Israel is known worldwide for its amazing ground-breaking technology and inventions in the fields of electronics, computers, mobile phones and telecommunications, medicine, life sciences, agriculture and “greentech.” Most of this technology is utilized in the military, business and professional arenas. In fact, Israeli technology has filtered down into the retail consumer areas via the research and development subsidiaries of major U.S. companies such as Intel and Microsoft in Israel. At the same time, the high manufacturing costs in Israel – especially in comparison to such places as China, Korea, and Singapore – have led Israeli technology firms to downplay consumer electronics and consumer electronics retail devices.
More than 150,000 people flocked to Las Vegas to attend this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) – the largest electronics exposition in the world – to see the latest and greatest in consumer electronics. Amazing new innovations were displayed that will be changing the face of technology in the years to come. One of the highlights of the show was the display by LG Electronics, which showed their new Organic Full LED 55” Smart TV Display. The picture quality was beyond amazing with contrast ratios unheard of in current flat panel TVs. In another standout display, Microsoft unveiled their new Windows 8 operating system, bringing a new level of personalization to the personal computer.
To a great degree, the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week became a showcase of the world of Israeli consumer electronics. How did little Israel achieve this? The idea is brilliantly simple! If Israel has the brains but cannot manufacture the hardware, it can form a partnership with an American company that has hardware manufacturing capability. This was precisely the direction that Israeli Ron Poliakine took in developing a consumer electronics device called Powermat, and then marketing it in a joint venture with the U.S. electronics company Duracell, which is a division of industrial titan Proctor and Gamble.
Five years ago, Ron Poliakine, an Israeli entrepreneur and the CEO of Powermat, was traveling around the world. Everywhere he went, he found himself unsuccessfully searching for a power outlet to charge his computer and mobile devices. Seeking a solution to this vexing problem, he contacted a good “army friend” and brilliant scientist, Amir Ben Shalom, and asked him for a solution. He told Amir, “I just want to place my devices on a table and get them charged without having to look for outlets and string cables.” Amir found the solution through a technology called Magnetic Induction; soon afterwards, the Powermat was born.
Powermat’s technology is brilliant and simple. Utilizing magnetic induction, mats can be placed on and in varying objects to “transmit” the power to a receiving mat attached to the device. The brilliance is that the mat can become a permanent part of the object, such as a table or car dashboard, thereby not necessitating the need to find a power source nearby to plug it into. The receiving mat can become part of the device, thereby avoiding the need to wire it with cables. Thus, to charge the device, one need only place it on the mat, or the part of the table or dashboard that contains the mat.
In order to bring the company and its technology to market, Ron forged strategic marketing alliances with such U.S. companies as Hometics, which allowed him to make the initial connections with large retailers such as Target and Walmart. Ron realized that “branding” Powermat as technology to be utilized in a wider arena would necessitate making alliances with other vertical market resellers. He thus forged an alliance with a major business furniture manufacturer, Teknion, to install Powermats in furniture. The same method was used to bring the Powermat technology to the automotive world by creating a relationship with General Motors. The next step was to bring Powermat to the entire world, which would require a corporate partner with the appropriate technological capabilities.
Several years ago, Duracell was looking for a wireless charging technology. Failing at an initial attempt to develop a marketable type of this technology, Duracell was left with the question of whether it should abandon the marketing of such a device or try to redesign it. In the process of looking for this answer, they discovered Powermat’s remarkably cutting-edge technology, and decided that this was the solution for them.
Powermat and Duracell formed a joint venture called Duracell Powermat. Powermat Israel oversees the research and development, as well as some of the marketing, while Duracell is in charge of the manufacturing – along with the majority of the marketing, retail sales and distribution – of Powermat’s devices. Powermat’s R&D division continues to develop and market Powermat’s Technology to other end users, such as mobile phone manufacturers.
In an interview with the Jewish Voice, Maya Cohen, a manager at Powermat Israel, described how work being done in Israel is shaping the future of consumer electronics. “We do things fast, small and efficiently, utilizing our core competence and technology,” she explains. “We do everything the way a start- up company would, and we then branch out to strategic partners, in order to take the company to the next level.” Powermat CEO Ron Poliakine believes that the future of Israel’s involvement in retail technology is virtually limitless. He attributes this to the “combination of amazing technology and Israel’s expanding connections in the global community, which gives Israel an edge in making its technology available to the world.”