Game-changing Israeli inventions
The following is a list of unique Israeli inventions and start-ups in the fields of medicine, technology, and the environment.
• Invented by electro-optical engineer Gavriel Iddan, the PillCam is swallowed by patients and it takes images of the digestive tract and detects such gastrointestinal diseases as Crohn’s. The camera received FDA approval in 2001.
• IsightTec, a company based in Haifa, has developed ExAblate, a system that ultrasounds the body and thermally eliminates certain types of tumors, providing treatment in a noninvasive manner. The FDA approved the technology in 2004.
• Copaxone, a revolutionary drug treatment for multiple sclerosis, was the first Israeli drug approved by the FDA, in 1996. The drug was developed by Michael Sela at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, and is manufactured by Teva Pharmaceuticals.
• Developed by Argo Medical Technologies of Israel, ReWalk is a light suit with motors at the joints, offering greater mobility to people with spinal injuries or diseases. Users choose a motion — standing, sitting, or taking steps — by remote control.
• The USB flash drive was invented by Dov Moran in 1998 in Israel at a company called M-Systems. IBM later manufactured it in the United States.
• Before Twitter and Facebook, there was ICQ. This early instant-messaging program — aptly named “I seek you” — was developed by Yossi Vardi at Mirabilis Ltd. ICQ catapulted the popularity of instant messaging and was sold to AOL for more than $400 million.
• In the realm of dictionaries and translation, Babylon.com, which offers on-line translation in 75 languages, was founded in 1997 by Israeli entrepreneur Amnon Ovadia; by 2011 it supported more than 100 million translation queries each day. Wizcom, a company founded in Israel, developed the Quicktionary, a device that scans printed text and instantly translates the word.
• Technology that can open a computer file and send it directly to a printer was developed by Tel Aviv-based Indigo in the 1990s, allowing companies to print without blocks and plates. Hewlett-Packard acquired Indigo for $720 million.
• Founded in 1999, Mobileye, whose development center is in Jerusalem, uses camera and algorithm technology to detect action on the road, warning drivers of potential hazards or collisions. Its functions include Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Pedestrian Detection, and Traffic Sign Recognition.
• Two notable start-ups have come out of the Zell Entrepreneurship Program of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. Wibiya enables Web publishers to integrate multiple services, applications, and widgets into their environment through customized Web-based toolbars. It was recently sold to Conduit for $45 million. The Gifts Project lets people give and receive group gifts on social networks and e-commerce websites. The company was sold to eBay for more than $20 million.
• Simcha Blass discovered drip irrigation in Israel in the 1930s. Netafim established its first production facility in 1965 and improved Blass’s original design with new technology. Today, Netafim operates in 112 countries, with 13 factories and about 2,000 employees outside of Israel.
• Better Place, a joint American-Israeli company founded by Shai Agassi, has been working to build charging stations and other infrastructure necessary for the successful use of electric vehicles. About 40 such charging stations exist in Israel.
• Earlier this year, the Israeli company Pythagoras Solar introduced its solar-powered window, a photovoltaic unit that reduces heating, cooling, and lighting costs. Through the construction of solar-powered windows in buildings, Pythagoras Solar hopes to solve the problem posed by placing large solar panels on urban streets.