Israeli medical smartphone
A new Israeli smartphone helps users keeps track of their health Photo by Courtesy
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Medicine on call

Israeli company LifeWatch Technologies unveiled a new smartphone this week that allows users to conduct their own battery of medical tests. Sensors embedded in the phone enable users to measure seven health indicators: heartbeat, body temperature, EKG (electrocardiogram), blood-sugar level, blood-oxygen content, blood pressure and BMI (or body mass index, which calculates levels of human body fat).

The data collected is then stored in a remotely accessible server, or "cloud,” letting users track the results over time and monitor changes in their health. Users can also share the information with family members, caretakers or doctors.

In addition, the smartphone, which operates on the Android 2.3 platform, is equipped with apps that do everything from issuing reminders to take medicine to creating menus for one's diet to tracking one's physical fitness routines.

The gadget is expected to cost between $500 and $700 and will go on the market in late 2012 by way of cellular service providers and major cell phone retailers. Users should expect to pay monthly service fees ranging from $10 to $30.

In addition to its medical capabilities, the smartphone offers all the features of a traditional smartphone, including calling, text messaging and email.

The phone's core medical systems, software and end-user interface were developed in Israel, while the hardware was manufactured in China. Certification from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Compliance Services – which would allow the smartphone to be sold in the U.S., Europe and Israel – is pending. However, the company says its tests meet the specifications for medical devices.

Zionist venture capital

Jewish American businessman and philanthropist David Merage created a new fund, IVIC, aimed at investing in the Negev region. The fund focuses mainly on high-tech, affordable housing and agriculture and, to date, has invested $5.5 million in four start-ups.

Compared with other parts of the country, the southern desert region has struggled to attract start-ups or high-tech firms, with a few exceptions such as the Intel plant in Kiryat Gat or EMC's research and development center in Be'er Sheva. Data from the Central Bureau of Statistics has shown that the majority of R&D activities in the country are conducted in Tel Aviv and central Israel. Less than 3 percent of the business sector's R&D takes places in southern Israel, while only 9 percent of it takes places in the north.

IVIC belongs to a new type of fund that has developed in recent years called an impact investment fund, which aims to effect social change. The fund is for-profit, but it seeks to join economic returns with contributions to society. IVIC aims to invest in initiatives that reward investors while simultaneously creating jobs and encouraging development in the Negev. The fund began investing in September 2011, but its activities were exposed to the public just this week. Its investments are expected to reach $10 million by the end of 2012.

All eyes on RED-C optical amplification technology

American company Finisar is responsible for the biggest exit in Israel this week: It acquired RED-C Optical Networks Ltd. for a total of $43.7 million. Of that, $23.7 million will be paid in cash while the additional $20 million is conditioned on RED-C products and technologies meeting their sales targets. RED-C develops and manufactures optical signal amplifiers for communications networks.

Finisar is no stranger to Israel. The company already operates an Israeli research and development center in Nes Tziona based on the staff and technology of another start-up, Kailight Photionics, which was acquired by American firm Optimum for $40 million in 2007. Finisar bought Optimum a year later.

In addition to RED-C's two founders, CEO Yossi Boker and Chief Technology Officer Uri Ghera, who held 20 and 30 percent of the company and the Cedar Venture Capital fund, which held the remaining 50 percent, the companies employees also stand to gain from the deal. Thirty percent of the company's stocks are held by its employees, and according to Boker, all employees, with the exception of recently hired ones, have options. In addition to 100 production and operations workers, the company employs 40 people in its development and marketing departments.