Start-Up: Technology and Innovation is Now in Our Hands

Bae Suzy as Seo Dal-mi
Photo : Screenshot from Netflix Asia's YouTube Channel Start-Up trailer video

There is no wonder that Start-Up, a 2020 South Korean drama series, is considered today's top K-drama series, topping the Netflix charts in Asia, especially in South Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia. It is also making its way in the worldwide Netflix top trending list, placing at number six as of today's writing.

The K-drama series stars Bae Suzy as Seo Dal-mi, a woman who dreams to become a successful entrepreneur one day, like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Her love interest, Nam Do-San played by Nam Joo-hyuk, is a former Math Olympian and Dal-Mi's business partner in their company, Samsan Tech. Kim Sun-ho plays Han Ji-pyeong, an investor to multiple business ventures and start-up companies or start-ups who also serves as Samsan Tech's mentor, and Won In-jae played by Kang Han-na, Dal-mi's sister who is also an aspiring entrepreneur who will do whatever it takes to be successful, to sum up the main cast.

Star-Up's setting primarily revolves in Sandbox, a fictional Silicon Valley-like place set in South Korea where start-ups are given a chance to prove themselves; if they can sustain their company's operations, attract investors, gain profit, etc. If not, then it is time to say goodbye to what the characters in the story consider "wonderland", but at the same time a fortress with the mantra of "survival of the fittest."

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Kang Han-na as Won In-jae
(Photo: Screenshot from Netflix Asia's YouTube Channel Start-Up trailer video)

Start-ups inside Sandbox vary from different types of businesses. But companies who offer AI or Artificial Intelligence technology based services are the ones paving the way as favorites for investors and mentors in the series, particularly Dal-mi and Do-san's Samsan Tech, and Won In-jae's self-named company.  Here are three innovative technologies featured in Start-Up that may already have a real-life counterpart, or still non-existing as of the moment:

Samsan Tech's Handwriting Scanner

Episode 5 of Start-Up showcased the presentation of business concepts and models produced by the start-ups during a 50-hour hackathon. Samsan Tech worked tirelessly and went sleepless to create their business model, an application wherein it can determine handwriting authenticity. Dal-mi's presentation explained how it could be used for different services, like in banks — to prevent forgery of signatures in documents, cheques, etc.

Dal-mi impressed the panel and the audience with her presentation, but after going through a test later on with Won In-Jae's product application (that would be explained in the next featured technology), it didn't determine the signature created by one of In-jae's produced fonts, making them fall short in the presentation. Luckily, they still entered Sandbox and to stay in the 12th Residence Program. And after working all night, Do-san managed to come up with the right codes, and their application could now determine the signature Won In-jae's font used in their previous showdown.

As of this writing, there is still no concrete application or service like Samsan Tech's. Though further studies show that scientists and doctors are currently studying the trend of using handwriting as a means of scientific basis, such as biometrics — for forgery and disguising prevention, security, introduction of the digital bodyguard system; and for health purposes — as diagnosis systems for Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders.

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In-jae's Font Creator

Upon overhearing Samsan Tech's plan by one of In-jae's coders in the hackathon, they decided to come up with something that may be a counter to Samsan Tech's. In-jae presented their application, a font creator, which can produce customized fonts based on the user's own handwriting. One of the panelists in the hackathon, In-jae's stepfather and businessman Won Doo-jung (portrayed by Eom Hyo-seop) proposed a testing between them and Samsan Tech; with Samsan Tech to determine the authenticity of a font by In-jae. Samsan Tech failed to determine the authenticity, labeling it as accurate even it was really a fake one.

Several real applications are already available that can produce your own font. This includes IfontMaker, labeled as the best font creator, wherein you can create your own font using your fingers. Other sites and tools that can produce customized fonts are FontStruct, Fontographer, Calligraphr, YourFonts and Raster Font Editor — all free to use.

Samsan Tech's NoonGil

After entering Sandbox, Samsan Tech brainstormed on what business, service or application they will present on demo day- a demonstration of the start-ups' output business model wherein mentors, panelists and investors get to witness the presentations of potential companies that can operate and sustain profit. Do-san came-up with NoonGil, an application especially made for the visually impaired. Users point their devices on a certain direction, and the AI (named Yong-sil) programmed on the application uses a voice recognition feature, and accurately tells and describes the user whatever it has detected. NoonGil serves as the eye of the user. Do-san was inspired to push it through after secretly knowing that Dal-mi's grandmother, Choi Won-deok (played by Kim Hae-sook) slowly loses her vision after she was diagnosed with an undetermined eye disease.

Applications like NoonGil in real life are available to use. The closest to NoonGil is the Aipoly Vision, which also uses AI to help people with difficulty seeing by pointing it and pressing the recognition button. Other applications have its own focus, however. Like Digit Eyes where you could use the barcode of products and the AI will tell the user the name of the product, and Talking Calculator- an application where the user can add, subtract, multiply and divide audibly.

Start-UP Title Banner
(Photo: Screenshot from Netflix Asia's YouTube Channel Start-Up trailer video)

Innovation has been a big thing today. Some things that seemed impossible for a long time can now be produced. Start-Up brings its viewers into the perspective of not just being a user, but also as a creator. Anyone can do a start-up. The series is currently on its run, with episodes 11 and 12 coming this Saturday. 


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