For making apps smarter and more sympathetic. Inside an app, nobody can hear you scream—except the Israeli firm Nice Systems, whose customer-service solutions are used by 25,000 companies. Last year, it rolled out Mobile Reach, software that works in the background of banking, retail, and other apps, and jumps in to help a user the minute she's frustrated. "Enterprises no longer simply pay lip service to customer service," says Nice's director of solutions marketing, Tamar Sharir. Its research finds that smartphone users fail to complete about 60% of transactions, and only 64% of them then call the company for help. Read more >>
For creating water where soldiers need it most. Troops can't always transport water, but now they can transport a water maker. The Tel Aviv, Israel–based company Water-Gen has developed three machines: one that turns air moisture into drinking water, one that purifies the dribbles of air-conditioning units, and one that purifies any water source (such as a small stream), even if it's been poisoned by an enemy. Last year, it made sales to seven countries' militaries, including Israel, the United States, and an unnamed Arab state. The company's revenue grew 50% last year, and it expects 300% growth in 2014. Read more >>
For helping consumers fight fraud in an increasingly hack-prone financial system. BillGuard estimates that U.S. credit card users are billed $14.3 billion annually in "gray" (unapproved) charges. Its free app alerts consumers to those hidden amounts—think "free" magazine orders rolling over to paid subscriptions. With a simple tap, users can notify the financial institution to remove the unwanted charge. BillGuard is clearly doing something right: Over the past two years, the app has helped consumers identify $60 million in gray charges.
For enabling self-driving cars to see better (and cheaper). While it may be less impressive than Google's self-driving vehicles, Mobileye's technology has helped pave the road to our robot-car future. Its EyeQ system, which uses components that cost only a few hundred dollars per product, has advanced image-sensing of lanes, traffic signs, vehicles, and pedestrians, and has been installed by 19 car manufacturers—including major companies like Volvo, GM, BMW, and Audi. Mobileye was on track to sell 1.5 million of its single-camera devices by the end of last year, and its own semiautonomous car is poised to hit roads commercially as early as 2016.
For silencing the noise of our lives. Silentium (meaning "silence" in Latin) has produced a chip and controller system that can be applied to a number of products to easily reduce noise pollution. Installed in systems for IT, HVAC for the residential and automobile markets, and medical equipment, Silentium's solutions cut 90% of a device's unwanted hums, whirrs, and clangs. With its new technology, Silentium aims to diminish stress and hearing impairment, and improve communication, work productivity, and health.
For crowdsourcing public-transit data to speed up commutes. By combining public-transportation data with users' own accounts of their commute, Moovit provides its customers with the fastest, most comfortable routes. The free app offers rerouting options, information about which vehicles have available seats, and real-time snapshots of your trip. The company, which launched in 2012, already has 3 million users across more than 100 cities around the world, and raised $28 million in funding in December.
For letting small businesses drag-and-drop their way to a better website. More than 40 million people have used the website-building tools provided by the Tel Aviv, Israel–based startup Wix. The company provides free basic services to build HTML 5–based websites and charges for premium features, such as removing ads or adding e-commerce features. Wix mostly targets small businesses on lean budgets, allowing them to easily customize the site's design and publish online instantaneously. Last fall, Wix went public and raised $127 million—the largest initial public offering in Israel in more than six years.
For connecting curious readers to the next best content. Outbrain provides companies with technology that helps their audiences discover more-relevant and personalized content, and increases page views. With hefty clients like CNN and The Guardian, Outbrain has managed to stave off the growing number of competitors in the content recommendation space: Last year, revenue was on track to hit $130 million, and the company raised $35 million more.
For safeguarding the data of companies around the world. As Earth's climate—and cyberterrorism—grows more unpredictable, companies are searching for surefire methods to protect their data from disasters and outages. One way to do this is to replicate data at a secondary site, but in the event of a disaster, companies often find that the hardware doesn't mesh. Zerto, which services clients like Dutch banking giant ING, provides a technology called Virtual Replication, which allows companies to copy all their data to any site, regardless of the server type. Last year was Zerto's biggest yet: It recorded an astounding 200% revenue growth and quadrupled its customer base to more than 400.
For taking a step forward in untangling airport inefficiencies. SecureLogic's software, iScreen, reduces peak waiting times at airports and other key installations through security-protocol engineering that requires fewer personnel and screening machines. (Its killer app is the ability to direct employees toward individuals and baggage that represent higher risk than others.) SecureLogic recently completed a successful pilot project at New York's notoriously headache-inducing LaGuardia Airport.
[Image:Flickr user gribbly]