The 2009 IT Expo Busan, held at the BEXCO convention center from August 2 to 5, was combined with RoboWorld Busan 2009 for the maximum amount of technological goodness. If you wanted to see the latest Xbox360 games, you could find them at this expo. If you wanted to see the latest in dancing robotic puppies, you could also find it here. From 3D virtualizations of Busan itself to augmented reality technology, it was all available in one place.
The opening ceremony was a sign of what was to come later on in the expo, because it was very robot-centric. At first approximately 20 robotic dogs, called Genibo, performed an intricate dance in which they stood on two legs, put their paws in the air, and shook them like they just didn't care. A b-boy group soon joined them, dancing robotic-style dances to make the little guys feel more at home. After that was finished, small robotic servants holding the trappings of a ribbon-cutting ceremony escorted the requisite beautiful women in passing out scissors, gloves, and smiles to the conglomeration of scissor-wielding dignitaries. With only a few missteps along the way, the show officially launched.
The inside of the expo was also very robot-centric. In fact there was a third addition to the lineup of events - the International Robot Contest 2009. In this contest hand-assembled robots competed in a variety of tests of skill. The most exciting of these was the robotic gladiator's ring, in which foot-tall champions did their best to knock each other over while staying upright.
There were a variety of standard robotic applications, the most interesting of which was the Nuvo. This line of robotic appliances were in the shape of a stylized robot standing about a foot and a half tall. Their primary purposes, however, would be familiar to anyone. They are toys, and can be controlled with a remote control, voice recognition, a mobile phone, or even the user's PC. They can play music, walk around independently, and dance.
There were also quite a lot of fire and rescue robots. The firefighting robots were designed to go to unapproachably burning sites where human firefighters could not go. They were entirely built around their own water cannon, giving a variety of different types of water sprays. They were designed to climb stairs, look around with heat-resistant cameras, and looked like miniature tanks on treads.
Robotic mules were also being displayed this year, and they were quite interesting. Designed to walk upright and carry large loads over dangerous terrain, these autonomous robots are the cutting edge of robotic adaptations to need. This dangerous-looking, camouflaged model was specifically designed to go out with the military, and even though the technology is not yet ready for the field, the possibilities are almost endless.
The most novel type of robot was the robotic fish, a fully-functional swimming, plastic life imitator. It was displayed in a full fish tank, and lazily meandered around in the water just as real fish do. Its see-through plastic exterior shows just how much electronics are required to perfectly imitate something as simple as a fish, and is a good reminder of how much the state of the art has to go in order to create convincing robotic animals, much less robotic humanoids.
The 2009 IT Expo Busan and the 2009 RoboWorld Busan events were good steps on the road to making Busan a well-known technology center on the Korean peninsula.