As befits a conference on Israel’s future, much of the technology being used to produce the President’s Conference taking place this week in Jerusalem was created by Israel’s advanced digital technology firms.
Besides the usual servers and software to program schedules and power video and other presentations at the event in the Jerusalem International Convention Center, said Ron Shely, digital media manager of the conference, “we are using a series of Israeli-made technologies to export the experience to people around the world. Participants will be able to keep in touch with events at the conference as they take place, having a similar experience to those present at the conference.”
The annual President’s Conference, now in its fourth year, is the project of President Shimon Peres, where topics such as the future of the Jewish people, Israeli security, and education are discussed. This year’s title is “Facing Tomorrow,” and appropriately, the conference is using futuristic methods of communication, like live on-line video broadcasting, social media, and interactive Web applications to ensure that as many people as possible are able to participate in the conference.
In a sense, on-line “participants” will have even more opportunity to be a part of the show than those present, to the extent that they will be able to have a “conversation” with President Peres himself. That neat little trick comes courtesy of an Israeli start-up called Interlude, which allows users to control their Web experience by choosing from a list of possibilities that direct the action. The technology has been used in a number of recent music videos and marketing projects;such as a promo for the Fox TV show “New Girl” which has viewers choosing venues, sports activities, and even dance moves in a music video. The song remains the same, but the action changes each time users run the video, depending on the choices they make.
Interlude’s technology will be used for the President’s Conference to allow on-line participants to engage in a one-on-one “conversation” with Shimon Peres. “The conversations are set up on all sorts of topics and subtopics, so you can speak with Peres on politics, and then choose to go deeper into specific topics, like Middle East politics, Iran, Palestinians, etc. It depends on the menu choices the user makes,” said Shely.
The “conversation” isn’t live, but it’s the next best thing. “We filmed the president for over four hours, and he talked about every topic under the sun. When you open a conversation with him on the Conference’s Facebook page, you can choose the topic and the subtopic, ask questions, and get answers. The experience is designed to mimic as much as possible a direct, private conversation with Peres.”
Yoni Bloch, CEO of Interlude, said Peres decided to participate in the project in order to reach out to young people. “The president is opening a channel to global citizenry to get to know him personally, in a way he has not been seen at any event or in any interview. The president speaks about his disappointments, his hopes, the opportunities for a better tomorrow and the dangers we face in the present.”
Besides Interlude, several other popular Israeli-made technologies are being used at the event. One of them is Bizzabo, a popular networking app available for most smartphones. Bizzabo lets users check in at an event and find the people they are interested in connecting with. It’s used in many conferences and events around the world, and is “very user friendly” for these kinds of events, said Shely.
Another Israeli-made technology that will help people around the world connect with the Conference is LiveU, which provides devices and services that allow for TV-quality broadcasts over the Internet, using a minimum of bandwidth.
At a conference on the future of Israel, it certainly makes sense that Shely would have sought out the advanced technologies that represent that future, although he admits that he hadn’t necessarily thought of the Israel angle when assembling the tools that would be used to produce the conference and allow people around the world to participate. Then again, he didn’t have to.
“I can’t say we planned to use only Israeli technology,” Shely said, “but all these high-tech miracles are made in Israel anyway, so we didn’t have to think twice about it. The newest technologies are all being made here anyway.”