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South Korea just got serious about being a world leader in AR and VR

The South Korean government has just cut the ribbon on a massive new AR/VR complex which aims to make South Korea a world leader in the two fields.

Published onFebruary 10, 2017

AR and VR are the next big things for mobile and gaming, there’s little question about that. But every new frontier needs a champion, and South Korea has every intention of being a “global powerhouse” in the fields of virtual reality and augmented reality. In pursuit of that goal, the government of South Korea has just cut the ribbon on a massive new complex intended to nurture the country’s AR and VR efforts.

Samsung says more than 5 million Gear VR headsets have shipped

As the global market for VR and AR opens up, there will be a lot of money to be made by those at the forefront of the industry. That kind of dominant position takes investment though and that is just what the South Korean government has in mind. The new KoVAC complex is just a part of a bigger AR and VR infrastructure strategy worth over $350 million dollars. Six other such centers already exist and the government has plans to increase that number to 20 by 2020.

The complex is a part of Seoul’s sprawling Digital Media City and the level of government support is impressive. The KoVAC center won’t just be a working space though, it will also have a VR experience center and plans to train more than 2,200 VR experts. Here’s a statement from the vice minister of science, ICT and future planning, made at the opening ceremony:

The government will make utmost efforts in supporting our developers and companies so that they can advance to the global market.

Obviously this kind of support now will lead to big things for South Korea’s economy in the years to come. Samsung alone is responsible for more than 20 percent of South Korea’s gross domestic product. The KoVAC complex will put major firms in touch with smaller startups and research centers and 18 offices have already moved in including VR and AR startups and the R&D lab of the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute. 50 more startups will invited to move in.

So supporting new technologies like AR and VR when the industry is still quite nascent could put South Korea on the map in a big way in future. That said, Samsung already dominates 70 percent of the global VR market thanks to its affordable Gear headset. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt if South Korea had more names to add to that list.

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