Achieving this milestone clearly demonstrates the increasing significance of this show to the world’s leading medical device manufacturers and service providers, who recognise the importance of KIMES as a major platform for presenting their products to the Korean and East Asian markets. As well as the many foreign exhibitors – 117 from the USA, 165 from China, 90 from Germany, among many others – there were, of course, Korean companies, including several leading global firms such as Samsung and DK Medical Solutions.
Additionally, according to Korea E&EX Inc. the KIMES organisers, more than 3,500 foreign buyers attended the 2018 event, underlining a growing significance of Korean medical devices in foreign markets, a key reason for the event itself – i.e. to promote exporting of the country’s own medical devices. Having spoken to several Korean companies at the event it is apparent that they are raising the bar in terms of quality and prices and want to provide strong competition to more well-known and established companies in the West.
Robotic help for rehabilitation
A case in point is the Korean firm Exoatlet, which has developed a robotic exoskeleton for rehabilitative walking assistance. Hyun Chul Oh, marketing and sales director of Exoatlet, explained that the device offers 24 modes to suit a variety of patient gaits – long step, short step, etc. ‘The exoskeleton is currently being used in 40 Korean hospitals as a test bed,’ Oh said. It is now on sale there and will be marketed this year in several other countries. ‘We have contracts with hospitals in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand,’ Oh added.
‘We will open subsidiaries in China, Japan, Europe and the US later this year,’ he said. ‘We expect to complete our CE registration by the end of this year.’ He further explained that the exoskeleton can run for eight hours on a single charge – ‘the whole day, which is important for commercialisation purposes. In a single day, one system can be used for many patients ranging between 150-190 cm in height and up to a maximum of 100kg in weight.’
Focus on practice-oriented innovations
At the KIMES opening ceremony, the director of Korea E&EX Inc. said that, when looking over the estimated 30,000+ products on show and comparing this with previous years, he noticed a definite swing in innovation from imaging machines to robotic devices. Exoatlet’s exoskeleton is one example. However, as well as the advanced robotic and imaging devices there were also a number of quite simple, though ingenious novel medical devices on show. Among these is the EZpole developed by the small Korean firm mobiU. The EZpole is a cleverly designed, simple pole to attach to a patient’s shoulder and hold up an IV drip. The patient wears the device when walking around, enabling independent mobility while still receiving an IV drip. Hyung Seok Kim, CEO of mobiU, remarked that by improving a patient’s mobility, recovery could be speeded up.
Another smart device launched at KIMES 2018 is a portable auto needle removal instrument (NRI-15M) developed by Korean company Hastechnology. This device was developed to prevent needle stick injuries, a common healthcare hazard. The NRI is simple to use. A healthcare worker places the used syringe with needle into the device. The device cleanly snaps off the needle from the syringe and collects the used needles in a container that can then be easily and safely discarded. The NRI has an LCD screen with indicators to keep track of the current state of separation of the needle from the syringe and alerts healthcare staff when the needle container is full and ready for disposal.
In conclusion, KIMES 2018 was a hugely frequented showcase for innovations that aim to become even stronger in international markets.