Smart Shopping makes you look smarter
What would you think of doing your grocery shopping without carrying any of the items? Or cleaning the streets using a remote device? New smart technologies are changing the way traditional everyday activities are done, and although there are concerns about what it could mean for jobs and society, they're helping people and workers to spend time more efficiently, comfortably and safely.
Kwon Jang-ho brings us today's News Features.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution...it's the term that refers to a new age of technologies that's changing the world at a faster rate than ever before.
Artificial intelligence, the internet of things and big data are just some examples, realized in the form of self-driving cars, smart assistants and robots.
But while the promise of these inventions has been touted, it's not yet being felt in most people's lives. "Technological advances can seem like science fiction at times but it's when they start to affect everyday activities like shopping that people start to feel the impact."
This department store in Bundang has introduced a new way to shop.
With its smart shopper system, customers pick up a small scanner and tag the items they want to buy.
It eliminates the hassle of having to carry heavy items in a shopping basket, not to mention the hassle of having to get them home.
After you pay for the items at an automated kiosk, the goods are delivered right to your home.
- "Before, I had to wait in long lines at the checkout, but now I can use the smart shopper system to pay. It's really quite convenient."
Aside from the convenience to shoppers, the system also helps stores gather data about their customers' shopping habits.
- SK "The scanner can track the shoppers' movement and see what they're interested in... and that information can be very useful. They can see which items in which section attracted a lot of interest and how people are spending their money."
Automated checkout systems have been on the rise in Europe, and U.S. online retail giant Amazon recently announced plans to launch completely cashier-free convenience stores this year.
But this has once again raised one of the biggest concerns about the Fourth Industrial Revolution -- the loss of jobs.
A study released this year by a Korean institute said that seven out of 10 jobs are at risk of being taken over by machines by 2025.
Of course, it's unclear whether that risk will become a reality, but as new technologies make everyday life more convenient and efficient, the growth of related sectors is not expected to slow.
- "These technologies are not necessarily trying to replace people, but they have been developed in order to make people's lives better and easier. Of course, there are negative effects that come out of this as well, and efforts need to be made to minimize them...for example by providing support for people to find new jobs or by creating new jobs in these new fields."
The goal of much technology is to help people.
I found one such example of this in Gwangju.
"Smart technology is being integrated in all sorts of fields to upgrade machines and make life more efficient -- like this robotic road cleaner."
It may look like other road sweepers, but it has some unique smart features.
When the vacuum hose is being used, the device automatically follows the user,... thanks to a special radar.
The device can also be operated via remote control, so that users can avoid dangers on busy roads.
It also has sensors that automatically stop the device when a person or object gets too close.
- Dream C&G "The user operates the device himself, so it's not autonomous, nor is it designed to replace workers,... but it is about helping man and machine work together to increase safety and efficiency.
Although various parts of the technology itself are not groundbreaking, its use and combination in the device makes it the first of its kind.
There have already been bulk orders from the Singaporean government and it is currently being tested in four other countries as well. "Before this, we had to sweep with brushes, collect the trash in bags and transport the bags for disposal. But now it's easier and quicker, and we can cover more ground."
Although the impact of new technologies on society needs to be considered, these new devices ultimately come from the demand for more efficiency and comfort.
And with new smarter technologies being developed faster than ever, we can expect to see more and more changes in our everyday lives.