South Korea: a Fertile Ground for Immersive Tech Innovations
Factoring in the country’s advanced ICT infrastructure, pervasive high-speed internet connectivity, and the highest smart device penetration rate in the world (about 98%) – South Korea is one of the most fertile grounds at global scale for developments in digital technologies. In this scenario, a new trend is making its way in South Korea as the direct evolution of immersive technologies applied to a variety of industries: the “metaverse”.
A New Trend on the Rise: the Metaverse
The metaverse as a concept is still relatively new and fuzzy.
Typically summarized as “a convergence of our physical and digital lives, enabled by technologies like AR and VR and other components such as blockchain, 5G, edge computing, and many others” (Hackl), the “metaverse” leverages different immersive technologies ranging from Augmented Reality (AR), to Virtual Reality (VR) devices and Mixed/Extended Reality (MR/XR) tools. The rising popularity of the metaverse among global tech giants is particularly evident. Facebook rebranded as Meta, Inc., a clear indication of the company’s direction, while other corporates such as Microsoft, Apple, and the Korean conglomerate Kakao are also investing in their own metaverse.
The Korean scaleup ecosystem is at the forefront of this new global challenge. With a thriving local metaverse community boasting about 110 scaleups and 200-300 startups on the rise, South Korea appears to be well positioned to become a global haven for experimentation in immersive technologies.
More than “Just Entertainment”
Beyond digital media, metaverse-like immersive technologies can be applied to a variety of industry verticals. Here are some of the most exciting trends coming from South Korea.
In HealthTech, diagnostics can be performed by digitizing patients, and VR simulations extend training possibilities for physicians.
SportTech may expand its indoor fitness options by digitizing athletes or by providing immersive, mixed reality experiences.
HR Tech may revolutionize the workplace by implementing new remote/hybrid working environments including virtual offices and non-face-to-face advanced technologies (including holograms).
The E-Commerce sector may be disrupted by digitizing real world products, or by shifting the mall experience to a virtual environment.
More insights available in our Tech Scaleup South Korea 2022 Report, available for free at research.mindthebridge.com
The Strong Korean Corporate and Government Support for the Metaverse
Being the first country in the world that has the “creation of unicorn companies” in its KPIs, South Korea is well-known for the hindsight of its government and corporate world. The local government and some of the country’s largest conglomerates are clearly betting on the new “metaverse” trend, building their own immersive tech worlds. In 2018, the South Korean internet conglomerate Naver launched Zepeto, a metaverse platform that allows users to create their own avatars, spaces, and experience life in the virtual world. Launched in 2022 at the CES, Samsung’s “My House” immersive, virtual home experience is designed to increase the company’s brand value among Millennials and Zoomers – and it is apparently working well, with 4 million cumulative visitors in just three weeks after its launch.
In the context of the master plan “Seoul Vision 2030”, the city plans to build its own “Metaverse Seoul” platform, which will include a virtual mayor office, virtual general civil services, and virtual tourism special zones.
During our last Scaleup Summit in Seoul we met some of the most thriving and exciting innovations playing in this field, as part of our selected immersive tech startups and scaleups. Check here below for more information or watch the Live Opening again, just in case you missed it.