SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Korea Bizwire) – The number of patent applications for selfie sticks has rapidly increased this year. The applications have all been submitted by individuals, in a sign of mainstream interest in the suddenly popular monopod.
This year, a total of eight selfie sticks are waiting for patent approval, which is significant considering that there have only been one or two patent applications per year since 2011, according to the Korean Intellectual Property Office. The devices, handheld monopods that greatly facilitate the capture of selfies, have become ubiquitous in South Korea, with the fad now starting to spread globally.
The very first selfie stick was invented by two Japanese individuals in 1983. It was unveiled in Japan in 1984, and was granted a US patent in 1985. The original monopod was similar to recent poles, with a plastic handle at one end, and a mount for a camera at the other. As the patent term of 20 years has expired, it is now open to public use.
Inspired by the original invention, there have been an increasing number of patent applications for sticks with additional functions, including a selfie stick with a mirror at the camera mount, allowing a user to check the camera screen; a pole with an additional mount for increased safety and security; and monopods equipped with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth functions.
But the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning has put a damper on the popularity of the pole, as it announced in November that it would impose fines or jail terms for those who make or sell unregistered selfie sticks using Bluetooth. According to the ministry, the sticks with Bluetooth functions are considered to be telecommunications devices, as they can interfere with other devices using the same radio frequencies.
The government’s decision has even made headlines internationally, with foreign media outlets including CNN reporting on the selfie stick crackdown.
By Veronica Huh (email@example.com)