SketchOn’s Technology Recognized at Finland’s Slush
Launched in 2008 in Helsinki, Finland, Slush is Europe’s largest startup conference, where startup
hopefuls gather to attract investment and share information and anyone interested in startups comes
to discover the next “big thing.” Last year’s Slush, held for two days in November, drew about 1,700 startups,
800 investors, and 16,000 visitors. This startup event has given rise to some of the world’s largest mobile game
creators, including Rovio and Supercell, the creator of “Clash of Clans,” as well as a series of Fintech startups
Notably, SketchOn, a Korean startup under Samsung Electronics’ in-house venture “C-Lab,” was selected
as one of the top four companies in Slush’s pitching competition last year. Of the 100 companies that pass
the competition’s preliminary round, the top 20 are selected and given a chance to pitch their products.
Among them, four finalists are selected and pitted against each other, with only one winner coming out on top.
Although, SketchOn did not emerge as the winner, it was a strong runner-up, proving that its technology rivals
that of other startups around the world.
Harmless, Easy-to-Erase Printed Tattoos
SketchOn has developed “Prinker,” a printer capable of printing images on human skin.
All you need to do is draw the image you want using the Prinker smartphone application and apply Prinker
to the part of your body where you want the image to be, and the image will be printed on your skin,
just like a tattoo. Creating something similar to a tattoo sticker, the biggest advantage of Prinker,
however, is that it poses no risk to human health, as it uses only cosmetics-grade color materials.
It is easy to remove as well, and lasts only about a day, unless you rub it with your hands.
Prinker has applications in a wide range of areas. It can be used at amusement parks, clubs, or stadiums
to replace paper tickets or bracelets, thereby preventing loss and helping preserve the environment.
It can also be used to draw pictures on children’s faces or bodies at amusement parks. Another interesting
application is the printing of QR codes on skin for marketing purposes.
CEO Lee Jong-in says that Prinker is not looking to compete in the tattoo industry; he believes that
the tattoo is an art of its own. Rather than replacing existing tattoos, Prinker is targeting those people
who are reluctant to get tattoos, due to the health risks, permanence, and pain involved.
People can enjoy Prinker’s “contemporary tattoos” at festivals, special events, or amusement parks
and then remove them and go back to normal when the fun is over.
There is also a certain “analogue-meets-digital” aspect to the device, in that it prints hand-drawn images.
Lee said, “Tattoo stickers provide a limited number of choices, and can irritate the skin and cause allergic
reactions. Also, the disadvantage of body painting is that it requires professional skill and takes a long time.”
Planning to Expand into the Amusement Park, Premium Club, and Sports Markets
SketchOn is expected to begin selling Prinker in earnest this year. Starting in the business-to-business
(B2B) market, the company plans to gradually target the B2C market.
The main target customers in the B2B market include premium clubs, amusement parks, and sports companies.
A version of Prinker designed for the B2C market will be launched in the second half of this year, with a price
around USD 200. With this, SketchOn aims to post sales of USD 4.37 million this year. With the market for
devices designed to print on skin expected to grow from USD 480 million in 2016 to USD 1.15 billion by 2020,
SketchOn has strong growth potential. CEO Lee Jong-in said, “I hope that Prinker will be able to position itself
as a “self-expression tool,” with which people can express themselves through images printed on their bodies.”
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