This is the fifth post in our series: Discover Korea’s Tech, where we will talk to a mix of Korean startup entrepreneurs who stood their own ground with their technology, in Korea’s economy notoriously dominated by gigantic companies. Stay tuned over the coming month as we talk to Korean entrepreneurs. You can follow our updates @technodechina for new stories in the series. 

Artificial Intelligence is getting more and more traction in the consumer space. We’ve already seen a few home robots coming out of China earlier this year. Now, Innovative Play Lab, based in Korea, claims to have a robot that, because of its power AI, is smarter than all the others.

iJINi, powered by IPL’sproprietray AI, can recognize voices and faces. The founder and CEO of IPL, Kyungwook Kim, has been developing robots for ten years, and he believes that hardware interfaces are will soon be based on voice, not touch.

iJINi can provide face-to-face calls and monitor home when the owner is outside. It can also assist in baby care by recognizing when the baby turns its body and by alerting parents when the baby cries. The robot connects to the pairing mobile application with all the data processed in the cloud. It was awarded the Red Dot Award in the product design category in July 2016.

iJINi goes back to its charging station when its battery is getting low.

IPL announced last week a distribution deal with China-based ROOBO worth 16 billion KRW (13.4 million USD). ROOBO has previously invested 2.2 million USD in IPL.

IPL will take on the design and development of robot system, while ROOBO will take on the robot’s distribution and AI service in China. ROOBO will also connect O2O services to iJINi so that owners can order food and call a cab through iJINi. The robot is schedule to be released in China, Thailand, and South Korea by early next year.

The Korean company has developed a robotics-optimized version of Android. They are aiming to provide a toolset for robotics developers to come up with content on top of the robot. The robotic API developing tool will be launched in the near future, the IPL says. The company ultimately aims to build a platform, providing a content ecosystem for robots.

iJINi’s main competitors are Jibo made in U.S. and Buddy, a companion robot for families, made by Blue Frog Robotics in France.

However, IPL is betting that their cloud AI will prove to be their competitive advantage with it’s adaptabililty and expansibility.

“AI robot needs AI cloud and a hardware platform that is compatible with the service it provides,” Mr. Kim says. “Our platform is compatible with other AI platforms.”

The social robot company aims to build a smart home robot, targeting home appliance market.

“People don’t feel that robotics are that necessary at the moment. That’s why we target home appliance market. We want to transfer information to the robot using the voice interface. We aim to connect the robot with other internet of things, and help users to control other home appliances with their voice,” he says.

IPL is supported by K-ICT Born2Global Center, a major Korean government agency under the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP).
Image Credit: IPL

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Eva Yoo

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at