Tech in Brief: Israeli Panic-button App Deployed at Rio Olympics

Playstudios of Las Vegas acquires Israel’s Scene53.

Israel's Yarden Gerbi (white) competing with Japan's Miku Tashiro during their women's -63kg judo contest bronze medal A match of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 9, 2016.
Eric Baradat, AFP

Playstudios of Las Vegas acquires Israel’s Scene53

Scene53, an Israel-based game studio that had a brief hit with its Shaker virtual-pub application, is being acquired by the Las Vegas online casino games developer Playstudios. Terms of the deal, which was announced Tuesday, were not disclosed. Playstudios said the acquisition came after the two jointly developed POP! Slots. The social game features virtual versions of Las Vegas resorts including MGM Grand and makes use of Scene 53’s expertise in real-time, multi-player mobile games. The Scene53 team will focus on expanding POP! Slots and exploring new opportunities in the free-to-play casino category, Playstudios said. Scene 53 was founded in 2009 and got off to a promising start with games like Shaker, which won TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco in 2011. The company has raised $20 million in venture capital and two years ago it moved into casino gaming. (Eliran Rubin)

Israeli panic-button app deployed at Rio Olympics

An Israeli mobile security app that was conceived after the 2014 abduction-murder of three Israeli teens is being deployed at the Rio Olympics. SayVU, which lets users send a distress signal even if a phone is locked, was one of several Israeli technologies chosen by International Security & Defense Systems, the Israeli firm that is coordinating security for the Olympics. Currently available for Android, SayVU allows users to speak to and transmit their location to a hotline center by shaking their device, tapping the camera button or speaking. The app uses machine learning to monitor the user’s patterns and transmits a distress message when it senses abnormalities. SayVU CEO Amotz Koskas said he developed the app as a graduate student in the wake of the kidnapping, in which a call to the police by one of the three teens was ignored. (TheMarker)

Tel Aviv issues call for ideas to improve life of Neve Sha’anan residents

The Tel Aviv municipality issued a call this week for technology and social entrepreneurs to come up with proposals for improving the life of residents in the southern Neve Sha’anan neighborhood as part of its “Smart Street” project ahead of the DLD innovation conference in September. The entrepreneurs selected will participate a development marathon event at DLD whose five to seven winners will each get up to 25,000 shekels ($6,600) financing, as well as logistical, regulatory and mentoring support from the city and office space. The focus is on improving the day to day lives of residents in areas like personal security, physical landscape and reducing conflicts between the area’s veteran residents and newcomers. The deadline for applications is August 15. (Ruti Levy)

Roman Abramovich stepping up investments in Israeli startups

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has been stepping up his investments in Israeli startups over the last several weeks, the financial daily Globes reports. Working through investment companies like Norma Investments, Ervington Investments and Millhouse, his two latest investments have been in the social engagement platform Spot.IM and diabetes treatment startup company DreaMed Diabetes. Abramovich has been the lead investor in financing rounds for the music-sharing startup Music Messenger, the investment network iAngels and online video marketing company AnyClip Media. He is also weighing an initial public offering in Oded Kobo’s Shellanoo Group, a developer of apps for smartphones and online services, and is considering a bid with Kobo for mobile provider Golan Telecom. His single his biggest Israel investment, however, is in real estate — the 100 million shekels ($26.2 million) he paid last year for Tel Aviv’s Varsano Hotel, which he is converting into a private residence. (TheMarker)