More Than A VisionEstablished in 2007, ImageNEXT now has more than 30 engineers working on vision-related solutions, namely the advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) and video analytics. “The ADAS provides multichannel image processing so that the driver would get a simulated bird's eye view from the top of the vehicle, to simplify parking maneuvers and to help avoid pedestrians, oncoming objects, lane departures and collisions,” said Youngduck Seo, Director and CTO. “Hyundai is now testing it out for us, before mass adoption and production.”
Korean innovation does not stop at producing video surveillance equipment only. A relatively young management software developer (established in 2007), Innodep has positioned itself as “Korea's Milestone.” “While Korean manufacturers have had pretty high worldwide market shares in video surveillance products, we've been lacking software solutions to manage them or back them up,” said James Joo, VP. “The push from customers and government users has been quite significant and drove us to fund this company to address such severely underserved market needs.”
In access control, “the first quarter of 2010 was bad for us as a biometrics solution provider, but the situation improved rapidly after the second quarter, resulting in 30-percent overall growth,” said Brad Choi, Team Manager of Access Control System, Global Business Sector, Suprema. “We have a sophisticated functionality and pricing matrix for different markets of different maturation levels.”
Intrusion and AutomationThere are less than 10 solution providers in intrusion detection in Korea, and Korea Mechatek (KMT) is No. 1 in market share. “Industry development has been pretty similar to that of Japan. As alarm-monitoring companies are required by law to pay 100 percent of whatever was stolen should an alarm go off, detection technology evolves (or is forced to evolve) quite rapidly every year to minimize false positives and negatives,” said Kwan-Sik Choi, CEO. “We even review our R&D investment every quarter. In 2010, our revenue growth was about 10 to 12 percent.”
For intrusion detection and home automation, the markets in Korea, China and Southeast Asia (especially Singapore and Vietnam) recovered really nicely in 2010, with 100- to 115-percent growth for Seoul Commtech (a Samsung company). “Overall growth was about 20 percent, as the markets in Europe, the Middle East and the U.S. didn't quite make the 2008 mark yet,” said Gabsoo Kim, Home Network and Security Export Manager. “We have also been restructuring our channel and looking for new partners in the Middle East, Turkey, Russia, Poland and Germany.”
Standardization in home automation systems has been slow. “We started with our communication protocol in 2002, but again differences exist among different countries. Therefore, we spend about 20 percent of our annual revenue on R&D for the models to be exported,” continued Kim of Seoul Commtech. “After the recession, a noticeable change is that customers — real-estate developers in our case — are becoming more interested in brand names, simple features (popular ones being entrance and lighting controls, window blinds and HVAC) and unbeatable prices.”
Another interesting solution provider interviewed was in lighting. “Compared to 2009, we did pretty well as an LED lighting solution provider across all regions and experienced 70-percent growth in 2010,” said Elizabeth Kang, Overseas Sales Manager of Paragon Tech. “With fierce competition from Bosch, Raytec and Microlight, we still managed to secure some high-profile, long-range (100 to 600 meters) military and border installations in the U.K., U.S., Middle East and Asia. We're also considering exclusive distributors in Eastern Europe. LED lighting in general is greener and consumes less power; we also offer five-year warranties on our illuminators and 10-year on our chipsets, which attest to our quality and performance ratings.”
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