IBM R&D Labs in Israel News

"I'm proud of you" says the President of Israel

December 18, 2007

The Israeli President, Mr. Shimon Peres, visited the IBM Haifa Research Lab to hear IBM's vision for the future.

December 11, 2007- Haifa, Israel - In a whirlwind visit to the city of Haifa, the President of Israel Mr. Shimon Peres graced the IBM Haifa Research Lab with a visit to hear more about their work on technologies that will change the way we live.

President Peres, along with Mayor of Haifa Yona Yahav and their entourage, were escorted on a brief tour of the IBM Haifa facility. The group admired the magnificent view from the building's sixth floor as the President greeted researchers in the hallway and asked them about their work. When two researchers described their research into the area of social networking, President Peres nodded with a knowing smile, "You mean like an Israeli Facebook."

After the group gathered in the building's seventh floor conference room, Aya Soffer, one of the Lab's senior management welcomed the guests and introduced Meir Nissensohn, Country General Manager of IBM. Although Aya speaks only Hebrew and English, this unique introduction was carried out in fluent Arabic. Using the MASTOR speech translation technology developed in IBM, Aya was able to welcome the President and Mayor of Haifa in English and have her speech immediately translated into flawless Arabic. This technology is currently being used by American forces in Iraq but is also gaining popularity as a means for breaking down the cultural divides among various peoples of the world.

Meir Nissensohn gave the esteemed guests an overview of IBM's history in Israel with a special focus on the prestigious position held by IBM's Haifa Lab. IBM's Research division employs some 3,000 scientists around the world and the Haifa Lab is the company's largest research facility outside the US, employing approximately 400 researchers. The President inquired about the percentage of academics employed by IBM and was pleased to hear that over 70% of the IBM workforce in Israel has university degrees.

Renowned for his visionary thinking, President Peres was especially interested in hearing about IBM's vision for the future. "IBM's vision is to function as a true global corporation, embracing technology and the ways it impacts our life," noted Nissensohn. "IBM is focusing more on services, which essentially means taking a close look at today's business challenges and using advanced technology to bring innovative solutions to these problems."

Research Boaz Carmeli presented the President with an overview of IBM Haifa's work in the area of public healthcare. IBM Haifa Researchers are enabling the collaboration of public health officials, molecular biologists, epidemiologists and scientists in the Middle East by setting up a system for the exchange and sharing of public health information. IBM’s Public Health Affinity Domain (PHAD), a joint effort spanning IBM’s Haifa and Almaden labs, will enable real-time monitoring and prediction of the spread of infectious diseases.

"We need to give priority to collaboration that will strengthen Israel's technology and research into healthcare," noted President Peres. "Aside from the legend that Jewish doctors like the famous Rambam are the best ones, this is a domain where Israel has significant strength and we need to focus on further advances to help people." The President noted other diseases such as diabetes and obesity that are currently plaguing the western world, and can benefit from advances in technology.

During the visit, President Peres gave his full attention to IBM researchers, articulating pointed questions about their challenges and expressing insight and interest in their plans for the future.

Researcher Dan Chevion, described IBM Haifa's research into the area of collaborative driving. Researchers at the IBM Haifa Research Lab are conducting research into a new collaborative driving environment that will let cars "talk" to each other and with the traffic control infrastructure along the road — so that driving will become safer and easier. Such an “intelligent” car will be aware of other vehicles, obstacles, and road conditions in its vicinity, and will be able to assist the driver in taking the most appropriate action under any circumstances. “All this needs to be achieved while keeping the driver in control of things,” said Chevion, at which point he invited President Peres to try out the prototype simulator that was developed by the team.

"The technology that is being developed in Israel is outstanding," said President Peres declared with satisfaction as the visit concluded. "I'm very proud of you - and you can quote me on that anywhere you like!"

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