A range of Israeli technologies are on display at the North American International Auto Show – offering manufacturers ways to build quality cars for less money, helping salespeople to sell parts and services over the Internet, and ensuring drivers drive more safely, using sensors that alert them when they get too close to the car ahead of them.
The Detroit show, where new cars and technologies go on display before they get sold to the public, began this week and runs through January 25.
Among the Israeli firms exhibiting is VeriShow, which produces systems to make video conferencing and on-line collaboration systems, aimed at customer service. A new offering by the company, being introduced at the auto show, is designed specifically for auto dealerships, allowing them to instantly engage clients on-line, in person, via text chat, video chat, and phone, and then browse their own website or other industry related sites with them. When a customer checks out a dealer’s site, they can communicate directly with an agent, who will be on hand to explain features of their own product, as well as the advantages over the competition as they co-browse the dealer’s – or the competition’s – site.
According to VeriShow CEO Yuval Moed, the platform “is a ‘mayday’ solution for any website. The solution fits almost any line of business. Any company that wants to differentiate itself by providing better customer service can benefit from using VeriShow. We don’t envision a situation when we would be replacing real life. We are just creating more opportunities to be more efficient. We want customers to be able to make more educated decisions.”
Also on display in Detroit is technology from Israeli start-up Geomatrix, which has developed, in cooperation with the Israeli R&D center of Mckit Software Autoflat, a system designed to help companies in the sheet metal industry save money. Sheet metal constitutes the shell of most vehicles, and Autoflat promises to provide manufacturers with exact specifications on the right way to cut metal for specific models, providing information about dimensions and shapes that will enable maximum aerodynamic efficiency for vehicles. Armed with this information, manufacturers will be able to cut the metal in the most efficient way possible, with a minimum of “lost” metal.
“The Autoflat solution is meant for companies that produce sheet metal products,” said McKit Israel CEO Zeev Kroizman. “It improves the production planning cycle for sheet metal-based products by orders of magnitude over CAD systems that are currently used for planning such products.”
Israel is also the home of what has become one of the biggest hits in auto production — The MobilEye Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS). Now standard on many new car models, MobilEye alerts drivers when they come too close to vehicles and pedestrians, or when they veer out of their lane, sending out a beep that gets the driver’s attention, and hopefully gets them to slow down. New versions of the system can also detect cyclists, debris on the road, curbs, barriers and constructions zones, highlight traffic lights and even read signs. A planned advanced version of the system will be enabled by forward-facing cameras and a number of low-cost radars. All that, the company says, will make fully driverless cars feasible within the next two or three years, long before Google will be ready to sell its version of hands-free vehicles.
To make MobilEye even more effective, the company last year hooked up with another Israeli start-up, Accel, which makes mobile phones for cars. The Accel Voyager phone has big, easy to access keys, special noise filtration and cancellation to allow clearer conversations, voice activation for calls and commands, enhanced volume to ensure that drivers can easily hear conversations, and a built-in copy of Waze. All features are accessible via big buttons and swipe screens, so drivers can easily play music or change Internet radio stations without taking their eyes off the road. Drivers can also get a special data plan for the device (it allows for two SIM cards, so if can be used as a ‘regular’ phone as well).
In its deal with MobilEye, the Voyager will take the information flowing from MobilEye and relay it to fleet managers, parents, insurance companies, or anyone other interested third party, who will be able to see if there were any “near misses,” or determine how careful drivers are on the road. Although the MobilEye system is very effective, said company CEO Isaac Litman, drivers behind the wheel of company or fleet cars might not be as careful, or attentive, as owners. Teens, too, who are behind the wheel of their parents’ vehicles, might allow themselves to get carried away by the thrill of the road.
MobilEye’s collaboration with Voyager is another example of Israel’s technological advancements for the auto industry – one, said Litman, that “will add an additional layer of driver safety via remote monitoring of MobilEye alerts.”
Added Litman: “GSMA forecasts the global connected car market to grow threefold within 5 years, and will be worth 39 billion euro in 2018. Adding remote monitoring for MobilEye’s leading Collision Avoidance system via our connected car smartphone will certainly be beneficial for this large-scale market.”