i3 | May 03, 2022

South Korea

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South Korean Innovation at CES 2022

Over 350 South Korean companies exhibited at CES 2022. Two pavilions in Eureka Park were dedicated to Korean startups innovating in areas like augmented reality (AR), food tech, wellness and vehicle tech.

Beyond Honeycomb is a food-tech startup developing artificial intelligence kitchen solutions that learn and reproduce world-class chef menus.

MORAI is applying simulation technologies and tools to autonomous driving for AV testing and verification. The company’s simulation platform allows engineers and developers to assess the functional safety and performance of its systems before deployment on public roads.

SKIA’s AR-based digital surgery guide solution can project the accurate location of a tumor site onto a patients’ body, improving surgical outcomes.

WellsCare provides Food and Drug Administration approved devices for treating inflammatory pain caused by musculoskeletal degenerative diseases using photobiomodulation (PBM) technology.

South Korea Enters the Metaverse

South Korea’s Ministry of ICT, Science and Future Planning is committing 223.7 billion Korean won ($187 million) to building a metaverse ecosystem to foster growth in virtual governance, education and media. Seoul is also eyeing the metaverse space, with a 3.9 billion won ($3.3 million U.S.) investment in “Metaverse Seoul,” a virtual extension of the municipal government that allows residents to interact with it. In 2023, the government plans to roll out the “Metaverse 120 Center,” a virtual office where people can interact with avatars of city officials, resolve complaints and receive consulting assistance remotely. Major K-pop producers including Cube Entertainment, JYP and HYBE are also entering the metaverse space. Cube has partnered with Animoca Brands to build a music metaverse for their bands and to mint non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of albums, portraits and avatars for fans to buy. JYP and HYBE are each working with Dunama, a blockchain company that runs the Upbit crypto exchange, to create NFTs of band content.

Samsung: A CES Giant

Occupying more than 280,000 square feet of exhibition space at CES, Samsung companies showcased innovative products from Quantum Dot OLED displays to its Bespoke range of kitchen appliances to an NFT aggregation platform. Samsung products received 27 Innovation Award mentions, including four awards. Thirteen startups from Samsung’s C-Lab accelerator, some started within the company and some brought in for incubation, exhibited at the company’s booths in Eureka Park. Overall, C-Lab startups received 21 Innovation Honoree awards and one Best of Innovation award. Nine C-Lab alums, including CES Innovation Award honorees EVAR, Prinker Korea, Lululab and Linkface, appeared at their own booths.

World-class Connectivity

According to Speedtest Intelligence data, South Korea has the fastest 5G download speeds averaging 492.48 Mbps. Seoul claims the title of the city with the best performance, with median speeds of 530.83 Mbps. Korea’s dominance in its 5G rollout is a result of adopting the standard early — it was the first country to do so — and support from the South Korean government. In addition to creating detailed timelines of deployment and commercialization, the government funded and facilitated close collaboration among industry and academia, emphasizing research and development of 5G devices, equipment and applications.

Beauty Meets Technology

Aside from boy band sensation BTS, K-beauty is one of South Korea’s biggest cultural exports. According to the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, exports of beauty products amounted to $7.67 billion in 2020, making it the third-largest exporter after the U.S. and France. CES 2022 exhibitor and Samsung spinoff Lululab offers products leveraging its artificial intelligence skincare recommendation platform. By analyzing images of the user’s skin, the program suggests products that will help with major skin concerns. Two Lululab products, the LUMINI app and the LUMINI Scalp Pro, were CES 2022 Innovation Award honorees.