TechNation: Apple Reportedly Acquired Israeli Face-recognition Startup Real Face

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Apple CEO Tim Cook at the product launch event in San Francisco, September 9. 2015.Credit: AP

Apple reportedly acquired Israeli face-recognition startup Real Face

Apple has reportedly acquired the Israeli startup RealFace, which makes facial-recognition technology for user authentication. The company was acquired for just several million dollars but its technology could play a major role in Apple’s next iPhone, which industry rumors say may include tech like RealFace’s as an alternative or supplement to the fingerprint authentication system now used. As of Monday, Apple was not commenting on the acquisition reports but RealFace’s website had been shut down. Formed in 2014, the company reportedly raised $1.5 million from a single investor, Shimon Eckhouse, founder of the medical device company Lumenis and chairman of publicly traded Syneron. Realface’s first product was an app called Pickeez, which selected a user’s photos from various platforms using its RealFace recognition software. It then evolved into face-recognition applications as an alternative to passwords. If the deal did go through, it would be Apple’s fourth acquisition in Israel. (Ruti Levy)

Intel Israel exports drop as Kiryat Gat plant cuts output during upgrade

Exports by Intel Israel dropped sharply last year to $3.3 billion from $4.1 billion the year before, but they still comprised 8% of the country’s total, the Israeli unit of the U.S. semiconductor maker said Monday. The company attributed the decline to its Kiryat Gat fabrication plant, which scaled back production as it upgraded its production line to make next-generation ships. The plant, which accounted for 56% of Intel’s Israeli exports in 2016, is expected now to ramp up production over the next few years as the upgrade is completed and it resumes full production. In the meantime, Intel boosted its Israel payroll to 10,200 employees at the end of 2016, up from 9,800 a year earlier. About 6,900 of them work in research and development and the rest are in manufacturing, the company said. Its Haifa R&D center hosted one of the teams responsible for developing it seventh-generation processor launched last month. (Eliran Rubin)

Keepod introduces $14 USB that acts as PC operating system

Keepod, an Israeli social enterprise that aims to narrow the digital divide with low-cost computing products, has released a new, $14 version of its Keepod, a USB flash drive that turns a computer, even an old one, into a device capable of running the Chrome operating systems. Keepod, which was founded by Israeli entrepreneur Nissan Bahar and his partner Franky Imbesi, has offered USB devices that repurpose machines and improve access to computers for those who can’t afford them, but until now they used the Linux and Android operating systems. Using Chrome OS, however, enables the system to work on PCs made as far back as 2007 because most of its operations are done on the cloud. The device provides protection against viruses and malware, and leaves no trace of its data on the host computer. Keepod operates in Africa and other underdeveloped countries and cooperates with groups restoring old PCs. (Amitai Ziv)

Apple to open repair center in Israel

Apple will be opening its first authorized service center in Israel in May to repairs iPhones, iPads and Mac computers. The service center should be a boon for Israeli users of Apple products, which, a report by TheMarker found, pay twice as much or more for service and repairs as do users in countries with authorized Apple labs. For example, repairing a broken screen on an iPhone 7 Plus costs $149 in the United States, versus 990 to 2,250 shekels ($267-$607) in Israel. In addition, unauthorized labs don’t use Apple components, and having Apple products repaired by unauthorized service centers invalidates the product’s international warranty. Apple doesn’t operate its own stores in Israel and distributes its products through several authorized dealers, among them I-Store, the Bug computer chair and C-Data, that offer service. Apple has about a 30% market share for smartphones in Israel, double the worldwide average. (Amitai Ziv)

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