Expo showcases latest gadgets, minus cameras

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo talks live with baseball star Lee Seung-yeop yesterday using KTF39s video phone service at the Korea IT Show 2007, taking place at COEX in southern Seoul. [YONHAP]

Cutting-edge technology is going beyond generating user-made content to broadcasting that content live using tiny devices that can be linked to just about every electronic product in your home.

Exhibiting the latest trends, the four-day Korea IT Show 2007 began yesterday, with an IT ministerial conference and various industry forums taking place on the sidelines. The show is a combination of five exhibitions that used to be separate events. They were lumped together because some technologies and products overlapped, and it was difficult for companies to finance multiple expos.

Hosted jointly by the Information Ministry and the Commerce Industry, the exhibition features about 300 companies including domestic biggies Samsung Electronics Co., LG Electronics Inc., SK Telecom Co. and KTF, as well as a few foreign firms such as Qualcomm, Canon, Sharp, ARM and Agilent Technologies.

Companies are taking advantage of the show to announce new product releases. Samsung Electronics unveiled an upgraded version of its ultra mobile mini PC, Q1 Ultra. LG Electronics revealed for the first time in Korea its next-generation dual-format “Super Blu” player that plays both DVDs and Blu-ray Discs.

Aside from all the latest gadgets, gizmos, huge TVs and ear-pounding sound systems, the main new trend this year was live broadcasting. This was a new thing because 3G phone services weren’t commercially available last year.

KTF had a booth featuring its new third-generation mobile, Play. Video phone calls, one of the main functions of the new service, were used in a variety of scenarios, such as live broadcasting and live home monitoring.

Satellite broadcaster TU Media had a live interactive radio program, TU Request, going on at its open studio at the show, receiving listener requests live.

SK Telecom also had a lot of live self-generated content. While watching television, a person could pop up his or her phone on the side of the screen and send what’s being seen on TV to the person at the other end of the line, while talking or text-messaging at the same time. The key point to this mobile technology was that it could be linked to other electronic products in your home. “It’s so convenient that I can manage my washing machine with my cell phone from outside the house,” said Kim Yeon-mi, a housewife in Seoul.

Not all of the show was about consumer technology. Although invisible to regular attendees, scores of meetings between foreign buyers and domestic firms took place in private rooms, many prearranged by the Korea International Trade Association. Vietnamese firm VTC Intecom and China’s Kongzhong sought mobile game companies while Italy’s Italia Commerce looked for PC monitor and hard disk drive firms.
Surprisingly, the IT show did not include digital cameras. Although Canon had a booth (printers and solutions were on display), there were no digital SLRs or IXUSs. Nikon, which also has a local office, was nowhere in sight, despite the huge community of Koreans who own digital Nikon cameras.

Perhaps taking a lesson from the recent Seoul Motor Show, which was slammed for having too many sexy female models, the IT Show had a surprisingly high number of male informants for a Korean exhibition. Although both female and male guides were still visually attractive, they were trained to talk glibly about ubiquitous technology and demonstrate mobile broadcasting or the functions of home networking systems.

The show also proved that as technologies merge and consumers are left with overwhelming options, that technology can be about more fundamental things, like finding a way to make shoulder straps more comfortable. L.C. Corp. displayed a whole assortment of shock-absorbent laptop bags and shoulder straps under its AirCell brand, which is not available in Korea.

By Wohn Dong-hee for JoongAng Daily


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