Seven Ways Israeli Military Technology Has Changed Your Life

From ceasing to be a guinea pig for neurosurgeons to carrying your memory around, to why your computer hasn't been eaten by worms - and one treat to come

Ruth Schuster
Roseanne Tabachnik
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A picture taken from the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza Border on August 10, 2014 shows an Israeli Merkava tank rolling along the border.
A picture taken from the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza Border on August 10, 2014 shows an Israeli Merkava tank rolling along the border.Credit: AFP
Ruth Schuster
Roseanne Tabachnik

1. No more guinea pigs on the neurosurgery operating table

Pilots routinely use flight simulators in training. Now neurosurgeons can perform mock cerebral and spinal operations using the Selman Surgical Rehearsal Platform before making so much as an incision. The SRP is an evolution of the flight simulator, and was created not by doctors but by two Israeli Air Force veterans, Moty Avisar and Alon Geri. The SRP accurately replicates how surgical devices interact with brain tissue using dynamic 3D brain images generated by CT and MRI scans. Multiple SRPs can be interconnected so surgeons anywhere in the world can work together, for instance to plan a complex surgical procedure.

Guinea pigs on the neurosurgery table no more! Photo by: Tess Scheflan

2. The Israeli emergency bandage rocks

The First Care Emergency Bandage was invented by Israeli military medic Bernard Bar-Natan, who thought there had to be a better solution to using rocks to induce pressure in order to stop bleeding from life-threatening hemorrhagic wounds. The Israeli bandage, which features a built-in pressure bar and is made in Lod, has been a hit with American armed forces and is credited with saving U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head in Arizona. Bar-Natan had some trouble building his business, given that he had no record as a businessman, but his first-aid item is now used globally by military medics and civilian emergency responders alike.

This is how people used to stop hemorrhages: Take rock. Press down. Photo by: Moshe Gilad

3. Painlessly watching your intestines in real time

Whiel developing guided missile technology at Elron Electronic Industries, Gavriel Iddan had the idea for a miniature video camera that could travel through your digestive tract, taking pictures throughout. The result is the swallowable camera-in-a-not-terribly-tiny-capsule, made by Given Imaging. The capsule has greatly reduced the need for painful, invasive endoscopic procedures, which are usually done under (risky) full anesthetic to boot. At a later stage, Given Imaging invented developed capsule-based pH monitoring. Its products are now sold in about 60 countries.

Now thanks to Given Imaging's video-in-a-capsule, you can watch what your insides are doing. Photo by:

4. Taking your memory with you

Dov Moran initially conceived the DiskOnKey USB flash drive – a mobile computer memory the size of a half-smoked cigarette - after gaining much knowledge as the director of the microprocessors department in the Israeli navy. The portable memory revolutionized data storage, enabling users to take their personal files from any computer to any other computer without need to resort to Internet. Moran, founder of M-Systems (and later of th failed pared-down cellphone company Modu), sold the DoK technology to SanDisk in 2006 for a cool $1.6 billion.

Bottle-openers are so yesterday: Swiss army knife with disk-on-key Photo by: Haaretz

5. You got voicemail and we know what it means, too

Nice Systems, now a major Israeli company listed on Nasdaq, brought the word the ability to record phone calls, then analyze them. In other words, if you call your hamster food supply company, for instance, the Nice system can tell whether you're glad, mad or about to blow the company out of the water. The company was founded in 1986 as Neptune Intelligence Computer Engineering (which explains why its name is sometimes written in caps) by seven Israeli ex-army colleagues. It began with developing data security, recording and data surveillance technology for homeland security, but – while growing through more than a dozen acquisitions - migrated its systems to civilian uses, mainly contact centers, as well as software for the financial services and business markets.

Nice Systems can hear your call and knows how you feel. Photo by: CREDIT

6. Noticing and keeping out undesirables

There are a number of military-born Israeli companies that developed smart solutions to keep out undesirables, including Nasdaq-listed Magal Systems and the unhelpfully named Logic Industries (go try to find the company's website on Internet). Logic is meanwhile shifting focus to development of cloud-based big data and things for the Internet of Things, while continuing to supply its core IT security systems. Kibbutz-based Magal makes intrusion detection and cyber security systems used by cities and governments the world wide.

7. Why your computer hasn't been eaten by worms

Cybersecurity firm Check Point Software Technologies, founded by Unit 8200 vets, developed the award-winning firewall computer protection system that ushered in a new era of network security. The software, originally created for national security, protects personal computers from various Internet threats and uglies. Check Point's technology is used today by thousands of organizations to secure their computers, among them many Fortune 100 companies (and Haaretz). Though the technology company was domestically established in Ramat Gan, it now has offices around the world, and it too is listed on Nasdaq.

And for dessert: 8. Soon to come - Augment your reality on the go

You know those movies where the fighter-jet pilot sees coordinates and other high-techy stuff right on the face-screen of his helmet? Smart helmets with displays like that really exist, thanks to the likes of Israeli military industries. At El-Op, the technology had been based on holograms; now it's being taken to the next level with optic fibers that transfer data. Lumus is a startup that's working on perfectly see-through wearable displays, enriching life with everything from driving directions to video content to augmented reality. It competes with the likes of Google Glass.



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