Students turn patent ideas into products

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Students turn patent ideas into products

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A school employee demonstrates student-developed patent idea technology at Hanyang University’s Erica campus on Oct. 17. The business idea technology recognizes and selects an object that appears in a video clip, shows the product information and enables shopping. Provided by the university

In a country where most newly-registered small business are fried chicken restaurants or coffee shops, the government’s focus on a creative economy is the right call. But people don’t know how to start a creative business.

One solution for this was found at Hanyang University’s Erica campus, where students majoring in various fields are participating in a program jointly run by the university, research institutes and corporations.

A patent attorney advises students to get confident about start-up companies or to become entrepreneurs themselves.

Kim Hye-yeon, who is majoring in electronics and communication engineering, turned on a short clip from a popular drama. As soon as Kim touched on a blue checkered shirt, a window popped up with product information that reads “Bean Pole checkered shirt, priced at 120,000 won.” He touched on the shirt again, which opened an online shopping mall Web site where it is sold. The entire process from selecting a product to purchasing it took 60 seconds.

This scene took place at the students’ annual presentation held on Oct. 17 at El Tower, Yangjae-dong, southern Seoul. Under the theme of advertising without a commercial, patentable ideas to recognize and select products in a TV video clip were demonstrated. The so-called idea patents refer to a concept that has not yet realized technologically.

As specific product information is revealed, the corresponding company’s advertisement image or campaign phrase could be inserted. When one touches the wallpaper, the wallpaper brand’s ad expression pops up, saying “Eco-friendly construction supplies brand, XYZ.”

Users can have the product-related information on television screens and also on smartphones or tablets. While many people watch the same show in front of one television, each person is able to obtain targeted information without interrupting others.

“This way, companies can advertise their products without letting the viewers notice by providing product information basically for all objects in the video clip,” said Kim Woo-seung, professor of mechanical engineering and director of Leaders in Industry-University Cooperation (LINC), the upper foundation of the program.

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The ideas come from the “patent and negotiation” class, where students from different majors form teams and generate business ideas that could be patented. The course is exclusively available at the Erica campus thanks to LINC’s “COPE” program, which stands for Convergence, Originality, Patent and Enterprise. The program, jointly run by the university, research institutes and local companies, aims to develop the students’ in-class ideas into actual business items or help them become entrepreneurs.

The patent course, which began last year, has been popular every semester. Forty students took it this spring semester, as 10 groups of four came up with one to four ideas and developed them during meetings twice a week.

The groups consisted of two engineering majors, one humanities and one design major.

“I first thought it may be difficult to cooperate between students in different majors, but they actually came up with diverse and amazing ideas,” said Song Ji-sung, a professor of graphic packages and design.

Ideas based on humanities students’ imagination became reality with technical knowledge from engineering students, Song said. Design students worked on making the technology attractive.

The COPE program’s patent course featured a patent attorney as an adjunct professor. The university’s LINC Foundation covered necessary fees in the process, with funds provided by the Ministry of Education.

“I was surprised how specific and unique the ideas were. They were as useful, as they could be directly applied to industry,” said Park Soo-jo, a patent attorney.

Those who have taken the course are thinking of starting their own businesses.

“I always thought I should get a stable and well-paying job at a conglomerate. But after taking this class, I first thought of founding a start-up business on my own,” said Kim Soo-min, 21, an interactive and multimedia design student.

Kim Hye-yeon, the presenter at the annual showcase, is taking the class for the third time. Kim founded small mobile start-up companies in the past three years, but they failed. This year, she launched a mobile service company, N.thing. Its first product was a service in which a smartphone gives orders to water plants, called “SmarTPoT.” Its product value won the Global K-Startup Program competition in June held by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and the Korea Internet Security Agency.

“The course taught us specific factors of a successful start-up and what results in a high financial value,” Kim said.


BY CHO HYE-KYUNG [jiyoon.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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