SK Telecom signs deals for 5G hospitals, smart cities, self-driving infrastructure

SK Telecom has signed a series of MOUs to partner on smart cities, smart hospitals, smart offices, and self-driving infrastructure backed by its 5G mobile network in Korea.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

SK Telecom has announced a series of deals to use its 5G network for applications across smart cities, autonomous vehicles, and connected hospitals.

The South Korean mobile carrier has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) Authority to provide support for IT startups focusing on smart city innovation in the area, as well as to those building 5G-based self-driving infrastructure.

"We will work closely with the IFEZ Authority to accelerate IFEZ's transition to a smart city powered by SK Telecom's 5G network and mobility technologies," SK Telecom CTO Park Jin-hyo said.

The deal will see SK Telecom create a machine-readable HD map of the IFEZ area -- which contains the Songdo, Yeongjong, and Cheongna International Cities -- with information for self-driving cars, including road conditions, speed limits, lanes, and road slopes.

"The HD map will be built with Dynamic Data Platform, a 5G-based real-time update solution for HD maps. Dynamic Data Platform automatically updates HD maps upon receiving road observation data from Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) over 5G network," the carrier explained.

"SK Telecom plans to install ADAS and 5G communication modules to public transport vehicles and official government cars in the IFEZ area to detect all changes in the road environment."

SK Telecom and the IFEZ Authority said they will also work on smarter and safer transportation policies by building a data hub to keep track of the floating population.

They are also planning to create a startup incubator called Venturepolis in Songdo, aimed at supporting startups based around smart office solutions.

The 5G hospital deal, meanwhile, has seen SK Telecom sign another MOU with Yonsei University Health System to provide digital solutions across 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and the Internet of Things (IoT) for the hospital slated to open in February next year.

"The 5G-powered digital hospital will be equipped with SK Telecom's AI speaker NUGU to enable patients with physical difficulties to easily control their beds, lighting, and TV with their voice. They can even use NUGU Call service to get medical assistance in case of emergencies," SK Telecom explained.

"Moreover, the 5G-powered digital hospital will offer AR-based indoor navigation service through the application of indoor positioning and 3D-mapping technologies to enhance the convenience of patients and visitors."

Patients in isolation wards will also be able to receive visitors via holographic projections, the carrier said, while facial recognition technology will be used for medical workers to improve security.

"Authorised personnel can automatically gain access to buildings, labs, and other rooms through a facial recognition access control system," it said.

"Unlike other access control systems that require some kind of contact -- fingerprint, pass, etc -- the face recognition system allows contact-free entry to help reduce the risk of infection."

On the security side, SK Telecom said it is looking into using its quantum cryptography solutions for the network it will provide across the Severance Hospital, Gangnam Severance Hospital, and Yongin Severance Hospital.

SK Telecom's 5G network went live in early April alongside those of its South Korean compatriots, with the telco also using the network for military training.

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