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Technology in South Korea

July 23, 2014

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If you couldn’t tell from the enthusiasm in our voices, we find the topic of technology in South Korea really exciting. There’s so much cool stuff here! Now, I’m worried that some of the things we mention here might be common in your countries. Forgive us if they are. We just remember not having these in Canada. It’s been six years since we lived in Canada, though, so maybe some of this stuff is already available there. If so, please let us know!

Otherwise, here are some other cool things that we didn’t talk about!

Built in Rice Dispenser

Ok, so this isn’t really an electronic thing, but it’s pretty badass. Rice is a big part of Korean cuisine. So big, it seems, that a rice dispenser is built into our cabinets. So, there’s a thin little drawer right beside our appliances drawer. I pull the thin drawer out, turn a nob, and exactly one cup of rice comes out into a little box at the bottom, and I pull that box out, then dump that into my rice cooker. IT’S SO BRILLIANT! We don’t eat a lot of rice, so we put other stuff in there, like barley and quinoa instead. But, still, it’s cool

Ceiling Clothes Dryer

Ok, now this thing here is electrical. Here’s the deal: our washing machine is in the room beside our kitchen. Attached to the ceiling is this odd box with a few bars on it. That box has a remote control that does a few things. With that remote control, I can have the bars lowered, since the bars are attached to an accordion contraption, which attaches to the box. So, I lower the bars, then put my wet clothes on hangers, and put those hangers on the bars. Then I push another button on the remote to bring the bars back up to the box. But here’s the cool part: I push another button on the remote, and the box is now a fan that blow-dries the clothing. AMAZING! It’s not hot air that shrinks your clothing or anything. Just a nice fan that blows on your clothes from above. It’s so brilliant! It’s off the ground so you can still walk around. And as soon as it’s done drying, you can simply bring your clothes over to your closet, as they’re already pre-hung. That’s pretty awesome, IMO.

Warning: Tech Ain’t Cheap Here

This was majorly disappointing for me. Before coming to Korea I was under the impression that living in Asia would result in buying cheap electronics for everything, but that’s really not the case in Korea. Tech stuff here is expensive. It’s actually cheaper to buy a Samsung TV in Canada than it is in Korea. Our TV cost us three times more than the TVs we’ve seen at Best Buy.

Now, supposedly the reason why things are so expensive here is because they come with lifetime warrantees or something like that, so if anything ever goes wrong you can just bring your Samsung product to the Samsung shop (and those things are fairly prevalent around here). We still haven’t had to bring anything in, so it’s kinda good that our electronics aren’t faulting, but still kinda bad that we spent so much money on it. Eerrgghhh :(

So, that’s it for this week’s TL;DR. Let us know if you have any cool tech stuff that’s common in your country that you didn’t see in other countries. I’m sure there’s stuff here in Korea that we’ve taken for granted. Let us know if we forgot any!

Otherwise, make sure you click on this pretty button here below for more TL;DR videos! We’re flying out to Sweden tomorrow early morning, so we might not be as active in the comments as we usually are, but we’ve still got videos prepared in advance! Don’t miss out on them, including our important Coffee Shop Opening Party Announcement video tomorrow!

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Technology in South Korea

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  1. I actually live in canada, and I’ve seen the elevators stop and start for people. Usually, it stops if there hasn’t been anyone on it for at least ten minutes though. Also, it’s a pretty recent thing, but here we can also monitor our electricity usage and how much we’ve spent on it. My friend also has the key pad on her door so she can lock and unlock her door without a key. I’d guess this is all pretty recent (before you guys went to korea)

    6 years ago
  2. Ok so I live in the USA and I recently saw a commercial for this thing that’s basically your own at home, automatic barista. It’s called the Top Brewer and it is amazing! It can be built into your counter top and it looks just like a faucet, but for coffee. You can also hook it up so that it dispenses cold drinking water, milk, hot water for tea, and steam. There is also a mobile app for your phone or tablet that connects to it so you can brew a cup automatically. I love coffee, so when I saw it I got really excited. Here is the website. http://www.scanomat.com/int/topbrewer/introduction

    6 years ago
  3. I live in a small town in England so when there’s new tech everyone gets excited about it. My secondary school was rebuilt within the last few years and now there is tech everywhere. There are door which you need a school card with access to open them (like science classrooms and computer suites). Also nearly every floor and block have a printer and photocopier machine like the one you see in offices. These are linked to the school’s network so you can print from nearly every computer.
    Instead of using cash to pay for school trips, topping up your school card and paying for anything some other stuff you can use something called ParentPay so you don’t have to worry about writing checks or having the correct amount of change.
    A lot of the doors are automatic so they open for you. There were also a few vending machine’s for drinks that you could pay for by swiping your school card.
    The toilets are now ‘all in one’ for most blocks apart from the PE changing rooms. These sinks are automated so they spurt out soap too…but the length of time for the dryer is pretty short. (Also because the area isn’t closed off it stinks like hell.)

    Apart from school the local cinema now has machines that you can redeem your tickets from. The library also has machines to borrow, take back and pay for fines. (I miss the old system with stamps and humans)
    One of the local supermarket’s got rebuilt and now has a first floor. There’s an escalator with no steps and grooves so the trolley clicks into them.
    We do have one or two signs for parking but the numbers for free spaces aren’t accurate so it’s kind of pointless.
    I think the most exciting thing is being able to print from nearly anywhere in the school and the escalator in one of the supermarkets.

    6 years ago
    • ParentPay? Cool!
      When I was a schoolgirl, I always had trouble with mixing up my pocket money and school-expense-money, and I was too shy to ask more money when I bought something small for the school (I am not consistent enough to keep some book for it).

      6 years ago
  4. I feel like in the UK there are towns with a lot of this stuff, like the parking ones, and some places use the panel that lets people in and tells you about energy levels. I think people know about most of it but it’s so expensive or just awkward to install that places either don’t bother or it takes them aaages to do it.

    I remember being in France when I was younger (and sometimes in England too) and getting so confused whenever I had to use a sink that wasn’t in someone’s house (like in a museum or somewhere) and I would spend about 10 minutes each time trying to work out how to get water. Sometimes you twisted the tap, sometimes you pushed it, sometimes you waved your hands around hopefully underneath it or just underneath a section of the wall which sometimes turned out to be soap or the dryer, sometimes you had to stand on a particular part of the floor… That was a long time ago though, now everywhere has those kinds of sinks (and they still confuse me OTL )

    The last thing that really impressed me was a few years back as well. It was my friend’s kindle with the screen that really looked like paper and I thought she had a paper cover over it until she started changing the page.

    6 years ago
  5. We’ve got a couple of those technologies here in the US. Our parking garages are coming along — the ones in my town say how many spots they have left at the entrance, but I don’t think they’re floor-specific yet. How cool! We’re also getting key pads on doors; at my uni you swipe your student ID card to get into places, and my friend’s apartment is keyless with a four-digit code instead.

    What I heard about recently which blew my mind was a friend’s mom’s new Ford Escape. It reminded me of your apartment key, actually, where the elevator recognized it was you and took you to the right floor. Apparently the keys to the car are programmable based on the driver’s preferences. So when her dad drives the car, it recognizes his key and adjusts the seats (and mirrors?) to his settings as soon as he gets in. Then when her mom drives it, it shifts back to her settings instead. No more readjusting the seats and mirrors and stuff after someone else has driven your car! SO COOL! And here I thought my car was cool because I can talk to it and tell it what song to play. Its Korean is terrible, by the way. :P

    6 years ago
  6. Dear simon and martina, can you do a TLDR on
    South Korea’s relationship with other countries?
    Not just North Korea, but other countries too.
    Thanks!

    6 years ago
  7. Dear simon and martina, can you do a TLDR on
    South Korea’s relationship with other countries?
    Not just North Korea, but other countries as well.
    Thanks!

    6 years ago
  8. So its been a few years since I’ve lived in Dubai, and I have to say when I was there, which was around 2006-2007 technology was just beginning to pick up speed. little things like faster internet, because at the time even big fancy hotels like the Grand Hyatt had dial up…WHAT?! anyways, I’m not sure what it’s like there currently, but Dubai is more of a metropolitan area in the sense of money, buildings, shopping, and crazy sights to see because they shouldn’t exist like man made islands that look like a map of the world…I’m currently in Japan on a short interning trip and I expected a lot more technology than there is. It was EXTREMELY difficult to get a SIM card for my iPhone and after spending $40 on it, it only worked for 3 days. And Wifi is non-existent unless you have a japanese SIM card, or phone plan, or a password. so forget about that. The coolest thing I’ve seen here was in small residential areas, since there isn’t a lot of room for parking they have car elevators that go underground. like you press a garage button in your car and the entire metal structure lifts up from the ground, no matter if cars are parked on top, you get out, press the button again and your car goes underground! so cool.

    6 years ago
  9. In my home country (Philippines), we too have that cool parking stuff with the green/red lights. Here in Qatar, we have that motion detector for escalators. We have that too in the hallways outside our apartment. I wish we had that apartment lock with numbers :)))

    6 years ago
  10. I’ve always had a rice dispenser ever since I was young. All we did was put a bag of rice into the dispenser, pull a tab across and one cup of rice will come out! That car park that you guys were talking about with the whole taking a picture thing is relatively new here in Aus. It’s pretty expensive too haha xD I would mention though, I find technology advance so much quicker in Asia than Aus! I’m always finding myself amazed with technology back in Asia. :3

    6 years ago
  11. I now feel like I live in the Dark Ages

    6 years ago
  12. Ahhhhh!!!! daleks!! XD
    Here in the Philippines, there are places (mostly malls), also have that green/red lights at the parking lots. Also telling if the parking lot is full or how many spaces left :D

    6 years ago
  13. I remember being completely blown away by the train system when I visited Europe. I live in the US, and trains here are like only marginally better than buses. They’re not very fast and the wifi doesn’t work half the time. Trains in Europe though, display a freaking speedometer so you so you can be impressed that you’re getting to your destination at 300 km/h.

    6 years ago
  14. This video left me feeling very underwhelmed about living in the US of A. I kept trying to think of something cool, but, ….nothing came to mind. Granted, I live in rural Northern Wisconsin, but, STILL! GIMME TECHIES >_<

    6 years ago
    • Same here, and I live near Boston and New York! The closest we have would be big signs at airport parking garages that say full or vacant but 75% of the time the so called full lots are half empty, but since its chained off you can’t go in!

      6 years ago
  15. yeah as far as i know new york/usa doesn’t have any cool stuff like that. the last thing that amazed me were those touch screen soda dispenser things in fast food places, i thought those were pretty cool. besides that i can’t recall anything else that was like WHOA. korea seems to be like decades ahead in technology to me lol

    6 years ago
  16. Another factor in high prices in Asia is the supply chain. Things in the States seem to be shipped from factory/company to stores in a pretty straight forward manner, or even directly to customers (i.e. Dell computers). But I’ve been told that there is an extremely long supply chain getting the product from a producer to the retailer. And each step on the chain pushes the price a little higher.

    And A/S (customer service) is pretty great. My external hard drive crashed. Was purchased in the States but made by LG. Took it too a LG store and they couldn’t fix it but gave me a better one free of charge!

    6 years ago
  17. Here in Estonia we have what we call ‘Internet banking’. It means that we all have ID-cards or password cards and we use them to log in to the site our bank provides us. We log in and pay our bills there. Credit cards are not popular here and checkbooks are not used at all. With internet banking we can access our money on our debit card and there are no transition fees when making an internal payment. We only use our credit cards when there’s an huge emergency like running out of money or something worse than that. Or the people using them are rich and don’t know what to do with the money because the transition fees for credit cards are huge.
    Now we are slowly moving on to mobile banking which means that we can access our money on our mobiles and soon we can use or mobiles as debit cards. It’s being tested but I think it will be useful and will bring a new level to shopping.

    6 years ago
  18. So, I’m from Portugal (not one of the most advanced countries in the world, I must say) but we do have some of those technologies.
    I don’t live in Lisbon (the capital) but we do have those parking technologies in several shopping centres. We always have eletronic signs outside informing us if it’s full or not, which is pretty normal to us for some years now. Paying for parking is also very easy because we have this thing called “Via Verde” which is basically a little box you glue to the front of your car and through some machines and signals, you can pay for the parking without really stoping, since it’s connected to your bank account. Via Verde was firstly created to pay freeway fees without having to stop and pay by cash but it is now used for several other things.
    Well, since I don’t live in a very recent apartment, I don’t have those new ways of entering your home but we do have some “smart houses” around. They are controlled by voice and etc. Oh, but we do have cameras that turn on when someone rings the doorbell for a long time, as well. Oh, and in some places, toilets automatically flush, which is really WEIRD.

    6 years ago
    • Oh man those toilets… The first time I used one it scared the shit out of me.
      We’ve also had full mobile (3G) coverage in Lisbon’s Subway for a long time. We’re getting wifi in the trains soon too (all the stations have free wifi).
      There’s also a cool thing in Lisbon (not sure if Porto has it), you can charge transport card (Lisboa Viva) with money and use it to pay the parking meter, no need to put coins.
      Other nice thing we have is Multibanco. This is what we usually call to an ATM machine but you can do all kinds of stuff with it. You can pay your bills, make transactions, charge your phone, pay things you buy online and you can even create virtual credit cards that are associated with your debit card. The cool thing about these is that they are temporary, have a limit that you define, you don’t need to give your real information for it to work and all you have to do is login to a website to do all this.
      Oh we also have more mobile phones than people. The country is still in the shit however.
      I’ve never lived in an apartment, but I do know that recent ones have a pin code at the building entrance. I don’t think people would accept the whole not having a key to my apartment thing, people aren’t very accepting of change here.

      6 years ago
  19. Haha, your apartment sounds pretty much like the one I lived in about 2 years back (also in Seoul). We also had weird toilet seats that had automated covers- but honestly, why do I need a toilet cover (i mean the lid, not the seat) that automatically raises when I approach? It made me look like an idiot that one time it was malfunctioning and had me standing there for several long moments, just waiting for the lid to be raised for me. I mean, honestly.

    6 years ago
  20. Okay the parking blocks in Germany have as well the signs which show you if there’s a free parking lot or not. However, last week when I wanted to met my friends in the city for an event. I also drove to a parking block and the sign said “parkplätze frei” (=free parking lots). So I drove in and I was so angry because two times there were two people who parked really horrible over two parking lots. Therefore, I wasn’t able with my tiny car to park in two parking lots within the some parking block. So I ended up driving to several parking blocks and places until I could find a parking lot and being 30 minutes late.

    6 years ago
  21. WE HAVE THAT! the light showing the free parking light! :D We have it here in Slovakia :D okay, only in one city….in one single shopping center >.<
    and i still have to open my front door with a key….and a hammer often -.-

    6 years ago
  22. Wow, awesom technology. In lithuania i know one parking place by the mall where is red and green lights and it is for freeeee o.O while other parking place are expensive and with scary dude… there u pay for one hour and if you late just for five minutes then you’r dead man…damn i hate them

    6 years ago
  23. i havent finished watching yet but about getting a parking spot and how theres red lights or green lights above to indicate if theres an open spot or not. I have those too in my area which is maryland in the germaantown/rockville area

    6 years ago
  24. In Australia we have that parking system in shopping centres with those lights and only the camera in the intercom thingy. We also have sensor controlled bins and taps.

    6 years ago
  25. We also have motion detector activated escalators in Lithuania. Not everywhere, but some places use them. Same regarding parking – red/green lights above parking spaces to indicate whether they’re free or not, some parkings also have the licence plate readers.
    I’ve heard from some foreigners that they were surprised to see self-checkout registers in Lithuania. I was pretty sure it’s common in many countries…

    6 years ago
  26. I loved this video!!

    6 years ago
  27. The parking thing is similar here in Sweden. We still have to reach out to get a ticket and stuff but at most bigger shopping malls I’ve been to have that so you can see how many parking spaces are available and so on. And the code key exist, but I don’t think it’s that big here.

    OH and my grandparents have a foot pedal to their water in their VERY old trailer..! Not a solar panel or anything, just a normal foot pedal to start the water. And I really can’t think of anything different that BLOWS MY MIND about technology here.

    6 years ago
  28. I have seen the appartment keys here in Sweden as well. My grandmother’s appartment opens to the street that way, but you still need a regular key for safety (thieves).

    Same with parking, but it’s a little different. Most parkings have a parking machine you need to walk to, pay with coins (and finally, in some cases card), and you pay for a certain amount of time. This is tedious, because it will result in you either paying too much (because you finish your errand early) ot you need to rush back to put on more. The better ones, that sadly are not too common, but they have existed for some time, pays as you go. You get a ticket when you arrive, and before you leave you bring this ticket to a parking machine, it calculates how much you need to pay, you get another ticket and you can leave. Similar, but I admit, Korea probably works much smoother.

    But this is my experience of really cool technology, mind you my brother is in a wheelchair, hence why I have experienced it, and it’s not for most people to use.

    My big brother has some really cool stuff in his appartment. He has a remote, that opens his door, his belcony door and the appartment complex door with a few buttons. Pretty much open sesame, but in real life. Other cool things is how much you can adjust. Sure, handicap appartments tend to have lower furniture so that the people there don’t need to stretch to reach everything. Well, his can be adjusted. The bed can be adjusted up, down, in different positions etc. with a remote hanging to the side. His kitchen also can be lowered or heightened, which is good if a taller person is to help hi, they don’t need to destroy their backs. All the lights in his appartment are adjusted by his smartphone, so when I visit he will turn of the lights from his bed. Sadly, robots aren’t available yet for daily use, otherwise I’d love for him to have some for him to move things around, because he still needs me to do that. Not that I mind, but I do worry at times since I cannot always be there, what to do. Technology has made his life SO much easier.

    6 years ago
  29. I’m from the Colorado, U.S.A. and honestly, most standard technology revolves around the bathroom. There are automatic toilets, sinks, soap dispensers, towel dispensers, and hand dryers. Other than that (not including basic smart phone technology) there doesn’t seem to be much cool techno stuff. I wonder why all of these automatic innovations are focused around the bathroom.
    Oh and about the foot pedal. When I was in elementary school, the boys and girls shared one huge sink outside the bathroom. My first time I stood there forever, trying to figure out how to turn it on before someone else came out of the bathroom and stepped on the foot pedal, while giving me a weird look. The foot thing really helped keep things more sanitary. Sadly, that’s the only one i’ve ever seen in C.O.

    6 years ago
  30. I live in California, but I’m super jealous of people in Minnesota. They have beer delivery drones! (When the federal government isn’t being jerks about it.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmHwXf8JUOw

    Also, something like 80-85% of South Korea’s population has access to high-speed internet.

    6 years ago
    • Whaaaat? I feel like Wisconsin dropped the ball. Aren’t we the beer state? I’m bringing this up with my local government. ‘Excuse me, where the heck is my beer drone’?

      6 years ago
  31. wow, the UK has something clever? We have the parking space counters in most towns, thought their not always accurate. Some even tell you hoe many spaces are on the next floor and whether their disabled or not. We have those green lights in one of the car parks near me. The car park was closed for 7 years while they added it though…!

    6 years ago
  32. In the UK some car parks are for people who own an electric car where they can charge their car up while they are out shopping and some cars don’t even need a key , it automatically opens by itself which is really cool, but in korea I really like the apartment system !!!! :)

    6 years ago
  33. I live in NorCal around San Francisco and I’m familiar with the free or not free parking lights because they have them at the parking garage in the expensive shopping district (I don’t go there often but all I can remember are the gucci and prada stores and the fugu sashimi place). The garage is totally free though so we don’t have to pay a thing there and I hardly go to parking garages where you pay by hour anymore because everything I need is usually a train ride away.
    The rice dispenser also isn’t very new to me ’cause my family used to have one before I was even born. Although I guess since the one we had was over 20 years old the ones on the market now are probably more fancier looking.

    6 years ago
  34. Okay so I’m a PC or Computer Enthusiest and I like building computers from scratch. So is there a place where I can buy parts such as a case fan or anything. Any place besides online where I could get every component? O.o and a better question is… a tech store that sells an extensive amount of components and parts not really so main stream like Apple or Windows products or prebuilt XD.

    6 years ago
  35. Hong Kong and some places in China have escalators that slow down when no ones on them and speeds up once someone steps on it. (Side note: dude, Hong Kong’s MTR escalators are so awesomely faster than regular escalators.) A family friend’s apartment in Hong Kong had the panel/intercom thing for when someone rings the door. As someone who’s been living in a house in California that’s existed for what I would estimate as a hundred years, my house lacks all technologies that would be considered cool….
    But hey, that’s what makes traveling so fun. Getting to see all the cool technology when you stay at someone’s house/apartment when going to a foreign country or just a hotel. Always fun things to discover.
    Oh yeah, so I know most hotels use cards that you swipe or put up to a hotel door to open it. While I was in China, me and my group of friends had so many malfunctions, leaving so many people locked out of their rooms. They were getting demagnified from nothing. @[email protected]

    6 years ago
  36. The parking system and escalator is available in Malaysia too~ but I’ve got to say, Korean apartment system is really, really cool!

    6 years ago
  37. So the cell phone reception in the Netherlands can be pretty freaking bad, it kinda depends on your provider and where you live but walking outside of your house to wave your phone around to send or receive a text can actually happen

    6 years ago
  38. The parking system with the lights is already visible in many malls in the Philippines. However, the paperless payment of the parking isn’t. That’s really cool! I hope to see that here soon! Also, I’ve seen the the escalator that has motion-detector here in our country but it is quite rare and can only be seen in high-end malls and areas.

    6 years ago
  39. The only thing that I encoutered here in the Netherlands is the smart panel in your house. So that you can see who is at the door downstairs and open it for them. But I’ve never seen one in the bathroom, just in the living room. And I doubt you can do much more with it than see who’s at the door, talk to them and open it for them. I dont think you can see how much electricity you’re using etc.

    Some of the stuff that you mentioned is really cool! I want it too =)

    6 years ago
  40. I lived Dubai and now live in Qatar and we have all of that stuff haha. (I was actually kind of surprised that the parking thing is actually considered cool because it’s widespread here) Even our university dormitories have some of the cool technology you talked about.
    Also we have toilets that automatically flush when you get up. Also to conserve energy, the ACs turn off automatically when you leave and turn on when you’re there.
    Wealthier people in Qatar and UAE have a lot cooler things as well. Like I went to one of my wealthy friend’s house and she had this massage chair/bed/desk thing. It can be a sofa, you click a button it gives you a table. You click a button it turns into a bed. Holy crap it was so comfortable and totally cool.
    Also like she had this app (which I think was designed for her household specifically) where she just puts in what she wants for breakfast, lunch, dinner and at what times and it just comes to her in her room at the specified time. Maybe that’s more to do with wealth and less to do with technology though ^^

    6 years ago