From fine dust app to unmanned barista, KT envisions everyday 5G use

By Yeo Jun-suk

Government calls for business leaders to come up with ‘killer contents’ for 5G networks

  • Published : Feb 20, 2019 - 18:40
  • Updated : Feb 20, 2019 - 18:52

As companies worldwide engage in a fierce battle to lead in the future generation of wirelss network, South Korean telecom giant KT on Wednesday suggested platforms that can leverage it for everyday life.

During the event attended by Cabinet members and business leaders, the telecom giant showcased how the 5G network can be used for tracking and measuring fine dust, dealing with wide fires, and also serving the best coffee.

Held at KT’s office in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province, the event offered a glimpse into figuring out how to bring 5G network to everyday lives, as South Korea expects the commercial rollout this March.

“For me, unmanned barista was the most impressive. Based on big data, we may actually be able to taste the best coffee ever,” said Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki, referring to the 5G-powered barista machine.

“We are expecting the commercial rollout of 5G services earlier than any other countries, and I’m confident that it will boost our economy,” Hong added. He was accompanied by ICT Minister Yoo Young-min, Minister of SMEs and Startups Hong Jong-hak, and Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki (left) along with other Cabinet members and officials attend an event arranged by KT to explain various technologies and contents using 5G at Gwacheon KT headquarters on Wednesday. Yonhap

Prior to arriving at the event, Hong said the government will come up with growth plans for 5G-related businesses. The finance minister pledged to reduce taxes for building 5G networks and increase investments for research and development.

The 5G network is estimated to be roughly 20 times faster than the current 4G network. It will allow new capabilities, such as self-driving cars and industrial robots based on artificial intelligence, according to the telco.

Among the introduced services at the event were an app that can track down the level of fine dust. Based on real-time analysis of big data, KT said the app can figure out where find dust is most concentrated and how to reduce it with sprinklers and air conditioner.

“Our app is not just for assessing the amount of fine dust. Connected to air-conditioning machines, it can help reduce the pollution levels,” said Lee Mi-hyang, senior vice president of convergence business department at KT. 

The telecom company also ran a simulation of how it can help the government efforts to curb air pollution in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province. The city is currently operating 40 machines for assessing the amount of fine dust.

Via instant analysis of massive data on air quality in the city, the 5G-powered network can determine which places have the worst pollution levels, KT said. The network is also able to figure out which routes are the fastest in deploying sprinklers to a polluted region.

According to KT, the company has established some 2,000 tracking machines that can assess air quality across the region. Data will be gathered at KT’s Gwacheon office, which monitors the country’s air quality in real time.

“The assessment results were revealed to the pubic in real-time with street signs and traffic signals. If things go really bad, we will deploy sprinklers to reduce the pollution levels,” said Icheon Mayor Um Tae-jun.

ICT Minister Yoo Young-min(right) operates 5G-powered drone in Kt`s Gwacheon office. Yonhap

The firm also showcased how the 5G network could be applied to deal with natural disasters and carry out search and rescue missions. The company showed 5G-powered blimps and drones sending real-time footage of Pyeongtaek, a city located 50 kilometers away from Gwacheon.

Although the technology is expected to be rolled out for commercial use this March, experts estimate it would take years for 5G to become as commonplace as 4G.

The government officials attending the event urged business leaders to come up with attractive contents that appeal to consumers, as many are not aware of the benefits 5G can bring to daily lives and businesses.

“We will accumulate various experiences with the earlier rollout of 5G service than other countries,” said ICT Minister Yoo Young-min. “Based on this, we have to focus on developing revolutionary services and content. It would help us foray into the global market."