Thursday, June 24, 2010

Good ol' Korean Innovation

One thing I enjoy about living in Korea is their forward thinking when it comes to use of technology. Here are some of my favorite examples:

Call buttons on tables at restaurants
You know when you're at a restaurant and you just can't seem to get your waitstaff's attention for some extra napkins or something? Well, here, all you have to do is push a button on your table and your table number shows up on a screen so that they know right away when you need something. Particularly helpful if you don't know how to say excuse me in the local language (although I now know: Yo-gi-yo!)

Umbrella baggies
When it's raining, all restaurants and shops have these baggies at the entrance that are specifically made for umbrellas. You put your umbrella in it and then you don't have to worry about getting water all over the place. You could even put it in your backpack or purse.

Keyless doors
I'm sure they exist in the states too, but I imagine only in fancy pants apartments. Here, it seems that every apartment has a code instead of a key. Good if you are constantly losing your keys like me.

Video intercom
Another apartment novelty that is ubiquitous here. When someone rings your doorbell, the little camera outside your door turns on and you can see them. Sure a peephole does the same for cheaper, but this is so much cooler!

Remotes for everything
This is one of the nifty advantages of having a keyless door. You can use a remote to open the door. That way if you're too busy (or lazy) to go open the door, you can just use the remote. They also have a remote for the air conditioning.

Elevator buttons
This is possibly my favorite Korean invention, and it's the simplest. If you get on an elevator in the states and push a button to the floor you want, you have to go there. I mean, the elevator will go there whether or not you change you mind and want to go to a different floor. And if there's a little kid who wants to push all the buttons you're stuck going to every floor. Well, in Korea, if you accidentally push the wrong button, or if a stupid kid pushes them all, you can simply push the button again to un-do it. Simple and brilliant.

Paying bills at the ATM
This one is especially useful for us foreigners who don't know our addresses or how to buy stamps (or read Korean). Most utility bills (called maintenance fees) come with a barcode on them, and most ATMs have a special device which will read said barcode. so in order to pay a bill, all you have to do is go to the ATM, put your card in, and then put the bill through the scanner thingy. And that's it, your bill is paid straight from your account.

Phantom escalators
This one is not just cool, it's also green. Escalators and moving walkways have motion sensors to detect when someone is about to step onto them. This way, the escalator can remain turned off until someone needs to use it. As you approach, it turns on. A little creepy at first, but pretty awesome.

Other cool uses of technology
At the school where I work, we take attendance on our computers. Once we're a half hour into class, the computer automatically sends absent students' parents a text message letting them know their child did not come to class.

At hotels, in order to turn on the lights in your room, you have to put your key into this keyholder thingy. It's basically just a tiny motion sensor which turns on the electricity. It means that when you're not in the room, you can't waste energy because everything will be turned off. (Yes you can trick it by putting something other than your key in it, but the other advantage to putting your key there is that then you always know where it is).

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