South Korea is making steady progress in key areas of the “fourth industrial revolution,” helping the country maintain its growth going forward, the government said on July 1.
There has been a solid rise in demand in such areas as speakers that use artificial intelligence, drones, self-driving cars, fintech services and the building of so-called smart factories, the Ministry of Science and ICT said.
In late 2017, the country said it planned to keep close tabs on these industries to help gauge the headway made in the fourth industrial revolution.
The fourth industrial revolution refers to a connected digital economy built on breakthroughs in AI, internet of things, autonomous vehicles, big data and other cutting-edge technologies.
The fusing of such industrial sectors is expected to lead to the creation of new economic and social systems and generate growth across the globe.
The ministry said that according to its data, total accumulated AI speaker sales in the country stood at a little over 4.1 million units as of late March, a two-fold increase from a year earlier. AI speakers can operate various smart devices and provide real-time information to users.
It said that the number of people who have subscribed to IoT-related services, which can signify how hyper-connected a country has become, reached around 18.6 million as of December 2018, an increase of 33.2 percent from a year earlier.
Users of 5G mobile devices hit 1 million as of June 10. On April 3, Korea became the first country in the world to launch nationwide 5G connectivity, and efforts are under way to this year set up ultrafast internet infrastructure that can handle 10 gigabits of data per second.
The ministry said that the number of self-driving vehicles reached 62 units, up 41 percent from 2018, while 7,177 commercial drones had been registered as of the end of last year, a 60 percent increase from a year earlier.
In the area of smart factories, which can strengthen the competitiveness of medium-sized manufacturers, the government said 7,903 have been built so far, with a goal of 30,000 such plants for 2022. The total output of industrial robots used in such factories, grew to over 3 trillion won ($2.6 billion) in 2017 from 2.6 trillion won in 2016.
The latest data also showed that the number of fintech companies reached 301 last year, an on-year gain of 5 percent, with accounts at internet-only banks, such as K bank and Kakao Bank, reaching 15.9 million, up 73.1 percent from a year earlier.
The ministry said that besides these areas, advances have been made in medical services, smart farming, logistics and energy management areas, with the country expected to create more opportunities in sectors of the fourth industrial revolution.
By Ram Garikipati and newswires (firstname.lastname@example.org)