For providing an alternative to bottles. Virtually unknown until a few years ago, SodaStream is now the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of DIY home carbonation systems, selling its brands in more than 60,000 retail outlets in 45 countries. How much of a threat does it pose to traditional soda sellers? In February, CBS axed an ad created by SodaStream, presumably because it showed bottles by two of its regular advertising partners—Coke and Pepsi—vanishing into thin air.
For keeping airport runways safe. Foreign Object Debris costs the aviation industry around $13 billion per year and famously downed an Air France Concord supersonic aircraft in 2000. Xsight’s FAA-approved FODetect system has emerged as one of the leading solutions, using hybrid radar and electro-optical technology to detect junk on runways. Boston’s Logan Airport was the first to test it in 2009, and Paris Charles De Gaulle and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi installed it in 2012.
For crowdsourcing GPS navigation. Waze gathers map data and user-submitted information from its nearly 30 million app users, and provides recommended routes, traffic updates and even fuel prices in real time. In October, 2012, the company also rolled out more personalized features: If friends are all meeting up at one spot, the app gives real-time updates on everyone’s travels, or can map a route for how one person can reach another.
For bringing tech jobs to Arab communities. Israel’s large Arab minority is underrepresented in the local workforce, particularly in the tech industry. But that is changing thanks to companies like Galil Software, a Nazareth-based leader in onshore outsourcing of R&D and software services. It employs about 150 Arab engineers and last year won the Prime Minister’s Prize for Initiative and Innovation, for "providing an example for young Arabs who aspire to careers in the high-tech industry."
5_Agricultural Knowledge Online
For modernizing Chinese agriculture. China’s Anhui province has begun using AKOL’s Agro Cloud solution to quantify total food production. The computerized technology, which was developed in conjunction with IBM, enables local officials to monitor fruit, vegetable, dairy, poultry and meat production. A pilot program ran through 2012, and should it prove successful, the Agro Cloud will likely be adopted on a national scale.
For saving water on a global scale. TaKaDu’s system provides water utilities around the world with real-time detection of water leaks, bursts, zone breaches, faults, errors and inefficiencies, using existing data and its own algorithms. The company’s largest client is London’s Thames Water, which serves 9 million people, but last year saw an important expansion into Latin America, Australia, and other parts of Europe.
For democratizing web video. The tech firm’s open-source HTML5 video platform is used by more than 150,000 web publishers, media outlets, and education services, and last year scored its biggest a coup: Wikipedia adopted it for a massive roll-out, enabling video on hundreds of millions of entries.
For developing new, non-invasive treatments. The company (partially owned by GE) combines MRI and ultrasound technologies in exciting, Star Trek-like ways—curing patients without ever having to operate. It is already used to locate, heat, and destroy some tumors inside the body, and the company continues to receive important FDA approvals on new non-invasive uses. In October, the agency blessed InSightec’s use of the tech as therapy to treat pain from bone metastases in patients that can’t undergo radiation treatment.
For creating solar windows. Israel’s solar energy industry is active, and one of its most exciting players is this venture-backed creator of the world’s first transparent photovoltaic glass unit. Its first installation was last year. Windows deliver solar power, while producing their own natural light to eliminate the need for artificial lighting during the day.
For making electric vehicles accessible. Better Place began delivering its Renault Fluence Zero Emission EVs to Israeli customers this year, complemented by its nationwide network of battery switch stations. The company expects to support up to 10,000 vehicles in Israel and Denmark by the end of this year, before turning its attention to larger markets in an attempt to achieve founder and former CEO Shai Agassi’s objective of ending global oil dependence by 2020.[Image: Flickr user Daniel Kulinski]