One of Israel’s sources of pride in the 63 years of its existence as a state is the enormous number of inventions and innovations that germinated in the minds of its citizens and later took root. The ever-churning Israeli mind brought us BabySense (an indispensable tool for nearly all parents), the cherry tomato (without which no gourmet salad is complete), the Better Place electric car (which is making in-roads around the globe), the Disk on Key (relied on by home and office computer users), and much more.
“Innovations, Inc.,” a fascinating exhibit at the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem spotlights 50 of the most important and indispensable inventions in Israel’s history. The exhibition features innovations in the fields of alternative energy and energy savings (such as a solar power station, LED bulb, and wind turbine), agriculture and food (drip irrigation and a variety of interesting fruit- and vegetable-growing techniques), medicine (robotic surgery and diagnostic tools for home use), and many other areas, including communication, security, and games.
Here are just a few of the inventions featured:
■ Given Imaging, a world leader in developing and marketing patient-friendly solutions for visualizing and detecting disorders of the GI tract, is best known for its PillCam (aka capsule endoscopy), now the gold standard for intestinal visualization.
■ Pythagoras Solar makes the world’s first solar window, which combines energy efficiency, power generation and transparency.
■ Hazera Genetics, a project of two professors at the Hebrew University Faculty of Agriculture, yielded the cherry tomato – a tasty salad fixing that ripens slowly and doesn’t rot in shipment.
■ BabySense is a non-touch, no-radiation device designed to prevent crib death. Made by HiSense, the device monitors a baby’s breathing and movements through the mattress during sleep.
■ EpiLady, the first electric hair remover (epilator), secured its leading position in the international beauty care market and since 1986 has sold almost 30 million units.
■ MobileEye combines a tiny digital camera with sophisticated algorithms to help drivers navigate more safely.
■ Leviathan Energy innovated the Wind Tulip, a cost-effective, silent, vibration-free wind turbine designed as an aesthetic environmental sculpture, producing clean energy at high efficiency from any direction.
■ BriefCam video-synopsis technology lets viewers rapidly review and index original full-length video footage by concurrently showing multiple objects and activities that actually occurred at different times.
■ Intel Israel changed the face of the computing world with the 8088 processor (the “brain” of the first PC), MMX and Centrino mobile technology. Israeli engineers at Intel in the 1990s had to convince skeptical bosses to take a chance on MMX technology, an innovation designed to improve computer processing. It’s now considered a milestone in the company’s history.
■ Disk-on-Key, the ubiquitous little portable storage device made by SanDisk, was invented by Dov Moran as an upgraded version of disk and diskette technology through the use of flash memory and USB interface for connection to personal computers.
■ Mazor Robotics’ Spine Assist and other surgical robots are transforming spine surgery from freehan
d procedures to highly accurate, state-of-the-art operations with less need for radiation.
■ The optical heartbeat monitor developed by Bar-Ilan University’s Prof. Ze’ev Zalevsky is a revolutionary medical technology using a fast camera and small laser light source.
■ Like-A-Fish unique air supply systems extract air from water, freeing leisure and professional scuba divers, as well as submarines and underwater habitats, from air tanks.
■ Itamar Medical’s WatchPAT is an FDA-approved portable diagnostic device for the follow-up treatment of sleep apnea in the patient’s own bedroom, rather than at a sleep disorders clinic.
■ Zenith Solar developed a modular, easily scalable high-concentration photovoltaic system (HCPV).
■ Turbulence, the world’s first hyper-narrative, interactive movie, is also the name of the company developed by Prof. Nitzan Ben-Shaul of Tel Aviv University. The technology allows the viewer to choose the direction of the film’s plot by pressing buttons on the PC, Mac or iPad at various moments in the action.
■ Decell Technologies is a global leader in providing real-time road traffic information based on monitoring the location and movement of phones and GPS devices.
■ NDS VideoGuard technology is the pay-TV industry’s advanced suite of conditional access (CA) solutions. It protects branded service from piracy and ensures that consumers will have the choice and flexibility they demand in broadcast and on-demand content.
■ PrimeSense revolutionizes interaction with digital devices by allowing them to “see” in three dimensions and transfer control from remote controls and joysticks to hands and body.
■ The Zomet Institute in Jerusalem is a non-profit, public research institute where rabbis, researchers and engineers devise practical solutions for modern life without violating Sabbath restrictions on the use of electricity.
■ The EarlySense continuous monitoring solution allows hospital nurses to watch and record patients’ heart rate, respiration and movement remotely through a contact-free sensor under the mattress.
■ The 3D tethered particle motion system developed by three professors at Bar-Ilan allows for three-dimensional tracking of critical protein-DNA and protein-RNA cell interactions in the body.