At Tucson’s Israel @ 70 Festival next month, Tucsonans can try out a pair of smart glasses created by an Israeli company that enable blind or visually impaired people to read written words and recognize objects and faces.
“Basically they point with their figure to a street sign or a menu and they hear what they don’t see. It’s amazing,” says Amir Eden, an Israeli-American who on March 1 became director of the Weintraub Israel Center, which is organizing the festival.
OrCam’s artificial intelligence glasses are just one of the recent Israeli advances that will be highlighted at the festival’s Israel Science & Technology Pavilion, which is sponsored by Raytheon. The festival will be held Sunday, April 22, from 1 to 6 p.m. on the Jewish community campus at Dodge and River Roads.
“We reached out to the Innovation Center of Taglit-Birthright Israel, and asked them if we can bring their exciting, engaging center in Tel Aviv to Tucson. And we were very happy that they agreed,” says Eden.
With short videos on Israeli innovations in science, medicine, security, space, and agriculture, the tech pavilion will focus on “what Israel is doing for the world and humanity. It’s innovation that will change lives, better lives, everywhere in the world,” says Eden.
One cutting edge example is WaterGen, a portable generator that produces water from air. “We have billions of individuals in the world, especially in the Third World countries, who just don’t have access to fresh water, clean water,” says Eden.
A technology Arizonans will particularly appreciate, Eden notes, is GreenIQ, which allows homeowners to control their irrigation system using a smartphone.
Also on display will be a durable all-terrain vehicle from TOMCAR, which supplies military, commercial and consumer markets. Other transportation innovations include Electroroad, which uses energy directly from the road to power electric vehicles, and Mobileye, a system to prevent road accidents that combines a camera with radar.
SoftWheel, another Israeli start-up, has literally reinvented the wheel, using a spoke-less design to create a more shock-absorbing wheel for wheelchairs and bicycles. ReWalk, which made the news in 2011 with a robotic exoskeleton that enables people with spinal cord injuries to walk, is now working on the next generation of that technology, a soft “exosuit” that can help stroke patients regain a more natural walking gait.
Richard Shecory, a program manager at Intel in Israel — and father of Tucson shinshin (teen emissary) Tamir Shecory — will be a guest speaker.
Raytheon, which partnered with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to produce Israel’s “Iron Dome” rocket defense system, will have a team from the Tucson plant at the festival to conduct workshops for children, including a rocket launch and games using virtual reality goggles.