Monday, October 12, 2009

Korea Visit: Auto-ID Labs meeting and conferences

I was invited to give two talks one on the status of European research in RFID and sensor networks and another one on our current research in St. Gallen and ETH Zurich. When I was talking about our new iphone app Peaks (which I was proud to test successfully in Korea!) I received an interesting comment“…there is no iphone in Korea.”.

In conjunction with the conference there was also a fascinating exhibition about RFID. I must admit I ‘ve never visited interesting RFID exhibition so far mostly showing reader gates and tags, but this one was really exciting. Obviously, “green” is an important topic also in Korea which was reflected by at least four high-tech bicycle renting systems providing access to public bikes through RFID cards in combination with sophisticated locks. Slightly over-engineered but exciting indeed. I noticed green-ouse monitoring, sensor-augmented Taek-Wondo gear and the usual stuff, such as smart shelfe and military apps. Finally, the electronic colorful price tags gave a good impression about the opportunities of display information in our supermarkets of tomorrow.

As part of the conference we got access to the running Incheon Expo displaying technology and future vision of living of tomorrow, again with a dedicated focus on “green technology”. Due to the fear of the H1N1 virus we first had to pass a disinfection gate before entering the site – pretty strange experience. Among others, I enjoyed the art pieces showing how to sweep the ground off virtually leaves (once all trees have died but to maintain the tradition;) and the auto-transformation of textual news into graphical icons. In the exhibition I noticed the quite different notion of responsibility: instead of the rather individual share as we practice in Europe meaning everybody tries to contribute his share by his individual behavior, I understood that in Korea this is rather centralized and delegated to institutions, government and companies taking care of you.

Finally, I got the chance to travel South to the another event, the Koala 2009 RFID USN conference where I gave another talk on my favorite topic of building an Internet of Things for everyone. I took the chance of a train ride in order to enjoy the country-side from a window seat. Korea consists of countless hills – in order to gain culture land land is often reclaimed at the sea side.

After several conservations I was amazed about the huge funds of Korea provided for research and education, the huge percentage of academics of the population ( was told over 80% would study – though I haven’t verified), and tremendous attitude of almost living at the work place. I guess we’ll hear more from Korean rather soon…

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