Whatever it is you do with your cellphone — talk on it, send messages with it, play (games) with it, surf it, tap it, swipe it, or even shop with it — chances are an Israeli company’s technology plays a key role. The mobile industry, it turns out, has been one of the biggest engines pulling Israel’s hi-tech industry forward – and Israeli innovations have been among the most important factors in the development of better and cheaper devices. And all of mobile Israel’s best and brightest innovations will be on display at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of the month, at the mobile industry’s premier showcase.
The numbers don’t lie: Israel, a country with a population of barely 8 million, is sending to Barcelona an official delegation of 100 companies, sponsored by the Israel Export Institute (several dozen other companies will be exhibiting independently). Last year’s Export Institute delegation consisted of only 56 companies. And in fact, Israel’s is the fourth-largest delegation from any country, with only the US, Britain and France sending more companies each; one out of every 13 booths at the Mobile World Congress will be hosted by an Israeli company. If you want to see the “start-up nation” in action, Barcelona is the place to do it.
Just a few years ago, most of the Israeli companies working in mobile were producing innovations in infrastructure and network technology — the real back-end stuff that keeps cell networks going — and many of the “veteran” companies in Israel’s mobile industry work in these areas. Companies like Radwin (long range wireless broadband), Wavion (advanced wi-fi, now owned by world telecom leader Alvarion), Amos Spacecom (the company behind Israel’s, and much of Africa’s, communication satellites) and Allot Communications (Reporting, Analysis, and policy control for mobile networks) are all well-known in the industry, and they will be presenting their latest innovations at the Mobile World Congress.
But today, Israeli companies are making their mark in almost every aspect of mobile communications — advertising, retail solutions, location-based services, video, and even games. For the first time this year, the Israeli delegation will include 40 companies that produce applications, both for productivity and fun. Here is a short list of just a few of the innovative ideas some Israeli startups will be showing off:
Baboonix. Video editing, once a complicated and expensive process, is now a simple matter of clicking on a few buttons. Baboonix allows, for the first time, video editing and manipulation on all video formats and directly over the mobile device with no special skill or knowledge required. All you have to do is make your music and scene selections, and the video you’re working turns into a masterpiece.
CallMyName. Why go through the hassle of remembering – or looking up – phone numbers when you need to call someone? With CallMyName, you don’t have to; now operating worldwide, the company lets anyone claim a name, and associate it with their contact information – phone number, SMS, email, Facebook, website. Once you’re registered, anyone using the CallMyName app can easily track you down if they know your name – with the app automatically dialing your phone number, even from phones that do not list you as a contact.
Snapkeys. With texting more popular than ever, you’d think someone would come up with an easier way to input text. Snapkeys has, with a “keyboard” based on four buttons (on the corners of a device’s screen), with the letters of the common QWERTY keyboard extending from the buttons. You use your thumbs to navigate, so instead of picking at each letter one at a time, you can “speed type,” increasing your typing productivity by tens, or hundreds, of percent (it sounds complicated, but only until you actually try it.)
TVTak. How many times have you opened your television, only to puzzle over what you’re watching? With TVTak, you’ll know immediately; you just aim your smartphone’s camera at the TV, and the TVTak app “watches” along with you for a few seconds – and then lets you know exactly what you’re watching.
Of course, the Mobile World Congress delegation constitutes just a sampling of the companies in Israel engaged in mobile development; there are hundreds of others whose products or services are still under development and aren’t ready for an international exhibition, and hundreds of others who can’t afford the outlay for a major expense like exhibiting overseas. This year, that is – but as development moves forward, chances are that next year even more Israeli companies will be displaying their wares in Barcelona.