Vending Machine Serves Digital Content 

A digital contents vending machine that allows users to easily download movies, TV dramas and music files onto their mobile phones and laptop computers has been developed, a state-run telecommunications laboratory said Wednesday.

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) said the “Contents Island” machine does away with the complication of registering and paying charges associated with mobile service providers. It also does not require people to pay wireless packet charges since the system is designed to be directly plugged into computers, cellular phones and other portable multimedia players.

ETRI said the goal is to set up the machines in airports, train and subway stations, expressway rest areas, convenience stores and coffee shops across the country, with the first models likely to reach the market in about six months.

The system, whose development began in 2006, is expected to expand the overall market of domestic digital audio-video materials and user-created contents, currently controlled by a handful of mobile telecommunication companies.

“The vending machines should be beneficial to the contents industry as a whole since it will provide a user-friendly and diversified outlet for people wanting to see movies, hear music and scan pictures,” said Kim Sun-ja, the chief developer of the project.

She said that in addition to the local market, talks are underway with a contents service company in Japan, with efforts underway to expand sales to other countries.

“Most of the technology already existed, but five international and 15 domestic patents have been requested and registered,” the engineer said.

The machines are expected to cost around 4.5 million won (US$3,325) each, with user fees likely to be cheaper than existing downloads.