15 Israeli Startups to Watch in 2016

Look out for companies coming out of this growing tech community

 

From creating instant messaging technology and Waze to inventing drip irrigation and water desalination solutions, Israel has become a global tech leader. This year, investors have been flocking to Israel from New York, China and all over the world in order to find opportunities, as Israeli entrepreneurs continue to raise the bar and think out-of-the-box. Here are 15 exciting Israeli tech startups to watch in 2016, in the fields of finance, media, advertising, health, consumer tech, and cyber security, literally, from A to Z:

Audioburst

Launched in 2015, Audioburst is bringing radio into the modern age by making it searchable and shareable. Radio has remained virtually the only medium that isn't easy to consume online, meaning radio content hardly ever goes viral and effectively disappears into thin air as soon as it is broadcast. Audioburst has begun recording and automatically transcribing radio broadcasts through its sophisticated search engine, so that users can search for snippets, called "bursts," on topics that interest them-whether sports, politics, business, or highly specific search terms. The company brings value to radio stations because it allows their content to have a longer shelf life, while at the same time offering monetization and distribution opportunities.

AzurePCR

The next generation of disease diagnosis may be based on a process known as qPCR, or quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. AzurePCR, based in the UK and founded by Israeli software engineers, is at the forefront of making this technology available to health care workers. The method involves extracting DNA from a bacteria, virus, or other pathogen. Then AzurePCR's product called AccuCall uses machine learning to analyze the DNA and develop a "fingerprint" to help identify it. The result is a much faster, cheaper and automated diagnosis than would be possible with human analysis. The time, money and error savings could be invaluable in stemming outbreaks of diseases like H1N1 or SARS and allowing low income individuals to self diagnose, treat and prevent.

CheckMarx

CheckMarx tackles zero-day exploits at the source, in lines of code as they're being written. By monitoring every stage of its clients' software development, CheckMarx is able to scrutinize code with a fine-toothed comb and find vulnerabilities early. It's much cheaper and more effective to fix a problem when it's new rather than "patch" it after having been on the market. The financial value of unearthing software vulnerabilities is virtually incalculable for a big company, since the potential costs of hacks are so high. So business is booming for CheckMarx, with clients like Coca-Cola, SAP, and Salesforce. In June, the company closed a monster round of venture funding worth $84 million, bringing total investments to $92 million.

Dapulse

Dapulse is a sleekly designed project management tool that brings transparency to organizations by allowing teams to collaborate easily. The platform is intuitive, visual and flexible, to a degree that managers can fully customize the look and content of their dashboards. The customization options allow for dapulse to have many use cases, from project management and CRM to task lists and collaborative communication. Since 2012 dapulse has brought in $4 million in venture and angel funding. Thousands of companies are using dapulse, including big names like AOL, Discovery and WeWork.

Fairfly

After you make a purchase, you're finished with comparing prices. But in at least one product category that doesn't make sense. Airplane ticket prices fluctuate wildly and unpredictably. There's never a guarantee that your flight won't cost half as much two weeks after you book it. Fairfly lets users capture those savings. If the price of a flight drops so far that the potential savings make up for the cancellation fee, Fairfly automatically cancels the original itinerary and books the new one. The company takes a 9% commission and gives the user the rest. Based in California and founded by a young Israeli team, Fairfly raised $2 million of venture funding in June 2015 to add to an undisclosed amount of seed capital.

Fraudlogix

A cybersecurity firm, Fraudlogix detects fraudulent website traffic, which can harm advertisers and publishers tremendously. The company protects online brands against risks associated with purchasing fraudulent traffic. Fraudlogix uses proprietary algorithms and databases to detect this and other types of fraud that other methods miss. The company, with offices in Florida and Israel, keeps funding and revenue numbers close to the chest. But its name often comes up as a primary source when news breaks about fraud. It has established the Register of Top Performers, an index of sites with low fraudulent traffic.


Gett

Gett is a ride hailing app operating in 50 cities including New York, London, Tel Aviv and Moscow. The company, which prides itself on no surge pricing and 24/7 customer service, got its start in Israel and has grown significantly since. According to Gett's CEO, the company has tripled its revenues year over year since 2011 and is at a $500m revenue run rate. The company plans to expand into delivery of items and other conveniences.

 

Illusive Networks

Rather than keeping hackers out, Illusive Networks sets a trap for them. The company's novel approach to cybersecurity involves creating pathways through a company's servers that appear to be real, but which are actually alarm systems. This method of detection helps companies respond to threats calmly. "We have customers who don't pull the plug on the hacker, but let him keep moving and see what he's doing and better know the nature of the attacker and what he's after," CEO Shlomo Touboul told TechCrunch. Enterprises have taken to Illusive Networks' approach and investors have followed. In October, the company closed a $22 million Series B round, bringing total funding to $27 million.

Mapme

Mapme lets companies-or anyone, for that matter-create collaborative, custom maps and embed them on any website. The service has been used to map everything from restaurants serving hummus around the world to Ukraine's tech companies and startups. Once a map is live, the map's creator can choose to allow anyone to update it with new locations and information. The maps are sleeker and much more customizable than embedded Google Maps. Founder Ben Lang started Mapme as a side project while serving in the Israel Defense Forces. Last year the company raised$1 million from two Israeli investors to fund expansion and R&D.

Moovit

Like Waze for public transportation, Moovit leverages user data as well as publically available information like schedules to give the most efficient directions from point A to point B. Like Google Maps' public transit feature, Moovit combines various modes of transportation from walking to buses to subways. But it differentiates itself with its user data, which Google doesn't have access to. In some cities, Moovit also allows users to hail a ride through the app. Investors have pumped more than $80 millioninto the company.

Riskified

Every time an e-commerce store makes a sale it has to make a decision: in exchange for a credit card number, which may or may not be legitimate, should I deliver a real good? Most online stores aren't in a position to accurately gauge the risk inherent in this decision, so they are too conservative. This means rejecting transactions and losing some legitimate sales. Riskified takes this decision out of its customers' hands. The Tel Aviv-based company specializes in assessing the risk of dubious credit card transactions. It takes financial responsibility for any transactions it approves, meaning that its customers can accept more transactions and not pay the price for making the wrong decision. Founded in 2012, Riskified secured seed money from angel investors in 2013 and closed a $4 million Series A round the following year.

Tipalti

Global e-commerce and online advertising companies (among others) make thousands of payments to partners all over the world every day. The back office workload this creates can be crushing. Tipalti has been a lifesaver for many of these businesses. It automates the process of making global mass payments and also manages the complexities of international regulatory and tax compliance. Some of the company's clients have seen the resources they devote to making payments cut by 50 percent or more. Founded in 2010 by Chen Amit, a serial tech entrepreneur, and Oren Zeev, a prolific angel investor (Chegg, Duda Mobile, Houzz, and others), Tipalti raised $13 million in 2014 to fund continuing growth.

TOM

TOM was built on the idea that many real-world problems could be solved if only technologists and makers would be made aware of them. TOM events, which began in Israel and have been hosted around the world, bring together engineers, technologists, and makers of all kinds for three days to tackle specific challenges faced by individuals with disabilities. At one TOM makeathon, participants created a walker with two joints in the middle to help a woman who couldn't walk on her own climb stairs. At another, engineers and electricians collaborated to create a bionic hand. Sponsored by Stratasys and Makerbot, TOM is looking for new host cities and participants.

Votiro

Votiro has achieved the holy grail of cybersecurity: technology that can defend against zero-day attacks. Zero-day exploits take advantage of vulnerabilities that are unknown to security firms, which makes them extremely difficult to defend against. Zero-day exploits and other malware can be embedded in innocuous-looking email attachments, which is how most of them reach corporate servers. Votiro's software can ferret out these threats even though they're unknown (most anti-virus software looks for known threats). The software is in such demand that Votiro, founded in Tel Aviv in 2009, has not needed significant outside funding. The company is profitable and self-sustaining.

Zuta

The only device of its kind, Zuta is a truly mobile printer. The palm-sized printer moves over paper on wheels as it deposits ink. It can print on paper of any size and prints documents sent from mobile phones. It's the kind of invention that you can't believe wasn't created sooner. Three thousand Kickstarter backers seemed to share that sentiment. They funded the product with more than $500,000 of pre-orders and donations. Now that the Zuta is in production, the printers are selling quickly. The second production batch, released in October, sold out before the end of the month. The next Zutas go on sale in January.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

  

PUBLISHED ON: JAN 20, 2016

Meet the New 'TEDx' of Social Action

TEDx spreads ideas and knowledge throughout individual communities. Tikkun Olam is the Jewish idea of "repairing the world." Now, a new project aims to blend the two concepts to solve social issues.

Related: Amazon Launches a Maker Marketplace That Will Compete With Etsy

TOM (Tikkun Olam Makers) is a 72-hour event that brings coders, developers, engineers and doctors together with individuals with disabilities. The mission is to solve the everyday issues that the latter group faces, using new assistive technologies. In just three days, 10 to 20 projects are completed by 150 people, as this video demonstrates.

The events are made possible through their unique collaborative nature: Volunteers work with individuals facing challenges to create the best solutions possible.

Here’s a look at how TOM events work and why they matter:

How it works

TOM has held hold a total of seven events in the past year -- one each in Tel Aviv, San Francisco, the Bay Area, and Calgary; two in northern Israel and two in São Paulo.

How do these global events happen? Much like the way TEDx events are organized, TOM relies on the power of local communities. "We don’t want to run the events -- we want the local communities to do it,” says Sefi Attias, co-founder of TOM. “We provide the methodology, the process, the branding, the online portal and access to our growing network of global sponsors. We give them the framework.”

Events in each location partner with local organizations to provide the cutting-edge technology needed to build the innovative solutions. Tools like 3D, laser cutters and raw materials are available to the participants at each event, thanks to global and local partners.

Each event is run by local volunteers. Designers, engineers, scientists, care professionals, entrepreneurs and others come together to plan, produce and execute the event.

Sapir Caduri, an engineer at Google who has participated in four TOM makeathons, said, "I have been to other hackathons, but TOM is not the same. TOM is not just about being a cool geek, it's about developing something for and with people with a real need. It gives you the feeling you got way more than you gave."

The process starts with a "call for challenge" and a "call for talent" in the local community. Then invites to both individuals and organizations are sent, and applications are curated and filtered, by volunteer professionals, to ensure technological feasibility and social benefit. Once filtered, a pre-TOM event takes place and allows "need knowers" to meet with selected talents to form teams and transition from challenges to projects.

The teams research and work, online and off, before the event and are encouraged to arrive at the event with an understanding of the tools, technology and materials they expect to need, to tackle the challenge.

The leaders behind TOM are less focused on facilitating each individual event than investing more in the research and collaboration side to keep the organization growing and events occurring worldwide.

Related: This Program Wants to Help People With Disabilities Become Entrepreneurs

Why it’s important

TOM brings together people facing real-life challenges with the talent that can solve those problems. The event allows individuals with specific disabilities to form a relationship with the people behind their solutions, which leads to personalized tools and technology. “We’re allowing people to use a simple system to solve unsolved needs,” says Attias.

Those needs remain largely unsolved because large, for-profit companies typically invest only in projects with a large customer base; that leaves little-to-no room to solve the unique needs of those with specific intellectual and developmental disabilities. TOM events, in contrast, allow the creation of innovative solutions to be customized for individuals. Under typical circumstances, those solutions would require a lot of time and money.

"For people with disabilities, here at TOM, one can imagine a solution to their challenge, and it's like a dream on one hand and a gift on the other," said Eran Tamir, father of participant Guy, who has a disability.

The future of TOM

The mission of TOM has been focused, but its founders are looking toward expanding the events in the future. “Now we're focused on assistive technology, but we'll do other things down the line,” says Attias. “We’re less focused on producing events and more interested in scaling.

“TOM was grown out of a leading societal think-tank, the Reut Institute, and due to those roots, we are always challenged to think of areas in which there is an overlap between government failure and market failure," Attias adds. "At our last event, we tested our methodology on the needs of the elderly, and we feel our human centered approach has relevance in many other fields."

Reut Institute president Gidi Grinstein says, "TOM's uniqueness is its ability to connect innovative technology and social goals, and that's a critical function for bettering humanity." 

By 2017, the organization aims to host 100 events. The demand for the events is there -- five people with disabilities apply for each open spot, Attias says.

Some of the upcoming locations for the beginning of 2016 include Australia, Argentina and Washington, DC, where calls for talent and challenges are open.

In addition to expanding, the founders are  looking at changing the model of TOM from a nonprofit to a self-sustained model that will allow rapid growth. As the organization grows, it promises to address more solutions to other, unaddressed problems.

What organizations are using tech to change your community? Let us know in the comments!

Highlights from the TOM Bay Area Makeathon

This past weekend, Medgadget was invited to the TOM Bay Area Makeathon in San Francisco. Like most makeathons/hackathons, the event was 72 straight hours of designing and tinkering. However, this event was focused specifically on creating affordable assistive technologies for the needs of people with disabilities.

TOM (Tikkun Olam Makers, a Hebrew phrase which means “healing the world”) started with four makers from Israel who had a vision of mobilizing the Maker movement to solve many of the world’s problems. Together with support from Google.org, MakerBot, and other corporate sponsors, TOM has been able to put on four makeathon events with many successful projects (the Bay Area event is their first in the U.S.).

Each of the 18 participating teams from around the world is paired with a “need-knower”, a person with a disability who has an idea on how their life, and the lives of others, can be improved with technology. With 3D printers, Google Glass, and an unlimited supply of coffee at their disposal, the teams work non-stop through the weekend to hopefully make their need-knower’s dream a reality. We were able to chat with a few of the teams and their need-knowers around the halfway point of the event. Here are some notable highlights:

Smart Seat: Patients who are confined to a wheelchair risk developing pressure sores if they stay in one position for too long without moving. Smart Seat (or “Smart Ass” according to one team member) is a cushion containing pressure sensors to alert the user if he or she has been sitting in the same position for too long. Additionally, the cushion will contain actuators to help the person shift their weight, move around, or completely lift them off the chair for a short period of time. The photo shows a 3D printed prototype of the unit that will eventually house the sensors and actuators.

iEat: Team iEat is developing a robotic arm containing spoons to help guide food to the mouths of patients who have decreased upper limb functionality. Inspired by the mechanism of a typical balanced-arm lamp, the iEat evolved to a Lego Technic concept and then to a small-scale electronic prototype.

Team Crush: Patients with gastronomy tubes usually require medicine administered directly through the g-tube itself. However, this medicine is often in pill form, which means it must be ground into powder and diluted with water. Currently, the common practice is to crush the pill with a mortar and pestle, transfer the powder to another container, dilute it, then transfer it to a g-tube syringe. A significant quantity of medicine is wasted with this process. Team Crush’s solution is a combination mortar and pestle and g-tube syringe. A pill is placed into the mortar (top red part in the photo). The smaller end of the pestle grinds the pill into powder, and water is added directly to the mortar. The pestle is flipped over, and the wider end becomes a plunger that is inserted into the mortar. The entire unit acts as a g-tube syringe, with the now liquid medicine being dispensed through the bottom of the pestle directly into the g-tube. Neat.

Life Chair: Life Chair will be the wheelchair for the 20th century. A standard wheelchair can be easily and affordably upgraded with additional gears, a motor, and electronics to become an electric chair controlled by your smartphone. During our visit to team Life Chair, they were discussing implementing proximity sensors, cameras, GPS, and other technologies to make Life Chair even smarter.

We were hugely impressed with all the projects and wish all the teams the best of luck as they continue to develop their solutions!

72 Hours to Shift the Lives of the Disabled

An array of promising technologies to help the disabled were on display at the most-recent makeathon hosted by the nonprofit TOM and Makerbot.

Brian Buntz

One of the prototypes developed at the Tikkun Olam Makers makeathon was a hand-free cupholder for crutches. The device won the Prize4Life award for Independence.

There are 1 billion people living with disabilities worldwide, according to the WHO. “That is one in seven people,” says SefiAttias, CTO of the global nonprofit Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM), which has the backing of tech heavyweights Makerbot, Google, Intel, and Autodesk, among others. But many of these people still feel like second-class citizens, often lacking access to technologies that could enable them to perform basic tasks that most people take for granted.

“The problem with [this market] is that it is a super-segmented market not generally served by normal market forces,”Attias said at the 72-hour TOM Bay Area Makeathon in San Francisco, which wrapped up on September 13. “And when companies do create products for these people, they are often expensive and not accessible for a lot of people.”

A TED for Problem Solving

TOM was founded last year to direct the creative energy of the Maker Movement to address the problems of what it calls “need knowers”—people who either have a disability or know someone who does. “What TED is for inspiration, we want to be for problem solving,” Attias said. “We want to create a movement to run these events around the world.”

To date, the organization has hosted four competitive makeathons in collaboration with Makerbot—72-hour marathon events, in which makers crank out ideas and prototypes while working closely with those with disabilities.

A panel of judges selects the most promising technologies on the final day, and, after the event, the designs are uploaded to Makerbot’s Thingiverse platform, a website that hosts the designs of products ranging from drones to prosthetic hands. “From there, the community can improve them, remix them, and come up with new ideas. You are doing a local event here, but you are bringing it to the world with Thingiverse.”

About 100 volunteers participated in the recent event in San Francisco, which was hosted in the TechShop—a two-story space that was full with tools, technology, and 3-D printers.  

Helping an Armless Woman Grasp Objects

An example of a project developed at the TOM Bay Area Makeathon is a grasper that can enable Kim Lathrop (pictured in the center) to pick up objects with a mouth-controlled grasper. A prototype of the device can be seen in the foreground in black and red.

One example of a project from the most recent event was a grasping device designed to help an armless woman move objects. “At home, I use mouth sticks to hit light switches and to push buttons on the remote control and telephones and stuff like that. I also have a longer one for bringing things closer to me,” Kim Lathrop (pictured above) recounted. But I have never had one that grabbed things to help me pick up a plate or to move a telephone to move it to another table.”

The team had the idea to come up with a custom mouth stick with a reliable claw that made it possible for her to pick up objects. As of about 11:00 a.m. yesterday, the group was working on the second version of the device. To fit the device for the user’s mouth, they used a takeout container as a bite plate and then made sure the part designed to go in the mouth fit within the allotted space.

They initially began working on a design that was closed in the resting position and would open when clenched with the jaws, but that design proved to be bulky and somewhat hard to control. They were happy, however, with the second version, which when squeezed with the jaws, grabs ahold of an object. The design required relatively few moving parts to be in the part of the device that fits in the mouth, and only required about a centimeter of travel to grab ahold of an object.

This new mechanism only needs about a centimeter of travel to work, so it had a lot less moving parts in the mouth than the first iteration.

FlashSight for the Blind

Another project spotted at the event was the FlashSight, an iPhone app that can convey information about the real-world environment to the blind.

The developers are working on creating the app, which will be freely available to the visually impaired. The app will take advantage of sensors and connectivity already bundled into the phone while integrating concepts from psychoacoustics research.

The app could enable users to submit notes into the system, for instance flagging that there is a low-hanging tree branch at a certain location. That information can also be shared with others, helpingvisually impaired people in the area from inadvertently bumping into that branch by warning them that they are near it.

One of the developers of the technology is Joshua Miele, a Berkeley, CA–based scientist who was blinded by a chemical burn at the age of four and went on to become the inventor of a number of devices to help the visually impaired. Projects he has helped develop include a talking tactile pen and a virtual wireless Braille keyboard.

5 Life-Changing Accessibility Inventions Made in 72 Hours

Over three days this weekend, participants in the Tikkun Olam Makers tackled real problems faced by people with special needs in an effort to create tools and devices that will help improve mobility, independence, comfort, and more. The event teamed “need knowers” — those who would use the devices — with Makers, rolling design, prototyping, and testing of inventions into one 72-hour event.

By formatting the Makeathon this way, it addresses the challenges of people who are actually in the room, says TOM founding director Arnon Zamir.

“The thing about doing something good is, most people say they’ll do it later,” says Zamir. “This is a way to make that happen now.”

His method seems to have worked. The devices created at the Makeathon offered clever solutions to real needs, and tended toward practical, replicable design. Here are five that jumped out.

1. Team Grabber

This device was designed to be used by people who must pick things up with their mouths — its goal, simply, is to grab stuff and move it around the house. It combines 3D printed parts based on a pincer and a mouth guard, with a spring mechanism to clench items, but between prototypes the team realized they had a problem: They had designed it so that when the user bites down, it opens the grabber, thinking this way it would mean less jaw work. But in testing, they realized, if you release your jaw to grab something, you lose the control you have on the bite end. So the swapped it: Now it’s clench to close.

Team Grabber was awarded the MakerBot award for Rapid Prototyping. Team members: Kim Lahtrop, Adam, Alex Gecht, Noam Platt, Maayan Kahana, Inbal Halperin.

2. Team Smart Ass

Team Smart Ass designed a pressure sensing mat to fit under the seat of a wheelchair. Each prong of the 3D printed X sits atop a pressure sensor, and the whole thing runs through an Arduino. It connects to an app, which shows the pressure in darkening shades of red, indicating both where pressure points may occur, but also encouraging the user to move when one sector has seen pressure for too long. Future iterations could include more sensors for more detailed impressions.

Team Smart Ass was a co-winner of both the Google.org award for Innovation and the TechShop award for Self Manufacturing. Team members: Shaun Giudici, Paul Herzlich, Pierre Karashchuk, Yakshu Madaan, Tomás Vega, Jonathan Bank, Oscar Segovia, Hagit Alon.

3. Carry Crutches

Team Carry Crutches basically designed and 3D printed a mechanical gimbal for carrying drinks on crutches. Then they made a computer-controlled version, which uses a battery, two servos, an Arduino Uno and a MPU-6050 gyro and accelerometer sensor. A third variation included a laser-cut tray with holes for cups and utensils.

Carry Crutches received the Prize4Life award for Independence. Team members: Ilan Sherman, Benoy Bhagattjee, Matthew Wasala, Maayan Dremer, Daisy Bermudez, Tomas Garces.

4. Beity

“My home” in Arabic, Beity is a self-contained trauma management kit for refugee children. It’s portable, solar powered, and uses psychiatrist-consulted content like guided audio meditation to mitigate stress response. Simple augmented reality toys — like a fish that appears in the meditation — go with the laser-cut structure, which looks like a dollhouse. Yes, you could run it on an iPad, but it was important for the device to have no retail value. Inside, content is loaded on a Raspberry Pi via an SD card, and outside, chalkboard paint and dry erase marker make it physically interactive.

Team members: Omar Alaouf, Farah Weheba

5. Braille Sol

Braille translation programs exist, but team Braille Sol wanted to make a haptic device that allows greater control of a phone or tablet. The Arduino Uno at the heart of the device can be connected via Bluetooth or serial port, and the pins are actuated by solenoids.

Team members: Caitlin McDonnell, Corey Short, Jeffrey Edwards, Michael Han.

“The thing about doing something good is, most people say they’ll do it later,” says Zamir. “This is a way to make that happen now.”

His method seems to have worked. The devices created at the Makeathon offered clever solutions to real needs, and tended toward practical, replicable design. Here are five that jumped out.

 

S.F. Makers Design Imaginative Devices for Disabled

By Carolyn Said

September 11, 2015 Updated: September 12, 2015 3:38p

Bay Area Makeathon team members Oren Frey (left), Claire Podgorski, Diane Poslosky, Walter Hsiao, Bo Pollett and Elena Vanloo discuss their kayak project. The team is trying to adapt a kayak and paddle for use by a quadriplegic.

A way for women in wheelchairs to relieve themselves. A glove that translates sign language into speech. A “kicker helper” so kids in wheelchairs can play soccer. A device to help people on crutches carry beverages.

Makers Use 3D Printers to Create a Kinder, Gentler Future

How do you know when a tech revolution has begun? Here’s one definition, from an Israeli software executive: “It’s when an item that used to cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to manufacture can be made at home with ten dollars’ worth of materials, using new technology.”

Eitan Tsarfati, a top executive at the Israel offices of software design company Autodesk, further said: “The idea of using new tech, like 3D printers, to create custom devices to those in need of medical or other assistance is going to revolutionize the market, just like manufacturing machines or cars did.”

That revolution was on full display last week during the first-ever TOM:TLV Hackathon For Good, in which entrepreneurs, high school kids, and creative types got together to build a better device to give the disabled or those in need of medical help a boost. TOM (Tikkun Olam Makers) was a “maker” event, where participants use cheap or commonly available products, upgrade them with advanced technology, and create something that will be useful to someone somewhere.

It’s a type of hacking – not of computer code, but of physical goods, with makers trying to “mash up” existing products and technologies to create something new. The Maker movement dates back to 1995, with the advent of Make magazine, which each month shows readers how to do things like build a 3D printer, how to build a rocket and launcher, how to make a guitar out of a guitar box and an amplifier out of a cracker box, and so on.

In the past, “making” has been seen as the provenance of geeks who enjoyed the challenge of turning an old computer case into a portable heater, and the like. But with the advent of 3D printing, said Tsarfati, who was one of the judges that chose the best projects in the Hackathon, making will take on a whole new meaning.

“For the first time, manufactured products will be easily produced to match the needs of the user, instead of the user having to adjust his needs to what the machine produces,” he said.

That possibility will bring about a sea change in the way people buy and use products of all kinds, especially medical ones, that have to be custom-made for users, usually at a very high cost. The 3D revolution, said Tsarfati, will turn every product into a “custom-made” one for each user, without the need for expensive adjustments and changes.

Sixteen projects were on display at the finals of TOM:TLV last Thursday, the culmination of a three-day technology marathon where participants built models and prototypes of aids for people with disabilities. Participants included technologists, designers, therapists, and people with disabilitieswho developed ideas and products that address the challenges of people living with disabilities, their family members, and health-care professionals.

While many of the materials used to create the devices built by the Makers were readily available – plastic, wood, off-the-shelf sensor devices, even Lego – cutting-edge equipment, including 3D printers, laser-cutting machines, and CNC machines (computer-operated milling devices) were used to mold the materials into something useful.

One of the projects created at the event, the mechanical “raptor hand,” has already helped thousands of people around the world, said Yoav Medan, an Israeli who is working on a project to produce artificial limbs for the approximately one in 1,200 kids in Israel born with a badly damaged hand.

“In Israel, kids born with this defect, as well as adults who lose a limb, are entitled to an artificial limb, but they are good for cosmetic purposes only,” said Medan. “In addition, the state is very slow to pay for those limbs.” A much better solution, he said, was the Raptor Hand, developed by an American group called e-Nable, which furnishes free online plans for the production of all sorts of artificial limbs using 3D printers.

A wheelchair bound man uses an automatic book page turner developed at TOM:TLV (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Using connected plastic, much like a Lego construction set, volunteers produced artificial hands for several kids present at the event, without sensors or motors – just wires and strings that the user could pull to manipulate the hand’s fingers, allowing them to pick up and move items using their damaged for the first time in their lives. “It’s very effective as is, so imagine how much more effective it would be if we added a motor,” said Medan.

Other projects included an automatic page-turner, to allow paralyzed individuals who cannot move their arms or hands to read a book independently; a video game developed by a group of volunteers from Intel, who “gamified” physical therapy routines that injured people often find monotonous; a set of crutches that makes relieves pressure on the shoulders, and enables the person using them to easily answer their cellphones; and a system that allows deaf and hard of hearing people to determine when someone on the other side of a door hears their knock, a project, said its Makers, that could help deaf people get jobs as hotel maintenance staff.

Volunteers from Intel work on a project to ‘gamify’ physical therapy routines (Photo credit: Courtesy)

TOM:TLV was an initiative of the Reut Institute and ROI Community, the Ruderman Family Foundation, with partnerships from dozens of Israeli and international organizations, including Intel, Autodesk, Makerbot, Deloitte, Stratasys, Uber, the Shusterman Foundation, and many others.

Large corporations they may be, said Arnon Zamir, TOM:TLV project manager for the Reut Institute, but you don’t need a conglomerate behind you to do positive work. “Technology can help people solve problems, and money or social status is not a barrier. The TOM community that we are developing consists of people from all backgrounds, including tech and design people who care about the community, and want to help.”

The scene at TOM:TLV (Photo credit: Courtesy)

“Shared prosperity is the challenge of all developed nations,” said Reut Institute President Gidi Grinstein. “We, at Reut, are committed to improving the lives of millions of people by deploying the explosive combination of cutting-edge technologies and new opportunities to collaborate globally toward creating extremely affordable products that will help many people remain employable, productive and happy. This is our service to the value and mission of ‘Tikkun Olam.’”

“The Ruderman Family Foundation attaches great importance to strategic collaborations, especially with colleagues such as the Shusterman Foundation and the Reut institute,” said Shira Ruderman, Israel Director of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “We believe that the full inclusion of people with disabilities into society can be achieved through the development of accessible technology and therefore we feel it is important to be a partner in the TOM:TLV initiative. It is our hope that one day these technologies will be developed independently and not based on funding from foundations and other donors.”