June 26, 2006 1:13 PM PDT

'RFID' fabrics and surfing for porn, the Israeli way

TEL AVIV, Israel--Why attach an RFID chip to a shirt when you can identify the shirt through undetectable, invisible chemicals mixed into the fibers?

That's the question CrossID CEO Moshe Glickstein is posing to potential customers. The Israeli company has devised a way to put a chemical signature into fabrics, labels, inks, boxes and other materials. When a hand or door scanner tuned to a specific frequency is pointed at an item, chemicals mixed inside the item get excited and give off a signal. The signal, which differs with the addition or subtraction of different substances, then serves as an ID for the item.

"The pattern (of the chemicals) is not important. What is important is their presence or absence," Glickstein said during a hallway interview at the International Summit here this week, an event sponsored by Silicom Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based investment group.

Eventually, Glickstein says, as more retailers adopt the approach to combat counterfeiting, the technology could be used as a cheap substitute for RFID tags. Putting a chemical signature in an item will cost a fraction of a cent. RFID tags are still priced way above the idealized 5 cent mark, he noted.

"We even talked to a professor, who said it would be difficult and time consuming to come up with forgeries" of tags, he said.

If anything, Israeli start-ups aim for the fence. The country doesn't have low labor costs or a huge domestic market like India or China. However, it does have a lot of engineers: 135 for every 10,000 residents, according to Zeev Holtzman, founder of venture firm Giza Venture Capital and one of the chiefs of the Israel Venture Association. Japan and the U.S. have about 80 to 90, he added.

Thus, to compete in the global marketplace, local companies concentrate on tech-heavy projects that can be exported and, at the same time, can't be easily replicated. It's not easy. A number of prominent VCs have had to write off close to a half billion dollars in the last few years, according to a local business paper called Globes. Still, you have to do something for a living.

Other companies at the show include

• Secure OL

The Jerusalem-based company sells a virtualization application for PCs that's designed to combat sites that present a potential danger to a Web surfer's hard drive--sites that either download viruses or leave a record that shows the surfer went to a gambling or porn site. The potential dangers are attenuated because the application lets consumers visit questionable sites through a virtual window, which is walled off from the rest of the computer.

Virtualization software from companies such as VM Ware is a staple on servers, but most of those applications are too cumbersome for average users. Microsoft's coming Vista OS will sport virtualization, but it will take a while to permeate the market, giving SecureOL a window of time.

"If you want to get spyware or a rootkit, great, do it. It will go along with whatever you want," said CEO Zak Dechovich, who served in the cyberterrorism unit in Israel's army in the '90s. "People use it for porn and to crack applications. This is not why we created it, but the market has its own forces."

Users can download the application for free or buy a copy. The free downloaded version expires after a PC loaded with the software is turned off 30 times.

"If you don't turn off your computer, it will run forever," he said.

• Sea-Eye Underwater

"We are talking about an underwater broadband wireless communication system that can do video, voice and data in real time with ranges up to 100 meters," said CEO Ilan Vainstein.

No, he's not aiming for the consumer market. With this, oil companies could more easily get data out of undersea pipelines, Vainstein said. "Aircraft carriers and submarines could use robotic systems to get sonar pictures to aircraft carriers," he added.

• CallingID

With CallingID, a user submits his or her password and user name to access a bank account. In turn, the bank, through CallingID, then sends four photographs to the user: one of him or herself submitted earlier in the account-creation stage and the other three of strangers.

"No one forgets what they look like," said CEO Yoram Nissenboim. The photo identification is part of a security and authentication suite sold to financial institutions and others. Another application of the suite involves sending fake keystrokes to spyware while sending the genuine ones in an encrypted format to the bank. A U.S. bank is currently conducting a pilot.

"It's my seventh start-up," Nissenboim said, adding that one of the earlier ones was sold to NetManage.

• UC-Care Medical Systems

Did you know that 50 percent of U.S. men over the age of 50 suffer benign prostatic hyperplasia, which puts extreme pressure on the urethra, and 80 percent suffer it by the age of 80?

"If you don't have it now, you will," CEO Chen Porat announced cheerfully. The company has come up with a technique for inserting a catheter in men that can solve the problem better than medicines, he said, but is less invasive than surgery.

• Simlat

The company trains people in how to operate unmanned aerial vehicles. The UAV market will be a $15 billion business in a decade, according to CEO Yuval Peshin.

See more CNET content tagged:
RFID, cyberterrorism, fabric, chemical, RFID tag

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Chemical signatures in fabrics
Fabric; chemical mixes too numerous to test; contact with skin or
near contact with nose, etc; allergy. Result: lawsuits.
Posted by (2 comments )
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Yet more big brother tech
The fact that Israel has so many engineers all trying to produce niche products is the reason that so much of the next-gen big brother technology seems to come out of that country.

Why the hell would I want anyone to know stuff about what I'm wearing?!
Posted by wingslikeshieldsofsteel (7 comments )
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