If it’s late February/early March, it’s Mobile World Congress time – and once again this year, Israel will be well represented in Barcelona this week, with companies showing off the latest and greatest in cell and smart phone models, apps, and other innovations.
As has been the case for the past six years, since MWC was first held as a major international gathering, Israel has a significant presence at the event, which is the showcase for the mobile industry. More than 10 percent of the 1,900-plus companies at MWC – the most ever – hail from Israel or have their main R&D labs in Israel. Then there are the multinationals, like Samsung and Intel, that will be showing off technology that has deep roots in the research and development facilities they maintain in Israel.
All told, Israel is a major force at MWC – because it is a major force in the worldwide mobile industry.
One hundred forty of those Israeli companies will be exhibiting their wares at the event as part of a delegation organized by the Israel Export Institute. The Institute is hosting the companies in a special pavilion, with meeting rooms and events to enable companies to get together with investors, potential customers, executives, or any of the other 85,000-plus visitors expected at MWC throughout the week.
In order to make it easier for visitors to hook up with Israeli technology, the Institute has created a slick-looking website listing all the apps created by the companies hosted at the pavilion. Among them are apps for security, healthcare, transportation and traveling, education, business and finance.
Among the apps: Breezometer, which allows users to determine the air pollution levels in any part of their city; Lexifone, a platform that allows users to automatically translate what they say into their phone into the language of the person on the other end of the line; Magisto, which allows users to easily turn their photos into a well-crafted music video; and WakingApp, a virtual reality platform that lets users turn social media feeds, games, and mobile websites into an app that can take advantage of augmented reality devices like Google Glass, taking advantage of the hardware to meld the app with reality. WakingApp recently was chosen as the winner of the IBM Europe Smart Camp competition, beating out 180 competitors for apps that show real promise.
Besides apps, Israeli companies providing infrastructure and other technologies will be on display as well – with companies from big veterans (Gilat Satellite, Alvarion, Atrinet) to early-stage start-ups (Storedot, Simgo, IDScreen) showing off their wares.
A good example of a backend tech developed in Israel is CallVU, which has developed a system where a help seeker can actually see what the person on the other end of the phone is talking about. Under the CallVU system, customers who call a help agent submit their names and wait for a help agent to answer. Instead of staying on the line, customers are offered the option of a callback. When the service call actually begins, the customer describes the problem, and the service person can respond not only verbally but with text and images as well – sending pictures or instructions related to the solution directly to customer’s smartphone screen. CallVU is one of those “of course” ideas, and has so much potential that the system won $25,000 in the 2013 MasterCard Israel Technology Award.
Besides the Export Institute, the Israel Mobile Association is also organizing a delegation, with 40 firms hosted at the IMA’s own pavilion (located in a separate building altogether from the Export Institute’s; MWC occupies 98,000 square meters of exhibition and hospitality space across eight exhibition halls).
Among the companies in the IMA delegation: PointGrab, which in 2014 won the MWC Most Innovative Mobile App award for its CamMe selfie app, which lets users take a photo with their smartphone’s camera from anywhere in a room using gesture technology; Perfecto Mobile, one of the biggest providers of virtual networks for app testing; IronSource, a huge app download platform provider for app makers; and the RAD family of companies (RADWare, RADVision, RADCOM, and RAD), all of which are major players in all things telecom.
According to Ohad Cohen, director-general of the Foreign Trade Administration at the Israeli Ministry of Economy, the Israeli tech onslaught in Barcelona is a “triumph of Israel chutzpah. FTA associates around the world set up more than 2,000 meetings for the Israeli companies at MWC with investors and potential partners, many of them the biggest telecom and mobile firms in the world. In other words, the schedules of many of the Israeli firms in the pavilions were full, even before the actual event began Sunday. We will continue to assist Israeli firms during these meetings, and afterwards as well.”