Guarding Haenyeos with Smart Technology
[POSTECH’s Gyeongbuk Sea Grant Center develops a smart haenyeo safety system using advanced IT technology]
POSTECH has developed and equipped the haenyeos*1 in Gyeongbuk province with a smart safety system that uses advanced IT technology to prevent accidents in the sea and to help preserve their unique culture.
The number of haenyeos living in the east coast of Gyeongbuk province is about 1,500, the largest number outside of Jeju Island. However, most of them are seniors over 60 years of age and accidents like cardiac arrest, falling, and drowning continue to happen due to the strenuous nature of their work.
In light of this, POSTECH’s Gyeongbuk Sea Grant Center has developed a smart watch and smart taewak (buoy used by haenyeos to stay afloat and keep their catches) for haenyeos. The center is currently conducting tests with the help from Guryongpo Haenyeo Association.
Smart taewak is a system that uses AI and underwater cameras to monitor accident-prone areas and haenyeos’ diving habits to send alerts in case of an emergency. The haenyeo smart watch is a health device that alerts the wearer of vital information such as time, location, sea depth and temperature through vibrations.
Jeonghee Sung, a haenyeo residing in Guryongpo, thanked the center for caring for the haenyeos who are being forgotten. She remarked, “We feel much safer underwater getting accurate information with this advanced IT technology.”
“We anticipate that this cutting-edge IT technology will be a big help to prevent hazardous accidents from happening to haenyeos of Gyeongbuk province,” commented Prof. Son-Cheol Yu, the director of Gyeongbuk Sea Grant Center. He added, “By creating a safe working environment for the haenyeos, we want to help preserve the haenyeo culture.
Gyeongbuk Sea Grant Center’s projects are conducted with the support from the Korea Institute of Marine Science & Technology Promotion (KIMST) and the province of Gyeongsangbuk-do to explore regional marine issues, nurture professionals and to serve the public good from research findings centered on regional universities.
Female divers in Korea – mostly found on Jeju Island – whose livelihood consists of harvesting a variety of mollusks, seaweed, and other sea life from the ocean.