Now it’s time to take a close look at a small but competitive business making a difference for the Korean economy. Back in 2006, when Apple was gaining popularity with its mp3 player, the company joined hands with sporting goods brand Nike. The reason behind the union of the two seemingly unrelated companies was to create an exercise-aid device that would measure the running distance and calories burned and display the information through the screen of an iPod. The convergence of digital devices and sports may have begun in the U.S., but similar efforts are now being made in Korea as well. DMBH is a Korean company that created a digital putting trainer by bringing together digital technology and golf. Mr. Kim Tae-young (김태영) of the company’s marketing team explains.
DMBH was founded in 2003. The company’s name stands for “Digital Media for Brain & Health.” This name represents our motto, which is to contribute to society by improving the mental and physical health of people through digital media. Our CEO is a robotics engineer, but he jumped into the golf sensor development field after he was asked to help develop domestic screen-golf sensors at a time when the market was completely dependent on overseas imports. Once he began the development process, he started learning how to play golf, and then he merged outstanding technology with golf. Since then, the company has been manufacturing widely recognized products through continuous efforts for improvement.
DMBH CEO Park Yong-gil (박용길) has a PhD from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and he was awarded the “Best Thesis Award” at the International Symposium on Industrial Robot for his doctorate thesis on artificial intelligence. Afterwards, Park researched an intelligent building system for Daewoo Electronics, and also worked as the chief researcher for the famous body composition analyzer InBody, before founding DMBH in 2003. The company was focusing on developing sensors with intelligent algorithm when it was asked to create a sensor for golf, which piqued the company’s interest in sports.
Many golfers have practice putting greens at homes or in their offices. Our product development began with a question. ‘Do these space-consuming putting mats actually improve a person’s putting skills?’ Conventional putting greens only allow you to practice within the distance provided by the length of the mat itself, whether it’s 2 meters or 3 meters long. But when you’re out on the field, you face countless instances where you may have to putt from 5 meters or even 10 meters away. We became certain that our sensor technology would help such putting mats overcome many of its limitations. With a digital putting trainer, through the convergence with the sensor technology, one can practice a 20 meter long putt within a 2 meter long space. It can also analyze the pitch and provide the precise starting angle. “Inbirdie” allows you to enjoy the precise putting experience on a field, that you were unable to experience at home or in an office in the past.
Thanks to its highly competitive sensor technology, DMBH was able to introduce a sensor for screen golf that replicates the actual field trajectory by predicting the ball’s spins in 2004, just one year after it was founded. The company then started the development of the digital putting trainer in 2009. After 21 months of development, the company introduced the industry’s first digital putting trainer equipped with sensor technology and IoT technology in 2011. The new concept product displays digitally how far the ball has rolled after the putt.
I believe we were first to use the term “digital putting trainer.” Such a product was never seen before. It seems that many golfers found this idea to be too unfamiliar at first. So while they found the product to be innovative, they were not quick to make a purchase. However, we were confident about the product’s accuracy, so we continued our marketing efforts. The Small and Medium Business Corporation’s HIT500 Project was a great help at the beginning. It not only helped us gain grounds at home, but also helped us make inroads internationally. At the moment, according to the nation’s top portal site Naver, Inbirdie is the 5th most purchased golf practice product and the most popular putting trainer.
The digital putting trainer developed by DMBH allows you to select a putting distance so that you can practice long-putts of over 20 meters on a mat that’s only 2 meters long. This is thanks to its distribution chart system that logs how far the ball was sent and in which direction. Users can also record and manage putting practice data, and even compare the records with those of professional golfers. With such technology, DMBH was awarded the Top Technology Innovation Award at the 2016 Korea Top Brand Awards. It has since grabbed the attention of consumers with its technology and has been enjoying smooth sailing in the domestic market. The company is also expanding its horizon overseas, with plans to enter the Japanese market starting next month. And the company also has another flagship product.
Our other flagship item is the educational robot. The industrial robot training system differs from other industrial robots because up to 90% of the body can be assembled and disassembled by the students. The reassembled robot can be programmed just as it would on an industrial site. You can think of it as a training system for industrial robotics experts. It is currently utilized as the official industrial robot at the National Youth Skill Olympics, and they are supplied to educational and industrial institutes at home and abroad. We also started providing the robots to training facilities in Malaysia as well.
In 2007, the Mobile Robotics category was introduced at the WorldSkills Competition. For this competition, competitors must program robots to perform given tasks and control them remotely. Korea took home the Bronze medal in the inaugural year of the category, and the gold medal 2 years later in 2009. Then in 2011, Team Korea was named as MVP of the entire WorldSkills Competition. It was DMBH that backed up the national team with their robots. In 2012, DMBH introduced “Globot”, which is an industrial type robot that can be entirely assembled and disassembled for robotics education and training. But DMBH also has a bigger dream.
The company’s goal is to become a global robotics company. The industrial robot training system is just the beginning. Using the robotics technology, we’re currently in the process of developing robots specialized for healthcare and environment-related fields. We plan to introduce several new robots to the market by next year. If robots are designed to replace people, people may fear such robots. But if robots are designed to perform tasks that people hate or those that are too dangerous, we are certain that such robots will be welcomed. We believe that the future of DMBH depends on finding the niche where robotics technology can contribute to our coexistence.
DMBH dreams of a future where people and robots can coexist. In 2010, the company became the first in the world to create a putting robot for screen golf, where people and robots can enjoy games together. Expectations are high that the company will come up with a solution for the harmonious coexistence of humans and robots.