First there were smartphones — and now, with the advent of the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), everything we use is about to become “smart.” In the coming years, items like watches, home appliances, hats, and even umbrellas will be connected to the cloud, sending up data to be analyzed and fortified with information from a huge and growing database, returning information that can be used to make life easier, safer, and more convenient.
Some of the technology to do that — and some of the IoT products already on the market — will be on display Tuesday in Jerusalem, at Israel’s biggest-ever IoT event, called iSmart.
Attending the conference — which is being hosted by Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), LeumiTech and the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA) — will be entrepreneurs, investors, companies, designers, technologists, consumers and IoT users on a global scale. A wide range of speakers, including IoT experts, senior hi-tech executives, entrepreneurs and investors, will discuss the current state of the IoT business, its future prospects, and how it is developing in Israel.
Among those speakers will be Ralph Osterhout, founder and CEO of Osterhout Design Group (ODG). Osterhout, a pioneer of IoT tech long before it even had a name, has been designing smart devices for over 40 years, including specialized equipment for the US armed forces, like a helmet-mounted optical display to view live video relays from one or more soldiers in the field, and a mobile touchscreen combat computer developed for the US Army for use in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was also a consultant on numerous movies — including the James Bond sagas The Spy Who Loved Me and Never Say Never Again, as well as Jurassic Park, Jaws, and the Jacques Cousteau Undersea series. In all, he has developed over 2,000 products and collaborated on hundreds of product lines for many Fortune 500 companies.
Now head of a design group bearing his name, Osterhout specializes in developing augmented reality and smart glasses innovations, and will present the latest iteration of those glasses at the Jerusalem IoT conference. “Our Smart Glasses are proving their worth in some of the world’s toughest environments and we look forward to bringing our innovative technology closer to everyday consumers,” said Osterhout. “At ODG, we’re working to change the world of computing by changing the way we interact, connect, and explore information.”
That last comment of Osterhout’s could be a motto for all the Israeli entrepreneurs and start-ups who will be presenting at the event. Nir Kouris, the main organizer of the event, said that Israel is a hotbed of IoT tech development – to the extent that IoT could be Israel’s next big tech story. “Israeli start-ups are innovating in a wide array of IoT-related fields, including wearable technology, IoT, Smart Cities, connected cars, Smart Homes, drones, and much more.”
On display at the event, said Kouris, will be made-in-Israel products and
technologies like nano-drone cameras; augmented-reality ski goggles, which show digital information about other skiers, track conditions, directions, and more; smart bracelets to help locate lost children; smart home systems for managing power consumption; a solar-powered suitcase that enables tech accessories to be charged in the field; and much more.
A good example of Israeli IoT tech in action is is the “smart hat” (actually a baseball cap) from Israel’s LifeBEAM. The company specializes in devices that let users measure heartbeat, number of calories burned, distance covered while running or cycling, and other key metrics runners and cyclists care about. Equipped with sensors that detect all that data, the LifeBEAM hat can take the place of chest heart monitors, wristbands, pedometers, and other devices, the company said.
LifeBEAM has tested the hat with professional athletes, triathletes and iron man teams in the London Marathon 2014, Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc 2014, the 100-mile Berlin Wall Race, Ironman Cozumel and the New York City Marathon. An average athlete can use the hat three or four times per week for an entire month before recharging. In November, LifeBEAM announced that it’s IoT tech will be integrated in products built using the new Samsung Simband platform, the Korean tech giant announced. Those devices are set to be Samsung’s answer to the Apple Watch – reflecting another facet of the ongoing struggle between the two companies for dominance in the device world.
LifeBEAM tech is also being used a bicycle helmet that has gotten very positive reviews from biking enthusiasts and professional reviewers, with the general consensus that the helmet’s sensing capabilities – not just for heart rate, but for calories burned, distance, and other factors – are very accurate. That product – which was funded by a KickStarter campaign – went on sale last September, and quickly sold out its first production run.
“Samsung is an innovative company with a vision to power the next wave of bio-sensing applications, and we see the company as one of our most strategic partners in bringing LifeBEAM technology to the consumer market,” said company CEO Omri Yoffe. “During our collaboration on the Simband project, we’ve found a valuable synergy between our core capabilities and Samsung’s portfolio of wearable devices. Together, we’re giving consumers the ability to collect, integrate, display and communicate accurate biometrics in real-time. The wide range of applications in sports, health and medicine are very exciting.”
That excitement is what propelled LeumiTech, the tech R&D branch of Israel’s Bank Leumi, to become a sponsor of iSmart, said Yifat Oron, CEO of LeumiTech. “The world of IoT touches upon almost every aspect of technology and it’s important that we bring the entrepreneurship and innovation in these fascinating areas center stage. We see these technology leaders in fields such as IoT as full partners and continue to strive to strengthen the Israeli hi-tech industry and give it the crucial tools it needs to compete in the global marketplace.”
“As a venture capital fund which invests in IoT, we are pleased to be among the partners in the first iSmart conference in Israel,” said JVP Partner Uri Adoni. “We believe such events will support Israeli entrepreneurs in this exciting field, which is becoming more and more significant in the global hi-tech arena.”