Israeli Tech Firm Chooses Bethesda for U.S. Headquarters

Sesame Enable, a technology firm based in Israel, has opened its United States headquarters in Bethesda, Gov. Larry Hogan’s office announced Monday.

Open Sesame’s proprietary technology lets people operate a smartphone using head movements and by voice control if they cannot use their hands to touch the device’s screen, according to a press release.

“We chose Maryland because of the backing we have received from the state subsidy program, and Bethesda’s proximity to health institutions, including those focusing on veterans,” Sesame Enable CEO and co-founder Oded Ben-Dov said in the press release. “In addition, we are now close to Washington, D.C., where we know we’ll have opportunity to influence change needed to make our technology readily available to all Americans who can benefit from it.”

The company says the Sesame phone works by tracking the user’s head movements through a built-in front-facing camera. The movements are combined with algorithms to create a cursor on the screen. The cursor responds to movements by the user.

Sesame Enable’s headquarters is near Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Rockville Pike.

The company has five employees in the U.S. and hopes to hire five more Marylanders who are veterans or have disabilities that limit mobility.

The press release said Hogan met with company executives last year during an economic development and trade mission to Israel.

“I was excited to see this cutting edge technology firsthand,” Hogan said in the press release, “and we are proud to be one of the first states to expand universally accessible options to our citizens with disabilities.”

The press release says Maryland is one of the first states to adopt the technology Sesame Enable uses. The technology is now available to residents through the state’s Maryland Accessible Telecommunications program administered by the Department of Information Technology, the press release says.

Sesame Enable’s website says the business started after Ben-Dov, a computer expert, was on TV demonstrating a game that could be controlled using head gestures.

Giora Livne, an engineer and veteran who is a quadriplegic, called Ben-Dov and said, “Hello, I can’t move my hands or legs. Could you make me a smartphone I could use?”

Together, the men founded the new tech company.

As featured in Bethesda Magazine