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Korean health care startups make splash at CES 2022 with innovative ideas

It 12:00 January 07, 2022

By Woo Jae-yeon

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 6 (Yonhap) -- While working as a lawyer at Kim & Chang, one of South Korea's biggest law firms, Joung Ji-won needed a balanced, nutritious diet more than anything.

"I didn't even have time to sleep, not to mention exercising," Joung said Thursday. "I needed a tailored service that brings me nutritional supplements, like a wife does for her husband."

"Since I don't have one, I created this service that can do that for me," she said, laughing, during an interview with Yonhap News Agency at Eureka Park in Las Vegas, where global startups present their products and ideas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Joung Ji-won, the founder of Algocare Lab, arranges products at a booth at Eureka Park CES 2022 in Las Vegas on Jan. 6, 2022. (Yonhap)

The service, NaaS (Nutrition as a Service) developed by the Seoul-based Algocare Lab, has received the CES Innovation Award two years in a row for its innovative methods to provide personalized nutrients based on artificial intelligence and analysis of users' health data and daily condition, like the level of stress and amount of sleep.

Through a mobile application, users can manage not only their own data but also those of their loved ones, to check disease risks, immunity and overall wellbeing, she said.

"For me, time is the most important. With a good service, I can help people save their time and energy, ultimately making a positive impact on others," she said, adding that she was "impressed with all the innovative ideas presented at the CES and good feedback" she has been receiving at the event.

Many innovative ideas and digitalization have overhauled the fitness industry over the last few years, but the way people take their daily nutritional supplements did not change at all, she said.

"It is annoying because it takes up your time, not to mention you often forget to take them," she said. "I was sure that there is a market for service like this."

The CES said Naas "completely changes the customers' nutritional-taking habits and the manufacturing-oriented nutrition market into the ICT service market."

Visitors tour around the Korea Pavilion at Eureka Park CES 2022 in Las Vegas on Jan. 6, 2022, in this photo provided by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Algocare is one of many innovative South Korean health care service providers exhibiting at the CES that runs until Friday.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a spike in interest in mental and physical wellbeing around the world and accelerated the digital transformation of health care.

Not surprisingly, health care companies have expanded their presence at the annual global tech show to grab a slice of the rapidly growing market.

This year, Robert B. Ford, chairman and CEO of Abbott, a medical devices and health care company, presented a keynote at the CES, the first health care company ever to do so.

"Technology gives us the power to digitize, decentralize and democratize health care, create a shared language between you and your doctor -- and put more control of your health in your hands," he said Thursday.

The image provided by Luple Inc. on Jan. 6, 2022, shows its Olly S, a smart sleep solution. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Maetel Co.'s Zerema Smart Pillow uses artificial intelligence to help people sleep well.

The pillow, an honoree of the CES award, is designed to improve the quality of sleep by automatically adjusting the pillow height and helping reduce snoring. A user can monitor one's sleep patterns through an application connected to the pillow.

CEO and founder Jeong Key, who worked at Samsung Electronics Co.'s wireless communication division for 15 years, said he developed the product out of necessity as he used to suffer chronic headaches from snoring.

"I thought I could not only help myself but help other people with sleep problems similar to mine," he said.

Another South Korean startup aiming to help people sleep soundly is Luple Inc.

The company's Olly S, a smart sleep solution provider, also one of the CES award honorees, analyzes one's sunlight exposure, amount of exercise, diet and caffeine intake, among other things, which can affect one's sleep.

It offers solutions through an artificial light therapy that can control one's melatonin levels and treat insomnia and sleep disorders, the company said.

"As people spend more time indoors amid the pandemic, there is a growing need for personalized and digitalized services for better health and sleep," Park Hyun-jun, an executive at the company, said.

"Although we were a little worried about a surge in cases in the United States, it is actually very nice to be here to show our service to visitors," he said.

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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