Posts on the topic of "Technology"
I've been closely watching the start-up curve of Better Place, the first nationwide network of 100% electric vehicles. It began with a concept – removable batteries that switch (i.e. "fill up") just like a gas station. Then it was the funding – nearly a billion in venture capital to date. Next was adapting a traditional automobile – in this case, the Renault Fluence. And finally, putting the entire infrastructure into place.
It took about five years, but now the dream has become reality: Yesterday, company founder Shai Agassi drove the entire length and breadth of Israel in a single day.
In the morning, he left his home near Tel Aviv, driving north to the border with Lebanon, then onto Mount Hermon, the tallest mountain in Israel near the Syrian border. At noon he headed south, and by 7:30 p.m. had covered the entire length of Israel, arriving in the resort town of Eilat. Then for good measure, Agassi drove home to Tel Aviv, arriving just after midnight.
Total: 1,150 km (715 miles). "Range anxiety" no more!
Keep your eyes on this. I predict that within 10 years, you too will own a Better Place car.
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There's so much happening in Israel this week. Yes, the headlines are filled with terrible news of Gaza rockets hitting southern Israeli towns. Of the terrorist infiltration from Egypt that killed a young Israeli-Arab father of four. And of the ever-present specter of Iran speeding toward the Bomb, while stalling world powers at the “nuclear talks.”
But that's only one aspect of life in Israel. In the realm of technology, Google CEO Eric Schmidt was in town this week, praising Google's development centers in Israel as the world's most efficient.
Also this week, tech giant Facebook bought Israeli startup Face.com, which provides facial-recognition technology to help identify and tag photos. Facebook paid an estimated $100 million for this tiny 11-person company, founded just three years ago.
Meanwhile, Abby Joseph Cohen, a senior strategist at Goldman Sachs, gave her estimate of the world's top techno-powers: "China and India manufacture products requiring relatively simple technology, and a cheap workforce, and not products with high added value. Within the context of advanced technology, the U.S. and Israel are top of the table and that's an excellent reason for optimism."
To top it off, this week Shimon Peres is hosting the fourth "Israel Presidential Conference: 'Facing Tomorrow'." The conference brings together top thinkers from around the world for discussions aimed at fostering a better tomorrow for Israel and the world.
The energy here in Israel is spiraling upward. We are living in truly incredible times. Join us!
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We could all use a bit more "disengagement" from electronic media in favor of more quality personal time.
Rabbi Efrem Goldberg writes about a recent performance of the New York Philharmonic. Toward the end of Mahler's Ninth Symphony, someone's cell phone began ringing… and kept on ringing.
Conductors almost never interrupt a performance, other than for truly exceptional circumstances. But in this case, Philharmonic conductor Alan Gilbert didn't just pause the performance -- he turned toward where the sound was coming from and refused to continue with the Symphony until the individual verbally acknowledged that his phone was turned off. (The audience cheered and applauded.)
I don't know about you, but I find it hard to speak with someone who is checking email. Time and again, the quality of my one-on-one communication increases significantly when I am face-to-face and there are no electronic devices in play.
To see how this manifests in real life, check out this great short film, "Disconnect and Enjoy."
Finally, what caught my attention in this hilarious-but-true cartoon is that it's actually from 1996. Imagine how much "worse" things are now!
In 2007, a British woman named Claire Lomas was paralyzed from the chest down after breaking her neck and back in a horse-riding accident. She had no chance of ever walking again.
Until the Israelis came along.
When an accident left Israeli entrepreneur Amit Goffer as a quadriplegic, he designed the ReWalk suit, an ingenious device that enables people with lower-limb paralysis to "walk." ReWalk uses an array of motion sensors to detect upper body movement, which then causes the bionic leg braces to ambulate.
This month, Lomas became the first paralyzed person to complete a marathon not using a wheelchair. She began the London Marathon on April 22 with 36,000 other participants and completed the 26-mile route 16 days after the race began.
"Once I started, I just took each day as it came," she said. "And every step got me a step closer."
The change from wheelchair to walking is profound. Not only in terms of mobility (ReWalk can climb stairs), but also being able to speak eye-to-eye with others goes a long way in building dignity and self-confidence. Goffer, the inventor of the system, says: "When I was injured the first thing I was offered was the only thing: a wheelchair… There hasn't been a real change [in technology] for centuries."
Ironically, Goffer cannot benefit from his own invention. As a quadriplegic, he has only partial use of his hands, but not enough to operate the ReWalk.
To me, this is another chapter in the Israeli story of bringing positive change to the world. The Jewish people are masters of hope and spirit - for millennia the cutting-edge leaders in agriculture, medicine, technology and, of course, the ethical system we're now celebrating on the Shavuot holiday.
My mother lives in a 14-story building in Jerusalem, and taking the Shabbat elevator can be a laborious, time-consuming proposition.
What’s a Shabbat elevator? Since observant Jews do not operate electrical devises on Shabbat (but can use a devise that is preset from before Shabbat), the way to use an elevator on Shabbat is to pre-set it to stop and open its doors at every floor. Yes, every floor on the way up, and every floor on the way down (then back up again). This way, nobody has to summon an elevator or press any buttons; just get in and go for the (slow) ride.
The ride is not so bad, but it’s waiting for the elevator that can be a drag.
Now an enterprising young Jerusalem engineering student, 24-year-old Shlomo Friedman, has come to the rescue. He’s invented a small wireless devise that receives real-time updates from the elevator – then displays on a small LCD screen exactly how much time remains until the elevator arrives.
Purchase one of these devises for your apartment or hotel room and – presto – no more waiting. Just head out to the elevator when there’s about a minute left – and hop right on!
The market for this is not as small as you might think. Friedman estimates that in Israel there are approximately 70,000 high-rise buildings (apartments and hotels) that use Shabbat elevators. Beyond this are other heavily Jewish areas such as New York, Miami, London and – believe it or not – Panama City, where 20 buildings use Shabbat elevators.
Learn more about this fascinating invention: www.beeontime.co.il