Geektime

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you 10 hot TV-tech startups

At this year’s third annual Keshet conference in Jerusalem, ten startups took to the stage, each hoping to disrupt the way you watch and interact with your television screen. The event was held by TechDate, a joint venture of the McCann advertising agency and Geektime with the goal of matching brands with startups for more innovative marketing campaigns.

So what is TV-tech? Television presenter Dror Globerman invited the startups to the stage for a 5-minute pitch, followed by a Q&A session with experts in the audience, including Jacob Shwirtz, Chief Social Media Officer of Endemol BEYOND, blogger Oliver Franklin from WIRED, Jessica Reese, Digital Editor for Cynopsis, Eldad Weinberger, SVP for products and marketing at Mako, and Etti Luzato, a patent expert.

Without further ado, here are the 10 startups:

1. eyeSight

Photo Credit: eyeSight

You want to change the channel, but can’t find the remote. Or the remote works, but only from a certain angle, height and distance? EyeSight wants to get rid of the remote control altogether and let you use your hands to change channels. The company’s technology allows remote control of various devices including smartphones, tablets, laptops and TVs using nothing more than body movements.

In terms of your TV, eyeSight will let you control the volume, change channels and even control the menus, all with a wave of your hand. At present, the technology can be found in televisions by Philips, HiSense and TCL. If you want to buy the technology on its own, the company recently released Singlecue, a product that lets consumers control existing products in their homes without touching them and without the need for adapters or cables. The company, which has 50 employees and offices in Herzliya Pituach, was founded by Itay Katz in 2005.

2. SCREEMO

Photo Credit: Screemo

Nowadays, customers have dozens of ways of skipping through commercials they don’t feel like watching. For advertisers, this presents an extra challenge. SCREEMO allows companies to get viewers’ attention with relatively inexpensive interactive games. As soon as the commercial break starts, the advertiser invites the viewer to take part in a game, using their smartphone. While the commercials are running, the viewer can shoot baskets or bowl. Your phone double as a game dashboard and when it’s over, the advertiser can encourage the viewer to take action: sharing on social media, using a coupon, downloading an application, etc.

The company was founded in 2013 by Adir Zimerman, Dotan Kopolovich and Yonatan Zur. Its offices are in Tel Aviv and it has 13 employees. The company has raised $1 million from leading investors including Yanki Margalit and AfterDox.

SCREEMO has customers in Europe, China and the United States including international brands like Coca Cola, Ping An and Deutsche Telekom.

3. Homage

Photo Credit: Homage

Imagine this: You’re on stage with Beyonce. As she croons her latest hit, you bust out some moves in sync with her talented crew of backup dancers.

Okay, okay, don’t judge my fantasy. Everyone has their own fantasy of a video they wish to play a cameo in.

Homage has developed a video-making platform for content providers that allows the crowd to take an active part in the content by putting themselves in the video.

The company’s technology can separate a figure from its background. If you have a few free seconds and a mobile phone you can superimpose yourself into the video of your choice. The technology currently is part of a dedicated app but can be added to the apps of advertisers and broadcasters. When the user enters a video he would like to be a part of, he shoots a few brief scenes as instructed by the app, and within 30 seconds, a video clip is made. You can share the video on social media, take part in contests by advertisers, etc.

The company is currently in its seed stage, having raised $500,000. The company was founded in 2014 by Tomer Harry, Nir Hanes and Yoav Caspin. It has six employees and is located in Tel Aviv’s Montefiore neighborhood.

4. Latto

Photo Credit: Latto

Latto is a white-label platform for telecom companies, broadcasters, and content aggregators that allows viewers to watch on-demand video on multiple screens. It allows its clients to monetize this content, and makes personalized recommendations using big data.

The company was founded in 2008 by Co-Founder and CEO Jonathan Benartzi and Co-Founder and CTO Alon Levy. The company has had two funding rounds at a total of $14 million and is gearing up for an additional funding round for the purposes of supporting international sales and upgrading the product. The Tel Aviv-based company has 30 employees.

5. ZRRO

GIF Credit: ZRRO

If you like playing video games on TV, think how much you would enjoy playing your choice of hundreds of thousands of mobile games for free.

ZRRO offers a touchpad controller that feels very much like a mobile screen but allows you to play on a bigger, better, grander playing field.

ZRRO’s controller uses patented technology called zTouch to detect a user’s fingers hovering up to 3 cm above the pad. Two circular icons on the screen show you where your fingers are and when you move them closer, the icons get smaller. This hovering technology is pretty trailblazing. The Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5 feature hover touch but it is limited to a single finger and suffers from a significant delay.

ZRRO’s hover technology creates the effect of a mouse on a computer screen. Just as the cursor shows you where the mouse is at all times, allowing you to keep your eyes on the computer screen, ZRRO’s control feels natural and intuitive.

In addition to the control panel, the ZRRO console consists of a 2.0 GHz ZRRO Box with 2 gigabytes of RAM and 16 gigabytes of internal storage (expandable through an SD card of up to 32 gigabytes).

The company, based in Tel Aviv with six employees, was founded in 2009 by Uri Rimon and Rafi Zchut and has raised $3,5 million so far.

6. Vodience

Photo Credit: Vodience

There’s nothing like watching a performance or sports event in the company of a live audience: the excitement, the cheers, the buzz. You don’t get that at home in your living room.

Vodience (short for virtual audience) allows you to see, in real-time, the reactions of other viewers who are watching the same television show or visiting the same website, either on desktop or mobile. You can see others’ responses and even choose an avatar and start expressing your own: boos at a sports event, tears when the heroine is reunited with her long lost mother, as well as messages to other audience members. The company claims that implementing a virtual audience increases user engagement by tens and even hundreds of percentage points.

7. DOV-E

Photo Credit: DOV-E

DOV-E is an Internet of Things startup that should more accurately be called the “ultrasound of things.” Using high-frequency audio, the platform connects any electronic device to mobile phones. Thus, for instance, a consumer passing in the vicinity of a store’s speakers can receive via his mobile device relevant push ads and coupons.

A consumer passing in the vicinity of a radio or TV program can receive push notifications to his mobile that are relevant to what is being broadcast. The technology can also be used for safe, automatic payments.

The company was founded in 2013 and is now part of Microsoft’s accelerator program in Herzliya. It has three employees — co-founders Yehuda Yehudai, Noam Ben Ari and Nir Palombo.

8. Showbox

Photo Credit: Showbox

Content creation can be a long and arduous process, not to mention expensive. Showbox makes it easy to make spiffy videos in a jiffy for free.

The cloud-based platform includes features like a green screen that separates the presenter from his background, rich visual sets on a number of themes, and more. The platform allows a company itself to create content as well as for users to upload their own content. The company is in closed beta but will open to the public in a few weeks.

Based in Tel Aviv, Showbox was founded in 2013 by Tomer Afek and Effi Atad. The company has 23 employees and recently raised $8 million from prominent founders including the CEOs of IMAX and American Express.

9. Wibbitz

Photo Credit: Wibbitz

Wibbitz can turn any piece of text into a video in 5 seconds flat. What used to be done by video editors can now be done by algorithm so quickly and inexpensively that content websites can significantly boost their video content. In the future, the technology will be incorporated into smart TVs, thereby turning any content website into its own television channel.

The founders of Wibbitz, Zohar Dayan and Yotam Cohen, established the company in 2011 and have raised over $4 million. If you’re a content website, you can get in touch with the company. If you’re an individual user, there’s an iPhone app. Apologies to Android users.

10. Apester

Photo Credit: Apester

If reading long blocks of text and watching videos doesn’t do it for you, a company called Apester wants to get your attention with interactive features like quizzes, surveys, trivia questions, interactive video and crowd written stories. To access the web platform, you need an invitation to the network, but you can also see Apester in action on the website of The Telegraph. Enjoy, but no monkey business.

Translated from Hebrew to English by Simona Weinglass.