Technion USA - Winter 2016-2017 - page 12-13

Ron Brachman,
Director of the
Jacobs Technion-
Cornell Institute
Bhagyasri Canumalla (class of ’17),
a second-year Connective Media
student, who was chosen by AOL to
intern at its elite incubator, Area 51.
“Making the World a Better
Place” could be Silicon Valley’s offi-
cial mantra, says Mr. Brachman. But
in reality, he adds, very few startup
companies are actually making a
difference around the globe. “We
have a great opportunity here to not
only do things that are inspired and
driven by a deep understanding of
science and technology, but to focus
on economic and social welfare.”
Bringing aboard faculty members
like Assistant Professor Nicola Dell
heads squarely in that direction.
Prior to joining the Jacobs Institute
earlier this year, Prof. Dell worked
on projects that brought technology
to underserved communities, par-
ticularly in her native Zimbabwe.
More recently, she worked with Con-
nective Media students to create a
mobile app aimed at helping health
workers digitally track samples test-
ing for diseases in an area of Africa
with high HIV and tuberculosis rates.
Google has been a much-appre-
ciated host since Jacobs opened its
doors in 2014. But the countdown is
on for the opening of the Jacobs Insti-
tute on the Cornell Tech campus on
Roosevelt Island in the summer of
2017. The first phase of construction
includes The Bloomberg Center, the
university’s first academic building;
The Bridge at Cornell Tech, designed
for the intermingling of companies,
researchers and entrepreneurs; and a
residential building that is slated to
be the world’s most energy-efficient
continued from page 4
Alumni Innovators
Ran Korber (center),
Ziv Lautman (l)
and Emil Fisher (r)
invented BreezoMeter
to help people
assess air quality in
around the world
To help her daughter
(far left)—and
thousands of others—
avoid an invasive
medical procedure,
Janna Tenenbaum-
Katan and her team
invented Peekaboo.
To help people
like his son
overcome speech
difficulties, Yair
Shapira co-created
NiniSpeech, a
learning app with
practice buddies,
jokes and games.
The stories behind the inventions
Ran Korber was on a mission. His
wife, who suffers from asthma, was
expecting a baby, and they were
searching for a house in the Haifa
area for the family. The key factor
was not so much affordability as it
was clean air.
Problem: Air pollution.
needed to find the cleanest place to
live near Haifa,” he says. An environ-
mental engineer, Ran knew that air
pollution is the single biggest environ-
mental health crisis we face.
Solution: Monitoring app.
teamed up with Ziv Lautman and
period of stuttering. Speech therapy
helps, but the gains only last approxi-
mately 15 percent of the time. “Thera-
pists are blind to what is going on with
their patients outside the clinic,” he
says. “Speech therapy is a huge indus-
try, but it has not advanced much
since the 19th century.”
Solution: Coaching app.
turned to digital health entrepreneur/
Technion Visiting Scientist Yoav
Medan, and together with Tel Aviv
University Professor Ofer Amir, devel-
oped technology that can detect stut-
tering in any language by listening to
the rhythm of speech patterns. The
award-winning NiNiSpeech mobile
application helps people who stutter
achieve long-term speech fluency by
providing real-time numeric feedback,
“practice buddies” and speech games.
Therapists are also able to monitor
their patients’ everyday performance,
resulting in improved outcomes.
What could be more alarming for a
new mother than to feel her baby’s
forehead getting warmer by the hour?
After her baby’s fever persisted for sev-
eral days, Janna Tenenbaum-Katan and
her husband took their then one-year-
old daughter, Adi, to the doctor. Sus-
pecting a urinary tract infection (UTI),
the doctor sent Adi to the emergency
room for urethral catheterization.
Problem: Diagnosing UTIs in baby
“Taking your baby to the E.R.
is traumatic enough, and then there’s
this invasive procedure. To diagnose
a urinary tract infection, the doctor
needs to collect a sterile sample of
urine, which is a problem if the baby
is in diapers,” says Janna.
Solution: A non-invasive pro-
Currently, baby girls must
undergo urinary catheterization for
UTI diagnosis. Janna took the problem
to the 2015 Technion Medical 3-Day
Startup (3DS) Competition.
The result was Peekaboo, a
non-invasive way to collect
sterile urine samples from
non-toilet-trained baby girls.
Working with co-founders
Yoel Angel and Lior Har-
Shai, both Rappaport Medi-
cal School graduates, Janna
developed technology that
mimics the urine collec-
tion procedure carried out in
Peekaboo won the 3DS
and went on to win the 2015
BizTEC Challenge, which
awards a $10,000 top prize to
help winners jump-start their
ave you ever baked
muffins using fruit juice
as the sweetener when the
sugar canister was empty?
Remember that time you
fashioned a makeshift
basketball hoop from an
upside-down coffee cup
for some office diversion?
There’s truth to the adage:
“Necessity is the mother
of invention.” Just ask
our Technion Innovators
featured here—all of whom
are alumni.
Emil Fisher, and the mobile app
BreezoMeter was born. This 2013
BizTEC winner combines global data
from hundreds of thousands of sensors
that monitor air quality, with traffic
and weather reports, satellite informa-
tion and more. Analyzing the input
with its proprietary algorithms,
BreezoMeter creates color-coded air
pollution maps (green for the healthi-
est air) that assess air quality in
real time on a street-by-street basis.
Today, companies and cities employ
BreezoMeter technology to enhance
their products and improve lives.
Yair Shapira’s son stuttered since the
age of two. Yair and his wife took him
to therapy, but time and again, he
would speak fluently for a while, then
lapse back into a stutter.
Problem: Stuttering.
“Our son’s
stuttering was frustrating and con-
sumed a lot of emotional energy for all
of us,” Yair says. Nearly five percent
of children in the U.S. go through a
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