Column for Jewish News January 16 2016 by Jenni Frazer
So you’re at the airport en route to somewhere fabulous – possibly Israel – but your hands are full.
And even though your suitcase is the newest, coolest, and probably most expensive in the whole of Stanmore, you still haven’t been able to grow an extra arm to make sure you can wheel your case and your hand luggage and your handbag or man-bag and the bag full of duty-free goodies and glossy magazines and the bouquet of aromatic lilies practically forced on you by an admirer en route to Heathrow.
What to do?
Don’t panic. Israel has the answer. It really, really, does. An enterprising Israeli start-up company is developing what every Jewish traveller wants – a hands-free case that will trundle along next to the owner, like an obedient pet.
The luggage uses Bluetooth technology to sync with an app on your phone. Once it locks on and locates you as the owner, it will follow you quietly round the airport. And there is, of course, an anti-theft alarm built in so that no-one can relieve you of your suitcase while you’re juggling everything else that you’re holding.
It’s such a great idea and like all the best ideas. makes you wonder why no-one has done it already. But NUA. which is based in Jerusalem, has lots of good applications for its technology, and after suitcases is turning its attention to that bane of everyone’s life, shopping trolleys. Rather than you always getting the one with the wobbly wheel, robotics will enable you to have a trolley which waits silently next to you until you are ready to move to the aisle with the orange juice. The day they invent a shopping trolley which will unload your shopping onto the checkout belt and then re-pack it, I’m signing up.
I was attracted to the suitcase innovation after a member of my family (alright, my gadget-mad brother) told me how he turned on his UK apartment’s central heating via his smartphone in Israel. He was on his way back to the UK and suddenly remembered lousy British weather.
A couple of clicks on his phone, and voila! – instant toastiness.
So yet again Israeli technology came to the rescue. It’s become almost a cliche to note how many Israeli innovations have become commonplace for use in modern Western society, but it doesn’t make it any less a matter for marvel.
And, of course, the sheer volume of Israeli start-ups and hi-tech developments mean that those determined to boycott Israel and remain living in the modern world find themselves hemmed in at every turn. From computer innards to phone technology, from USB memory sticks to sat-nav direction, Israeli ingenuity is flooding the market with can’t-live-without-them devices.
It’s sadly ironic, of course, that so much of this ingenuity has arisen because Israel has been forced by circumstance to look inwards. Some of the hi-tech has been an application to civilian life of military technology; and some, of course, of the medical and health developments now used all over the world, have arisen because of Israel’s own tragic experiences.
In the same week that I read about the suitcase and its accompanying luggage app, I read about new Israeli technology which is developing in response to the recent wave of terror attacks in the country.
It’s truly painful to learn that it’s been found necessary to produce some of this stuff. For example, one company has changed its business model to develop an app to help people respond to terror attacks. Provided you have the presence of mind when some lunatic embarks on stabbing or shooting, just one click of the Reporty system will provide emergency dispatchers all needed information within a few seconds.
Users will be able to transmit live video and audio recordings from the scene of the emergency to emergency response personnel. They, in turn, will be able to detect location, indoors and out, and get people on the scene super-fast.The company is already tied in with Magen David Adom and hopes soon to be tied in with the IDF.
In the month when France is commemorating the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper-Cacher attacks, it’s poignant to think that Israel’s Reporty system may soon become standard use on phones, in any country where random terror strikes.
Personally, I would love it if they could just stick to suitcases.