July 21, 2003 12:47 PM PDT

Korea backs home-networking efforts

Korean authorities are looking at home networking as a key area of growth and have zoned an area for construction devoted to companies in that industry.

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) plans to build a 165,000-square meter industrial cluster in Korea's South Kyongsang Province to house companies that are conducting research and development into home-networking products and standards, the Korea Times reported.

According to the report, authorities will sink in $406 million (480 billion won) into the project over the next five years, of which $254 million will come from the central government and South Kyongsang provincial government.

"A research institute to study effective ways to industrialize the smart-home business will be established within the industrial cluster," Kim Jae-hong, a director with the MOCIE, was quoted as saying. "They will conduct basic researches on different human lifestyles and sort out promising technology development projects."

In addition, Kim said, the center will be responsible for setting standards for home-networking services throughout the country.

Once the project is under way, the production of "smart home"-related products is expected to double from $81.2 billion in 2007 to $195.6 billion in 2012, and 880,000 jobs will be created as a result.

While the Korean government has only started taking notice of the economic potential of technologies for the future home, other Asian countries may have gained a first-mover advantage.

In Japan, electronics giants such as Sharp, Toshiba and Hitachi have already banded together to create standards for linking networked home appliances. More recently, Panasonic has said it plans to start a selling smart-home system that--among other features--lets users control household appliances through mobile phones.

The Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore in January commissioned a $9.8 million experiment to conduct trials of smart-home technologies in more than 400 households. The project is supported by 32 local and international companies including electronics makers such as Philips as well as application developers and systems integrators.

CNETAsia staff reported from Singapore.

 

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