Seo Yu-Yeol, president in charge of KT’s Home Business Group said, “The year 2012 will mark a watershed for implementing full-fledged smart home projects and achieve an operating profit turnaround.” The following are excerpts from a written interview between NewsWorld and President Seo in which he touched on Kibot 2’s entry into the Saudi Arabian market and his division’s other projects.
Question: Would you introduce our readers to the Kibot 2, to be exported as an educational robot to Saudi Arabia?
Answer: The Kibot 2 is a smart robot focusing on educational services in which toddlers and children from ages three to 13 can learn while playing games. The robot offers about 10,000 pieces of select educational content being updated via the wired network on a monthly basis. Users can watch diverse content via the 7-inch wide screen while the built-in beam projector allows all family members to do so on the up to 60-inch screen.
The Kibot 2 also has such diverse functions as video calling, voice recognition, home monitoring, self-navigation, and radio frequency identification (RFID) card recognition, offering innovative educational services and safety that parents and their children have never before experienced.
The Kibot 1, which made its debut in 2011, received rave reviews, winning the 2011 Korea Robot Presidential Award. The Kibot 2 has already earned fame anew by being included among the finalists of the 17th Annual Global Mobile Awards for Best Mobile Innovation for Education category, beating diverse educational gadgets from around the world.
Q: Would you elaborate on the background of the Kibot 2's entry into the Saudi Arabian market?
A: We’ve produced the Kibot 2 with the initial view of exploring the global market. Conventional robots are designed for industrial use, but KT Corp. has predicted that household robots with intelligence and emotions such as the Kibot 2 would create a sensation.
KT began to discuss ways of collaborating in new businesses with Etisalat, one of the biggest telecom providers in the Middle East and the parent company of Mobily, last September. Etisalat and Mobily management visited KT’s headquarters and both sides began their full-fledged cooperative ties.
At that time, Mobily management initially did not know the Kibot 2, but they expressed their intention to release it in Saudi Arabia at the earliest possible date when they saw a demonstration and presentation of the robot from KT. In particular, the Saudi visitors gave it rave reviews when KT demonstrated a home monitoring function for manipulating the Kibot 2. The following negotiations made rapid progress and led to the signing of a partnership deal in four months.
Q: Would you comment on a plan to help the Kibot 2 make inroads into global markets?
A: Starting with Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries, we plan to attach priority on countries capable of offering the best services and values. We continue to conduct market surveys on each country’s network infrastructure such as broadband and WiFi services as well as the protection of intellectual property rights, parents’ desire to educate their kids, and each country’s different communication charges and educational costs. Among the candidate countries are Japan, European countries, the United States (for catering to Korean-Americans), and China.
On top of the Kibot 2’s global market exploration, KT envisions the global clean content marketplace, Kid-WAC, designed to supply and share sound contents for children. In particular, we will supply Hallyu (Korean Wave) contents, which are all the rage across the globe, to local Kibot partners, which in return will offer excellent educational contents to the Kibot Kid Shop.
Q: Would you expound on KT's Home Business Group's 2012 businesses?
A: The Home Business Group has the flagship “smart home” projects centered around robots and smart home pads. The year 2011 was a year for building a foundation for launching smart home projects, and the year 2012 marks a watershed for implementing full-fledged smart home projects and achieving an operating profit turnaround. Despite the hardships involved in exploring new markets, our division continues to expand global smart home markets with a focus on Kibots and Smart Home Pads on a gradual basis. On top of Kibots and Smart Home Pads, now already on the market, KT plans to offer differentiated services to customers, such as robots for senior citizens.
We strive to solidify our foundation as a global media distributor for our olleh TV Skylife, a hybrid TV combining IPTV and satellite broadcasting, while planning to build a perfect N-Screen environment in which people can watch seamless videos on the screens of smartphones, tablet PCs, and other gadgets through olleh TV now.
The smart home and N-Screen services can be made available through the world’s best quality olleh internet and WiFi environment, and we’re firing on all cylinders to maintain KT’s competitive edge in the network.