‘Imagination Israel’ Puts Cutting-Edge Jewish Innovations On Display In Boca

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By: Dale King Contributing Writer

Boca Raton area residents closed out 2017 by crowding the auditorium of Olympic Heights High School to view five cutting-edge, high-tech, Israeli-made products and to hear from the people who invented and crafted them.

The program, “Imagination Israel,” an informative, celebratory event leading up to Israel’s 70th anniversary of statehood this spring, was offered by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.

The 90-minute production offered the audience a look at and explanation of such items as new voice recognition software for the speech-impaired, a method of determining Alzheimer’s disease by examining the eye-brain connection, a process for saving water in an increasingly thirsty world and an awe-inspiring look at the future of robotics.

Also, an Israeli scientist told how she had created a virtual fitting room platform and app that has reinvented the way consumers browse, share and shop.

Following the demonstrations, audience members had an opportunity to meet and question the presenters.

“Israel produces astounding products that are changing the world we all live in for the better,” said Matthew C. Levin, the Federation’s president and CEO, who moderated the Nov. 30 presentation.

“As we near Israel’s 70th anniversary, the innovative, technological prowess of this tiny country is clearly one of the miracles that commands celebration. And Diaspora Jewish involvement in Israeli business is an important way to support our homeland.”

According to Forbes and other sources, Israel ranks first among countries in per-capita venture-capital investments, technology startups, scientists and tech professionals. The nation also leads the world in research and development investment as a percentage of GDP.

This tiny country’s high-tech efforts get a boost through investments, partnerships and acquisitions from large corporations like Apple Inc., Intel Corp., IBM and Cisco Systems that create jobs in Israel and enable entrepreneurs to move on and start their next ventures.

Developed in Israel by leading entrepreneurs and scientists, these products — like many others generated there – benefit Israelis as well as consumers in the United States and worldwide.

On the Olympic Heights stage, Dr. Yigal Rotenstreich highlighted his retinal research team’s work at Sheba Medical Center, where they are using advanced, noninvasive imaging techniques and a new medical device to explore the eye as a window to the brain that can detect signs of Alzheimer’s before clinical symptoms become apparent.

Danny Weissberg and Sara Smolley opened the audience’s eyes with videos showing how their Voiceitt technology translates speech from children and adults with mild to severe impairments as a result of cerebral palsy, autism, ALS and Parkinson’s into a clear voice in real time. This, they said, enables them to communicate naturally and spontaneously with family members, health care professionals, peers and society as a whole.

The software learns and adapts over time, they noted, continually improving its performance.

Yael Vizel, CEO and co-founder of Zeekit, a virtual fitting room program, allows consumers to “try on” fashions virtually, see how an item looks on them, get personalized size suggestions and share their new looks with friends — all on their mobile devices.

Vizel said she was inspired to create Zeekit by the mapping technologies used for intelligence missions during her tenure as a captain in the Israeli Air Force. She was also moved by a scene in the movie, Clueless, in which Alicia Silverstone, as Cher, uses a similar program on her computer.

Ziv Zaretsky, executive VP for sales and development at TaKaDu, a global software provider of integrated solutions for the water industry, outlined the company’s services. Its programs enable utilities to detect, analyze and manage leaks, bursts, faulty assets, telemetry and data issues and operational failures, increasing efficiency and reducing water loss.

Yaron Schwarcz from Tridom Robotics said that firm’s robotics technology and 3D printing solutions focus on safety in construction work, the third deadliest occupation in the world. They are currently designing high-tech devices to use in their robotic window washing system.