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Smartphone craze spurs location-based apps

Mar 30,2011
Samsung SDS developed Korea’s first location-based service that utilizes Wi-Fi networks. Provided by the company

It’s 11 p.m., do you know where your boyfriend is?

If you own a smartphone, there’s an app for that.

The app Trust Me, Darling, is one of the most-talked-about apps in Korea, and it allows the user to keep track of her boyfriend’s whereabouts.

Companies are fast-tracking location-based services, as they forecast high growth - and profits.

With the smartphone craze, LBS is just one area firms are banking on.

Navigator in your handset

A TechCrunch report says Apple’s new operating system, iOS 5, will prioritize location-based services. IOS 5 will be previewed at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Apple’s operating systems are often trend-setters in the IT world.

Already, there are countless location-oriented apps.

Most recently, Hana Bank released a location-oriented app called HanaNCity, which parents can use to keep track of their children’s whereabouts in addition to their daily schedules, homework and journals.

Shinsegae Department Store launched a location-based app that reminds shoppers at Busan’s Centum City where they parked their car.

Samsung SDS, a leading provider of information and communication technology, is one of the most aggressive and experimental of the bunch.

Its yet-to-be commercialized location-based technology would set it apart from other technologies in that it doesn’t lose track of users where a 3G signal is inaccessible.

Most drivers have experienced how their navigation system fails after entering an underground parking lot. But Samsung SDS’ technology uses Wi-Fi and Access Points - small devices that allow mobile devices to connect to wireless networks. The company is the first to develop such a technology.

Currently, Samsung’s technology works at COEX in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul. But it believes the technology can be applied elsewhere once commercialized. Samsung plans to merge it with other technologies - such as augmented reality - to offer more than location services.

“The navigation service can evolve to show sales and promotion events taking place at stores around you. Also, you can play ads of products at stores you’re in,” said Kim Dong-hwan, a researcher at Samsung SDS.

Korea Internet & Security Agency said in a recent report that the success of location-based services will depend on how well they converge with social media, commerce and games.

No compromise on security

Concerns about smartphones’ security shortcomings and the importance of stored data have led to new business opportunities: security-related technologies and solutions.

Ssomon, a Korean venture company, recently released its Mobile Device Management app, which is geared toward corporate consumers. The app allows users to delete sensitive files and documents stored on smartphones from a remote location if a smartphone is lost. SoftSecurity, another venture company, also released a similar app.

Riding the recent smartphone boom, so-called “mobile offices” have grown popular as a way for managers to cut costs and boost efficiency. Hundreds of Korean companies have set up mobile offices, including Samsung Electronics, Posco, and Hyundai Heavy Industries, distributing smartphones to their workers so they can use e-mail and work on the go.

Samsung Electronics distributed Galaxy S smartphones to its employees in January. The phones are embedded with software that cripples the photography and USB functions of the devices once users enter the company.

This, of course, is to prevent corporate espionage - always a top concern for major IT companies. Samsung, the world’s top memory chipmaker, last year accused the Korean branch of Applied Materials, the world’s top chipmaking equipment maker, of giving Samsung technology to its smaller rival Hynix Semiconductor.

Raising the bar on smartphone security, Motorola Mobility’s new smartphone, Motorola Atrix, comes with a biometric fingerprint reader for security-conscious users. People can lock the phone with their fingerprint, rather than a password.


By Kim Hyung-eun [hkim@joongang.co.kr]



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