Lifting restrictions on technology

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Lifting restrictions on technology

The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) ended last weekend, and drones were the star of the show. This year, drones were given their own section for the first time in CES history and booths were crowded with people amazed by the test flights of the unmanned aerial vehicles. Chinese company DJI is a leader in commercial drones, and its presentation wowed audiences and received high praise.

The theme of this year’s CES was deviation from consumer electronics. Contrary to its name, CES was full of presentations of innovative IT gadgets, such as unmanned cars, health care devices and wearable devices, which are now coming in the form of necklaces, rings, shoe soles and belts. Major automakers presented driverless cars and remote-controlled parking technology, proving that the convergence of automobile and information technology is in full swing.

But these technologies are almost useless in Korea. A wearable sensor that attaches to a hard hat to give work orders and prevent accidents has been developed, but it cannot be used in Korea because regulations state that holes cannot be made in safety helmets. Smart health care devices are classified as medical devices and must comply with strict regulations. In the United States, driverless automobiles are permitted on the road in Nevada, Florida and California. But in Korea, the Automobile Management Act prohibits test driving those vehicles, so driverless cars cannot be commercialized. There are four ministries that regulate drones, but no agency is directly in charge of certifying them.

The highlights of these new technologies at CES mean the flow of IT is changing. Now, companies are only competitive if they have new functions. But in Korea, regulations block technological advances.

In 1865, the British Parliament passed the Red Flag Act when steam-powered locomotive accidents increased. In addition to the driver and the engineman, the locomotive was required to have a man with a red flag walking in front to indicate that the vehicle was moving, and a maximum speed of 2 miles per hour in a city was imposed. The law was enforced for 30 years, and the British automobile industry lost its competitiveness. It is a classic example of how improper regulations on technology can fail.

At this year’s CES, Chinese companies presented creative items. Aside from home appliances and televisions, venture companies in Europe, the United States and China - not Korea’s Samsung and LG - led the innovation. In order not to fall behind, we need to make sure laws and regulations don’t hinder technological advancements.

*The author is a business news writer of the JoongAng Ilbo. JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 13, Page 29

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