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MWC 1-2010 001webHere’s a secret, dear reader; I really have an easy job here, writing about Israeli startups and technology (DON’T tell the editor, they might want to cut my salary if they figure out what an easy gig this is!). But the truth is that there is so much innovation and creativity in this country, there’s always something to write about. If I were doing this kind of column in places like, for example, South Korea, Japan, Canada, or even Germany, I’d have a much harder time of it.

I came to this realization as I did my due diligence on Israel’s delegation to the Mobile World Congress, taking place in Barcelona this week. And I picked those four countries to compare, because little Israel’s delegation, with 107 companies participating, is larger than any of theirs – yes, even mighty Germany’s. In fact, Israel has the fourth largest delegation of participants of any country, outdone only by the U.S., Britain, and France.

Here’s a statistic to mull on; between the three of them, the US, UK and France are represented by about 750 companies. The combined population of these three countries is about 440 million people, which averages out to one telecom per 587,000 residents in each of the three combined. For Israel, with its 7.7 million population, the 107-strong delegation to Barcelona works out to one company per 72,000 Israelis. It may not mean much, but it sure sounds impressive!

It’s hen you look at the list of Israeli companies showing off their wares that you realize what a tech powerhouse Israel is. There are plenty of large companies – Allot, Ceedo, Radwin, to name just a few – as well as companies that have perhaps graduated past the startup stage and are now competing in the marketplace, quite successfully. Some of them, like Discretix and Tvinci, you may have read about right here in the Jpost. Many of the larger, more established companies and startups traveled to Barcelona with the Israel Export Institute, which is of course pleased as pie at the large numbers of business opportunities Israeli companies will have a chance to field in at the show. And the Institute is working on several projects of its own to try and drum up business, such as putting together presentations for representatives from under-served African countries about how Israeli technology can help them.

But of course, the reason we gather here in the startup corner is to discover and highlight the best new ideas that you haven’t necessarily heard about; the companies that will be changing the face of technology – in this case, mobile communication technology – tomorrow. So, here is a non-representative, discretionary, in no particular order or importance list of some of the cool ideas that jumped out at me when I reviewed the Israeli exhibitor list on the Mobile World Congress website:

MobiApp: All the location-based services you can get on your smartphone today have one thing in common: They all require you to be hooked into GPS. That’s fine for when you’re cruising to your local Starbuck’s, but not if you’re in a mall; for the most part, there’s no GPS signal there. That means that all the great ad gimmicks – the coupons that pop up on your cellphone as you pass a store, the special offers that entice you to lunch at one or another restaurant in the food court – won’t work. MobiApp’s technology goes where GPS can’t, providing the same kind of location-based services for indoor users.

Lexifone: The sorry aftermath of man’s hubris in building the Tower of Babel resulted in the polyglot of languages we have today, so the Bible tells us; which would make the people behind Lexifone Biblical critics, I suppose. Actually, I don’t know their views on matters spiritual, but they are doing their part to enable understanding between nations. Lexifone is utilizing voice to text and natural language technologies to produce an automatic translation service that will enable users to call a number, say a sentence or ask a question in their own language, and have it automatically translated into another language. It’s a service that could be implemented at an airport, hotel, shopping center, or any other facility where people are likely to need translation help. Currently a part of the Haifa HiCenter business accelerator, the company expects to begin raising investor money in the coming months.

Tawkon: Not a product to encourage people to speak with a New York accent, Tawkon‘s mission is simple: To help reduce the radiation cellphone users are exposed to. Besides the radiation from the phone itself, there is also radiation from the cell towers and other sources. While nothing has been proven yet (probably), there is a great deal of anxiety out there about cell phone exposure levels. Tawkon’s application will measure radiation in the area of the phone, alerting users to the higher exposure, so they can take precautions. An iPhone version is said to exist, but according to several stories I have read Apple has been taking its sweet time in approving Tawkon for sale in the App Store – lest anxious phone users get a true reading of how much radiation is going through their head!.

I could go on, but you get the idea; Israeli companies are presenting some amazing applications and products for consumer, business, front-end and back-end cell systems. You may even get to watch 3D TV on your cellphone before you get a 3D set for your home. For a country that has with a 72,000:1 company to citizen mobile communications ratio, we would expect nothing less!

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