Jan 10, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

From steering wheels to smart pillows, students in South Korea have earned awards for generating ideas for several nanotechnology innovations not yet on the market.

In December 2017, South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT awarded ten student teams from various universities for winning a nanotechnology contest on nanotechnology strategies with real-world applications.

South Korea’s leading science and technology research university, KAIST won the grand prize with its entry of an anti-drunk driving steering wheel, which combined 3-D images and gas sensors.

How does it work? When the driver sits in the driver’s seat, the steering wheel’s gas sensors can detect the amount of ethanol in the driver’s breath. If the steering wheel confirms alcohol intake, the car would either warn the driver, or automatically prevent the engine from starting.

Students from Sungkyunkwan University won a prize for coming up with a portable drum set and sticks that could automatically recognize the location and pressure being applied to them and then mimic real drum sounds.

At Pohang University of Science and Technology, students won for presenting a system that translates pigment information into temperature data with a camera glass coated with carbon nanotubes.

South Korea’s Commercializations Promotion Agency for R&D Outcomes, will offer the winners business and legal support as they translate their ideas into products.


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Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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