South Korea is the most robot-friendly country in the world. Just ask the humanoid Hubo.
South Korea is embracing smart technology and robots. A visit to its capital city can be a mind-boggling experience
stream of emojis and selfies. I expect her to be a teenager, but when she gets up to go, I realise she must be well into her 50s.
I am myself not immune to the pleasures of advanced technology. At home, my toilet is a Japanese Toto Washlet with heating and bidet functions. But the Smartlet from Korea’s Daelim puts my potty to shame. It has a control panel with close to 20 buttons, the function of some I can’t even guess.
I encounter the Smartlet while touring the latest in Seoul’s smart-living apartments with a real estate agent, Lauren. Some of the most advanced apartments have been developed by Raemian, the property division of the mighty Samsung.
The Raemian buildings are buffed, gleaming examples of what Lauren refers to as the ‘Internet of Things’. When you pull into the garage, a sensor reads your licence plate and lets your host know that you have arrived. Another feature monitors the weather and warns you to take your umbrella. An internet-connected kitchen monitor can call up your favourite cookbook.
Apartment owners wear wristbands that allow them to open doors and access services in the building. The technology works both ways: inside the apartments, you can check on family members through GPS tracking.
I ask my guide, Sunny Park, a reporter for the Chosun Ilbo newspaper, whether Koreans are resisting the continued diminution of privacy. “They don’t mind Big Brother,” she tells me. Sunny, of a slightly older generation, admits that she can sometimes run into trouble navigating the brave new world of Korean real estate. “I once stayed in an apartment that was too smart for me,” she says. “I couldn’t figure out how to get water out of the tap.”
ONE MORNING I take a gleaming high-speed train to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, an hour south of the city. I
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