May 9, 2019
Another day, another company visit. This time we headed out toward what everyone in town calls “the Google of Korea”: NAVER. At the vanguard of artificial intelligence and machine learning, this Seoul-based operation is an online platform that has developed its own search engine and web portal. It honestly amazes what people are able to program. These guys showed us some of their latest technology.
Among the ranks, we saw two things that really stood out to me. The first was a program that individual’s movements on screen. The example they used involved a famous k-pop dance troupe performing a number on stage. Using their technology, the NAVER program able to keep track on one person whether they were directly visible to the camera or not. The second was a program that enhanced audio recording on videos. This time they should us a clip from a cooking show that takes place in a local market. Given the setting, there was quite a bit of hustle and bustle going on in the background as the host and a local discussed some dishes and tried some food. When the NAVER group ran their program, all the background noise faded away. It was almost as if they had recorded the whole thing in a private studio with a green screen controlling the backdrop. The host’s voice became crystal clear, and it was infinitely easier to hear the conversation taking place. Seeing all that makes me wished I checked out coding in middle school when everyone else seemed to jump on the craze.
After NAVER, we had another optional activity. On today’s menu, good old-fashioned Korean taekwondo. It was well worth the money. I don’t hesitate to call it the coolest thing we’ve done so far. We met with a real instructor and trained for a whole hour learning the basic tenants of the ancient art and a couple of moves. When it was all said and done, we even got to break a wooden board. I didn’t think I could do it at first, but wouldn’t you know it, after listening to the master’s instructions, I broke that board in two! I might have to remember my moves if I ever run into trouble down the streets of South Oakland.