Sensors are the brain hidden in everything from precision farming to connected cars, from home appliances to security systems, from smart cities to digital health.
âA sensor is anything that translates a physical phenomenon into a measurable signal or other information. For example, in the past, they used canaries as toxic gas sensors in mines, âexplains Amichai Yifrach, an Israeli expert in the development of military and civilian sensors and currently technical director of the agro-technological startup Flux.
âUsing this definition, Israel is at the forefront of technology in all aspects of sensors,â he told ISRAEL21c. “A lot of it has to do with our abilities to detect things that others cannot, especially when it comes to border security and airport control.”
Historically, Israel’s advantage in sensor technology has come from defense needs and much of the industry is still focused on military applications, with companies such as Elbit Systems, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, and Seraphim Optronics in head.
But like in many other areas, the military’s know-how has given Israel’s civilian sensor industry a huge boost. âOn the consumer side, we are strong in image processing and algorithms. We also have very good chemists, âYifrach explains.
“Sensors will be increasingly important in water quality, air quality and even food quality, as for manufacturers of wine, beer or balsamic vinegar,” predicts Yifrach. âProcesses that follow chemical or physical properties must be detected to derive valuable information for the quality or future efficiency of the process. It all comes down to monitoring and controlling quality processes.
ISRAEL21c has chosen a dozen Israeli sensor pioneers to illustrate the country’s strength in this powerful sector.
Sensifree specializes in low power, contactless electromagnetic sensors that accurately collect a range of continuous biometric data without the need to touch the human body. Its first product, a non-contact heart rate sensor for wearable devices such as watches, fitness trackers and smart clothing, will be followed by an armbandless blood pressure sensor.
Based in California with R&D in Petah Tikva, Sensifree recently won $ 5 million in Series A funding, bringing its total funding since the launch of its breakthrough RF biometric sensor technology to $ 7 million.
- MS Technologies
Based in Herzliya Pituah, MS Tech designs and manufactures nanotechnology detection and diagnostic sensors. Major airlines use their portable explosives and non-radioactive narcotics detectors for carry-on baggage screening, air cargo screening, and passenger security checks at several airports. Other industries that use MS Tech sensor technologies include food safety and product inspection, biomedical diagnostics, fire and smoke detection, water and air monitoring, and aerospace. .
- Continue to use biometrics
ContinUse of Tel Aviv has received a strategic investment from multinational corporation Tyco to develop nanotechnology sensors that will be integrated into a range of construction and smart home solutions.
ContinUse Biometrics’ non-contact biometric sensor – based on technology developed over a decade by the universities of Bar-Ilan and Valencia – can detect heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, glucose level, blood saturation. oxygen and alcohol levels in the blood of a fully clothed person without touching the person. This data can be used to authenticate identity and manage access to security and smart home applications, workplaces and sensitive facilities.
Vayyar sensors could make every cell phone or tablet a complete 3D imaging system. Based in Yehud, Vayyar uses low-power radio transmissions to scan objects in a fraction of a second and create an enhanced imaging experience. One of the applications is better detection of irregularities in an object under examination, for example to detect tumors on mammograms or bacteria in the bottling of milk. The company recently won the Fast Pitch competition sponsored by the Global Electronics Industry Association in Tel Aviv.
Elfi-Tech of Rehovot has introduced several sensor products for non-invasive measurements of physiological and blood parameters for use in first-line fitness, wellness and diagnostic applications. Its proprietary mDLS sensor module has been integrated into Samsung’s Simband portable open platform, and the company is now working with the pharmaceutical and medical device industry to integrate mDLS into patient monitoring devices. Elfi-Tech is also working with companies in the big data analytics industry on its new data logging device, which collects and analyzes massive amounts of heart health data from a single portable device.
- Precise sensor technologies
Launched in 1994 as 3T, Accurate Sensors Technologies manufactures non-contact temperature measurement solutions for extreme conditions, such as digital infrared thermometers. Based in Misgav, the company also manufactures plug-and-play pyrometers – instruments for measuring high temperatures in furnaces and furnaces – for the aluminum industry.
- Neteera Technologies
Founded in January 2015 in partnership with Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Neteera develops novel terahertz imaging and sensing devices of high resolution, size, cost-effectiveness and unprecedented reliability.
Neteera’s technology is revolutionary as it enables multiple applications such as all-weather and night-time imaging for automotive and surveillance applications; detection of weapons, explosives and contraband; medical imaging; manufacturing and quality control; monitoring of human physiological and biometric indicators and more.
Occipital’s Structure Sensor is touted as the world’s first 3D sensor for mobile devices, adding 3D scanning, large-scale reconstruction, and augmented reality (AR) capabilities to new or existing iOS devices.
Named Popular Science’s ‘Best of What’s New’ gadget for 2013 and awarded a CES Innovations 2014 award, the Structure Sensor hardware platform gives developers the ability to easily create applications such as 3D indoor space mapping, games AR, body scanning for fitness tracking and virtual clothing adjustment, and 3D object scanning for easy 3D content creation.
- Consumer physics
Consumer Physics’ soon-to-be-released SCiO device uses optical sensors to read the chemical composition of just about anything without touching it: for example, fat in a piece of cake, ripeness of fruit , the ingredients of drugs, the properties of cosmetics and precious stones.
Nexense, based in Ramat Gan, manufactures a system of sensors worn like a chest belt or a wristwatch to monitor various physical parameters during sleep for the treatment of snoring and sleep apnea. The product, already approved in Europe and Israel, counts GE Healthcare among its investors and is expected to be made public in 2017.
EarlySense uses an under-bed sensor system for continuous monitoring of vital signs and patient movements in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Without ever touching the patient, EarlySense helps the clinical team manage early detection of patient deterioration, fall prevention and pressure ulcer prevention.
Saturas, founded in 2013 as part of the Trendlines incubator program, has developed a system of miniature implanted sensors and wireless transponders to easily and inexpensively determine the water status of fruit trees. According to CEO Anat Halgoa Solomon, the system (which will be available in 2018) could save farmers up to 20% on water consumption.
Many other sensor-based agricultural technology companies in Israel include Phytech, AutoAgronom, CropX, GreenIQ and Flux.