Korean robotics startups shine at IFA

10-Sep-2019 Intellasia | | 7:45 AM Print This Post

While Samsung and LG are wooing consumers with their cutting-edge appliances and gadgets at the IFA trade show, which will run through Wednesday, the largest tech fair in Europe is also shining a spotlight on Korea’s robot startups.

For this year’s show, eight firms have displayed their state-of-the-art robotics products at a shared booth with support from the Korea Institute for Robot Industry Advancement (KIRIA).

The participating companies said Friday that the IFA trade fair was a precious opportunity for them to promote their products and meet company officials from European countries.

On the first day of the show, visitors, company officials and media from Europe expressed their interest in various robotics products, ranging from drones; vacuum cleaners; industrial robots; social or companion robots; and exoskeletons for the disabled.

They added promoting their products in Europe is essential as the market there is highly profitable.

Oh Hyun-chul, marketing and sales director at exoskeleton maker Exoatlet Asia, said the company took part in the IFA as it is scheduled to release products in Europe in 2020 that can put the disabled on their feet.

Oh said the company is selling the exoskeletons mainly to hospitals. “Our device helps the disabled to walk again. We are pinning high hopes on the European market, which has high purchasing power,” he said.

“We have been selling our medical exoskeleton for physical and social rehabilitation in Korea, China, Vietnam and Russia. We are on course to obtain a CE mark certification from the European Union soon and plan to launch our device in Europe starting next March,” he added.

The robot industry can be divided into industrial and services purposes. For the industrial sector, it has seen an explosive growth on both sides as manufacturers are attempting to boost their productivity and reduce potential safety issues by using more robots.

According to data from the International Federation of Robotics, the market size of the global robot industry was estimated at $29.8 billion in 2017. With an annual growth rate of 16.5 percent, the market will grow to $55 billion in 2021.

Due to the decreasing birthrate and aging population, the services robot sector is expected to grow from $8.6 billion in 2017 to $20.2 billion in 2021.

“In the past, when we talk about robots it mainly referred to an industrial robot, a robotic system used for manufacturing. But the industry is witnessing a remarkable growth in the services robot sector due to the aging population and low birthrate,” Kay Kim, director of the business promotion division at the KIRIA, said.

“To help boost Korea’s robotics industry, we recruited eight startups earlier this year. The European market has the strongest purchasing power with a high standard of living. Specifically robots providing medical, cleaning and education services have seen explosive growth in many European countries,” Kim added.

Visitors also paid attention to Pibo, a social robot that interacts and communicates with users offering entertainment, information and education.

John Park, CEO of Circulus, said Pibo was designed to be a companion for people regardless of age or gender.

“With its cute-looking face, Pibo has been well received by visitors. It can work as an artificial intelligence speaker that provides information its users ask for. By reading users’ emotions, it can also talk befitting each user’s mood,” Park said.

Not only visitors but also reporters from France and Germany and other companies’ officials visited the Circulus booth to ask more about the products.

The company has begun displaying its products in seven department stores throughout Korea. The CEO added he aims to export the social robot that retails for about $1,000.

“We are so encouraged that Pibo was received so well here. Many told us that its cute-looking face drew their attention,” he said.

Kim Dae-hee, leader of the management support team at drone startup Joy Drone, said the company was participating in the show to capitalise on Europe’s business-to-business drone market.

“Joy Drone was established in December 2016. Unlike Chinese companies who have their competitiveness with drones for the business-to-consumer market, we are selling drones for the business-to-business (B2B) market. They can be used to monitor forest fires and spray agricultural chemicals on large-sized farms,” he said.

The drone maker recently completed a deal to provide its forest fire observation drone to Andong City, 260 kilometers south of Seoul. It is also on track to finalise a deal to export its agricultural chemical spray drone to a winery in San Francisco.

Everybot, which sells robot vacuum cleaners, also took part in the show to demonstrate its highly competitive cleaners with wet mopping feature to European consumers.

“This is the first time for us to have a booth here. Since we launched our robot vacuum cleaner that has a wet mopping feature in Korea in 2016, we have sold more than 100,000 every year. Based on the popularity, we are trying to enter the European market,” a company official said.

“Unlike the United States where many people decorate their homes with carpets, a large portion of consumers in Europe, especially in Germany, don’t use carpets because they usually live in rented homes, so we thought it was worth trying to launch our products here,” he added.



Category: Korea

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