French hospitals adopt Polytex’s technology to combat contamination

Israeli Workwear management company Polytex Technologies has witnessed explosive growth in the French market over the past year. Seven new hospitals throughout the country have purchased the company’s fully automated workwear management solution that provides improved protection for health workers, which has become even more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic and leads to significant reduction in the expenses on uniforms

Over the past twelve months, Polytex has won contracts at major French hospitals in Rouen, Rennes, Pithiviers, Dax, Poissy, Ajaccio and at a large hospital laundry service in the Paris region. This is in addition to the eight hospitals and a pharmaceutical industrial site in various parts of the country, which have already installed Polytex’s workwear and scrubs management solution.

The Polytex solution is fully automated and enables hands-free dispensing and collecting of individual uniforms. The system itself is sealed, keeping garments in a clean environment that is opened only by laundry professionals during collection and restocking. The system is available on a 24/7 basis and often installed at multiple locations enabling staff to receive and return garments in seconds, thereby avoiding unnecessary crowding.

Refilling the machines with fresh clothing is very quick and takes only a couple of minutes.

The units can also be moved to special temporary wards dedicated to infectious diseases like COVID-19. The Polytex automated system is backed by a centralized cloud-based management and monitoring applications for end-to-end tracking.

There are currently over 3,000 Polytex units operating in 20 countries, including the U.S., France, Germany, Spain, and Israel, alongside countries in eastern Europe and Asia.

“In the past year we have nearly doubled our presence in France as the global pandemic has made hygiene an even more critical issue for hospitals,” said Yariv Matzliach, CEO of Polytex. He added that “France is currently one of our largest and strategic markets in Europe and has tremendous growth potential.”

“Polytex’s technology system helped to simplify the distribution of workwear in the hospital and led to a 40% reduction in expenses on uniforms,” said Bernard Loulier, laundry manager at the Centre Hospitalier Regional d’Orleans (CHR), the largest hospital in Orleans. He noted that the actual volume of workwear was reduced as were the amount of storage space needed. The first Polytex station in Orleans was installed at the 5000-staff hospital in 2016. The hospital currently has ten stations installed for dispensing and return of uniforms.

Polytex: Sharp rise in hospitals’ demand for hygienic automated workwear solution

Workwear management company Polytex has announced that the demand of hospitals over the globe for its hygienic workwear management solution has risen sharply in 2020. The fully automated, hands-free end-to-end solution, which includes machines, software, and a smartphone application, supports the entire workwear lifecycle. The system monitors turnover and inventory level and ensures 24/7 availability of the workwear at multiple location points across the entire hospital.

Covid-19 has strengthened the understanding that hygiene standards in hospital units must be maintained at a high level. To achieve this, medical teams need a consistent supply of clean scrubs to prevent contamination and the spread of viruses and bacteria. Polytex solutions ensure that medical teams get clean and fresh workwear via a fully automated closed system unit featuring hands-free dispensing and returning of items.

There are currently over 3,000 Polytex units operating in 20 countries, including Israel, the U.S., Spain, Germany, and France, alongside countries in east Europe and Asia. The healthcare sector and specifically hospitals are the largest customer for the Polytex automated workwear management solution. Hotels, health clubs and industrial facilities where hygiene is important, are also target markets of the company.

In Israel, the company’s end to end solution is currently in operation at all the mid to large size hospitals in the country. Israel’s Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, the country’s largest hospital, typifies how the pandemic has impacted hospitals. In 2019 the hospital ran a pilot program with one scrub dispensing and return unit at the Rehabilitation Department. By the end of 2020 Sheba had deployed 20 stations around the hospital and is planning further installations.

According to a Sheba case study, the major advantages of using Polytex technology have been a 45% reduction in annual uniform purchase costs, improved staff satisfaction and no less important, improved hygiene levels. More than 4,500 doctors, nurses, and lab workers – over half the entire staff – now have clean and hygienic uniforms waiting for them at convenient locations through the Sheba campus, eliminating the need for a central storeroom. In addition, the deployment of the Polytex solution at Sheba was in line with the hospital management’s strategy of adopting innovative technologies to improve efficiency while at the same time receiving the support of the workers’ committees for pooled uniforms and automation.

The Polytex solution is fully automated and enables hands-free dispensing and collecting of individual uniforms. The system itself is sealed, keeping garments in a clean environment that is opened only by laundry professionals during collection and restocking. The system is available on a 24/7 basis and often installed at multiple locations enabling staff to receive and return garments in seconds thereby avoiding unnecessary crowding. The units can also be moved to special temporary wards dedicated to infectious diseases like Covid-19. The Polytex automated system is backed by a centralized cloud-based management and monitoring applications for end-to-end tracking.

“Medical staff uniforms have become a potential health hazard as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and this has led to tremendous interest in our solution from medical institutions around the world new and existing markets,” said Yariv Matzliach, CEO of Polytex. He added that “our solution allows medical staff to change uniforms faster, often many times a day, without fear of contamination. In the coming weeks, we expect to sign agreements in new markets.”

Juganu has developed a lighting fixture that destroys COVID-19 in the room

The smart lighting company Juganu has developed an LED lighting fixture that destroys bacteria and viruses found in closed spaces in the air and on surfaces, including COVID-19 viruses. The unique light fixture, called J. Protect, distributes a combination of visible light that illuminates the room along with ultraviolet light at UVA and UVC frequencies, which can disinfect and destruct pathogens in the room.

The efficacy and safety of the development were tested and verified in a laboratory at Bar-Ilan University and other academic and medical institutions. The new product has received marketing approvals from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Juganu has already sold several hundred units of the new product in a soft launch and is currently conducting several pilots with hospitals in Israel and Mexico. The main target market is the United States. To promote the marketing of the product in the country, Juganu raised about $18 million and will collaborate with large American companies, including Qualcomm, Comcast, and NCR.

The lighting fixture is based on Juganu’s smart LED technology, which allows to “mix” light at different frequencies by designing the chips in the LED surface, thereby adapting the light composition to different needs. For example, the company has developed streetlights that change their shades according to changes in natural light throughout the day, as well as lighting fixtures for greenhouse crops (including cannabis) and for healthcare and medical applications.

Illuminate and disinfect with one lamp

In a conversation with TechTime, the CEO and one of the company’s founders, Eran Ben-Shmuel, explained that the new development is another application based on the company’s core technology. “At the outset of the pandemic, we tried to think about how smart lighting can be used to cope with the crisis. We developed several prototypes, in which we incorporated light in wavelengths that perform disinfection, tested them in a laboratory in Bar-Ilan, and the results were remarkable.”

Virus destruction is accomplished using two areas of the UV light spectrum: UVA light, at 395-400 nm wavelengths, and UVC light, at shorter wavelengths of 365-375 nm. UVA radiation is not dangerous to humans, but it manages to penetrate the outer shell of viruses and bacteria and destroy them.

Experiments [Tests] have shown that UVA lighting manages to eliminate 99.9% of pathogens in a room within a few hours. UVC radiation is more powerful and exterminates pathogens in a room within minutes, but it is dangerous for humans. Therefore, in Juganu’s product, UVC radiation is activated manually, only when the room is empty of people.

A Solution to the problem of infections in hospitals

Although there are disinfectant solutions on the market that are based on UV radiation, the uniqueness of Juganu’s lighting fixture lies in the fact that the UV radiation is combined with normal lighting. Ben-Shmuel: “Because our fixture is also used for normal lighting, it disinfects the space continuously. Also, since it is an overhead lighting that fills the entire volume of the room in a uniform distribution, it also cleans surfaces and not just the air.”

The company is designating the new product for large spaces such as hospitals, shopping centers, restaurants, offices, etc. However, in addition to assisting in the handling the COVID-19 routine, the product addresses another serious problem unrelated to COVID-19: the many infections found in hospitals, which in Israel alone cause the deaths of thousands of people a year. “It is effective for most of the bacteria and viruses. When we tested the fixture in one of the hospitals, the lighting completely cleaned the room of all contaminants.”

Pangea assists Liberty Latin America in protecting its employees against the spread of COVID-19

In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Israel’s Pangea, which specializes in digital transformation of government and business services, will supply workplace protection systems to Liberty Latin America, one of the leading communications companies in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Pangea multi-sensor solution integrates thermal imaging, video analytics and biometric access control technologies for screening large volumes of people entering buildings and public spaces.

The agreement calls for supplying thermal imaging systems for installation at various locations in Latin America and the Caribbean, where Liberty Latin America operates. Initial deployments have been completed at the company’s offices in Panama, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Miami. Pangea has carried out similar installations at corporations in Israel and in Europe.

“Our integrated solution will provide Liberty Latin America with a means of monitoring the health of its employees and visitors entering their offices in order to help manage the spread and reduce the incidence of COVID-19,” says Assaf Kaminer (pictured above), Executive Vice President at Pangea. He adds that “biometric and thermal imaging technologies have been catching on rapidly following the South Korean success in flattening the infection curve.”

Pangea IT is a trusted global supplier of digital identity, security, and e-Payment solutions. The company specializes in the digital transformation of government services and enterprise business operations. Pangea’s technology solutions simplify e-government procedures; improve availability and accessibility to public services, and increase public sector efficiency, governance, and transparency. The company’s portfolio includes dozens of large-scale, public sector digital identity projects and millions of authenticated documents, certificates, and personal identity cards. Pangea maintains regional offices worldwide, and a research and development center located at the company headquarters in Israel.

Touchless.ai converts touch-based interface to a voice-based interface

[ictured above (right to left): Roy Baharav and Eyal Shapira, founders of Hi-Auto]

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, numerous Israeli auto-tech companies have used their technology intended for the automotive market to develop dedicated solutions to deal with the special needs of the new reality. This action was also taken by the Tel Aviv-based auto-tech company Hi Auto, which launched a solution called Touchless.ai, which allows touch-based user interfaces, such as those found in self-service machines in clinics or fast food chains, to be turned into “sterile” interfaces operated by voice commands, i.e., touch-free.

The new solution is based on the audio-video technology developed by the company for in-vehicle voice control systems. Hi-Auto’s technology includes a microphone, a camera focused on the driver’s lips, and a deep-learning software installed on the vehicle’s computer that removes background noise. Touchless.ai is an add-on based on the same technology and can be installed on any existing touch interface. Roy Baharav, one of the founders of Hi Auto and the director of the new venture, told TechTime that as soon as the COVID-19 crisis broke out, the company identified the new need and opportunity.

“We realized very quickly that everything related to voice command would gain momentum, and that voice interfaces would transform from an application that’s nice to have, into something imperative [in light of the current reality]. We built a solution that is separate from what we do in the automotive world, that is simpler and that allows people to use voice-based interfaces in a reliable and user-friendly way, without having to make significant adjustments from business to business “.

The same challenge found within the space of the vehicle regarding voice-command interfaces – to identify the relevant speaker, i.e., the user, and separate his voice commands from background noises – exists also in public spaces. Baharav: “Even in a restaurant, airport, or train station there is considerable environmental noise that interferes with speech comprehension.”

A camera that reads lips

The Touchless.ai plugin solves the problem in two ways: it converts each and every action in the interactive interface to a defined voice command, and displays to the user on the screen what the relevant voice command is, for example, to order a particular dish in a restaurant or to issue a certain document in a governmental self-service machine. The plugin makes the interface accessible to the user and reduces the possible “conversation” scenarios between the user and the machine, thereby making it easier for the voice processor to accurately identify the command. In addition, the recognition of voice commands is also aided by a camera, which reads the speaker’s lip movements and helps to identify commands.

At this stage, the company has adapted the software to English, Japanese and Hebrew, and has begun pilots with several retail chains in the US and Europe. The market of body gesture-based control interfaces is still in its infancy, especially in the automotive sector where there is a safety need for contactless control of information and entertainment systems. However, in the field of consumer electronics and smart home, the technology has not been adopted yet. It is possible that the current need to maintain hygiene in public space will lead to a significant boost. The research company Research & Markets estimates that the market for contactless operating interfaces is expected to grow in the coming years at an annual rate of 17.6% and reach a volume of approximately $15.3 billion in 2025.

Gilat’s Attorneys: “Comtech is sabotaging the Merger”

A judge in the Delaware Court of Chancery, Texas, issued earlier this month a temporary injunction order against Comtech, following information presented by Gilat’s lawyers, according to which Comtech’s representatives met many times during the recent months with officials from the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia, without informing Gilat of the meetings, Bloomberg News revealed.

According to the information, Comtech members held about 17 “secret calls” with Russian officials, contrary to the agreement between the companies, which requires that representatives from both companies be present or informed at any “significant” meeting related to the merger transaction. Gilat’s lawyers claim that the very act of conducting these meetings and their concealment indicate that Comtech made steps behind Gilat’s back that were meant to delay the approval of the merger in Russia until after the deadline set in the agreement (October 23).

After receiving the information, Judge Joseph Slights issued an injunction order requiring Comtech to provide Gilat with a notification 24 hours before any meeting or conversation with the Russian authority. The trial between the two companies will begin on October 5. The injunction order issued by the judge is a hard blow to Comtech, as the new information debunks its claim that Gilat is the one who tried to sabotage the obtaining of an approval from Russia.

Comtech’s Original Sin: Excessive Leverage

Gilat is a satellite networking technology, solutions and services provider. At the end of January 2020,  Comtech Telecommunications Corp. and Gilat signed a deal under which Comtech would acquire Gilat for $577 million: 70% of them in cash and the rest in shares. The merger was supposed to create a company with annual revenues of about $1 billion. Even then, however, question marks arose concerning the financial basis of the deal.

Oppenheimer Israel analyst, Assaf Handley, told Techtime that he had already warned at the time of signing of the agreement that the capital structure of the deal was problematic, since it required Comtech to incur a debt of $500 million. “Such a debt represents a leverage that is four times larger in relation to the EBITDA of the merged company.

“It is a very high leverage for this industry, since the satellite communications market is very volatile. Companies of this type don’t take on large leverage since the volatility in quarterly earnings is very high, and cancellation of even a single order could cut a significant portion of the revenue and cash flow – and jeopardize repayment ability.”

Were the Russians merely an excuse?

If 2020 had been a normal year, Comtech would have been able to handle the debt burden, but COVID-19 shuffled the deck: the revenues of both companies fell sharply in the first half of 2020. Gilat ended its first quarter with a 23% drop in sales and a loss of $11.7 million. In the second quarter, sales fell by 35% and the company reported a loss of $4 million. Comtech reported a 20% drop in sales in the fiscal quarter that ended late April and a loss of $4 million.

Both companies attributed the deterioration in business to delays in orders in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Comtech’s share has been cut by more than half  – a major blow to the merger, since approximately third of the deal was supposed to be paid for in shares. Could it be that Comtech has decided to withdraw from the deal due to this reason? Unilateral cancellation of the agreement involves payments of tens of millions of dollars in compensation. According to Gilat’s attorneys, this is the reason why Comtech had decided to find an excuse to renege the agreement.

The injunction order is not reassuring for Comtech

In July 2020, Comtech filed a lawsuit in the Delaware Court of Chancery, alleging that Gilat had made structural changes to its subsidiary in Russia and thereby jeopardized the approval of the merger. A few days later it filed a revised lawsuit in which it sought a declaratory ruling that would determine that the COVID-19 crisis had inflicted a “significant adverse harm” to Gilat’s operations, and that this constitutes a ground for rescinding the agreement.

Gilat responded in a counterclaim in which it claims that Comtech is deliberately trying to sabotage the approval of the deal, and is looking for an excuse to shake off the merger. Handley believes that regulatory proceedings in Russia were simply an excuse. “If Comtech really wanted a deal, they would simply waive the Russian approval.

“In any case, Gilat’s activity in Russia is negligible. The injunction order issued by the judge, which in fact supports Gilat’s claims, is not reassuring for Comtech. It is hard to believe that in the current circumstances the deal will be executed, but there may be a real basis for Gilat to sue for compensation due to the substantial damages it suffered.”

Jungo’s AI transform touch-based interfaces into touch-free

Israeli Jungo Connectivity has launched a new AI software, which can transform touch-based interfaces into interfaces controlled simply by the user’s voice commands and remote hand gestures, i.e., without touch. The software is based on image processing algorithms, which analyze the movement of the user’s hands and eyes, captured by a simple HD camera. Amidst the COVID-19 crisis and the need to maintain hygiene, Jungo’s aim is to help avoiding the need to touch the many touch-based interfaces so abundant these days in the public space, such as ATMs, cash-less payment machines and touch screens in offices and factories.

Today, Jungo is focused mainly in the automotive world. Its main product, the Co-Driver software, can detect if the driver has dozed off, not paying attention to the road, got distracted or not wearing a seat belt, etc., based on a visual analysis of the tillt of the head and the body posture, and the movements of his eyelids. Talking to TechTime, Jungo CEO, Ofir Herbst, explained that the new product is based on the same technology.

“The new software relies on the technologies we have developed for the automotive industry, though it opens up a new world of applications for us outside the automotive. There is no doubt that COVID-19 was the trigger for development, in order to provide an alternative solution for non-sterile public touch screens.”

Will COVID-19 Give the Market a Push?

The advantage of Jungo’s software, called MagiaTouch, is that it can be embedded into existing touch applications, without the need to change the code or the interface design, but by merely installing a simple HD camera and microphone. The software analyzes the user’s hand movements and translates it into on-screen commands as if he was moving a mouse or pressing keyboard keys.

Herbst reveals that Jungo is already conducting a pilot with a manufacturer of automated cash-less payment machines. “Manufacturers of automated cash-less payment machines for retail shops have run into a problem in the current circumstances, as those machines require touch. With our software you can still use those same machines but to avoid pressing the screen with your fingers.”

The market of gesture and voice control interfaces has been attempting to gain traction for several years by now, especially in the automotive sector where there is a safety-related need to control infotaiment system without having to use touch. However, in the fields of consumer electronics and smart homes, attempts to introduce such technologies have not yet been successful. Perhaps now, as a result of the need to maintain hygiene in the public sphere, this market will receive a significant boost. Indeed, according to a recent forecast by the research company Research & Markets, the market of non-contact interfaces is expected to grow in the coming years at an annual rate of 17.6% and reach $15.3 billion by 2025.