October 13, 2020 5 min read
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During history’s most trying times, some of the most helpful technologies have often emerged when invention is accelerated by urgency.
In recent months, we’ve seen interesting developments that both cater to the new norm of social distancing and provide direct healthcare solutions. This year, with the stakes raised and time of the essence, these Israeli startups in relevant fields rolled up their sleeves and got working on innovations that could benefit millions around the world.
Patient care: The full picture
Several companies are racing to deliver a vaccine in the hopes of ending the pandemic. This process could take several months until it’s available for mass production. Media headlines and statements from politicians suggest it’s close, but until the FDA checks off the box, it remains to be seen how long it will take to inoculate enough individuals to significantly accelerate the herd immunity process.
In the meantime, healthcare providers are focused on diagnosis and managing patient recovery after infection, while authorities scramble to find solutions to minimize contagion. The diagnosis process is fairly straightforward thus far, with only two FDA-cleared methods of testing: the PCR test and the Antigen test. Both are dependent on the old nasal and throat swab extraction. For those infected, they must be quarantined, or if severe enough, pay a visit to the hospital. That’s where Zebra Medical Vision, a company providing an AI solution for radiography medical imaging, steps in.
Zebra, an Israeli AI medical imaging analytics company with multiple FDA clearances for different imaging solutions, launched a Covid-detection solution in May 2020. The AI-based solution tracks disease progression and quantifies disease burden in patients to help manage resource allocation.
The company’s product has already been integrated into India’s Apollo Hospitals’ systems during a time when the country was struggling through a massive surge of cases. Zebra Medical Vision also emphasizes that beyond the pandemic, the role of AI will become pivotal in managing the backlog of non-COVID medical cases, a time that feels ever distant.
Eyes in the sky
When we think of drones, we usually conjure up breathtaking aerial views of landscapes, or futuristic drones serving as urban taxis or delivering us pizza. Yet drones have often served as reconnaissance or imaging probes in the skies on military missions, as using pilots has become more expensive and dangerous. Now, they’re serving another more peaceful function, enforcing social distancing from above.
During the pandemic’s first peak, when the first social distancing measures were put into effect by authorities around the world, the need for monitoring was essential. Some authorities used digital contact tracing mechanisms. Israel, whose government worked with OCTOPUS Systems, centralized cyber command solution to halt the spread of Covid-19 in the packed, ultra-religious community of Bnei Brak. Another Israeli company is helping track people amid Covid-19.
Rather than tracing for contact to prevent further spread, Israeli company Airobotics is using automated industrial drone technology to preemptively stop the spread of the virus. Airobotics’s drone tech, which can use LiDar and photogrammetry for 3D mapping, collaborated with Singapore to monitor public gatherings to better inform police, equipping them with accurate data to enforce social distancing guidelines. Airobotics drones are able to pinpoint locations and zoom into areas that might not be visible to police officers on the ground.
The company, which has raised $120 million in funding and is investing some $100 million to develop the drones, is leasing them for business and industrial use in the U.S. and Israel, in addition to the Singapore government’s Home Team Science & Technology Agency (HTX).
Related: Examples of Drone Business Ideas
Protecting the cyber portal
As workers and consumers alike find themselves working and shopping more remotely due to social restrictions, online traffic increases, as do cyber attacks. Microsoft reported in June that U.S. organizations and individuals alone experienced 20,000 to 30,000 Covid-themed cyberattacks daily. Similarly, Deloitte West Africa’s Tope Aladenusi wrote the company’s Cyber Intelligence Center “observed a spike in phishing attacks, malspams and ransomware attacks,” with attackers impersonating brands to employees and consumers.
With employees and consumers arguably underprepared to differentiate between phishing and a genuine request in some circumstances, Israeli cybersecurity company Cybint is stepping in to provide them the necessary boost to get them up to speed. Although it would seem logical they provide a software, the company recognizes that the biggest threat is not actually in the software capabilities organizations use, but in the capacity of people to identify a cyber threat when they encounter one.
Cybint offers training courses for employees at companies to learn how to recognize cyber threats and offers certification to professionals who are seeking employment in the cybersecurity industry. Cybint most recently partnered with India’s Astraea Solutions, one of its first cyber training partners in Southeast Asia.
The pandemic may force humanity to face challenges it has not faced so abruptly, but the ingenuity of humans to find creative solutions never ceases. In the small country they call the Startup Nation, the rivers of innovation continue to flow steadily. There’s no sign of a drought any time soon.