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LG's World Festival in Seoul puts 3D at the forefront of home entertainment

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The days of sitting in front of holograms may still be a while off, but 3D technology is set to become the standard in home entertainment and personal devices if the LG 3D World Festival is anything to go by. 

LG’s Dual Play feature uses 3D to show different views when gaming in multiplayer mode.

The two-day event in Seoul last weekend showcased the latest in 3D innovations, from high-definition televisions, game and cinema devices, to smartphones and tablets.

The expo drew not only the tech-savvy and 3D early adopters, but also South Korean families looking for new products.

Park San-sun, for instance, is a businessman who took his wife and two small children to explore the technology _ not just TVs, but any product that can take entertainment to a new dimension.

"This is my first time and I find most new 3D products impressive," said Park, who added that his next television set will certainly be a 3D one.

Eight-year-old Jin Woo-park and his mother visited the show. She was looking at LG's 3D television to compare the specifications with other brands. The boy, meanwhile, lapped up the chance to play games on mobile screens as well as on a 55-inch TV with a seemingly magic remote control.

Thanks to their country's technology push, South Korean consumers are early recipients of new technology. Industry observers believe that 3D will become mainstream when people eventually upgrade their TVs, since premium television models have already incorporated 3D technology.

Kids watch the animated Pororo cartoon series in 3D on the big screen.

According to LG Electronics director of global communications Ken Hong, connectivity and convergence are the trends that all consumers are moving toward. The products themselves are not the end of the story, but they must be able to offer value-added benefits to consumers, and 3D technology is doing just that.

"It's like a car. When I was a child, general cars had no air conditioner, it was just an option. Today every car has air con by default," said Hong. "Likewise the 3D today has been available on the high-end televisions, but over the next few years it will become a standard in television." There has been hype around 3D home entertainment for years, some of it coming in the wake of the 2009 blockbuster film Avatar, but the technology hasn't always lived up expectations. The latest innovations have been designed to improve "naturalness" and user comfort.

According to industry tracker Display Search, global TV shipments in 2011 shrank after growing for six straight years and are expected to remain flat this year. 3D TV shipments on the other hand are forecast to jump, making up 22.3% of total TV shipments in 2013. The penetration rate of 3D TVs is growing steadily. Nearly 30% of LCD TV panels shipped this year will be 3D-capable.

LG believes that 3D TVs that do not require viewers to wear special glasses will be an industry standard in about four to five years.

Also, LG product lines including its tablet and Kids Pad have not been made available outside of South Korea, which is the biggest market for the Seoul-based company.

"The LG brand awareness of consumers here is 100%, thus it is a very easy market for LG to introduce the products and see how they are accepted," Hong said.

"If the people here are interested, then we will introduce the products in other countries, but not all the products we have because competition in overseas market is very high."

The LG 3D World Festival is in its third year, and it attracts more than 100,000 visitors. The show highlights new technologies, for example the 55-inch OLED HD TV, based on organic light-emitting diode technology, and the Ultra HD TV which has a resolution four times sharper than current full-HD TV sets.

For those aged three to seven years, the Kids Pad seemed perfectly designed to draw their attention.

The device integrates an ambient light sensor than can automatically adjust the brightness of the screen, reducing eye strain.

The 3D leap is just one of the aspects in the thriving South Korean tech world.

With or without the North Korean threat, the country continues to be a booming mobile market, passing the 110% penetration mark this year. There have been 3G networks since 2003, and 75% of all subscriptions are on the system. The country has the world's highest broadband services per capita.

South Koreans are also heavily into so-called massively multiplayer online games _ internet-based games supporting a huge number of players, the largest of which is World Of Warcraft _ with more than 37% of the world market. The games sector in South Korea is today the largest and fastest growing among its cultural industries.

Mobile games or social media games have become part of South Korean culture. The free smartphone messenger application KakaoTalk is one of the most popular social apps in the country, and people are increasingly likely to play mobile games on it.

At the LG World Festival, Kim Dong-hyun, a high school student, arrived with two friends especially to play StarCraft II.

Kim went straight to the military science-fiction strategy video game, while his friends went for Super Street Fighter and FIFA 2013.

"I have loved playing games since I was small and I am determined to study computer game development in university soon," said the 18-year-old student.

That says a lot about how South Korea not only consumes technology, but is breeding a generation that will continue the development that has shaped their lives, too.

A boy plays a 3D racing game on the LG IPS HD monitor.

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