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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘high-tech’

Israel Will Be ‘First Totally Digital Country,’ Says Cisco CEO

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Cisco’s CEO touts Arab-Jewish teamwork, meet with Peres, announces an innovation venture with   Bezeq communications system, and predicts Israel will be the world’s first totally digital country.

Cisco CEO John Chambers, speaking about his company’s involvement in Israel Electric Corporation’s fiber optic venture, predicted on Wednesday, “Israel is about to become the first fully digital country in the world.”

“This is something that most countries do a little at a time; you are going to do everything at once,” he added.

Cisco also announced it is opening a new innovation center with Israel’s Bezeq communications system and its mobile cell division Pelephone and will test on Pelephone’s live production network the world’s first self-optimizing heterogeneous configuration that combines small-cell, Wi-Fi and macro technologies, Globes business newspaper reported.

Last February, Cisco paid $475 million for Israel’s Intucell company.

Chambers. who attended President Shimon Peres’ pre-90th birthday celebrations Tuesday night, said after meeting with Wednesday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that Cisco intends to make available $15 million for funds “that support integration of Israeli Arabs, and development of innovative security technologies.”

Cisco already employs approximately 200 people in Israel and intends to hire 100 more,

Savvy Israelis Ahead of US in Smartphone Internet Use

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Israel is ahead of the United States and Europe in the use of Internet on smartphones, and Israel is almost at the top of pack in the percentage of people owning smartphones, according to Google and other market surveys.

Israel is the country that gave the world chat instant messaging, disk on-key, Waze and MobileEye, among hundreds of other high-tech gadgets and computer programs.

The smartphone came to Israel in 2009, two years after it was launched in the United States and Europe, but Israelis have made up for lost time.

Approximately 93 percent of Israelis use Internet through smartphone, compared with 83 percent in the United States, and 77 percent watch YouTube, according to Google and Ipsos MediaCT surveys, which examine habits of smartphone use worldwide.

More than 57 percent of Israelis have a smartphone, up from 35 percent last year. At even half that rate of growth, Israelis will be the most smartphone-saturated country in the world next year. The penetration in France is only 42 percent and in Germany is 40 percent.

Approximately 60 percent of Americans are estimated to have smartphones, and 62 percent of Britons have the high-tech gadget.

Israelis have the popular habit of answering phones in the middle of a chupah or Brit Mila. The new marketing surveys show that half of Israelis feel comfortable in using their smartphones at social occasions. When using the smartphones in coffee shops, more than half of the respondents said they use one hand for holding the coffee cup and the other for the smartphone.

When Israelis start trying to speak with the coffee cups and drinking the smartphones, then we knew have a big problem.

Google to Buy Waze for $1.3 Billion

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Google will fork out $1.3 billion to buy the Israeli-based Waze social-friendly navigation app, the Hebrew-language Globes business newspaper reported Sunday. Waze’s staff reportedly will remain in Raanana.

Facebook reportedly was in front of the lineup to buy Waze, but Waze rejected the condition that its staff be transferred to the United States. Waze may also have been holding out for more money, and Google came up with the right price.

Apple had been rumored to be a potential bidder, but Apple CEO Tim Cook denied those reports.

Waze has soared in popularity, with more than 50 million users around the world, and that number is growing every day.

Google has shown that it loves Israel. In 2010, it bought up website gadget developer LabPixies for $25 million and interactive video-clip developer QuikSee for $10 million, and has set up a Google office here. Facebook, on the other hand, has closed down the Israeli operations of most of the companies it bought up.

The Waze app allows drivers using smartphone and tablet to share information on driving times and traffic situations, as well as the location of police radar traps, accidents and hazardous conditions. Based on user-shared information, it helps users find the fastest path to their destination taking into account traffic conditions and preferred routes.

The $1.3 billion price tag is more than 40 times the $30 million of financing Waze received less than year ago, three years after it was founded.  Waze’s founders will be instant multi-millionaires thanks to the Google purchase, which has not been officially confirmed.

But no one has denied the purchase eitehr. Waze told Globes “no comment,” and Google said, “We don’t relate to rumors and speculation.”

The influx of another $1.3 billion into Israel is great news for the Finance Ministry and for anyone purchasing items whose prices are based on the dollar. It is terrible news for exporters and for Israelis whose salaries come from the United States.

The influx of dollars will put downward pressure on the shekel-dollar rate, which dropped last week to 3.61 shekels to the dollar.

Last month. Warren Buffet paid out $2 billion to buy the remaining shares of the Iscar precision tool maker, and PepsiCo and Coca Cola are now rumored to be offering approximately $2 billion for the Israeli SodaStream manufacturer of machines that convert tap water into soda, and which had become an international hit.

The influx of those big bucks, along with the prospects of Israel’s exporting gas and bringing in more foreign currency, has strengthened the shekel. It also is a major headache for corporations and wage earners whose profits and salaries are in dollars and then converted to shekels.

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer has tried to battle the drop in the shekel-dollar rate by cutting the interest rate by a quarter of a percent, twice in two weeks, and announcing a $2 billion buying binge of dollars. So far, the “Fischer effect” has been negligible and the rate has continued to drop.

Following the report of the Google purchase of Waze, the exchange rate may drop again Monday when currency trading resumes, unless Fischer buys more dollars – lots of them.

Lockheed to Build Development Center in Negev

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor,  is establishing a development information system center in the Negev, the latest addition to a growing list of some of the largest American-based companies to set up operations in Israel.

The center will be part of the IDF Intelligence Corp’s technology campus in the Negev.

Israel has agreed to buy several Lockheed F-35 stealth warplanes.

Lockheed Martin VP global solutions Robert Eastman told Globes, “The intention is to establish a local branch of Lockheed Martin in Israel in the field of information systems.”.

“We specialize in carrying out especially difficult migration to computer systems. This requires us to be here, with the customers, every day. We have succeeded several times with this model in previous projects, and we intend to apply this model in Israel too. It includes the opening of offices, bringing in our workers, initially from other countries, hiring local workers, and cooperating with local companies.”

Lockheed Martin’s participation in the Negev center will involve adapting lines of code written decades ago, to modern computer systems. This process will sometimes be straightforward, but in other cases will require the rewriting of code.

Lockheed Martin expects to hire 100 Israeli employees for 1-2 years to set up the data center.

Eastman said that Lockheed Martin is examining other opportunities in the Israeli market, especially in information security.

Can Google Glasses Help Your Rabbi Decide if the Etrog is Kosher?

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Over the past few weeks, strangers have begun stopping high school computer science teacher Chaim Cohen on the street. A few accuse him of recording them without their knowledge. Even fewer blame him for all of society’s ills.

But many just want an answer to a simple question: Is he wearing Google Glass?

Cohen is among the approximately 2,000 developers throughout the United States who are trying out the search giant’s much-hyped wearable computer, a futuristic Internet-connected gadget that users wear like a pair of glasses and enables them to stream information from the Web directly into their field of vision.

Using voice commands and hand gestures, Google Glass users can take pictures, record videos, get directions and send messages.

“I offer to let them try it on,” Cohen said. “My goal is to advocate for this and show people that this is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing.”

Well before Google Glass is expected to be publicly available sometime in 2014, the device already is generating controversy. Critics worry that users will be able to surreptitiously take photographs with an app that permits wearers to snap pictures just by winking. Some bars and casinos, citing privacy concerns, have preemptively banned the device. In West Virginia, legislators have tried to make it illegal to wear Glass while driving.

But none of this concerns Barry Schwartz, CEO of the Web development firm RustyBrick, who can hardly wait to get his hands on it. Schwartz is one of the 8,000 “explorers” chosen by Google to receive the device for $1,500 apiece.

“We would be programming Jewish-related apps to help Jewish people use the technology to live their Jewish lives,” said Schwartz, whose company has already developed popular Jewish applications for smartphones, like a digital prayer book and Hebrew translator.

Schwartz’s vision of a Glass-enabled Jewish life sounds incredibly futuristic. Notifications flash when it’s time to pray. Nearby synagogues or kosher restaurants are instantly located. Important Jewish dates such as yahrtzeits and holidays are never forgotten.

Recently, a Chabad rabbi at StanfordUniversity set up a Google Glass tefillin stand. Men who chose to don the ritual leather straps then put on Glass and the blessing flashed before their eyes.

Google Glass, which is generating controversy even before hitting the market in 2014, is being seen as a powerful technology for Jewish applications. Potential Jewish applications for Glass are endless, Schwartz says.

“Let’s say you want to buy an etrog,” he said. “You can create a Google Hangout and have a rabbi look at the etrog as you are looking at it. The rabbi can ask you to turn it to the right and turn it to the left, and can give you an opinion about it right away.”

Mike Vidikan of the Washington, D.C.-based organization Innovaro, which provides insights about how new technologies will shape the future business environment, expects that Glass also could significantly change how consumers shop for kosher food.

“As they start inspecting a particular group of foods,” he explained, “notifications could pop up with information about the kosher certifications, as well as reviews, and who in their social networks recommend it.”

In education, where information technology already is transforming the classroom experience, Glass could be yet another game-changer. Hebrew school classes could tour Israel virtually, seeing the country though the eyes of a guide equipped with the device. Students in various locations could participate in classes together, following text as seen through the eyes of a teacher.

Cohen, who teaches at a public school in central New Jersey, plans to develop an application that will help him learn his students’ names.

“I don’t remember all the names of my students during the first weeks of school,” he said. “I want to be able to look at them and have their names overlapped on top.”

Despite the enthusiasm, tech experts from Jewish day schools are skeptical. Price is one factor. At $1,500, Glass is significantly more expensive than an iPad or similar devices.

Educators also are understandably uneasy about a device that can snap pictures, literally, with the wink of an eye. Others point out that since Glass’ apps are still being developed, its educational value remains to be seen.

Waze’s Demand to Keep Jobs in Israel Freezes Facebook’s Bid

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Israel’s Waze user-based social mapping and navigation startup seems to be too Zionist for Facebook, which has been trying to pay up to $1 billion for the company.

Facebook reportedly insists that the Waze management team re-locate to California from Israel, a condition that money can’t buy, at least not yet, according to the AllThingsD website.

Google, which has an R & D center in Israel, also has been interested in buying up Waze, but Apple denies similar rumors.

The purchase of Waze by Facebook would be logical because Waze’s success is based on drivers reporting to each other traffic conditions and radar traps. Facebook does not offer any mapping services.

Abbas’ Adviser Calls Israel-PA High-Tech Meeting ‘Unacceptable’

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas  advisor on high-tech affairs strongly criticized a planned meeting between Palestinian Authority and Israel high-tech companies, calling such meetings “unacceptable” because they give the world the wrong impression.

The adviser, Sabri Saydam, told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an  news agency that Palestinian Authority companies should reconsider their participation and “give priority to Palestinian interests.”

He added that the companies should not act  independently of the PA union of high-tech firms.

What could be wrong about Israeli and PA high-tech companies talking to each other, especially since officials from 11 high-tech companies, including Microsoft and Cisco, are to attend?

For starters, the forum is being organized by the Peres Center for Peace. That already puts a Zionist stamp on the meeting.

The forum is entitled ”Business without Barriers,” but without barriers, the Palestinian Authority cannot claim it is an Israeli scheme for  Apartheid.

One of Saydam’s problems is that, according to Ma’an, “there were still few details about the event.”

Perhaps it is a Zionist plot to snare Microsoft and Cisco into declaring that Israeli high-tech companies have a Jewish identity, and that might cause the international community to think that Israel is a Jewish state.

Even worse, the meeting is scheduled for Tel Aviv. The Palestinian Authority undoubtedly would want it to take place in some PA high-tech city, if any exist.

And what would the international community think if it saw that Palestinian Authority Arabs and Israeli Jews can sit down for direct talks on high-tech without pre-published “details of the event?”

One might reach the conclusion, horror of horrors, that Abbas could sit down with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu without knowing ahead of time ”details of the event.” But that might lead to negotiations, in the true sense of the term.

And that would spell the end of Abbas’ “peace process” strategy of “I take, you give.”

Now that Microsoft and Cisco understand what Abbas means by “direct talks,” maybe they can explain the term to John Kerry.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/abbas-adviser-calls-israel-pa-high-tech-meeting-unacceptable/2013/05/29/

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