Big Biz gives up on basic research

“Corporate research institutes nowadays are reducing mid- to long-term projects and have started reassigning researchers into business departments,” said a researcher in his 40s who is employed at Samsung. “I wanted to pursue my research career in a more stable environment, so I applied to the ETRI despite the lower annual salary it offers.”

Conglomerates are under increasing pressure to find the next-generation hit product. That leads them away from mid- to long-term research and development (R&D) projects. In such a fast-changing market, companies like Samsung, LG and SK are trimming their long-term R&D departments.

Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT), located in Yongin, southern Gyeonggi, was the birthplace of key semiconductor and smartphone technologies. It mainly researches next-generation products that could be profitable years down the line. In September last year, SAIT started downsizing its research workforce of 1,500 researchers with doctorate and master’s degrees by 50 percent. The researchers are being relocated to Samsung’s other research institutes that study the commercialization of almost-completed technologies, including a mobile handset research center and an electronics material research complex.

“SAIT studies technologies that will nurture the ‘seed industries,’ which will be Samsung’s leading business,” an official from Samsung Group said. “This is simply a reshuffle of research workforce, moving them a step closer to the business departments as their key projects have matured to be commercialized soon.”

For full article, see Joongang Daily.


Robot scientist pushes limits of virtual reality

2014_01_mahruEight years ago, You developed the world’s first network-based humanoid called Mahru, whose latest version, unveiled in 2010, can recognize items and tasks such as house cleaning, operating a microwave and performing other household chores. You, 50, has been leading the research to push the boundaries of virtual reality, focusing on technologies that enable people to interact without space or time constraints.

More than 200 researchers from KIST, the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, KAIST, GIST, Hanyang University and Sangmyung University are taking part in the nine-year project. “The purpose of our research is to enable people to experience virtual and remote worlds as if they were the real world,” the director of the Center of Human-Centered Interaction for Coexistence told The Korea Herald in a recent interview.

You and his colleagues are now working on a three-dimensional teleconferencing system. Part of the research is to create a “coexistence space” where people can not only see and talk to each other, but also touch and feel, he explained.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

Korea’s high-tech miracle comes of age

2013_11_LTE-patentsIn 1981, the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, then a little-known 4-year-old publicly funded think tank, won a 24 billion won ($22.6 million) government project to develop a telephone transmitting and receiving system called time-division exchange (TDX). Most state initiatives at the time – except those to augment the defense against North Korea – were less than 1 billion won, so the institute researchers in charge of the pricey project had to sign a resolution.

“We will do our best to develop TDX, and if we fail, we will brace for any punishment,” read the document, still kept at the Daejeon-based institute. Partly inspired by ambition to succeed, but possibly driven by fear under the military regime of President Chun Doo Hwan, the efforts bore fruit, making Korea the 10th country to develop the system.

“Few believed a nation that lacked experience with large R&D projects could succeed in developing a technology possessed by only a handful of advanced countries,” says Chong Kil-ho, director of ETRI, speaking of the system that allowed calls to be made simultaneously. “We got a lot of confidence from it.”

Building on that confidence, the institute went on to develop several other state-of-the-art technologies, including code division multiple access, which later became a standard of global wireless telecommunication. The institute was the first in the world to develop it and received 350 billion won in royalties from Qualcomm over several years.

For full article, see Joongang Daily.

Unmanned vehicle patents surged

The feasibility of getting unmanned vehicles on the road, which is often seen in science-fiction movies, is ever increasing thanks to the rapid development of relevant technologies.  According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) on July 2, 144 patent applications were made on technologies related with an unmanned autonomous driving vehicle for the last ten years from 2003 to 2012.

There were only two to ten patents applied for from 2003 to 2007. The number has, however, surged to 20 or more per annum since 2008. Hyundai-Kia Motor Group topped in the number of patent applications, accounting for 15% of the total, followed by Mando and ETRI (8% respectively) and KAIST (6%). Looking at the technologies, 24% of the patent applications were on image sensors, followed by artificial intelligence technologies (18%) and driving controls (11%). And other technologies related to map information, GPS utilization, road facilities and communications with other vehicles are being developed as well.

For full article, see Korea IT Times.

ETRI tops US patent scorecard for 2 years in a row

According to the April issue of intellectual property magazine IP Today, ETRI (Electronics and Telecommunications Research institutions) has ranked first in ipIQ’s 2012 Innovation Anchor Scorecard, which measures patent activities by prestigious research institutions, universities, and governments around the world. ETRI also came out on top in ipIQ’s 2009 and 2010 Government Agency Patent Scorecards that evaluated about 40 government agencies’ patenting efforts. In 2011, ETRI also topped the list of ipIQ’s Innovation Anchor Scorecard.

Along with the 2012 Innovation Anchor Scorecard, the Innovation Cycle Time was also published to show the technological change and progress of the institution. ETRI scored 466.79 (up 28% from its 2011 score) in Technology Strength  with an Innovation Cycle Time of 6.8 years (down 0.7 year from 2011). “ETRI ranks above numerous world-renowned research institutes like Taiwan’s ITRI (6th), Germany’s Fraunhofer (9th) and the US’s SRI and Battelle,” said ETRI President Kim Heung-nam. The No.2 spot was taken by MIT, followed by the University of California (UC) and Stanford University.

On the domestic front, KAIST, Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), Seoul National University and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) have joined the 100 list.

Source: Korea IT Times.

Cancer can be checked with a drop of blood: ETRI

2012_12_etri_bloodThe state-run Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) announced Wednesday that it has developed a whole blood processing chip and bio-sensor array chip, which enable anyone check diseases or food toxins at an earlier stage.

The whole blood processing chip enables anyone to easily screen cancers within 30 seconds, as it separates even one drop of blood into blood cells and plasma.

Currently, blood cells are separated from blood plasma by using a centrifugal separator, but it requires complicate procedure over a long time with the participation of medical doctors.

For full article, see Korea Times.

Korea pushing Web into hyperdrive

Commercial Internet speeds will jump 100-fold next year and Korea is lighting the way for these game-changing technological advances, the state-run Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) said yesterday. The ETRI demonstrated the speed of its newly developed Internet network, the wavelength division multiplexed-passive optical network (WDM-PON), yesterday in the lobby of the Ministry of Knowledge Economy in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi. The research center set up two computers, one connected to its current network and the other to the new WDM-PON, to show how it was already possible to download the same 350-megabyte video at 100 times the speed.

It took 1 second to download on the new network and 28 seconds on the current network, or Optical LAN. This marked the highest Internet speed available anywhere in the world, said Lee Sang-soo, director of ETRI’s optical access research team.

For full article see Joongang Daily.

New cancer diagnosis may do away with radiation risk

Cancer patients are exposed to potentially harmful radiation during CT (computerized tomography) scans and other X-ray procedures, as well as invasive tests using radioactive isotopes.
That may change if the Korea Communications Commission’s (KCC) plans to back Korean technology aimed at providing a new method of cancer diagnosis succeeds.

The KCC affiliated Electronic and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) is behind experiments using electromagnetic waves in the 3-gigaherz spectrum to detect breast cancer, one of the six cancers that Koreans are most prone.
Clinical trials have been approved by the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) with a view to commercialization by 2017.

Detectors spot the difference in the electrical response time of healthy cells and cancerous ones using a technique dubbed “micro-wave” tomography.

Read full article on: Korea Times

Confluence of IT, autos tipped as growth engine

Your smartphone vibrates. As you pull it out of your pocket, the following message flashes across the screen: Your vehicle is being broken into.
This futuristic scenario may soon become a reality for owners of Korean cars, according to Hyundai Motor, which rolled out a number of test models this week showing off its experiments with government-subsidized IT innovations by small companies.

Of the four models presented to the media on Wednesday, only one, the third and latest edition of Hyundai’s popular midsized crossover Sante Fe, a sport utility vehicle, is now available on the market.

It features two new breakthroughs that enable the owner to lock and unlock their vehicle from afar, such as inside their office. They can also gun the engine from a long-range just by pressing a few buttons on their phone – particularly useful on a cold winter’s day.

For full article see Joongang Daily.

Korean Gov’t to invest US$870 million in IT industry

South Korea’s government said Tuesday that it plans to invest nearly 1 trillion won (US$870 million) in the country’s information technology (IT) industry with 594 billion won earmarked for the development of new technologies.

A total of 956 billion won, up 2.1 percent from 2011, will be spent on the research and development (R&D) of new technologies, as well as human resources and IT infrastructure, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

The investment plan “aims to strengthen the global competitiveness of the country’s software industry through R&D while promoting the application of information technology in all industrial sectors,” the ministry said.

For full article see Yonhap.