The Jewish population of the world is only around 16 million, nearly the same amount of Jewish people as on the eve of the Holocaust over 70 years ago. Our people make up only 0.2% of the world’s population.
Despite our small size, 20% of all Nobel Prizes have been awarded to those of Jewish descent. Overall, Jews, or people of Jewish descent, have won a total of 41% of all the Nobel Prizes in economics, 28% of medicine, 26% of physics, 19% of chemistry, 13% of literature and 9% of all peace awards.
With over 40% of world Jewry living in Israel, it is no wonder that Israel is revolutionizing the world with a vast array of innovations and breakthroughs that are quickly changing our lives as we know them. Some of these innovations are the result of the difficult realities that Israel faces as a nation (water shortage, security challenges etc.), and others are due to the entrepreneurial spirit and out-of the-box thinking found in many Israelis.
Most of the world today is using some form of Israeli-developed technology, whether they aware of it or not. This includes everything from real-time navigation software, the most popular phone apps and pharmaceutical drugs, to the mobile chips in our smart-devices and laptops. Here are few of these technologies that you may not have known originated in of Israel, yet they are likely affecting your lives without you knowing it:
Customer Service and Fraud Prevention
NICE Systems is an Israeli-based software solution company specializing in telephone voice recognition, recording, security and information management. The company was recognized for its cutting-edge voice biometric technology, which confirms the identity of legitimate customers contacting a call center, allowing automatic verification of a customer’s identity within the first few seconds of a call by matching their voice print to their account. This not only prevents fraudulent transactions from taking place in your name, but also eliminates the need for identification questions that prolong the call. Ultimately this cuts service call waiting times by up to 45 seconds. Everyone likes a short, to-the-point, and satisfying call to a contact center.
USB Flash Drive
We all have at least one USB “stick” either in our bag, on our keychain or somewhere in our house. This small device uses flash memory to store information using a USB connector. Israeli technology firm M-Systems was the company that patented and developed the first flash drive that received the name DiskOnKey. This innovative technology allows us to store up to 11,830 times more information than the “floppy drive”, is much smaller in size, cannot be scratched nor ruined like a CD-ROM, and transfers data at tremendously fast rates. M-Systems was sold to another Israeli company SanDisk (now owned by Western Digital Technologies), and their technology innovation is still being used on a daily basis by billions of people around the globe.
Many people are familiar with services such as Skype, Viber and WhatsApp that facilitate calls and other instant messaging services, allowing us to talk with our friends, relatives and colleagues on the other side of the country, or even the planet, without racking up huge phone bills. The Israeli company Mirabilis (purchased by AOL) was the first to introduce instant messaging to the world, while the technology that allows voice calls and audio messaging over the Internet (called VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol), was developed and patented by VocalTec Communications. This Israeli software and telecom equipment provider then commercialized the technology for mass usage, including the popular MagicJack phone service.
Given Imaging is an Israeli company that operates in the field of medical technology. Most well known for developing the PillCam, this small pill-sized camera can be swallowed by a patient in need of undergoing gastrointestinal endoscopy. The small capsule that measures merely 1 cm in width and 2.5 cm in length has a micro-lens camera along with a few tiny LED lights and a radio transmitter that allows the examiner to view the patient’s GI tract without having to use an intrusive and uncomfortable endoscope. Given Imaging has since gone on to develop additional capsule-based solutions for patients that are used all over the world.
While all this can be exciting to read about, how does it affect you, and how can you be a part of the disruptive technologies that are being developed in Israel?
Despite what people may think, you don’t need millions of dollars in order to begin investing in Israeli technologies, and not even tens of thousands. Many companies that are publicly traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange are the creators and developers of these innovations. Israel encourages individuals, non-profit organizations, companies and even IRA account holders to open a shekel-based investment account in Israel, purchase these companies’ stock or bonds, and benefit from their success.
Sources: www.jppi.org.il, Wikipedia, NICE Systems, www.nocamels.com