buzzing around your bed keeping you awake all night with their infernal whining sound as they dive into attack like the once-feared WWII German Stuka dive bomber! For those that penetrate your ‘Home Guard” defense system – from protective clothing, mosquito repellents, mosquito killer lamps to even eating garlic – the aftermath of an assault results in bites, itches, endless scratching, and finally sores or what I describe as “my battle scars”!
The best defense against mosquitoes is making sure they can’t get to your skin and an Israeli start-up Bzigo has developed a device that scans and locates the biting insects in a room, sending a message to a phone app allowing you to easily kill them. A future model will be capable of eliminating them as well!
This is like a computer game but for real!
Developed over the three years, the Bzigo device looks like a box the size of a compact smartphone that can be connected to the wall or stand-alone on a flat surface. It uses infrared camera that marks the mosquito’s exact location with a red laser once it lands providing the essential ‘intelligence’ to the disgruntled humans to kill them.
Although the current model only helps locate the mosquito, Bzigo CEO, Nadav Benedek says “we are working a future model that will be able to eliminate the mosquito on its own. In reality, killing a mosquito is the easy part – the real challenge is in detecting them. Mosquitoes are adept at avoiding human vision, attacking us when we don’t notice them. But once you know a mosquito is in the room and see where it landed, killing it is simple.”
The technology is based on an algorithm that can detect the movements of a mosquito with a wide-angle high-resolution camera that constantly photographs the walls and ceiling of a room to locate the pest, before sending a message via Wi-Fi to the homeowner’s smartphone.
The brains behind this potential “Iron Dome” against mosquitoes is Saar Wilf, 45, and company CEO Nadav Benedek, 38, both of whom served in the elite IDF intelligence unit 8200. They are trained to zero in on the enemy and firmly in their crosshairs is the mosquito.
“To date, we have carried out hundreds of tests with live mosquitos,” says Benedek. “At first, Saar would spend hours trapping them with containers and nets, but then we found a supplier from the Emek Hefer region.”
Asked by YNet.news.com why they chose to focus on mosquitos, Wilf replied that “anyone with a technological inclination, has at some point in their life thought to find a technological solution to this annoying problem; we were just persistent.”
Benedek described how growing up in the central Israeli town of Pardes Hana, the home was surrounded by netting and recollects how “my Dad always checked my room before bedtime in summer for ten minutes to find and kill mosquitos.”
The Tel Aviv based start-up assures that its device is safe to use near children, food and in hospitals and although the initial model is made for home use, the plan is to produce a model suitable for industrial use, such as to kill pests on farms and in hothouses.
The device is expected to be available on the market in 2021 and will sell for about $170.
Mosquitoes don’t play fair: They target some people more than others and I am one of them and welcome any addition to my arsenal to take on these critters.
Two Young Israeli engineers introduce clean water to Ugandan community
By David E. Kaplan
Israelis have their eyes on Africa, not to exploit but to enrich.
Such was the motivation for two 26-year-old water engineering graduates Selda Edris and Mayes Morad, both from the Galilee who as students were shocked on discovering the level of poverty in rural Uganda.
“We were amazed by the living condition of the children,” said Morad. “We were exposed to horrible poverty and were shaken to see children shivering when it got cold, barefoot or with torn shoes.”
It was one thing to be “shocked”, but both asked the question:
“Can we do something about it? Can we make a difference?”
Following their graduation it was not the exotic beaches of the far east that attracted these idealistic engineers. Armed with their education, they wanted to volunteer and knew exactly where. The calling was clear; they wanted to help provide a specific Ugandan community with clean drinking water.
So, soon after graduating, Edris, from the Circassian village of Rehaniya, and Mayes from the Druze village of Beit Jann on Mount Meron in northern Israel, joined the HELPAPP organization and set off for a community in Uganda that pulled at their heartstrings. “There were 900 school children from the region that drank water from a nearby swamp that filled up in winter,” said Edris.
Although the three schools in the community boiled the swamp water before drinking, “this was hardly a safe solution” to the young Israelis.
Finding “a solution” proved challenging to the enterprising and innovative young engineers. However, Edris and Morad were finally able to install sinks and taps in the schools and connect them to a proper purification facility. When complete, 900 children had running clean water.
The reality of what they achieved struck home.
“When I saw how happy they were when they just turned on the tap and water came out, I thought to myself,” says Morad, “what in the world would make me, or my nieces and nephews who are the same age as these schools kids, feel so happy?”
The joy in the children’s eyes when they opened a tap to wash their hands and water came out stayed with her. “It’s difficult to imagine that there are children in this world who don’t have the most basic commodity – drinking water – only because they weren’t fortunate enough to be born in the right place.”
For Edris and Morad “Clean water is a basic right for every person in this world – regardless of where you were born.”
After providing a solution to supplying the schools with running water, the two Israelis initiated a Facebook fundraising campaign to buy shoes for many the children who ran around barefoot on the hard-arid African terrain.
We Shall Return
“We’ve helped hundreds of children, but we know there are so many others in other parts of Uganda, who don’t consider drinking water a given,” says Edris. “We want to come back to Uganda and initiate a larger scale operation.”
Ask a young teenager in Israel, the USA or Europe what they most want? The answers would not be even close to the answer a 13-year-old girl gave Edris. “All she wanted was clean water, clothes and an electrical light at home to light up the house when it gets dark. What we take for granted isn’t taken for granted in so many places around the world, and that’s sad. She broke my heart.”
It also broke Israel’s Foreign Minister Golda Meir in the 1950s. When the future Prime Minister was appointed Israel’s second Foreign Minister in 1956, Golda announced that a cornerstone of her foreign policy was to reach out to the African states emerging from colonial rule. The rationale for this was lost to many at the ministry. After all, the new countries were often poorer than Israel and facing greater security, environmental and other problems; what could they possibly help Israel with?
“Independence had come to us, as it came to Africa, not served up on a silver platter, but after years of struggle. Like them, we had shaken off foreign rule; like them, we had to learn for ourselves how to reclaim the land, how to increase the yields of our crops, how to irrigate, how to raise poultry, how to live together and how to defend ourselves…. The main reason for our ‘African Adventure’ was that we had something we wanted to pass on to nations that were even younger and less experienced than ourselves.”
That “African adventure” continues today inspiring young and talented Israelis like Selda Edris and Mayes Morad who could not stand idly by in the face of suffering.
Israel’s Hi-Tech Sector Soaring Bringing Palestinians on Board
By David E. Kaplan
This may not be the much touted “deal of the century” but it is Israel’s deal of 2019 – “so far” – and its only March!
Based in Santa Clara California, Nvidia’s acquisition of Mellanox is the “second largest ever” in the Israeli high-tech industry after global behemoth Intel bought Mobileye – the vision-based advanced driver-assistance systems providing warnings for collision prevention and mitigation – in 2017 for $15.3 billion.
This deal augers well for sustaining Israel’s hi-tech global branding.
Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia, said the company was “excited to unite Nvidia’s accelerated computing platform withMellanox’s world-renowned accelerated networking platform under one roof to create next-generation datacenter-scale computing solutions.”
Huang said he was “particularly thrilled to work closely with the visionary leaders,” of Israel’s Mellanox “and their amazing people to invent the computers of tomorrow.”
Nvidia will continue investing in local Israeli “excellence and talent,” calling Israel “one of the world’s most important technology centers.”
The acquisition will unite two of the world’s leading companies in high performance computing (HPC). Nvidia and Mellanox will together power over 250 of the world’s TOP500 supercomputers and have as customers – every major cloud service provider and computer maker.
Nvidia, will pay $6.9 billion cash to acquire Mellanox (MLNX) -twelve years after the Israeli company’s IPO on Nasdaq.
Mellanox develops and sells high-speed communications equipment using InfiniBand and Ethernet technologies.
Billion Dollar Man
Founded in 1999 by its CEO Eyal Waldman, Mellanox surpassed in sales an impressive $1 billion in 2018.
This will be Waldman’s second exit in two decades. He sold the Israeli chip company GalileoTechnology Ltd – which he co-founded – to Marvell in 2000 for $2.7 billion. Marvel Technology, like Nvidia, is also based in Santa Clara California.
A kite boarder and a scuba diver, Waldman, studied electrical engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.
Responding why Mellanox is important in this marketplace, Waldman explains:
“So, if you look at the world today, the most important asset or resource on the planet is DATA. A long time ago it was real estate; then it moved to energy and now its data. It is the most important asset people can gather and own; the more data you have, the more powerful you become.”
Eyal Waldman is living testimony!
The Times of Israel describes Waldman as a CEO that is “perpetually in a rush, tends to eat fast food, gets joy from his success but spends as much time as possible with his family.”
Asked to describe himself, “I’m just a normal guy.”
The name “Mellanox”, Waldman reveals, comes from combining the sound of “Xerox” with “Millennium” – because the firm was founded in 1999 – and “Ella”, the name of his wife at the time.
While Nvidia redefined modern computer graphics and sparked the growth of the PC gaming market, Mellanox’s solutions include adapters, switches, software and silicon that accelerate application runtime and maximize business results for a wide range of markets including high-performance computing, enterprise data centers, Web 2.0, cloud, storage, and financial services.
Waldman said the company shares the same vision for accelerated computing – “a great fit given our common performance-driven cultures. This combination will foster the creation of powerful technology and fantastic opportunities for our people.”
By ‘people’, Waldman, includes Palestinians as Mellanox is one of several companies with Palestinian employees in the West Bank and Gaza, a source of pride for the firm.
“I think a lot of employees became millionaires overnight, and I’m very proud of that. In Israel and in the Palestinian territories, wehave employees in Gaza, Rawabi, Nablus, Hebron who also have Mellanox shares, and I think we will all benefit from this sale,” Waldman told Israel’s Channel 12.
The word is out: Working together is “a win-win for all”.
“We need engineers for high-level programming and together with the Palestinians we can build a large Silicon Valley for the Middle East,” said David Slama, senior director for Palestinian Authority activities at MellanoxTechnologies. “We’re missing talent that the Palestinians have on their side. Together we can build a bridge that develops great products for the whole world.”
Instead of outsourcing abroad for engineers, Slama says Israeli companies should look no further than the Palestinian Authority areas, noting that some 3,000 Palestinian information and communication technology graduates enter the market each year.
Setting an example, Mellanox and ASAL – a software and IT services outsourcing company based in Ramallah that employs some 250 technical experts around the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – began cooperating at the start of the decade. Mellanox was among the first Israeli companies to outsource to Palestinian software developers in the West Bank and Gaza. Today, more than 120 Palestinian engineers and software developers work for Mellanox.
Addressing the elephant in the room – namely the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – Tahboub says “it is not a social stigma” to work with Israeli companies. “On the contrary,” he asserts
“Political news is not only what the Palestinian people are all about. We want to have an export-oriented economy based on knowledge and innovation. This is our biggest vision. Innovation, technology and entrepreneurship is the way for the future,” he says. The latest Palestinian Mellanox employees are based out of the Rawabi Tech Hub, in Rawabi, the first planned city built for and by Palestinians in the West Bank, just 20 kilometers outside Jerusalem.
Rawabi is in the middle between Tel Aviv and the Jordanian capital of Amman. “It could absolutely be a hub for innovation not just serving the Israeli and Palestinian markets, but serving the whole region,” asserts Tahboub.
Behind the high-tech “Rawabi City” – Palestine’s first planned city – is Palestinian entrepreneur, visionary, and property developer Bashar Masri who is also the founder and Chairman of the Board of Massar International.
‘Massar’ is an Arabic word meaning “path” and symbolizes the vision of its founder – to create a company that would successfully link the very best of local professionalism in Palestine with international standards.
Says Al Masri:
“We are relying on our historic enemy, Israel, to be our best friend in moving forward. Israel is riding high. Israel is a super-advanced country. If we piggyback on their economy, I hope they will benefit, and they will benefit, and we stand to benefit exponentially. It’s a win-win situation for all of us.”
The lyrics of the Frank Sinatra classic resonated throughout the Jewish world this February 2019 as Israel soared to the heavens –to the moon and amongst the stars at the Oscars
By David E. Kaplan
It was that kind of week in Israel.
It began with the news headline:
ISRAELI SPACECRAFT LAUNCHES, BERESHEET HEADS INTO ORBIT TOWARDS THE MOON
“All I can say is farewell Beresheet,” said an emotional South African-born Morris Kahn, chairman of SpaceIL, who donated more than $40 million to the project. “Our hopes are with you, make us proud.”
Kahn, who hails from Benoni in South Africa where he had been a member of the socialist Zionist youth movement Habonim, made Aliyah (immigration to Israel) in 1956 to kibbutz Tzora.
From starting out manufacturing bicycles at a factory in Beit Shemesh in partnership with kibbutz Tzora, Kahn’s trajectory soared establishing companies that grew into commercial behemoths such as Golden Pages Israel, Amdocs, the Aurec Group and Coral World and is now reaching out to the heavens.
A former underwater diver whose Coral World International, established aquariums around the world from his first in 1978 in Eilat, Israel to Maui, Hawaii; Perth, Australia; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Coral Island Nassau, The Bahamas; Oceanworld in Manly, Australia and elsewhere.
Transitioning his GPS, Kahn recalibrated his sights from below to above – from the deep depths of the earth’s sea to outer space.
Over The Moon
Israelis of all ages were wound-up at the countdown as the country’s non-profit organisation SpaceIL launched its spacecraft from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on board a Falcon 9 rocket, in a bid to become only the fourth country to make a soft landing on the moon.
Weighing in at 1,300 pounds and standing approximately five feet tall, the unmanned craft, began an approximate seven-week journey to the moon, from where it will send back images of the rocky surface and conduct experiments on the lunar magnetic field.
All of Israel stands animatedly behind this project and was involved even in choosing the name of the spacecraft.
A public vote was conducted on the SpaceIL’s facebook page, and ‘Beresheet’ – a reference to the first words of the Bible in Hebrew: “In the beginning” – won the most votes.
Apart from the technical support from Israel Space Agency, Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael Systems and Elbit Systems, SpaceIL was also supported by some of Israel’s top universities, including the Technion, Tel Aviv University (TAU), Weizmann Institute of Science and Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). Most of the multitude of people associated with SpaceIL are volunteers – including 250,000 students at schools across the country.
For decades, the moon was the exclusive domain of the superpowers. The Soviet Union landed Luna 2 on the Earth’s nearest neighbour in 1959. Three years later, the United States landed Ranger 4 on the moon and it would take nearly another 50 years for a third country to execute a soft moon landing, when China’s Chang’e 3 did so in 2013.
Joining the elite and exclusive club of Russia, USA and China, Israel is by far the smallest country. It would also become the first private enterprise to make a controlled landing on the moon, with the smallest spacecraft to do it, and by far the least expensive. The total cost of the programme, raised from private donations amounted to $100 million, a small fraction of the billions of dollars invested in the US space program.
SpaceIL signed with another former South African, Pretoria-born Elon Musk, whose SpaceX launched the Israeli craft on board a Falcon 9 rocket. Beresheet will travel approximately four million miles on its journey, circling the earth multiple times to gain speed before it slingshots toward the moon. It is scheduled to land on April 11.
One “bicycle man” can feel truly proud!
“This mission that we were talking about was really a ‘mission impossible’,” Kahn told local media.
“The only thing is, I didn’t think it was impossible, and the three engineers that started this project didn’t think it was impossible, and the way Israel thinks, nothing is impossible.”
The three engineers Kahn refers to are Yariv Bash, a former electronics and computer engineer in the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) and currently Co-founder and CEO of Flytrex, Kfir Darmari, a computer Networking lecturer and entrepreneur, and Jonathan Winetraub, formally a satellite system engineer at Israel Aerospace Industries and currently a biophysics PhD candidate at Stanford.
It may come as a surprise but Israel’s journey to the moon was hatched in a pub. Some ten years ago, a younger Bash, Damari and Winetraub were at the only bar in Holon, a small town just south of Tel Aviv.
As the night wore on, the future space engineer, cyber security expert and drone maker, came up with a daring plan to build a spacecraft that could land on the moon. “As the alcohol level in our blood rose, we got more and more determined to do this,” Winetraub recalled during an interview with local media. “And it never faded away.”
Nearly a decade later, their alcohol-infused idea is making history.
From Holy Land to Hollywood
While it is the ‘dream’ of every film producer, director, actor, screenplay and musical score writer, costume and set designer to win an Oscar, this year the sense was that Israel was literally ‘out of the picture’. That was until the following morning after the 91st Academy Award ceremony, I saw on my Facebook:
“And the Oscar goes to … WIZO!”
What on “earth” – getting now away from the “moon” – did this mean?
First of all, WIZO – for those who do not know – stands for Women’s International Zionist Organization, which was founded in 1920 in direct response to the needs of women and children in what was still then Palestine. With branches all over the world, including South Africa where my mother was an active volunteer, begged the question:
What did WIZO have to do with the Oscars?
Reading further, it turned out that Israeli filmmaker Guy Nattiv, who won the Academy Award in Los Angeles for his short film “Skin” – a bio-drama set in the United States about a neo-Nazi skinhead and his son – is a proud graduate of the WIZO Tzarfat (France) Arts School in Tel Aviv, an iconic high school sponsored by WIZO France . Graduates of the school include world famous artist Nir Hod, Israeli actress Dafna Rechter, South African fashion designer, Chantal Abroand Chairperson of WIZO in the United Kingdom, Ronit Ribak Madari.
Nattiv, who grew up in Israel and now lives in Los Angeles, co-wrote “Skin” with fellow Israeli Sharon Maymon and produced it with his wife Jaime Ray Newman. The film deals with a hate crime and its ramifications from the point of view of two children, one white and the other black.
“I moved here five years ago from Israel,” Nattiv began his acceptance speech before adding in Hebrew, “Good Night, Israel.”
Excited and emotional he stood with his wife and continued:
“My grandparents are Holocaust survivors. The bigotry that they experienced in the Holocaust, we see that everywhere today—in America and in Europe. This film is about education; it’s about teaching your kids a better way.”
Adding, Newman said that she and her husband “dedicate this to our five-month-old baby who’s sitting at home with my parents watching this. We hope that you grow up in a world where these things don’t happen, because people learn to love and accept each other.”
Congratulations came in from Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin who told Nattiv, “…the film is a gift for our children and grandchildren, and for the future that we want for them so they can fulfill their dreams. Proud to be lsraeli. Mazel Tov!”
And how fitting being a graduate of a WIZO school in Tel Aviv, for World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky adding to the long list of congratulations from Israel with:
“Mazal Tov, Guy! This is yet another shining example of WIZO pride. You, and thousands of WIZO graduates over the years taken what you have learned at WIZO and used it to create a better world.”
February 2019, recognises not only Israel’s ‘dreams’ for a “better world” but its pursuit thereof, whether to land a spacecraft on the moon or an Oscar for a movie that fights racism and proclaims love and acceptance.
For those who watched the launch of Beresheet and heard the words, “We have a lift off…” it was a portent of Israel’s destiny.
Contemplating a future Jewish state over 120 years ago Theodore Herzl said, “If you will it, it is no dream…”.
From his iconic concerned look on the balcony of the Hotel Les Trois Rois in Basel, Switzerland, 1897, Herzl can look down today from his ‘celestial’ perch at his ‘state’ about to become the fourth nation to land on the moon, and smile.
“What, harnessing the blazing sun for cooling instead of heating?” Leave it to the Israelis!
By David E. Kaplan
An Israeli company, SolCold has developed a new paint that convert sun’s rays into cool air-conditioning. The double-layered nanotech coating is a potentially game-changing electricity-free solution for cooling buildings or equipment in intensely sunny climates. This makes it ideal for Central and South America, the entire Middle East and all of Africa – from Cairo to Cape Town.
How does it work?
SolCold’s unique paint – “no thicker than a business card” – is applied to a surface of an object, where the sun’s radiation triggers a reaction in the material. This reaction then converts the heat accumulated on the object it is applied to – into radiation. This radiation is then emitted in a process called ‘anti-Stokes fluorescence’ – invented by electrical engineer Yaron Shenhav, the co-founder and CEO of SolCold – thus providing the cooling effect.
“SolCold’s material functions as if it were a thin layer of ice that gets thicker and cooler as the sun gets stronger,” explains Shenhav. “We are focusing first on homes and shopping malls, but it can be applied on the roofs of cars and this can help save gasoline.”
“When applied to the rooftops of buildings, the material can help save up to 60% in energy costs,” says Shenhev, “which translates into annual cost savings of +$10,000 per building.” There’s also a major positive impact on the environment – saving on these energy costs means a considerable reduction in CO2 emissions. “We are not just saving costs, but also helping protect our environment at the same time.”
SolCold’s product is generating interest for coating anything from chicken coops to cargo ships, malls to stadiums, cars to planes, satellites to hothouses, military equipment to apartment houses.
How did such an early-stage company receive so much attention already?
SolCold first made the news in June 2016, when it was one of six Israeli companies handpicked by the US State Department and the White House to participate in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in California.
And then, in October 2017, SolCold was a finalist in the deep tech competition at the Hello Tomorrow Summit in Paris.
Addressing the summit to an excited audience, Shenhav began:
“Yes, we are in Paris, the City of Lights, and above all these lights that we admire, there is the greatest, strongest light – the SUN. And while the sun is our greatest source of light, it is also our greatest source of heat on this planet. And whether here in Paris or in Tel Aviv, my home town, or LA, Beijing and practically everywhere on this planet, when the sun shines it emits radiation, which is absorbed by everything around us from buildings to cars, and in return it creates heat. So, this is the equation we know today – the stronger the sun, the hotter it gets. But we at SolCold have an alternative equation. We have a material that actually harnesses the suns energy into active cooling; meaning for us the equation is: the stronger the sun, the cooler it actually gets.”
Sunny Side Up
Potential imitators do not concern SolCold’s super cool team because the technology is so complicated. “We gathered a unique combination of knowledge in the worlds of thermodynamics, nanotechnology and quantum physics,” says cofounder GadiGrottas, “and have been working on it for the past four years. We have also registered a PCT patent, which is pending before being published.”
Grottas expects the product to be affordable and to offer a quick return on investment.
He reveals that the materials used in the coating:
– all exist in the market
– are 100% “green”
– free of carbon emissions
– are activated by free energy from the sun.
When tested in a lab using a sun simulator, SolCold’s double-layered coating cooled an object by 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) using the equivalent of only 1% of the sun’s energy.
“The paint could decrease electricity consumption by up to 60% and is expected to last for 10 to 15 years before needing a new coat,” says Grottas.
This is no “sugar coating” it – this coating is for real and is transformative.
In hot weather, electricity grids become strained as people use their air conditioning day and night. In Israel, the national electric company frequently issue warnings during summer — when temperatures soar over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) — to use air-conditioners more sparingly, lest the grids shut down. Inevitably, electricity bills skyrocket.
The idea came to Shenhav sitting in his Tel Aviv apartment one sweltering summer over fours ago. “My air-conditioner was barely functioning – it was struggling to cope and came up with an idea which initially involved optic cables.” This he later abandoned in favour of harnessing the sun’s radiation for cooling.
“Now imagine what would happen for example,” says Shenhav, “if all the buildings in Tel Aviv have this coating on the roof. The entire city would consume 60 percent less energy in the hottest days of summer, and when that happens, our power plants would need to produce 60 percent less electricity – meaning much less CO2 (carbon dioxide) would be released into the air by the power plants.”
This is an enormous environmental benefit, asserts Shenhav.
The big question then is what happens in winter with less sun? While “the cooling effect would be reduced by 50% due to more rainy days when clouds hide the sun,” cooling will nevertheless still occur. At present, SolCold is targeting warmer climates such as the sun belt in the US, Central and South America, southern Europe, the Middle East, parts of China, Oceania and Africa.
Playing It Cool
Grottas has visited South Africa as part of promotion where there was interest among egg farms “because hot weather stresses laying hens and greatly reduces their productivity.”
It would also be extremely beneficial in rural South Africa for schools and hospitals.
Vision for Africa. This could be a game-changer in rural South Africa.
But Shenhav envisions entire cities in hot climates using SolCold to coat residential and commercial buildings, which would consume less energy and therefore reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.
“Our technology can cool anything under the sun,” he says.
With the material able to be applied to most surfaces, SolCold’s potential is infinite.
The Herzliya-based startup is currently raising funds and has begun trials. Commercial and residential buildings in Israel and Cyprus are waiting to get the trial SolCold treatment.
Meanwhile, says Grottas, the company has received hundreds of inquiries regarding orders and distribution rights — which he estimates to be worth around $100 million — from places including Africa, Australia, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, Philippines, Turkey and the United States.
Out Of This World
SolCold also has its sights on cargo, automotive, space and military markets, estimated at a total of almost $100 billion.
“Satellite and space applications especially could prove a huge market for us,” says Shenhav.
“In space, there is the problem to cool down equipment where there is no air to conduct heat and so expensive internal systems are used to isolate and ventilate,” he explains.
Therefore, “opportunities arise in space for our cooling coating that emits the heat via radiation.”
The same cooling principle may have huge potential for the military, in its application on specific hardware. There may also be an added advantage that the paint could in theory “also serve as a camouflage against infrared detection.”
No ‘camouflage’ can hide the sheer genius of Israel’s coolest new invention. Wherever its hot in the world, leave it to the Israelis to cool things down!
When Nature Calls – Israel’s P-Pass will tell you where to go ‘under pressure’!
By David E. Kaplan
“When you gotta go; you gotta go!”
We’ve all been in this ‘pressing’ situation when nature calls in a town or city in which you are unacquainted with its lavatorial layout.
Israel, the Startup Nation that is globally recognized as quick to recognise problems in the world and offer solutions have done so again.
Whether you are in New York, London, Tokyo or Johannesburg what could be more important that knowing – when that familiar pressure builds up – where to take a leak.
The country that gave the world WAZE – the Israeli GPS navigation software app that informs drivers of motor vehicles on smartphones and tablet computers on best travel times and route details, have now come up with P-pass – a toilet service developed by Israeli students that tells you – ‘where to go, when you gotta go.’
This will come as a great ‘relief’ for those whose bladders are bursting.
It’s all evolving in Tel Aviv with its enviable reputation as “The city that never sleeps” – and therefore has to provide urinals that need to be on active service 24-hours a day.
In a current trial period, tourists and locals in Tel Aviv are using P-Pass where by just a click of a button, finding where to pee is so much easier.
The P-pass bathroom-finding service also informs users which businesses and eateries are open to those who suddenly need to relieve their bladder.p
“Innovation is about solving real problems and we found not knowing where to pee to be a major issue,” 31 year-old Tal Elharar, a female and one of the student-entrepreneurs behind the P-pass service told NoCamels.com – a leading news website covering breakthrough innovation from Israel based at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya.
“Everyone has to go,” says Elharar. “When you’re a tourist, you don’t always want to go into a restaurant or business and ask to use the bathroom. Or, you feel you need to buy something that you don’t really want just so that you can go to the bathroom.”
Partnering Elharar are her fellow MA students in Design, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at the College of Management Academic Studies in Rishon Lezion – Ariel Rozenberg, Tal Leibushor-Dahan and Shlomit Joy-Goren.
The P-pass mission, says Elharar, “is toprovide quick and easy toilet access to users and potential profit to retailers, transforming it from a usually awkward activity to social responsibility.”
In the same way as consumers in shops usually end up buying more than they planned, toilet uses passing through a shop or restaurant may well broaden their original horizon.
Going to “do my business” may translate into actual “business”!
I’Loo’minating The Way
The P-Pass gives new meaning to the term “peebrain”. These Smart students hit on the “pee patrol” concept as tourists in Europe. “Finding a place to visit the lady’s room in a foreign city became a time-consuming mission when there was no reason it needed to be,” said Elharar.
In January 2019, the P-pass entrepreneurs ran their first pilot of the service in the Carmel Market and Jaffa Flea Market areas of Tel Aviv.
Tourists paid $1 for the four-day trial that afforded them a “reward card to pee wherever they wanted” at any of the participating 30 businesses that collaborated with P-pass, Elharar told NoCamels. “We proved that there is a real need to know where to go when you gotta go and that people are even willing to pay for that convenience.”
Gearing up to launch a second pilot in March, the innovative foursome want to be ready for the 64th Eurovision Song Contest which will be held in Tel Aviv in May, when the lines to toilets could could be at bursting point. After all, some 20,000 visitors are expected to crowd Tel Aviv for this year’s international song competition.
Elharar says where better to initiate the service than in Tel Aviv. “We aim to make the world a better place in answering the call everyone needs answered.”
The Fab Four are graduating soon and “we’re meeting with investors. Tel Aviv is just the beginning; we’re planning on expanding our service and App to all major European cities starting with London, Amsterdam, and Budapest,” she says.
If all goes as planned, the app will eventually offer premium services that will inform folk on the prowl with pressing needs, where the cleanest toilets are and where to find three-ply softness.
Christmas should be a time of rejoicing not mourning. Not so this last Christmas in SA, where it was more about roads to hell than stairways to heaven!
There were almost 800 dead on South African roads in just 18 days in December 2018.
According to transport minister, Blade Nzimande in his mid-festive season road-safety report, KwaZulu-Natal had the most deaths (162) followed by Gauteng (125); Limpopo and Eastern Cape had 89 fatalities each, while Mpumalanga had 82, the Western Cape 81, the Free State 78, the North West 57 and the Northern Cape 24.
The minister noted that although the Northern Cape had the fewest road deaths, the province had the highest percentage increase of 71%, followed by Free State with 53% and KwaZulu-Natal with 46%.
“I have been extremely concerned about the high number of public and freight transport vehicles involved in fatal crashes so far in the festive season. When these vehicles get involved in crashes, the number of fatalities increases phenomenally,” said Nzimande.
While Nzimande has in the past advocated severing links between the University of Johannesburg and Israel’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) – where Nelson Mandela had accepted an honorary doctorate – he should have a serious rethink.
As Mandela acknowledged BGU’s groundbreaking work in uplifting Africa in combating desertification and in finding solutions for agriculture under harsh conditions, the Minister of Transport should display similar foresight and take Las Vegas’ lead and win for South Africa – not at gambling tables but on its roads.
The Lottery of Life
An Israeli startup leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analytics has helped the city of Las Vegas dramatically improve road safety and reduce vehicle crashes by some 17% on a stretch of one of its busiest and most dangerous stretch of highway.
According to a recent report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a year-long pilot programme between Israeli-founded company Waycare, which developed an AI-driven mobility platform for traffic data management, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), the Nevada Department of Transportation and the Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP), has yielded impressive results for traffic management and reduction of car accidents along a stretch of northbound Interstate 15 in the city, near the Las Vegas Strip.
Waycare is shaping the future of city mobility, enabling cities to take full control of their roads by harnessing in-vehicle information and municipal traffic data for predictive insights and proactive traffic management optimisation.
Waycare’s platform enables municipalities to capitalize on the immense amount of data coming from various transportation modes, including connected and autonomous vehicles, to improve traffic safety and proactively manage the city’s roads.
Responding To Surprises
As misfortune would have it, visitors to the giant CES consumer tech conference and exhibition in Las Vegas in February 2018 arrived just as the city had its first rainstorm after a record 116-day dry spell. The torrent brought grease to the surface of the streets, causing skidding and numerous accidents.
For the Israeli startupWayCare it was an especially challenging day, and came out tops.
That’s because WayCare’s traffic monitoring sees and reacts to everything relevant happening on Las Vegas’ roads and providing real-time solutions.
It does this by taking data from an elaborate network of sensors on stoplights and security and traffic cameras and combining it with information on the weather and data from navigation apps such as the Israeli GPS navigation software app Waze (bought by Google) and GreenRoad (also Israeli technology). It even uses ticket sales from TicketMaster to forecast crowd sizes at sports events and concerts.
How’s that for up to the second real-time information?
Not only knowing what is happening everywhere, WayCare can use the continuously incoming data to predict the likelihood of a traffic jam and what areas are at risk for accidents and to respond:
– by changing the timing on traffic lights
– opening and closing roads
– altering messages on road signs
– sending out instructions to police officers.
Before the use of WayCare, it was controllers who would view images from over 700 cameras across the city and make decisons based on what they were seeing, assess the risk of traffic building up or an accident occurring. Now it is done automatically, including an assessment of the risk.
“When a controller receives an accident warning through our system,” says the CEO and a Co-Founder of Waycare Technologies Noam Maital, “he creates a report that includes a video, clicks on the report and sends it automatically to the relevant party. A traffic cop who is linked into the system, now knows exactly where he needs to go, including what lane and how the accident looks. Even before he arrives, he can decide whether he needs more police or to call an ambulance or firefighters.”
Way To Go
Using Waycare, enables cities to take control of their roads by harnessing in-vehicle information and municipal traffic data for predictive insights and proactive traffic management optimisation. Its technology collects historical and real-time data from both
In Las Vegas, for example, Waycare identified areas of high-risk along the stretch where the programme was implemented, and alerted transport agencies where and when to take preventatives measures. A report revealed that “91% of drivers traveling at over 65 MPH, reduced their speed to below 65 MPH in the area where preventative measures were deployed.”
Nevada Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) general manager Tina Quigley is most upbeat. “Groundbreaking partnerships like this,” she says, “enable Southern Nevada to continue to lead the way in leveraging advanced technologies to dramatically improve traffic safety and efficiency.”
“The latest statistics coupled with the fact that we are identifying accidents up to 12 minutes faster with the Waycare platform helps translate what public and private partnerships can do and that AI is working to modernize and create a better transportation system for all,” she added.
The results of the Nevada pilot programme proved “a clear signal that AI and deep learning, when deployed in collaboration with traffic management and enforcement agencies, can have a dramatic impact on improving the safety of even our busiest and most at-risk freeways,” asserts Waycare CEO Noam Maital.
“Traditionally, law enforcement relied on anecdotal evidence to determine where to deploy resources to respond to traffic related issues,” said Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Solow from the Nevada Highway Patrol in a statement. “Now, with the technology that Waycare has brought to Southern Nevada, the Highway Patrol can proactively deploy units into an area when the system identifies a high likelihood of something happening and prevent crashes before they even happen. This translates into significantly faster treatment for those injured in crashes, quicker clearance and restoration of normal traffic flow, and a saving of untold millions of dollars in commerce related delays that are prevented.”
Nevada state officials said they plan to use the programme in other areas of the Las Vegas Valley. Waycare CIO Shai Suzan confirms that the company has signed multi-year programmes across the state.
Waycare is also running a pilot program in Tampa, Florida where there is “cross-collaboration among the city’s traffic management department as well as police, fire and dispatch agencies, all of which are focused on improving safety and gaining efficiencies,” according to a Government Technology report.
A city official confirms that the Israeli company’s pilot programme’s success is “mainly because Waycare relies on so many different types of feeds that it gets information fast, and it can verify that information better than most other agencies that require a little bit more manual interaction.”
The Road Ahead
On the 21st December 2018, shortly before Christmas, a headline in a South African newspaper read:
“It’s a bloodbath as South African road fatalities soar”
The article quoted transport minister Blade Nzimande saying that
“what stands out quite glaringly is that many vehicles involved in fatal crashes had a high number of occupants…”
It is a pity that what does not stand out glaringly to the transport minister is how Israeli Smart Mobility technology could have prevented many of those fatalities and can help save South African lives in the future.
Its not too late to take the proverbial ‘turn” and take the high road to a safer future.
The world’s first lab-grown steak is served up in Israel
ByDavid E. Kaplan
For lovers of meat, the alluring sizzling aroma is all too familiar. It peaks as you enter a steakhouse; frequently even before entry -like a culinary aphrodisiac titillating the taste buds as you decide – T-bone, fillet, rump or sirloin.
What a salivating choice!
What if that choice included a steak that hailed from a laboratory rather than a field?
Believing that meat is one of life’s pleasures to be celebrated and enjoyed without the downsides to health and the environment, Aleph Farms in Israel, aims to offer “superior, healthier, slaughter-free meat,” providing a new customer experience.
Aleph Farms was founded in 2017 by Israeli food-tech incubator The Kitchen, part of Israel’s food processing company Strauss Group Ltd., in collaboration with the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.
Made from cells that were isolated from a cow and grown into a 3-D structure, the first lab-grown steak was served up in Israel. The steak’s “chef” – Aleph Farms – says “it represents a benchmark in cellular meat production,” that could quite literally shape the future of food by producing cell-grown meat that resembles free range meat.
However, will it “meat” the expectations of steak lovers?
The image of a waiter walking towards your table about to serve a ‘laboratory concoction’ rather than a ‘kitchen creation’, might not titillate the taste buds at first, but then that can change.
It may well be that the ‘lab’ steak is no less “sumptuous”!
The proof will be in the proverbial ‘pudding’ – or steak!
In a world where meat production is increasingly under scrutiny from consumers and citizens who feel that certain practices are unethical and insensitive to farm-animal welfare, the announcement of slaughter-free meat has been welcomed. While there are other companies in the race to produce lab-grown meat, they are mostly burger patties, sausages and nuggets. Aleph Farms, on the other hand are going for a carnivore’s ‘gold’ – STEAK.
This revelation has tongues not only wagging, but wanting to taste.
Not Yet On The Menu
The steak will likely not become commercially available for at least three to four years, and while this writer has not tucked into one of Aleph’s steaks, a video shows a group of people – among them Aleph’s vice president of research and development, Neta Lavon, enjoying the steak alongside a tomato and zucchini pasta.
And to the obvious question of price – as volume increases, it should be on par with traditional meat within a few short years.
Most of the companies working to produce lab-cultured meat have focused on ground meat and nuggets. “Making a patty or a sausage from cells cultured outside the animal is challenging enough, imagine how difficult it is to create a whole-muscle steak,” said Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms.
Toubia conceded that Aleph’s steaks are still “relatively thin” – only 5 mm thick.
However, the steak is said to have the same texture as conventional meat, and it gives off that familiar beef smell when cooking.
It will ease many a consumer knowing their favourite food on their plate did not come from an abattoir.
Toubia believes that products like Aleph Meats’ steak can help bridge the divide between people who are unwilling to give up meat entirely and the need to reduce global meat consumption in the fight against climate change. “Today, over 90 percent of consumers do eat meat,” says Toubia, “and we think the percentage of vegetarians will not grow significantly despite many launches of plant-based products.”
Lab-grown meats are a welcome alternative to animal-sourced meats.
While this development is unlikely to convert die-hard vegans as these products include starter cells derived from animals, they may recognise the positive benefits. Even Louise Davies of the UK’s Vegan Society noted “the potential that lab-grown meat can have in reducing animal suffering and the environmental impact of animal agriculture.”
So, even if it still “isn’t vegan”, Lab-grown meat may prove a sustainable alternative requiring significantly less land, water, and feed than traditional beef farming.
It remains to be seen what impact lab-grown steaks can have on the world. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping an eye on what’s ‘sizzling’ over at Israel’s Aleph Farms.
With Israel in the vanguard of making deserts bloom, read latest report from Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry how it has literally planted the seeds of its AgTech success. This may well be of Interest to South African farmers as the Israel Trade Office will be hosting an AgriTech RoadShow from March 25-28 in Pretoria, Limpopo and Stellenbosch. Charles Abelsohn contributed to this report by the Ministry of Economy & Industry.
Even prior to statehood, Israel’s pioneers set out to cultivate the land, tackling the challenges posed by limited natural resources by setting up agricultural communities such as kibbutzim and other farming cooperatives to ensure that any future state would flourish. The country also took it upon itself to fulfill the dream of its first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, by making the desert bloom, developing agricultural techniques for arid regions which would turn non-arable lands into fruitful fields.
Over 70 years later, Israel is now tackling some of the 21st century’s biggest global challenges – including feeding a planet with an ever-growing population – with a thriving AgTech sector that is carrying on the country’s longstanding tradition of integrating ingenuity and innovation with cutting-edge agricultural techniques.
What helps explain Israel’s global renown as an AgTech powerhouse? Israel’s strong tech ecosystem, coupled with its deep historical focus on agricultural resourcefulness, has provided the perfect setting for the AgTech sector to flourish. Underscoring the Israeli government’s commitment to supporting AgTech innovation, the Israel Innovation Authority offers R&D support for promising AgTech companies, granting between 20%t to 50% of approved R&D budgets to aid the development of new products and technologies.
One of Israel’s greatest success stories in the field is Netafim, a company founded in the Negev Desert in 1965. The company rocketed to international prominence with the introduction of the world’s first commercial drip irrigation system. Now the world’s foremost irrigation company, Netafim remains a global leader in sustainable farming and crop management solutions, operating in 110 countries with 4,300 employees, 29 subsidiaries, and 17 manufacturing plants. Netafim’s innovative solutions played a pivotal role in putting Israeli AgTech on the map, setting the stage for a slew of new companies in the field, including 750 active startups and other firms in the food tech and AgTech sectors, with $189 millionin food tech and AgTech investments in 2017. With a focus on biotech, crop protection and irrigation methods, AgTech investors see the Startup Nation as fertile ground for some of the most inventive technologies and solutions in the sector.
Simcha Blass is more than deserving of the title “Father of Modern Drip Irrigation”. Simcha Blass (November 27, 1897 – July 18, 1982) was a Polish-Israeli engineer and inventor who developed the modern drip irrigation system with his son Yeshayahu. Instead of releasing water through tiny holes easily blocked by tiny particles, water was released through larger and longer passageways by using velocity to slow water inside a plastic emitter. The first experimental system of this type was established in 1959 by Blass who partnered later (1964) with Kibbutz Hatzerim to create an irrigation company called Netafim. Together they developed and patented the first practical surface drip irrigation emitter.
Today, Netafim manufactures and distributes crop management technologies, including monitoring and control systems, worldwide. To put things into perspective, Netafim controls over 30% of the global drip irrigation market in the world and the company’s recorded revenues were over $822 million in 2015.
Says South African farmer Bruce Nicholson, “I’m new to Netafim Drip system; I’m actually got a passion for it now. Where before my average yield was 87 tons per hectare, now, the same sugar cane fields are yielding over 110 tons per hectare – this is a huge inspiration for anyone.” Furthermore, using special probes with the system “it tells you when your profile is full, so that if you go over the profile you are wasting energy. With this system our energy savings is pretty on-the-nail.”
Among the country’s hundreds of cutting-edge companies:
Taranis is a leading AI-powered precision agriculture intelligence platform that uses sophisticated computer vision, data science and deep learning algorithms to identify crop threats on a granular level, enabling farmers to effectively monitor fields. The system allows farmers to increase crop yields and create a more sustainable farming ecosystem through intelligent insights and oversees millions of acres in Argentina, Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States.
Evogene is a biotechnology company aimed at improving crop performance using a unique computational predictive biology platform. The company’s platform leverages big data analytics to generate deep insights to help improve crop yields, combat diseases, and protect against pests. Clients include Syngenta, DuPont, Monsanto, and Bayer.
ADAMA Agricultural Solutions is a global crop protection company, with an innovative fungicide mixture for soybean rust. The company is the first global crop protection company to be publicly traded on the Chinese stock market.
While Israel’s AgTech success has played a key role in supporting the country’s growth and development, its benefits are borne out around the world: from Africa, where farmers are harnessing Israeli drip irrigation technology, to China, which inked a $300 million trade agreement that will boost exports of Israeli energy and agricultural technologies, and beyond. China isn’t the only country looking toward Israel to make great leaps forward in agricultural solutions: Israel has also built partnerships with developing countries including India and Vietnam, leveraging the country’s deep expertise in the sector to integrate AgTech solutions and train local farmers in efficient, sustainable methods of crop production and irrigation. In Africa, the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry, in cooperation with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, recently launched an initiative, Tikkun Olam Ventures, that will link local communities to Israeli AgTech solutions, with an eye toward aiding 5,000 farmers over the next five years.
With a robust innovation ecosystem and a storied history of creative agricultural solutions, there’s no telling what new Israeli AgTech solutions will take root in the years to come.
The Trade Office will be hosting an AgriTech RoadShow from March 25-28 in Pretoria, Limpopo and Stellenbosch. For more information, please email Johannesburg@israeltrade.gov.il
Southern Comfort. Israel’s Netafim Drip system explained by South African farmer Bruce Nicholson and revealing his experience with the system. “Even our fertilizer is put through the drip system.”