The place where thousands of latest gadgets and technologies came for validation was the Consumer Electronics Show(CES) 2020, and it delivered great excitement about what the future has in store.
Splashy announcements, huge product reveals and flashy demos galore packed the week in Las Vegas, with almost every tech giant introducing what it believes would be 2020's next big thing – such as the laptop by Lenovo that folds completely in half like a book, the smartphone by OnePlus that can make its rear camera magically disappear, or the Ballie robot by Samsung that rolls around the house and responds to voice commands.
Headlines were seized by tech industry heavyweights exploring uncharted territories or declaring wars on rivals, and there was no doubt they were hogging the spotlight at CES.
What seemed to have been overshadowed – but have thrilled those hunting for hidden gems – were however the new gadgets, wacky inventions and crazy ideas presented at the “Eureka Park,” a conference arena reserved for some 1,200 budding startups.
This year, Korean companies had a huge presence there, making up about 20 percent thereof, according to the Korea ICT Industry Association(KICTA). And they brought robots, smartphones, portable speakers, cameras, drones, appliances and many more that promise to transform everyday life.
Here are five of the Korean startups at the Eureka Park that caught our eye.
Smartwatch for the Blind
People who are blind will now have another option for accessing information on their smartphones. The Dot Watch is the world’s first Braille smartwatch devised by Dot Co., a startup founded in 2015 to alleviate the information gap for blind people.
This simple-looking, all-white watch works by pairing with an iPhone or Android phone via Bluetooth. Users can use it not only to check the date and time, but also to receive notifications about calls, text messages or upcoming appointments – all through vibrations and clear and easy-to-decipher Braille pins on the display. Important social media updates, news and weather alerts on their smartphones can also be translated to Braille and forwarded to the watch.
While it is particularly handy for individuals who are visually impaired, the Tactile Mode on the smartwatch allows those without knowledge of Braille to access the technology as time can be simply displayed through the number of dots. They can even learn and practice Braille letters and words by launching the Dot Watch Braille learning program on the device.
Making Indoor Cycling More Fun
RealDesignTech’s UR2A-Va Ultiracer is an indoor cycling device that takes bike riding to another level.
With the focus on giving users a more realistic cycling experience, Ultiracer uses two modified rollers and a vertical support that holds personal bikes in place. Users can simply hop on the device, steer left and right and lean the bike from side to side all the while playing video games – powered by their pedaling – on the virtual cycling platform.
An Invisible Keyboard
Keyboards may have become obsolete with the arrival of a new AI-based image virtual keyboard called Selfie Type, which was created by Samsung Electronics’ in-house idea incubator C-Labs.
This invisible keyboard allows users to type without physically touching their devices. All it requires is a front-facing camera on their smartphone or tablet to analyze their finger movements in real time, determine what they are typing and convert them into QWERTY keyboard inputs. This means users can easily type on any flat, hard surface like a desk or a table without any additional hardware.
It is unclear however whether it will be available on the next Galaxy smartphones and tablets.
Testing Water Quality Anytime & Anywhere
THE.WAVE.TALK is a startup that has won an innovation award at CES this year for its prototype version of the Sense Cup. It is a smart cup equipped with IoT sensors that can quickly and precisely detect whether water is safe to drink with just a press of a button. Lasers first get shot into the water, the cup measures the light refraction and the presence of foreign substances like bacteria and microplastics are observed and analyzed – all within 10 seconds.
The company, which was established in 2016 based on a laser detection technology originally developed by Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in South Korea, said the Sense Cup can help people make informed choices about drinking water quality and safety.
This portable cup is priced at around 100,000 won ($86) and will become available later this year.
Experiencing Tactile Sensations in Virtual Worlds
Another CES 2020 Innovation Award honoree that caught the eye of visitors is TEGway, which has debuted a prototype of a new VR development kit that lets users fully immerse in a 4D experience.
This innovative wearable technology, which consists of two gloves, two arm sleeves and a forehead-mounted unit, allows users to feel hot and cold temperatures as well as pain by sending haptic feedback to their arms, hands and even faces. (The device is capable of synchronizing thermal expression with video and game scenes and output immediate temperature responses.)
On the show floor, the company held a VR demo using the ThermoReal development kit with an HTC Vive, a virtual reality headset, and visitors had a chance to feel the heat of “fire” or the ice cold “snowballs” as they play a video game.
Unlike an earlier prototype with big cables, ThermoReal is powered by small, integrated batteries and is currently being used in various applications such as in VR headsets, gamepads, joysticks and more.