Claude Solnik


Chembio Distributing 15-Minute COVID-19 Test in U.S.

Chembio test

Hauppauge-based Chembio Diagnostics said it is launching a 15-minute COVID-19 test in the United States with shipments slated to begin this month.

The company, which specializes in making tests for infectious diseases, in a press release said it is launching its rapid DPP COVID-19 serological point-of-care test that detects antibodies related to the disease. Results can be obtained within 15 minutes after pricking a finger by using analyzers that are produced by Chembio in Germany.

“Our measured approach has positioned us to offer a viable and sustainable long-term solution for clinicians,” CEO Richard Eberly said. “We expect to begin shipping product in April 2020.”

The test can determine whether patients have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, even if they have no symptoms, whether a person is infectious and could possibly transmit the infection to another person. And it can determine whether a person had been infected but is no longer able to transmit the virus. 

Eberly added the company will continue to work with its partner LumiraDx to provide “COVID-19 tests with the ability to scale based upon market demand.”

“By joining forces and bringing together the best of these two companies, we believe we will become the chosen approach for the detection and monitoring of the COVID-19 virus, which has become a worldwide pandemic,” LuminaDx CEO Ron Zwanziger said earlier.

The company said the test will be distributed as authorized by the United States Food and Drug Administration’s notification process under the public health emergency guidance issued on March 16.

“This is another example of Chembio’s ability to respond in an expeditious manner to global pandemics with differentiated solutions,” Chembio Director Gail Page said, citing tests for Zika and Ebola.

Other companies also have developed and are beginning to use 15-minute tests, as quick detection becomes a priority in order to identify infection and stem its spread.

Henry Schein To Distribute Rapid COVID-19 Tests

Melville-based Henry Schein is gearing up to ship COVID-19 tests to physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare providers that can give results within 15 minutes from blood taken with a pinprick.

The Standard Q COVID-19 IgM/IgG Rapid Test, made by South Korea-based SD Biosensor is intended to be administered at the point of care. Henry Schein anticipates having at least several hundred thousand tests available by March 30 and “significantly increased availability” as of April and intends to add tests from VelocityDX and other suppliers.

“This pandemic is an unprecedented situation and making rapid diagnostic tools available to healthcare professionals is critical for detecting and mitigating the spread of the coronavirus,” Henry Schein CEO Stanley Bergman said in a written statement.

Hauppauge-based Chembio Diagnostics recently announced it reached a deal to provide its rapid tests in Brazil, but at that time hadn’t begun to make them available in the United States.

Rapid diagnostic tests are seen as an important element in detecting the disease, including people with symptoms, those who have contracted the virus and overcome it and those who are asymptomatic.

SD Biosensor’s rapid test, as well as some others being developed, detects antibodies associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in blood drawn with a pinprick.

Henry Schein said the tests can help assess “the likelihood of past as well as present infection” and diagnose the mid- to later stages of the viral infection and ” along with the presence of symptoms, help determine if someone has recovered from the virus.”

Henry Schein, however, said “follow-up testing with a molecular diagnostic should be considered to confirm or rule out infection.”

“Results from antibody testing should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose or exclude SARS-CoV2 infection to to inform infection status,” SD Biosensor says on its website.

SD Biosensor developed four diagnostic kits to detect novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. Its Standard M nCOV Real-Time Detection kit was approved in South Korea n February.

SD Biosensor said the test “is already playing an important role as a confirmation method for COVID-19 in the Korean domestic market.”

“There is urgent need for rapid testing to quickly identify large numbers of previously infected patients, including asymptomatic carriers,” Henry Schein added. “This is important to reduce and prevent virus transmission, assure timely treatment of patients, and help return our citizens to the workforce.”

Henry Schein said these tests are not required to go through FDA’s typical clearance or approval processes and do not require an Emergency Use Authorization.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on March 16 established a policy of “not objecting to the development and distribution by commercial manufacturers of serology tests that identify antibodies to SARS-CoV-2,” even if they don’t have an Emergency Use Authorization.

The FDA said it initiated this policy because “serology tests are less complex than molecular tests and are solely used to identify antibodies to the virus.”

Companies can attest to the accuracy of their own tests without bringing in the FDA or a third party to validate them.

“Because of the public health emergency, FDA has issued guidance where it has effectively waived its opportunity to conduct an independent review,” Henry Schein said.

Risks include possible incorrect test results. Negative results do not rule out SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection and molecular tests should be considered to rule out infection, according to both companies.

Positive results may be due to past or present infection with non-SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus strains, such as coronavirus HKU1, NL63, OC43, or 229E, or past or present infection with SARS virus (no. 6), Henry Schein added.

“Our initial focus is on the U.S. market and we will address the potential to distribute the tests to other geographies at a later date,” Henry Schein said.

Bohemia-Based Company Innovates ‘Digital Twin’ of LaGuardia Airport

SITA Lab Director Gustavo Pina demonstrates the digital twin of LaGuardia Airport.

While backhoes, trucks and construction workers rebuild a new LaGuardia Airport, a company’s Long Island office has quietly constructed a digital double or “twin” of an entire terminal to provide, visualize, and manage data, achieving efficiencies, and savings.

SITA, the global airline and airport information technology company, has built a digital twin or interactive image of a terminal that can provide information in real time for LaGuardia Airport Terminal B to better visualize and manage the terminal.

“The digital twin was born in Bohemia,” says Anthony Natale, SITA’s vice president, Northeast United States, Canada, and Bermuda. “It came up in a conversation with a customer and evolved to a new indispensable tool for airport operations teams.”

A touch screen displaying the terminal can be manipulated to provide images as well as in-depth information regarding wait times, queues, airline arrivals, weather, cleaning, and much more. A form of the technology is also used in another transportation industry, where data has long been streamed instantaneously, due to the demands for speed.

“The digital twin is a concept that emerged from Formula One racing,” says Kevin O’Sullivan, lead engineer for SITA’s digital twin. “They get detailed telemetry about their car. They can have a virtual or digital replica of that car and simulate models on their computers.”

Expanding that concept to an airport with so many activities, wasn’t an easy task. But at LaGuardia, the digital twin is up and running for one terminal, filled with and providing data.

“We’re taking that digital twin concept, having detailed telemetry and live streaming data, and applying that to a whole airport campus,” O’Sullivan says. “We take a total airport management view, flight events, security wait time, passenger feedback, passenger capacity in terminal arrival buildings. We visualize that in a 3-D map of LaGuardia Airport.”
He calls the digital twin a dashboard in the “operations control room of LaGuardia, like a NASA command room,” with everything able to run on an 86-inch touch screen, giving a centralized view of what happens at the airport.

“We’re just scratching the surface of the capabilities of a twin, as we continuously monitor and build the historical data of the operations,” Natale says. “With machine learning and predictive capacity, we’ll be able to better forecast what a day of operations would look like to better adjust.”

Hauppauge-based Chembio Develops Rapid COVID-19 Test


Shares of a  Long Island-based company shot up after it said it developed a rapid diagnostic test designed to detect COVID-19, received a $4 million order for distribution in Brazil, and is gearing up to test it in the United States.

Hauppauge-based Chembio Diagnostics, which focuses on developing tests for infectious diseases, on March 20 said it obtained the order from Bio-Manguinhos for its DPP COVID-19 IgM/IgG System.

The company’s stock shot up about 24 percent or 70 cents to as high as $4.65 on March 20 before closing for the day at $3.63, as about 2.2 million shares traded, roughly 10 times the average.

The announcement provided an injection of potentially good news for Chembio, as well as those who could benefit from the test, pushing the stock up, while ending the day toward the lower end of its 52-week range from $2.25 to $7.90.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Cepheid, meanwhile, on March 21 said it had obtained emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its rapid test to detect the virus causing COVID-19. 

The Cepheid test was designed to operate on Cepheid’s more than 23,000 automated GeneXpert Systems worldwide, including 5,000 in the United States, taking 45 minutes to produce a result.

“We have developed a test that provides reference lab-quality results in multiple settings where actionable treatment information is needed quickly,”  Dr. David Persing, Cepheid chief medical and technology officer, said.

Cepheid President Warren Kocmond said these “automated systems do not require users to have specialty training to perform testing” and can run around the clock with tests set to begin shipping next week.

Chembio’s product, on the other hand, is a single-use, rapid point-of-care test that detects certain antibodies to COVID-19 in blood via fingerstick, using a handheld analyzer. 

The company uses a patented technology requiring a small drop of blood from the fingertip and a disposable test to provide results in approximately 15 minutes. 

The company said the order “to support the urgent needs of Brazil’s Ministry of Health” was with the Bio-Manguinhos subsidiary of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation or Fiocruz, responsible for developing and producing vaccines, diagnostics and biopharmaceuticals, primarily for Brazil’s national public health system.

Chembio also said it will begin testing the DPP COVID-19 IgM/IgG system at multiple sites in the United States. 

“The testing program has been designed to generate the clinical validation data that Chembio needs in order to submit the DPP COVID-19 IgM/IgG System for emergency use authorization by the FDA and to commercially launch the system under new FDA guidelines,” the company said in a written statement. 

Javan Esfandari, Chembio’s chief science and technology officer, said the “test will detect the presence of antibodies in blood indicating that a person had an immune response” to COVID-19 “regardless of whether symptoms developed from infection or if the infection was asymptomatic.”

Chembio already has supplied Bio-Manguinhos with tests to detect HIV and other infectious diseases.  The company’s Brazilian subsidiary has filed for approval from ANVISA, the Brazilian health regulatory agency, for the DPP COVID-19 IgM/IgG System under that country’s emergency use authorization program.

Northwell Health Initiates Clinical Trials of 2 COVID-19 Drugs

Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling attends a news conference on clinical trials for coronavirus treatments.

In an effort to battle the current pandemic and help patients, Northwell Health has begun clinical trials of two medications designed to treat COVID-19, including one that seeks to attack the virus directly and another that targets the body’s own response.

The 23-hospital system said it was able to begin three trials, including two for one medication, in only four days, even though the process, including federal approvals, usually takes months.

“We’re all living in a new reality,” Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling said of the system, doing about 1,000 COVID-19 tests a day as of March 20 and planning to increase that number.

The trials, in which people are already being enrolled, are being done through Northwell’s Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at the system’s hospitals, which were treating 250 patients suffering from COVIC-19 as of that date. 

The clinical trials are not open to the general public, but are enrolling patients in Northwell facilities.

Northwell through its Feinstein Institutes of Clinical Research is partnering with Foster City, Calif.-based Gilead Sciences on two clinical trials, looking at the safety and efficacy of remdesivir or RDV, an antiviral drug, to reduce the intensity and duration of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients. 

The system said RDV already demonstrated “positive effects on other viral pathogens” such as MERS and SARS.

The first trial can accommodate up to 400 severe cases of COVID-19 globally with Dr. Marcia Epstein, Feinstein Institutes researcher and an infectious disease expert, as Northwell’s lead investigator.

Northwell also is taking part in a phase 3 study of RDV trial with Gilead that will look at up to 600 patients with moderate COVID-19 globally.  Dr. Prashant Malhorta, assistant professor in the Institute of Health Innovations and Outcomes Research at Feinstein, is lead investigator on that.

Northwell Health also initiated a third trial with up to 400 patients along with Eastview, N.Y.-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Paris-based Sanofi regarding the safety and efficacy of sarilumab.

Northwell Health described that study as focusing on “a human antibody that may prevent the activity” of interleukin-6 or IL-6 that may cause severe pneumonia in some COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Negin Hajizadeh, assistant professor in the Institute of Health Innovations and Outcomes Research at Feinstein, is the lead investigator for that study.

The Feinstein Institutes includes 50 research labs, 2,500 clinical research studies and 5,000 researchers and staff, making it a key center for developing many medications. The Feinstein Institutes also makes many clinical studies available to Long Islanders, by using Northwell Health patients.

Rapid Response

Clinical trials traditionally take far longer to organize, although even now it’s not clear how long it could take to get definitive results.

“This is an unprecedented time for the world,” said  Dr. David Weinreich, Regeneron’s senior vice president,  head of global clinical development and co-head of global development. “It’s only through a huge collaboration that the wonderful resources in the United States have stepped forward to try and combat this disease.”

Clinical trials in part proceed through a slower process, because there is less focus on a single disease or threat with thousands taking place at any one time.

“It took us only four days to get these trials up and running,” Northwell Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Batinelli said.

Others in a press conference attended virtually through YouTube also said they never saw a clinical trial launch so rapidly.

“In my over 20 years of being part of clinical research, we have never been able to move this quickly before,” Dr. Christina Brennan, vice president of clinical research at the Feinstein Institutes,  said. “It certainly takes a village to keep this moving.”

She said that due to the “severity of the current outbreak,” Northwell “knew the importance of all working together quickly.”

Across the nation, most other clinical trials have been put on enrollment hold, amid concerted efforts to battle COVID-19, Brennan added.

“The focus now has really turned to COVID-19 treament trials,” she said of what she called an “all hands on deck” approach that at times sounded like a medical moon landing or medical Marshall Plan.

The United States Food and Drug Administration as well as state officials and Sanofi, partnering with Reneron, have been working together. U.S. F.D.A. officials, for instance, have been working long hours and on weekends to speed approvals.

“If it wasn’t for all the doctors, nurses, scientists taking care of these patients, putting themselves in harm’s way, none of this would be possible,” Weinrich said.

How it Happened

The first two Northwell patients were given doses on Wed. March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, for the sarilumab trial, Brennan said.

Dr. Kevin Tracey, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research and chair of Northwell Health’s COVID-19 clinical trials, said Northwell expects to enroll its first patients in the remdesivir trial on March 20 or 21.

Patients already have been enrolled in the remdesivir trial in Washington state and are being enrolled in the sarilumab trial through the Mt. Sinai Health System.

Tracey said the system last Friday “became acutely aware of patients in our hospitals who were very ill and needed additional options for therapy.”

Northwell reached out to Gilead and Regeneron and in what he called an around the clock effort set up clinical trials at “Northwell to serve patients”  and provide other options for therapy.

“We’ve done the work in a few days that normally takes months,” Tracey added. “We did this, because our patients need options.”

Tracey said these drugs already have been tested around the world, sometimes showing encouraging signs.

“There is hope that drugs used in China, South Korean, Norway and elsewhere have shown signals that patients may benefit,” Tracey said.

He added that so far information that these medications could help treat COVID-19 has been anecdotal through non-FDA approved studies.

Tracey said it’s important to have “careful clinical trials under FDA guidelines with world class pharmaceutical partners” to give hope to patients and families and learn “if these drugs hold the promise that we hope and pray they do.”

While the Gilead drug seeks to target COVID-19 directly, Regeneron’s takes a very different approach, focusing on the body’s immune system.

Weinrich said  interleukin-6 or IL-6 produces a fever as it seeks to battle threats and the body’s own response, in other words, becomes dangerous.

“Sometimes this normal system goes into overdrive and you can develop significant disease as a result of a runaway immune system,” he said.

Early data out of China, Weinrich said, indicates that blocking IL-6 receptors might block the body’s inflammatory response in lungs, which can make it difficult to breathe.

“This same pathway is also active in a number of other diseases,” Weinrich said, citing rheumatoid arthritis. “While this initial data coming out of China was very encouraging, there was no control and we don’t know how patients were selected.”

Patients and Protocols

Patients are being selected and enrolled in the studies based on the clinical protocols for the two trials.

“The goal of the clinical trials unit is first and foremost to stand up clinical trials for people who are critically ill in the intensive care units primarily,” Tracey said. 

Dr. Weinreich said he’s not certain of the number of sites that will take part in the trials, including all sites, as it continues to expand. “We’re going to try to do as many sites as there are patients who need it and the operations group can manage,” he said.

Brennan cited the speed as a possible model for future clinical trials, although she said these were very specific circumstances.

“We would love this to be in the future the way to open clinical trials fast track,” Brennan said. “Usually the volume of trials coming in doesn’t allow trials to open in four days.”

Northwell Health hopes to identify additional trials that can be launched, providing early stage treatment trials to prevent people from becoming sicker.

Regeneron also hopes to open studies at other Greater New York area hospitals, such as New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center as well as in Teaneck, N.J.

“We’ll be continuing to work day and night to continue to open sites around the country,” Weinrich said.

Tracey said work is going on around the world to develop a vaccine, but that could still easily be a year and a half away “Obviously, what’s needed long term for the world is a vaccine and that will come next,” Tracey said. “It’s how a disease can be eradicated.”

Regeneron, which also developed an antibody cocktail to target Ebola, is also working on an antibody to target COVID-19. “We hope that our expertise in antibodies will provide some benefit,” Weinrich said.

Douglas Elliman Long Island Division CEO Ann Conroy: The Real Deal

 Ann Conroy was named CEO of Douglas Elliman’s Long Island Division in January.

A home is typically the biggest or one of the biggest purchases in a person’s lifetime. That makes real estate a big part of life on Long Island — and a big business. We talked with Ann Conroy, who recently became CEO of Douglas Elliman’s Long Island division after being president, about trends, technology, and changing times.

How did you get interested in real estate? Real estate appealed to me. It probably started when I was 13 or younger. My parents would buy properties and stay a couple of years, flip and buy. I went around with them and loved the business of real estate. I love houses. It’s a hobby and a passion. When I went to buy my own home, I was married with no children at the time. I went to new construction. It was great, picking things out. I loved it. I think I fell in love with houses and decoration before I fell in love with the business.

When and why did you go from an interest to the industry? It was a typical thing in those days back in the ’80s. Women stayed home with their children until they went to school. I came out of a Fortune 500 company in the city. When I decided to have children, I stayed home. I had to think of something flexible so I could bring up my children and not miss their soccer games.

What was your first real estate job? I became an agent with Merrill Lynch Realty in 1981 at a little seaside town, Sayville. It was close to my home. I bought a home in Oakdale, loved the town of Sayville, the proximity to the water, the old architecture. It had a New England feel. The first day I walked into the real estate office, I knew I found the industry of my dreams. Every day’s a new day. You meet a tremendous amount of people. There’s a challenge every day. I loved the inventory.

What makes a good real estate agent? A good agent needs to be passionate about the job. They need to care about the consumer. They have to put in the time and energy and be tenacious. It’s good to be smart. However, it’s more important to have a high emotional quotient, to have empathy. It’s not just about showing everything you have. It’s about listening to them, taking care of them, making sure you follow up.

How would you describe the Long Island residential market today? It’s a strong real estate market. The economy is great, jobs are great. Interest rates are low. Our inventory is tight up to the luxury market. In the luxury market, we have increased inventory. It takes longer to sell those homes. They’re not flying off the shelf like with the first-time home buyer market. Buyers are loosening up in this market and are ready to buy, but at a reduced price. Those sellers who truly want to sell are negotiating off their asking prices.

What trends are there in terms of what people are looking for? The vibrant downtowns are attracting seniors and millennials. People aren’t necessarily interested anymore in buying large homes with large acreages. Not only are taxes very high, but so is the upkeep. People like to travel more. The consumer’s wants and needs have changed.

Do you plan to open more offices on Long Island? My goals are to expand and penetrate the markets we need to be in. We opened in Sea Cliff, which is an area we hadn’t focused on properly. That includes Glen Cove, Glen Head, and Glenwood Landing. We just opened in New Hyde Park and we’re going into Forest Hills. We’re opening in Rockville Centre and in Cutchogue. We’re already on the North Fork of Long Island. We are in Mattituck and Greenport, and we also wanted to be in Cutchogue.

Northwell Health Urges Industry To Follow Its Lead in Combating Gun Violence

L. to R.: Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling and East Northport native Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the Parkland massacre.

Northwell Health is urging others in the healthcare industry to follow the healthcare group’s lead in treating gun violence as a health issue.

In December, Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling challenged fellow leaders of major healthcare corporations to match the $1 million he pledged to help combat gun violence. And in February, Dowling addressed an emergency medicine symposium about gun violence along with Fred Guttenberg, an East Northport native who dedicated himself to battling gun violence after his daughter was killed in the Parkland massacre.

Related Story: Northwell Launches Center for Gun Violence Prevention

“People talk about gunshot victims,” said Guttenberg, aiming to humanize the topic that can be abstract to many. “They were living and breathing and loving and being loved on. And like that, in a second it’s over.”

His 14-year-old daughter, Jaime Guttenberg — along with 16 other students and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. — lost her life to a 19-year-old gunman who opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle on February 14, 2018.

Guttenberg made his comments at the Seventh Annual Emergency Medicine Interest Group Symposium, sponsored by the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra-Northwell. The topic was the Role of Policy, Advocacy, and Gun Violence in Emergency Medicine. Guttenberg’s visit was part of his campaign for gun safety and Northwell Health’s effort to mobilize the healthcare industry to reduce gun violence as a health hazard.

The annual death toll due to guns in the United States last year topped 40,000, surpassing those due to car collisions.

“This is about people and the effect on families and the community in general,” Dowling told the group. “It’s not only the mass shootings. It’s gun violence every day in cities and localities and rural areas all over the country.”

Northwell in December 2019 hosted a Gun Violence Prevention Forum, and is creating a Center for Gun Violence Prevention, which Dowling says “will help shape the role that Northwell and other health systems can play in advancing safety, education, prevention and research.”

“If vaping is a health issue, gun violence is a health issue,” Dowling said. “If ill effects from putrid water are a public health issue, why is the result of gun violence not a public health issue?”

Dr. Jeffrey Oestreicher, chair of the New York State American Academy of Pediatrics’ gun violence prevention program, said the Dickey Amendment in 1996 indicated the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s funds for injury prevention couldn’t be used to “advocate or promote gun control.”

“It didn’t literally ban gun violence research,” he said. “It banned advocacy. But its real intent and one it achieved was to scare researchers and the federal government.”

That led to a de facto ban on federally funded gun violence research until Congress in 2019 appropriated $25 million for the CDC and National Institute of Health to fund gun violence prevention research.

“If you can change the debate, change the articulation of the issue to a public health issue, you potentially can get more public traction rather than focusing on the Second Amendment,” Dowling said. “In my view, that’s a separate issue. We should be focusing on safety.”

While Northwell officials looked at the larger issues, ranging from statistics to solutions to improve safety, Guttenberg put a personal face on gun violence. He created Orange Ribbons for Jaime honoring his daughter’s memory and Orange Ribbons for Gun Safety, advocating for gun safety.

“My daughter’s favorite color was orange,” he said, wearing an orange ribbon and bracelet. “From the night she was killed, friends from the dance studio came over wearing orange ribbons.”

They made thousands of orange ribbons for attendees to wear at Jaime’s funeral. When someone at a supermarket asked Guttenberg what the ribbon was for, he learned he was closer than he realized to a cause.

“They said that’s the color of the gun safety movement,” Guttenberg said. “I didn’t know that. I just knew it was Jaime’s favorite color.”

Woodbury’s Visionary Smart Glass Innovator Research Frontiers Makes Window To The Future

Joseph Harary of Research Frontiers, left, makes a glass film that can adjust the tint with the touch of a button, which can be found in the Mercedes Benz S-Class.

Long Island is far from a hub for automakers, but a company with headquarters in Woodbury is responsible for creating an exciting new feature in many automobiles, planes, trains, and even buildings.

Research Frontiers makes SPD-SmartGlass, using suspended particle device (SPD) smart light-control technology. Scientifically put, nanoparticles absorb light suspended in a polymeric system distributed throughout a film in or on glass. In layman’s terms, it’s an electronically adjustable tinted window.

“It looks like any window-tint film, but when you put electric voltage through the coatings, the nanoparticles line up and allow light to pass through,” Research Frontiers CEO Joseph Harary says. “You can tune the amount of light coming through the film.”

Research Frontiers has about 400 patents and patent applications for technology licensed to companies on every continent except Antarctica, including Innovative Glass, in Plainview. Harary says the company spent more than $110 million to develop the technology, now in its third generation of product with research done on LI.

The first product debuted in 2001 in aircraft, before Mercedes-Benz and McLaren Automotive began including it as an option. It reduces carbon dioxide emissions in cars by four grams per kilometer. 

“It’s also the only [smart glass] technology proven reliable for the automotive market,” Harary says. 

Smart glass can also increase the driving range of an electric vehicle by 5.5 percent,” Harary says. It’s used in trains to cool the cabin. And it’s being used to make buildings more energy efficient. 

Intelligent glass lets buildings essentially put on and remove a jacket, working with heating, lighting and air conditioning. 

“It’s not much more expensive than a good energy-efficient window with a good, custom shade,” Harary says. 

The latest product is a combination of smart glass and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen technology, letting surfaces go from transparent to screens and back. 

“Imagine a TV or storefront window that goes from being clear to a high-definition TV and back again,” Harary said.

The glass can even be voice activated. 

“You can talk to the window,” Harary says. “Some of the windows are Amazon or Alexa enabled.”

Business Heats Up in Fireplace Mantel Maker’s Wintry Workshop

Cory Jenkins of Funda-Mantels builds fireplace mantels by hand.

While business is busy all year round in this wintry workshop, it’s been peak season at Funda-Mantels, which makes fireplace mantels.

The Ridge-based company makes more than 1,000 fireplace mantels – frames for fireplaces – a year, including as many as 30 a week during peak season leading up to Christmas. Five people work to get mantels and bookcases ready for deadlines.

“There’s always a rush before Thanksgiving and Christmas,” says the company’s owner, Cory Jenkins, 43, who’s been in the business since age 17. “I’m swamped in the winter. Once the cold hits, that’s it.”

Although Jenkins is sometimes contacted through his website, the company sells through six showrooms on Long Island, two on Staten Island, two in New Jersey, and one in Queens. 

“It means warmth, not just the sense of heat,” Jenkins says of the appeal of fireplaces. “It makes a house more welcoming.”

Workers spend from one to three hours making every mantel, followed by finishing that takes a few days.

“I have customers who send me pictures of mantels they’ve seen and ask if I can make this. We can do pretty much anything,” Jenkins says. “Somebody wanted a mantel from a movie. We duplicated it.”

While traditional fireplaces burn wood, Jenkins says gas is now the norm.

“When you burn wood in a fireplace, it actually pulls the heat from the house,” he says. “Gas is the way to go. You can heat your house with a gas fireplace.”

Some people order mantels even though they don’t have fireplaces.

Jenkins started working for Frank Turrigiano, who came from Sicily and started Funda-Mantels.

Jenkins worked for Turrigiano for 27 years and bought the business a year ago. Since then, white mantels have replaced the stained mantels of the past. Poplar, which has no grain or pores, is typically painted, while oak, cherry, mahogany, cedar, pine, walnut and ash are also used.

Jenkins loves making mantels to adorn fireplaces, but that doesn’t mean he’s a huge fan of winter weather.

“I hate the cold and the snow,” Jenkins says. “And here I am making fireplace mantels. I love this, so I’ll deal with the cold.”

Centereach Knife-sharpening Shop on Cutting Edge of Tradition

A cut above: Richard De Vito Jr. helps chefs stay sharp when it comes to cutlery.

Richard De Vito Jr. knows what it means to be at the cutting edge of commerce. 

Too many people settle for using a knife that is just not as sharp as it once was. He helps many keep their tools from getting dull as he plies an old-fashioned craft: sharpening knives that otherwise would likely be replaced. In May he opened We Make It Sharp, a charming old-fashioned knife-sharpening store in Centereach.

“I’ve been in this business for 30 years, since I was 17 years old,” he says. ““We cater to cooks and chefs from restaurants, bagel shops, pizzerias, homeowners, haircutters, barbers, delis. The list goes on and on, virtually everyone who uses a knife or scissors every day.”

A man on a mission, De Vito continues a family tradition that has helped keep chefs’ and others’ knives sharp for decades — the old-fashioned way, sharpening by hand.

De Vito is among a vanishing profession of sharpeners on Long Island and nationwide, but that may make his services all the more valuable. In an age of built-in obsolescence and disposable products, De Vito is engaged in a fight against time.

On the one hand, he battles time by keeping otherwise superannuated and ready-to-toss knives sharp. He’s also keeping a skill and a profession current while providing a service many Long Islanders don’t even know exists. His services can make cooking a little easier and save people some money (the charge is $1 an inch per knife).

“We have the best grinding, sharpening, and polishing and buffer machines and also Arkansas stones for deburring and hand honing,” De Vito says. “This is a rare trade.”

As with most crafts, De Vito’s has been passed from generation to generation, starting with his great-great-grandfather Angelo De Vito, who sharpened knives in Abruzzi, Italy. Italian Americans called “moletas” worked out of trucks or wheelbarrows or carried grinding stones, sharpening knives on city streets.

“I’m a fifth-generation knife sharpener,” he says. “My great-grandfather immigrated here from Italy and went door to door with a knife sharpener on his back.”

He works with knives, scissors, clippers, and even lawnmower blades along with the occasional sword, axe, cleaver, or hunting knife, as well as hair and upholstery shears.

 “There’s nobody left,” he says. “Some people buy new knives because there’s nobody around sharpening anymore.”