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Korean tech firms hope to cash in at the Games

Nov 24,2017
The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics will not just be a sporting competition. It will also be a competition for information communication technology (ICT).

Since smartphones became common, ICT companies have benefitted more at the Olympics than the tourism industry. During the 2012 London Olympics, dubbed the social Olympics, the organizers heavily promoted the use of social media. During the Games, the organizing committee released updates and information through the official social network pages.

As a result of the London Olympics, Facebook reached 900 million users, nine times more than the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and the number of Twitter users increased from six million to 140 million over the same period.

The 2014 Sochi Olympics was an opportunity to popularize the use of tablet PCs, encouraging visitors to “bring your own device (BYOD).” At the 2016 Rio Olympics the focus was on cloud computing, making data and information accessible to the public via the cloud.

Since the ICT industry has so often benefitted from the Olympics, Korean companies are looking at the PyeongChang Olympics as an opportunity for smaller businesses to appeal directly to potential customers.

Media4th & Company are among the Korean companies hoping for an opportunity to expand globally on the back of the Games. The company, established in 2012, has recently combined mobile ticketing and entrance services for Lotte World Aquarium and five other venues. Following the success of this project the tech firm has been working with KT, the official sponsor of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, to develop Internet of Things services.

Augmented reality companies are also looking for opportunities through the games.

SQI Soft will participate in the PyeongChang Olympic Fashion Demonstration Complex Project with KT, providing a “smart shopping” service. The technology, which displays clothing brands at the Olympics Fashion Town, will demonstrate size, price and recommendations directly to customers using AR and a “smart mirror.”

“From the positive response of local clothing stores in Gangwon, we’ll be able to sell about 400 to 500 related devices each year, “ said Cho Young-june, CEO of SQI Soft. “Since we’re expecting great exports as well, we’ve set a goal to increase our yearly sales to 10 billion won ($9.2 million).”

Foreign companies are also participating in the PyeongChang ICT Olympics. Intel became an official partner of the International Olympic Committee and will demonstrate Virtual Reality (VR), its 5G platform and 360-degree video replay.

In addition, telecommunications companies Nokia and Ericsson are cooperating with KT on the 5G network at the Games.

“Japan, who will host the 2020 Summer Olympics, have been preparing for a cutting-edge technology Olympics by setting up 17 test robots at Haneda Airport, greeting travelers, since last year,” said Choi Jeong-ho, PyeongChang ICT Olympics Preparation Team Director. “We’ve been preparing with industries to build an image of a leading ICT country through the PyeongChang Olympics.”

BY LEE CHANG-KYUN [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]