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December 31, 2013 4:45 pm

Promising New Israeli App Shatters the Silence of Autism

avatar by Gidon Ben-zvi

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A new Israeli application, the first of its kind in the world, is allowing people who cannot speak to communicate with people everywhere, Israeli daily Walla reported.

Ola Mundo (“Hello World ” in Spanish) is an application that transmits instant messages using symbols for people whose speaking or writing ability is severely impaired. The technological breakthrough was developed by Ophir Harel, a Project Manager at an Israeli high tech firm who is also the father of a 10 -year-old autistic child, named Adam, Walla reports.

Harel created the application out of a profound sense of frustration: “I had no intention of developing an app. However two years ago, Adam’s therapy – which included speech and occupational therapy – wasn’t progressing. The few words Adam did say we had to coax out of him.” After researching possible alternative therapies for his son, Ophir realized that there was simply no solution for kids such as Adam who communicate primarily through the expression of emotions, Walla said.

Necessity being the mother of invention, Harel developed an application that allows children and adults who do not speak and write to communicate with the world around them by way of a new language comprised solely of symbols. Ola Mundo’s big leap forward is that its use is not dependent on proximity since the user of the application communicates by way of instant messaging.

After an incubation period that included the assembly of a dream team comprised of, among others, a former CEO of an Israeli start up that specializes in instant messaging technology, Ola Mundo finally went from being one man’s bright idea into an exciting reality.

Recently, Apple’s App Stores have begun selling Ola Mundo. In Israel, the version of Harel’s technological innovation that is being marketed is compatible with any iPads that are second generation or newer, as well as the iPad Mini. Due to heightened demand, it is currently possible to download the application for free – until the middle of January – and get a free one year trial.

In the near future, Ola Mundo is expected to be sold in the United States for an annual fee of 80 dollars.

According to Harel, parents are the driving force behind the growth of Ola Mundo. Therefore  “…we invite parents to get involved as one community in shaping the future of our children, by way of the Ola Mundo platform,” he said.

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  • Joel kogen

    This sound very close to a program called touch chat in the USA

  • Nivea McEachern

    This looks amazing! Where can I down load the app? I can’t find it in my ipad App Store. My grandson has a need for this because he can’t talk. If you could email me where to find this that would be great.
    All the best

  • isaac Schmidt MD

    there is a large percentage of autistic kids from very impoverished sections here in Los Angeles, I would like to be able to explore the possibility of using this. Some are and some are not Spanish speakers. And I am unable to locate the free download, budget is tight, I pads may not be easily available, I tried the 2 links, I am sure it is my fault.
    Yasher Koach, Omri. Quite apropiate for speach.

  • Have you thought of partnering with the people who produce the Picture Communication Symbols — the Mayer-Johnson Co. Just a thought but they have a whole library of symbols that kids are using already so it may save 1000s of children time to be using the symbols they already know in your app.


  • Randi

    Tobin is exactly right – It is overpriced for a symbol app. There are many out there.
    Noel Eliscus comment referring to people living off society and wanting everything for free is highly offensive. I hope you are not part of the developers dream team.

  • LPW

    Tobin, such a fee is required because all of Europe, boycotting Israel will not use this product. Nor will middle eastern neighbors of the Zionist entity. So the market will be very small.

  • lauraS

    Any chance we can get it for Android?

  • Dan

    I think the app is called:
    ola mundo but can’t find it yet on iphone app store?

    • It’s only available for iPads and only on the Israeli store.
      Should be available worldwide soon.

  • Kika

    Please clarify the meaning of the app’s name. Is it Ola (wave) or Hola (hello)?

    • Chico

      It means Hello in Portuguese

  • Dear Harel,
    Clearly your creation is a tremendous boon to autistic children and their parents, as you personally well know. However, don’t you think that an ANNUAL FEE of $80.00 Is being a bit greedy? I mean, charge a reasonable amount to purchase the app, but a whopping fee every year thereafter – come on now.

    • noel eliscu

      dear Tobin
      Their will be probably costs incurred to keep the app current and their is nothing wrong with someone making a profit from their achievements. People who want everything for nothing do not usually add anything to society but are parasites living off society

      • Phil

        Who said anything about “wanting everything for nothing”?


  • DeeAnn Thebus

    Would love to “download the application for free – until the middle of January – and get a free one year trial.”

    Please send me the link.

    Thank you very much!
    Toda Raba!
    Muchas Gracias!