Now it’s time to take a close look at a small but competitive business making a difference for the Korean economy. As the summer heat wave continues, air circulators have become an essential summer appliance. When operating an air circulator with air conditioning, it will spread cool air from the a/c to all corners of a room, helping to decrease utility costs. However, air circulators don’t come cheap as they cost over 100,000 won, so it is difficult for consumers to just pick one up at any time. However, what if the fan you already have at home can be turned into an air circulator? This was the premise that Korean company BICHEROOM had in creating its “Fanformer.” Let’s hear from CEO Kim Tong-il.

The new hit products called air circulators have been increasing in popularity lately. When I first saw one, I wanted to buy one but it was too expensive. I started thinking about the fan I had at home and the possibility of turning it into an air circulator. We took bold measures in the features for our product, which includes up to a 90 percent increase in wind speed and a wind distance of up to 15 meters. If you look at conventional air circulators, their blade span is only 20 or 23 centimeters. But regular home fans have blade spans of 35 centimeters. So, in other words, our Fanformer is a large air circulator that has winds reaching further distances.

“Fanformer” is a combination of the words “fan” and “transformer”. It is a safety net that enhances the features of a regular standing electric fan. If you put a Fanformer on the fan you use at home, the fan turns into an air circulator with wind speeds up to 90 percent higher than before, and the wind will also travel up to 15 meters compared to the standard 8. This unique product has captured the attention of many attending last month’s SMF2017, an exhibition for products produced by small- and medium-sized enterprises, leading to inquiries about purchasing the product. So, how does Fanformer transform a regular electric fan into an air circulator?

Normally, when we are around 1 meter away from a fan, less than 50 percent of the wind hits you. In other words, there is a lot of wind that flows out to the side rather than reaching the target. So, our product captures the wind flowing out to the sides using a nozzle and brings it back to the center. Also, a grill on the front was made to form wind swirls which decreases resistance. As that turns, the wind does not scatter and flows in one direction.

Fanformer uses the same principle of nozzles on jet engines which help to increase the wind strength of a fan. A large amount of air comes out through the nozzle at once and, like a jet engine that gains momentum from that, Fanformer collects the wind that is normally lost at the sides and sends it out straight and further with stronger gusts. Using this principle, Fanformer acts like a large air circulator but at a fraction of the cost. Bicheroom, the creator of this innovative product, is a company that has a myriad of new ideas.

Our company develops and produces products based on ideas that we patent. I always have an invention notebook that I jot down ideas in. I’ve filled two notebooks with ideas and we now have around 30 patents. We received a patent related to tuning automobiles and our company’s most famous product is the Smart Sterilizer. This sterilizer was created from the idea that conventional sterilizers had the sterilizing lamp placed at the top. This prevented cups and bowls from becoming completely dry because they had to stand upright during sterilization. So, we placed our lamp on the bottom so that cups could be placed upside down to dry faster.

Including his first patent registered in 2001 during his college years, CEO Kim Tong-il is an inventor with over 30 patents under his belt. Dreaming of technology that anyone can use, he established Bicheroom in 2013 and released the “upside down” sterilizer as his company’s first product. This product won numerous awards both domestically and abroad. Full of confidence after the success of its first product, Bicheroom created its second product last year.

Fanformer is the first and only product of its kind in the world. Experts rejected the idea saying that they didn’t believe Fanformer could increase the wind speed of a fan and when we started exporting, it was difficult to narrow down a category for it. We weren’t sure if this was an electric appliance, or an ordinary household good. We received acknowledgement for this product after it started winning prizes at international exhibitions, starting with the bronze award at the Taipei International Invention Exhibition last year, and the grand prize at SMF2017.

Bicheroom made its name known to the world after winning awards at the 2016 Taipei International Invention Exhibition and domestic exhibitions. Last summer, over 20,000 Fanformers were sold through home shopping channels. With the support, Bicheroom worked on improving the performance and convenience of Fanformer to release Fanformer2 and is currently preparing to export the product.

I watched the reaction from Japanese customers at Japan’s Gift Show last year and it was positive. Japanese customers had a similar response to Fanformer as Korean customers and we received a lot of requests for it. They were very surprised by our product’s functions and our concept fits their needs since the Japanese are known to be economical. The Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency also contacted us to help us expand overseas. Taiwan, Indonesia, and other countries in Southeast Asia are lucrative markets for us, so we will cooperate with various institutions in September and October to focus on exports.

Bicheroom realized the idea of making an electric fan stronger by putting a plastic frame over the front of it. We will look forward to the innovative inventions the company will come up with in the future.