The Mobile World Congress (MWC) is primarily a gathering for the bigwigs of the telecoms industry, but far from the main thoroughfares of the vast conference there are always hidden tech gems.
Among the most offbeat products spotted at last week’s event was artificial intelligence (AI) clone technology.
As advertising slogans go, “you can live forever” is up there with the best.
That is how Memori Yamato described the “personalized AI clone” from her Japanese company Alt Inc.
“Your descendants can continue to speak and interact with you, even after your death,” Yamato said.
The idea is to upload as many videos, images and audio samples as you can while alive.
The system would use that data to generate an AI mirror, cloning you in the digital world.
“It will look like you, it speaks in your voice and it even thinks like you,” she said.
The idea has been nine years in the making, and feedback from early users suggests the technology has nailed appearances and voices, she said.
A dog’s nose carries similar identifying traits as a human fingerprint. South Korean start-up Petnow Inc took this information and ran with it — like a dog after a stick — to create a biometric database of pets based on noseprints rather than microchips.
“Since the 1940s, we’ve known that dogs’ noses worked a little like fingerprints,” Petnow business development manager Peter Jung said.
About 100,000 animals are abandoned each year in South Korea, often because owners cannot afford vet bills, he said.
“Less than 10 percent have chips because people don’t like the process,” he said.
Petnow just requires a photo and AI does the rest, ensuring the photos are good enough for identity purposes.
Jung said that 50,000 pet owners have signed up since last year, and he hopes the government will change the rules to allow his system to replace chips.
Cat lovers need not worry.
Their noses might be too petite to be identifiable, but each feline face is unique and can be used in the system, the company said.
A staple from the pages of science fiction and the dreams of the superrich, flying taxis could be available as soon as 2025, SK Telecom Co said.
At the MWC, some attendees got an early taste, thanks to virtual reality headsets and a prototype complete with juddering seats.
Halfway between a helicopter and a drone, the craft has six electric motors that allow vertical takeoffs and landings.
It can carry up to four passengers and move at speeds of up to 320kph.
South Korea’s biggest telecoms provider developed it with Californian start-up Joby Aviation and hopes it will solve congestion in South Korea’s cities without adding to global warming.
“In Korea, in urban areas, we have severe traffic congestion, but constructing a mass transportation system like a highway or subway needs many social costs,” SK Telecom manager Ken Wohn said.
“Using this UAM [Urban Air Mobility] service can shorten our customers’ travel time without making so much infrastructure,” he said.
People might live their later years in the company of “socially intelligent” robots capable of “building an emotional relationship” with them.
That is the vision of Spanish technology outfit Eurecat, which has developed a robot called NHOA — or “never home alone.”
It is designed to reduce the loneliness of older people living at home.
The orange and white robot stands 160cm tall and can be controlled with a touchscreen and by voice.
Eurecat healthcare innovation manager David Mari said the aim was not to replace human relationships, but to “humanize” the applications and connected objects used by older people.
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