Tag Archives: technology

Selfie Lily

Samsung’s Next Project Could Be a Selfie-Taking Drone

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

Early humans played with sticks and stones. Modern selfie-takers play with sticks. The next stage in selfie-taking evolution, obviously, has to be a selfie drone.

SamMobile reports that Samsung is currently working on something under the name, “Project Selfie Camera Drone.” There aren’t many details available, but as we seem to say with all of Samsung’s new products, it could be the “next big thing.”

There is a fair amount of consumer interest in drones these days, and some of the newer models are pretty darn cool. The Lily Camera, considered the “world’s first throw-and-shoot camera” that follows you around, caught the attention of the Internet a few months ago. If Samsung actually develops a selfie-taking drone, then there might be a market for it among sports junkies and adventurers.

You can watch a video of the Lily Camera’s features below:

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Ramenia 21 Is the Future of Instant Ramen

South Korean Startup Ybrain Targets Brain Disorders With Health Care Tech

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Featured image via Lily

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Naver to Launch Global K-pop Streaming App

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

Keeping up with your K-pop idols is about to get a whole lot easier. South Korean search portal Naver is set to launch the “V” app, a real-time broadcasting app that streams K-pop content from around the world, by the end of next month.

South Korea’s major entertainment agencies, including SM and YG, have already partnered with Naver to live-stream not just concerts but also behind-the-scenes activities. Through the V app, K-pop stars will be able to communicate directly with fans in real-time and share sneak peeks into their busy schedules.

While the V app will primarily focus on Asian countries where K-pop is popular, including Japan, China and Southeast Asia, the app’s goal is to reach all audiences around the globe. All of the app’s features will be in English, and Korean content won’t be a problem as each broadcast will include real-time English subtitles.

Naver did acknowledge that not every country is as connected wirelessly compared to South Korea, which has the fastest Internet speed in the world. The V app will also be available to use on personal computers for countries where smartphone penetration is not as prevalent.

As for expansion, Naver is looking to bring in other hallyu celebrities into the V app, including film and television actors. Naver’s online video platform, TV Cast, could offer more opportunities for broadcasting as well.

The V app will begin its first testing phase on Android on Aug. 1, with the iOS version following mid-month. The app will be available sometime by the end of August.

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Mangoplate, Korea’s ‘Yelp on Steroids,’ Raises $6.1 Million

Prying Parents: Phone Monitoring Apps Flourish in South Korea

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Featured image courtesy of Naver 

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DPRK 360

Watch the First 360-Degree Video Shot in North Korea

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

Singaporean photographer Aram Pan has captured a number of fascinating images of North Korea since making his first trip to the country in 2013. He initially began photographing the hermit kingdom to quench his personal curiosity, but soon the project expanded into something greater.

Pan’s photography project DPRK 360 focuses on engaging North Koreans in a positive, friendly and non-political manner. With every subsequent visit, Pan has been allowed even more freedom to explore North Korea. He’s captured North Korean women’s fashion shows, couples publicly showing affection and locals working in the countryside in photos, videos and even 360-degree panoramas.

During his latest visit in June through Young Pioneer Tours, Pan brought along a new toy: a super-wide angle Entaniya Fisheye Lens from Entapano. The result is the world’s first 360-degree video entirely shot in North Korea. The 19-minute video includes footage of North Koreans studying in a classroom, tourists walking to the Tumen River, Pan chatting with locals and glimpses of North Korean landscapes.

What’s really cool is that viewers can “look around.” If you’re viewing the video through a mobile device (must install the latest YouTube app), you can move your phone as a lens to view the scenery, or use your fingers to adjust what you see. Computer users (must have the latest HTML5 capable browser) can click and drag to adjust the view, or use the WASD keys.

However, the video is quite heavy on memory usage and the Internet, so your best experience will be on capable mobile devices and computers with a decent Wi-Fi connection. The video is also compatible with VR headsets, just in case any of our readers own a pair.

You can watch the video below. Pan was excited to share the video with our readers, telling KoreAm, “I think everyone will be geeked out.”

Pan’s work will be included in a photo exhibition at the upcoming “Desire to Unify” event in Seoul from September 23 to 25. He recently spoke at the inauguration ceremony, sharing his approach and mindset in reaching out to North Koreans.

“[The North Koreans] are beginning to understand what I’m trying to do,” Pan told KoreAm in an interview back in November 2014. “I merely want to try to understand what they are all about. I believe that over time, they will show me more and more stuff about what it means to be North Korean.

“I strongly believe that what I’m doing is paving the way for a peaceful option for them to open up to the world. The results won’t be immediate, but let’s take it one step at a time.”

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Photographer Aram Pan Presents a Different Angle to North Korea

Uri Tours Focuses on North Korea Tourism

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YBrain

South Korean Startup Ybrain Targets Brain Disorders With Health Care Tech

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

 

Wearable technology isn’t just relegated to fitness tracking and reading text messages off a $10,000-plus gold Apple Watch. Tech companies are exploring different opportunities to integrate devices with improving how we go about our lives, and healthcare is an open field.

South Korean health care startup Ybrain is going for our noggins—specifically, what’s impairing our memory. Their devices tackle some of the most degenerative brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and they may be available for consumer use by as early as next year.

“Our ambition is to challenge one of the toughest problems humanity faces today,” Ybrain CEO Kiwon Lee told Forbes. “Cancer is nearing a cure. But we don’t yet have a cure for Alzheimer’s, even with today’s most advanced medical technology.”

The devices work though a “very non-invasive form of brain stimulation” that is much more favorable to taking pills to combat symptoms, according to Lee. The wearable band for Alzheimer’s patients has two sensors embedded in the front, providing electronic signals at 2 mA at regular intervals to stimulate brain activity and combat the effects of the disease. Ybrain’s goal is to eventually get the synapses to function optimally on their own “more naturally without any failure.”

Ybrain began clinical trials last year on Alzheimer’s patients, and results were promising—Business Korea said the devices were the “best solution for combatting Alzheimer’s at [that] time.” After raising $4.2 million in funds last summer, Ybrain began clinical tests for similar treatment for clinical depression and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which is characterized by memory problems beyond those associated with normal aging and may signal a serious decline of dementia in the future.

The Korean company plans to release two devices: the Brain Wellness and Brain Fullness. The former will be geared towards treating brain disorders, while the latter will be an option for those who want to enhance normal brain functions and condition their brain to work at a higher level. In other words, “brain fitness” is going to be a thing.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 5.22.05 PM(Screenshot captured from Ybrain.com)

Ybrain plans to follow up the initial line of headsets with ones that can treat depression and a number of other mental health conditions, including addiction, trauma, eating disorders and schizophrenia—all while being worn at home.

Further use of the technology could significantly lower the cost of research and treatment. Ybrain is developing a diagnostic platform that collects data from headset users, then relays the information to doctors and medical researchers. Usually, Lee said, devices can only be operated by experts.

“When we started the company we felt that everyone should be able to use it by themselves,” he continued. “Our device is connected to our platform, so brain management, neuromodulation can be operated remotely and closely studied to assess brain wave patterns.”

Ybrain’s products are expected to hit the market next year.

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Featured image via Be Success

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Samsung

Samsung’s ‘Safety Truck’ Allows Drivers to See the Road Ahead

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

 

Overtaking a truck on a two-lane highway isn’t always the easiest task in the world. But what if we could see through the truck instead of cautiously attempting to peek around the edge of the semi?

Samsung’s experimental Safety Trucks could provide a solution in the near future. Utilizing a combination of wireless cameras and four Samsung monitors, the Safety Truck seeks to make driving on single-lane roads easier and safer.

Samsung Tomorrow wrote in a blog post that the Safety Truck technology can also help reduce accidents caused by sudden braking or animals crossing the road. The camera and displays also support night vision.

Samsung ran a pilot test with a prototype of the Safety Truck in Argentina, which has some of the worst accident rates in the world. While the prototype truck is no longer operational, the technology does work. With this in mind, the company said the next step would be to work with safe driving organizations and the government to obtain permits and approvals, as well as make sure any future versions of the Safety Truck comply with existing protocols.

Forbes brought up a few questions and potential issues—for one, would the system end up causing more problems than it proposes to solve? How distracting would the screens be, especially at night? How reliable will both the camera and display be in bad weather? Also, will the screens would be prime targets for stealing and/or vandalizing?

Regardless, if all things check out for Safety Trucks, there’s a possibility that the new tech will help reduce South Korea’s high number of road deaths. In 2014, South Korea was reported to have the second-highest traffic fatality rate among 31 OECD member nations, according to Yonhap News Agency.

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Featured image via Samsung Tomorrow

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FitBit

Fitbit Goes Public, Co-Founder Confident in Further Growth

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

 

Fitbit on Thursday became the first startup in the wearable fitness tracker industry to go public, and needless to say, it got off to a running start. The company’s shares surged on the New York Stock Exchange more than 50 percent when trading began on Wall Street, opening at $30.40 per share, up 52 percent from its IPO price of $20. It closed up 48.4 percent ($9.68) at $29.68, raising $732 million for itself and shareholders. The IPO price valued Fitbit at $4.1 billion.

Since being founded in 2007 by James Park and Eric Friedman, Fitbit has become a household name due to its popular and lightweight wearable fitness trackers—in 2014, the company reported 10.9 million devices sold and $745 million in revenue with a profit of $131.8 million, reversing its negative net incomes from 2012 and 2013.

Park, Fitbit’s CEO, told Forbes the company’s recent profitability could be traced to “financial discipline,” as the company hasn’t relied much on outside investment. Earlier this year, the San Francisco-based company unveiled a new line of products—the Charge, Surge and Surge HR, priced from $59.95 to $249.95—which have also boosted sales.

Fitbit

The full Fitbit family (from left to right): Zip, One, Flex, Charge, Aria Smart Scale, Charge HR and Surge. Image courtesy of Fitbit

Fitbit owns an 85 percent market share in the competitive wearables industry, Park told the New York Times. Still, Chinese companies like Xiaomi are increasingly on the up-and-up with more cheaply priced products, while, on the other end of the extreme, the multi-dimensional Apple Watch (priced from $549 to more than $1,000) may leave simpler fitness trackers behind in the dust. But Park told the Times he isn’t worried, emphasizing that the market for wearables is big enough for coexistence. (Market analyst group CCS Insight predicts that the wristband market could nearly triple in sales over the next three years.)

Rather than going head-to-head with the Apple Watch, Fitbit plans to continue to focus solely on fitness, says Park. He told the New York Times that the capital from the IPO would be spent on investing in research and development of new hardware and software, and possibly even exploring further acquisitions (Fitbit bought fitness app developer FitStar earlier this year). Park estimated that the company would triple R&D costs this year to $150 million.

“It takes an enormous amount of R&D spending to create compelling products and software,” Park explained to Forbes. “A key part of our success has been focus. All we do are health and fitness tracking products. We don’t create phones and light bulbs. The focus has allowed us to succeed over the years.”

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Fitbit Searches for Identity in a Crowded Wearables Market – KoreAm Journal

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Feature image via Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

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Will New Yorkers Go Cuckoo for KakaoTaxi?

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by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

Daum Kakao Corp. is considering bringing South Korea’s most popular cab-hailing app service to the Big Apple, according to Bloomberg.

KakaoTaxi launched just over two months ago, but since then, the Korean app has rapidly overtaken Uber, with reportedly more than 2 million cumulative bookings and about a third of the nation’s taxi drivers registered on the app.

KakaoTaxi’s popularity with Korean commuters isn’t just attributed to the brand recognition of KakaoTalk, South Korea’s most popular mobile messenger. Its software monitors real-time traffic—an invaluable resource in an urban setting like Seoul—to calculate the estimated time of arrival for a taxi to reach a passenger. Passengers can conveniently pay their fares with their T-money card, which is also used for buses, subways and select taxis.

KakaoTaxi also addresses many of the security issues that have plagued Uber’s services around the world. The app provides a full profile on the drivers, who must carry an official taxi license to be a KakaoTaxi driver. When passengers enter the cab, they can send push notifications to friends and family that includes their real-time location, pick-up time, estimated ride time and any messages.

John Jung, Daum Kakao’s director of business development, told Bloomberg that KakaoTaxi’s success also came from their willingness to work with the government and cooperate with the taxi industry—both of which were upset over Uber’s business. The government booked Uber Korea employees on suspicion of operating illegal taxi services in the country back in March, leading to the company suspending its services in Seoul.

Since Uber and other ride-sharing apps began operations in New York City in 2012, the city and its Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) has heard complaints from both the established taxi industry and ride-sharing providers. Yellow-cab drivers have claimed Uber’s business is illegal because drivers do not have to pay fees or buy expensive medallions. Total yellow-cab trips fell 8 percent between 2012 and 2014 since Uber began operations in the city.

On the other hand, ride-sharing app providers have complained about city policies, opposing new regulations that they claim would “threaten the options” both riders and drivers rely on.

Uber and other ride-sharing companies are not permitted to operate outside of New York City. Lyft was shut down after a brief run in cities like Buffalo and Rochester due to concerns from state regulators. A bill was introduced in the New York State Legislature to open access to outside of New York City earlier this year, but the bill is reportedly stuck in limbo.

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KakaoTaxi Hits the Road in South Korea, Challenging Uber

Uber Korea Employees Charged with Operating Illegal Taxi Ring

How KakaoTalk Founder Became South Korea’s Rarest Billionaire

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Featured image via whowired.com

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Mers

South Koreans Seeking Transparency Develop MERS Info-Sharing Tools

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by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

South Koreans frustrated over the government’s handling of the MERS virus outbreak have taken matters into their own hands and have been developing tools to help share accurate information with one another, according to Korea Bizwire.

A popular website called MERS Map allows users to browse a map of the country to view and share information about which hospitals have treated, diagnosed and isolated individuals with the MERS virus. MERS Map accepts reports from the general public—these individuals must be logged in with their Facebook profile, and they must provide clear evidence from media reports. Other netizens can flag rumors, and if more than five individuals do so, the piece of information is deleted from the site.

There are talks of developing MERS Map into an app, while other similar maps have also made their rounds on social networks. For those seeking information on the virus itself, a medical industry labor union released a web page detailing past and current MERS virus outbreaks with links to additional information.

Government officials said they would be stepping up their response on Friday, following the death of the fourth victim. Currently, 41 people have been infected, and more than 1,600 people have been placed under quarantine. Precautionary masks are commonplace as more than 1,000 schools and colleges have closed.

South Koreans have largely been skeptical of reassurances from public officials, and they have blasted the government for their lack of transparency and what they saw as an inadequate response. The health ministry drew criticism for taking a while to release the name of the hospital where the first person diagnosed with MERS was treated.

It doesn’t help that public officials are going back and forth. Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon criticized the government for not reporting the first MERS diagnosis of a doctor who was believed to have attended a conference with nearly 1,500 people while infectious. The mayor told reporters on Friday that the city would be “embarking on a war against MERS” and take “swift and stern measures.”

Health Minister Moon Hyung-pyo apologized for causing public anxiety but shot back at Park, accusing him and other Seoul officials of giving out incorrect information that he said would increase public alarm.

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More Reason for Calm Than Panic in South Korea’s MERS Scare

“South Korea’s Tally of MERS Rises to 12″

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Feature image via Yonhap/AFP/Getty Images

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