Kakao Friends character Ryan plays screen golf. (Cocoa)
The South Koreans’ love of golf has led to a thriving culture of indoor golf, which is played on driving ranges that have been graphically or photographically simulated on screens.
Now a gaming company has launched an artificial intelligence based service so golfers can work on their skills at home.
On February 25th, Kakao Games, the gaming unit of the country’s leading messenger app operator, launched a golf training app that allows beginners to practice and correct their shots from the comfort of their own home.
The service – available in the Smart Home Training app developed by Kakao VX, a subsidiary of Kakao Games, offers video golf lessons from coaches from the Korea Ladies Professional Golf Association and Korea Professional Golfers’ Association, including Ham Sang-kyu and Kim Sung-hwan .
All users have to do is follow the instructions. The app uses smartphone cameras to check the golfers’ progress in real time. The AI analyzes body movements and rewards correct posture with green highlighting. Bad posture is highlighted in red.
Artificial intelligence provides real-time analysis of a user’s posture during a video golf lesson provided by the Kakao VX Smart Home Training app. (Cocoa VX)
Smart Home Training offers a variety of sports and fitness programs. Golf is just one of many that people can choose.
“Smart Home Training has become an app that represents the era of the non-face-to-face. In January, the number of monthly active users of the app rose by 254 percent compared to the previous year. Over the same period, the number of training programs carried out increased by 298 percent and the number of training programs completed increased by 441 percent, ”said a Kakao VX official.
In addition to swing exercises, Kakao offers the full-screen golf experience.
A golf lounge with a screen by Kakao Friends (Kakao VX)
Screen golf lounges or golf simulator rooms have spread to almost every corner of Seoul in recent years, serving as an affordable alternative for those who do not have the luxury of traveling to the countryside to play.
Kakao VX is the second largest screen golf service in Korea with 2,100 golf rooms and dominates 25 percent of the market. Golfzon dominates 60 percent of the market with 4,900 lounges.
Kakao VX poses a challenge to the dominant player in the market and seeks to apply its parent company’s experience in the gaming space.
In 2017, its screen golf brand, Friends Screen, introduced voice and motion recognition technologies to the industry for the first time.
3D depth camera sensors analyze a user’s swing and provide a comparative analysis. (Cocoa VX)
“In Friends Screen’s T2 screen golf lounges, users can easily and automatically adjust the tee height using voice commands without having to use physical remote controls. In addition, in 2019, Kakao VX introduced high-speed 3D cameras and introduced motion detection services in its simulator rooms, ”said a Kakao Games official.
The sensors of the depth camera analyze the swing and the posture of the user in real time from several angles – from the front, from the side and from above. Then an analysis appears on a video station in front of the user. The AI also analyzes the quality of each shot.
“In January, the number of Kakao Friends golf lounges exceeded 2,100. Kakao VX is expanding overseas and recently signed a contract to install 500 Kakao Friends golf simulator rooms in China, ”said the Kakao Games official.
By Kim Byung-wook (email@example.com)