Tel Aviv company TrixCell offers magic by cell phone.

Shlomi Grandes, CEO of Israeli company TrixCell asked me to think about one of four alcoholic beverages I preferred – beer, whiskey, martini or wine. Just a couple of minutes later, he’d guessed the correct answer, with nothing more than a cell phone in his hand. This is magic for a digital age.

Eighteen-month-old company TrixCell , has developed a series of magic tricks you can perform with your cell phone. Whether it is spoon bending, like Uri Geller (you concentrate, stare at the screen and watch the cutlery of your choice bend), or tricks of illusion with a virtual candle, anyone and everyone with a cell phone can take part.

The tricks by the Tel-Aviv based company mimic today’s stage magic tricks, but all the action and interaction takes place on the cell phone screen.

Grandes admits that he’s not the magician behind TrixCell. He leaves the magic to his partner, chief creative officer Menny Lindenfeld, who not only performs magic tricks, but develops them for other big-name magicians, as well.

Lindenfeld has appeared on the NBC series Phenomenon, a kind of American Idol for magicians, and, along with Grandes was one of the first to realize that cell phones would be a great vehicle for magical sleight of hand.

“I’ve known Menny for about 20 years, and I’ve always known he was a great magician,” says Grandes. “I, on the other hand, didn’t know much about magic, and the two of us knew even less abut cell phone application development. But we both realized that the technology was there to develop great illusions for the cell phone, and that there would be a great demand for something like this,” he tells ISRAEL21c.

Big name magicians called in for development

There were two major issues involved in launching TrixCell: ensuring that the tricks would be usable on a wide variety of devices, and finding tricks that matched the capabilities of cell phones.

“The first issue required a strong learning curve on our part since we needed to make sure the applications worked on all levels of phones – smartphones, java phones, etc.,” Grandes says, “We also wanted to make sure we were compatible with phones sold in the Far East, where we believed the applications would be very popular.”

For the tricks, Grandes and Lindenfeld turned to the international magic community “including some very big name magicians whose identity I cannot disclose,” says Grandes – to help with development.

Members of the group, who Lindenfeld calls the “shadow magicians,” have worked as magicians and consultants on some of the biggest TV and movie magic extravaganzas in recent years, and agreed to help out the TrixCell team. “But of course their identity must remain anonymous,” Grandes says.

The allure of the mysterious has indeed proven impossible to resist for customers around the world. Because of TrixCell’s agreements with its partners, Grandes couldn’t give specific numbers on TrixCell sales. But, he says, the company’s experience in Poland (where TrixCell operates independently) is typical, “and in Poland, we’ve had about 200,000 downloads in the space of the few months we’ve been operating.”

Considering that TrixCell operates with about a half dozen employees in Israel and abroad, that’s a pretty good trick all by itself.

Helping to break the ice

Of course, “real” magicians would probably turn their noses up at cell phone tricks, but TrixCell’s tricks are for the non-pro who wants to make an impression.

“Customers around the world tell us that our illusions are great for meeting people – especially people of the opposite sex – at parties and get-togethers,” says Grandes. Like a high-tech pickup line? “Exactly,” admits Grandes. “Although people use them at meetings, interviews -anywhere they need a little help in breaking the ice.”

In fact, with TrixCell, Grandes and Lindenfeld have managed to pull off a major trick that even companies like Nokia have been unable to accomplish – encouraging cell phone users to communicate with people not only on their devices, but face to face, as well.

“Let’s face it, cell phones are atomizers, enabling users to drift off into their own world of voice and data communications. Our applications are truly social applications, encouraging people to relate to their surroundings – getting together an audience – helping people build relationships with real, live people,” says Grandes.

With the interview finished, I tried to persuade Grandes to reveal how the spoon-bending trick works. Neither Grandes nor Lindenfeld would budge. “You want to know the secret, I’ll tell you,” Grandes said. “It’s magic!”