Now it’s time to take a close look at a small but competitive business making a difference for the Korean economy. Business ventures thrive on innovative ideas. These ideas are what open up new markets and develop new business opportunities. We’re going to take a closer look at a business venture that recently gained attention at the Smart Device Trade Show which was recently held at the COEX in Seoul. Let’s hear from the CEO of Widevantage, Koh Jae-yong.
Our company’s main product is called Motion Play. It’s the world’s smallest joystick. We participated in the Smart Device Trade Show this year, and honestly we were surprised by the incredible response. Crowds of people flocked to our booth. The popularity led to sales on the spot and we even had to call the factory in the morning on the second day to tell them to make additional products. We are currently in talks with three companies for distribution, and we are also in negotiations with a major phone manufacturer as well.
Widevantage was jumping for joy during the three days at the Smart Device Show from August 10th as their booth was constantly swamped with visitors who had to wait in long lines before being able to see the products. However, the wait was well worth it as Widevantage’s Motion Play joystick brought smiles to the visitor’s faces and led to contract deals from buyers. The product was just released into the market so it didn’t have any user comments or feedback. So how did it grab people’s attention?
This joystick has very simple hardware so it doesn’t need to be charged with a battery connected through Bluetooth. You can put it on your phone at anytime and use it as a joystick. Conventional joysticks can be a bit of a hassle as they require charging or changing of batteries, or the Bluetooth connection can get disconnected frequently. They can also be pretty expensive and big so they are hard to carry around. Our product is smaller than a ring and you can slide it on your phone, so users were very amused by its size. The price is also very affordable, which is why it is competitive compared to conventional smartphone joysticks.
The mobile controller Motion Play is a joystick that does not require a Bluetooth connection or battery charging. It uses the magnetic field sensor that is already built in to the phone and if the user just clips the joystick onto their phone, it recognizes movements on the screen. It doesn’t need to be tethered to your phone, so it’s easy to use and it’s quick to recognize the top, bottom, left and right movements on the screen, which helps the user to enjoy the game anywhere and anytime with ease. The size is another advantage, as it is only one-tenth the size of the joysticks found on arcade machines, so it won’t cover up the small smartphone screen. The Motion Play includes all the features that a mobile gamer would want. So, what kind of company is Widevantage that created such a product?
Our product has the distinct feature of not requiring wires, batteries, or a Bluetooth connection, and we create the software that makes it possible. It has been three years since our company was established. We received an investment from Naver which helped us to grow. The reason why we call ourselves Widevantage is because the nation’s founding principle is based on the Chinese characters “hong”, which stands for “wide”, and “ik” which stands for “vantage” and means to promote good to the public. In other words, we wanted to become a company that provides the device and technology, or immersive interface, at a low cost to people who play games or want to enjoy VR or AR content.
Widevantage’s CEO Koh Jae-yong has a Ph.D in computer engineering from Seoul National University. He began his professional career at Medison, Korea’s 1st generation business venture that became legendary by specializing in ultrasonograms. After realizing the potential that business ventures had on site, Koh founded a company that produced devices for storage of mass data which contributed to the development of data storage. Since then, Koh has contemplated how people could use digital devices more conveniently and in 2013, he founded Widevantage based on the national foundation principle, except his idea is to bring benefits to mankind through technology. Since then, his company has been focusing on technology that simplifies hardware.
Conventionally, there had to be electrical signals and sensors for interaction between a phone and another device. We believed that for ordinary people to easily use devices, this complicated system had to be eliminated. If we observe carefully, there is a motion sensor in the phone that makes it possible to sense a magnetic field or movements. So, using the software that is already in the phone, we realized we could replace what’s called “intelligent” peripherals such as game pads or VR goggles with simple hardware, and make them into smaller products that respond much quicker. This is the technology that we have patented.
As we just heard, by using existing sensors that are already built into mobile devices, a 3D interface can be realized without the need for complicated hardware or power. Also, the device will not require a separate sensor or batteries which will cut down on costs, and allow it to be smaller in size. Widevantage had a different viewpoint on hardware and received three patents for their efforts. Now, they are applying their unique technology to virtual reality.
Our first virtual reality product is a pair of VR goggles called MotionVR. There are two main mobile VR goggles on the market right now. One is Google’s Cardboard and the other is Samsung’s Gear VR. Our MotionVR has similar hardware as Google’s Cardboard. It requires simple things like cardboard and magnets, but similar to the Samsung Gear VR, you can still move, zoom, and pan within the VR space. You can do everything but it’s for a fraction of the price, so more people will be able to experience VR content. This is why domestic and international media firms and MotionVR are working together to provide VR news content in the future. In Korea, we are currently working with Yonhap News to do that.
To use the VR controller developed by Widevantage, users place their smartphone in a cardboard box similar to Google’s Cardboard and slide the self-developed joystick onto their phone. The joystick provides navigational control that gives the user a more realistic VR experience. Widevantage is upgrading the quality but lowering the price of VR to help popularize the technology. By thinking outside the box, the company is creating products that are convenient and affordable. We look forward to the company’s future endeavors.