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Thousands of ‘I, Robots’ Enter Korean Homes

robotsA child orders a robot to turn on the TV through an embedded clicker. Does it seem familiar? This is not a scene from the scientific-fiction movie, but a reality in South Korea.

These futuristic robots have three basic functions of sensing, processing and acting – commonly found in robots developed in recent years. But what makes them unique is their ability to update their sensing and processing functions by using internet connections and hence programs can be renewed daily. As these functions are outsourced, the prices of these smart robots are made more affordable.

The high-end models of the robots can recognize human voices to follow instructions. Other models enable people to give orders via a remote controller or a touch-sensitive screen. Various applications, such as reading books for kids, ordering food or connecting to the Web are installed and updated via the internet daily.

To test out the feasibility of having such network-enabled robots in Korean households, Korea’s Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) and KT - the country's largest ISP - is conducting a trial which involves deploying a thousand robots comprising of five sorts of wheeled models in homes wthin three cities - 700 in Seoul, 200 in Kwangju and 100 in Taegu - by mid-November. Additionally, two types of robot will be placed in airports, train stations and robotic exhibition halls in Seoul and its vicinity. All the home and public automatons will be operated through Nespot, the wireless connectivity services provided by KT’s hotspots.

Although the government’s plan seems promising, some experts point out that the government’s high expectations on the network-empowered robots are premature because they are far away from a commercial premiere.

The result of this trial is still to early to predict, but I sure wouldn’t mind having a network-enabled robot in my home!

Link & Image: Hankooki
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