Korean start-ups also shine at CES in Las Vegas

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Korean start-ups also shine at CES in Las Vegas


From left: LetinAR’s lens provides an 80-degree viewing angle; lululab’s Lumini advises on skin conditions; AMO Lab’s AMO+ improves the quality of sleep. [LETINAR, LULULAB, AMO LAB]

Industry big boys aren’t the only companies exhibiting at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Over 1,200 start-ups have set up at the event’s Eureka Park, reserved for smaller companies, to capture the attention of consumers and possibly become the next unicorn (a start-up valued at over $1 billion).

Of the start-up companies from Korea, those that developed through the “Israeli start-up” model have grabbed the most attention from the media. The model refers to companies with a weak capital base that grows with investment from other IT companies or venture capital firms. Many Korean start-ups that took part in CES this year got investments from IT giants such as Naver or Kakao.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) company LetinAR is one of the hottest start-ups. LetinAR produces smart glass lenses that makes use of “Pin Mirror” technology. The company incorporates the pinhole effect, which makes vision clearer by looking through a small hole, and applies it for use in VR and AR.

LetinAR also created a lens that provides vision of up to 80 degrees. While humans can see up to 150 degrees, existing products are typically limited to 50 degrees.

“The 80-degree vision is like looking at a 120-inch TV from a meter away [3.28 feet],” said Choi Kyung-on, a director at the company. “If our product becomes commercialized ... we will be able to release smart glasses the size of large conventional glasses within three years.”

While smart glasses got a lot of headline in 2013 with the introduction of Google Glass, the product failed due to the difficulty of developing a lens with a wide-viewing angle.

Meanwhile, beauty artificial intelligence (AI) start-up lululab won the CES Innovation Award in the biotech sector for its AI skin care assistant Lumini.

The device analyzes skin conditions such as its wrinkles and pores and provides product information and recommendations personalized for a user.

“[Users] can use personalized AI skin analysis service without the help of a store employee,” explained Choe Yong-joon, CEO of lululab.

The company was born in Samsung Electronics’ start-up incubator, C-Lab.

AMO Lab is another promising start-up from Korea. The company, which got investment from Naver last September, specializes in products that improve users’ quality of sleep.

The company recently developed AMO+, a device worn like a necklace, which sends out minute electrical signals to the body to improve sleep.

According to recent test results, users’ parasympathetic nervous systems became active when wearing the device.

“We are currently discussing collaboration with U.S. and European companies after prototype development,” said Kim Min-kyu, CEO of AMO Lab.

WELT, another alumnus of Samsung’s C-Lab, gained attention for releasing a smart belt in collaboration with French luxury brand S.T. Dupont. WELT’s smart belt can be used for two months with a single charge and provides basic health information.

BY PARK MIN-JE [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]
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