[CES 2020] Korean start-ups bring their next big thing to CES for global exposure

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[CES 2020] Korean start-ups bring their next big thing to CES for global exposure


From left: Deep Medi’s Neul Blood Pressure medical software, Dear headphones made by the start-up Linkface and Sense Cup, invented by local start-up THE.WAVE.TALK. [EACH COMPANY]

CES is the world’s largest and most influential tech event.

Held in Las Vegas, the weeklong trade show is also a land of opportunity for start-ups as both international IT companies, like Amazon, Google, Apple and Samsung, and more than 2,000 venture capitalists come searching for the next big thing.

Last year alone, more than 1,200 start-ups from 42 countries exhibited their products at Eureka Park, an exclusive section at CES dedicated to start-up companies. Since 2012, more than $1.5 billion of investments were arranged at the show.

In search of the American dream, Korean tech start-ups also joined the event. A total of 200 of them participated, according to the Korea Information and Communication Technology Industry Association (Kicta), which is up 77 percent from last year. Korea had the highest number of start-ups registered, after the United States (343) and France (240). This year, start-ups that stand out the most deal with “calm-tech,” or technologies designed to solve daily inconveniences.

THE.WAVE.TALK is a start-up financed by Naver. It invented a cup that uses the Internet-of-Things-based water sensors to detect whether water is safe to drink. The start-up won an innovation award at CES this year for its prototype version of the Sense Cup. It is a smart cup designed to be used at home and made its debut in Las Vegas this week.

The Sense Cup can measure the condition of water within 10 seconds with only a press of a button. Users pour water into the cup and press the button. Lasers are shot into the water. The cup observes the refractive path to measure the presence of foreign substances, like bacteria and micro plastics.

With traditional water quality testing, it takes at least 48 to 72 hours to receive results. The cup is portable and affordable, priced at around 100,000 won ($86). Jung Eun-jung, a public relations manager of THE.WAVE.TALK said the company will “release our products this year so that anyone can easily drink clean water.”

Linkface is a start-up from C-Lab, an in-house entrepreneurship program of Samsung Electronics. The company introduced a headphone that can help prevent hearing loss. The headphone automatically adjusts the volume levels by analyzing the user’s vital signs measured through silicon sensors attached on the product. It received the innovation award in the headphones and personal audio category. Linkface CEO Lim Kyoung-soo, 46, hopes the device can prevent children from hearing loss as a growing number of children face hearing loss from watching over-the-top services.

Deep Medi opened a booth for the first time this year. Deep Medi won first prize in the Chung Ju-yung Startup Competition held by the Asan Nanum Foundation. The Asan Nanum Foundation manages the Chung Ju-yung Angel Investment Fund, a 100-billion-won fund that fosters the start-up ecosystem.

Neul Blood Pressure is a medical software that can check a person’s blood pressure in a novel way. Users film their finger through the back camera on their smartphones, and an app estimates the user’s blood pressure.

According to CEO Lee Gwang-Jin, “a medical app can figure out the blood pressure from an image of our finger-tips since the skin is thin enough to analyze blood color that changes with blood flow.”

The program acquired the necessary knowledge through deep learning, examining 50,000 finger images. The device was temporarily approved by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety as a medical device. It aims to get permanent approval within the year.

BY PARK MIN-JE [kang.jaeeun@joongang.co.kr]
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