Korea, anxious to hold onto its reputation as an IT powerhouse, is looking to the “Internet of Things” as a new high-tech industry.
“The government will map out its plans to foster the IoT industry early next month,” said Kim Jung-sam, head of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning’s new Internet industry division.
IoT refers to the communication and exchange of information among devices via the Internet with little human intervention.
“As IoT is no longer limited to information communications technology, the plan will embrace broader segments such as automobiles, health care and manufacturing. The partnerships with relevant ministries and businesses will be necessary,” Kim said.
The plan will include bolstering related software technology, he said.
Korean companies have traditionally excelled at device manufacturing. But they have lagged in software, which is essential for tapping into the extensive data stored on the devices.
Kim cited health care as an example. For users’ health care data such as heart rate, blood pressure, sleep patterns and exercise habits to become useful information ― Samsung has recently unveiled a smartphone that can track such data ― tracking, storing and processing technologies must also become more advanced, he said.
Kim was upbeat about the nation’s potential in the IoT market due to the high penetration of the Internet, which is a key element for enabling device connection.
“It was difficult for different brand products to be connected in the past. Now, the Internet provides an open platform where, let’s say, Samsung and LG’s home appliances can be connected ― which can allow a real smart home environment,” he said.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced its plan to foster firms with capabilities in smart sensing ― a key technology for connecting different devices. The ministry will invest 150 billion won ($140 million) over the next six years.
Korean companies have also been eyeing the IoT market in recent years.
Samsung Electronics, the nation’s largest electronics maker, unveiled its smart home service where an integrated application and server can control all home appliances, electronics and handsets at the International CES 2014 in January.
Samsung said its focus on IoT would not be limited to smart home services.
“We will expand IoT businesses in diverse areas such as smart devices, homes, schools, signage, health care and vehicles,” said Oh Ji-sung, a manager of Samsung Electronics’ Digital Media Communications division at an IoT conference in Seoul last Thursday.
By Shin Ji-hye (firstname.lastname@example.org)