Biz & Tech

Tesla set to begin car sales in S. Korea in May

U.S. electric car maker Tesla Motors is soon set to launch its vehicles in South Korea, the local government said Thursday, raising both hope and concern for the local electric vehicle market. According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, the U.S. carmaker is expected to begin selling its Model S sedans here in May.
The U.S. company filed for government certification on the car's emissions and noise in September.

The transportation ministry said the company has also registered as an auto manufacturer, a prerequisite to selling cars in the country. Tesla began taking preorders from South Korean consumers late last year but has yet to unveil the local price of its vehicle or its specifications. Still, many observers said the car may help expand the country's overall electric car market by bringing diversity and fun.
Already, a number of fully electric cars are sold here, including the Ioniq EV by the country's largest automaker Hyundai Motor Co.

However, the observers noted the existing vehicles are mostly focused on efficiency, while the Model S also emphasizes the fun of driving. The Model S is said to have a 512-kilometer driving range on a full recharge and a top speed of 250 kph. It is also said to have a zero to 100 kph time of only 4.4 seconds, which is comparable to most super cars.

The potentially high price of the car will likely be a hurdle for many consumers here, they noted. The government earlier said the Tesla Model S has been excluded from its list of green cars eligible for government subsidies due to its failure to meet government standards on recharging. Electric cars must be fully recharged in less than 10 hours to be eligible for government support. The Model S is said to take more than 12 hours. 

India launches more than 100 satellites into orbit

India’s space agency said it successfully launched more than 100 foreign nano satellites into orbit Wednesday aboard a single rocket.
The Indian Space Research Organisation said the nano satellites — those weighing less than 10 kilograms (22 pounds) — were sent into orbit on board its polar satellite launch vehicle in southern India.
The agency said the launching of the 104 satellites was a record, overtaking Russia’s feat of sending 37 satellites in a single launch in 2014.
The nano satellites belong to various companies in the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, the Netherlands and Kazakhstan, according to the ISRO.
“All 104 satellites were successfully placed in orbit,” the Press Trust of India news agency quoted ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar as saying. They included an Indian earth observation satellite.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that the “remarkable feat by ISRO is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation.”
India has been striving to become a player in the multibillion-dollar space launch market, and has successfully placed light satellites into orbit in recent years. It hopes to eventually send astronauts into space.
In September 2014, India successfully guided a spacecraft into orbit around Mars. Only the United States, the former Soviet Union and the European Space Agency had been able to previously do that.
New materials discovered from alteration of atomic structures

A local research team says it's discovered a new material made of quasicrystal structures -- that is, the material has a clear order on the molecular level, but not a totally repetative one like ordinary crystals. 
This quasicrystal structure means the material does not conduct light or sound waves, a characteristic the teams says it can prove through computer simulations. Then they can print out the structures using 3D printers."In the future the research team hopes to build new materials with quasicrystal structures that could be used to block noise and light.

"For example, the team says quasicrystal materials could be used to block noise in residential apartments or they could be used to make better fiber optic cables where they would keep light from straying off course. "In the short term, we plan to study more about quasicrystal structures and their unique characteristics. In the longer term, we hope to develop the material for the application of optical computers or in medical devices.

"Another local research team says it has successfully made a new material by changing the atomic structure of a normally non-magnetic material to make it magnetic. In the new material,instead of binding together positively and negatively charged atoms, the negative charge is provided by electrons on their own , allowing them to flow freely, like in a metal."Right now the magnetic properties of the new material are weaker than those of metals. But this research is significant in that it shows how what people traditionally considered non-electromagnetic materials can actually possess electromagnetic qualities."In the shorter term, the team hopes the new material will be applied in the making of next-generation semiconductors and catalysts. With further research, it hopes the magnetic qualities of the new material can be enhanced so it can actually serve as a metal substitute.

Gionee has launched two new smartphones — the S6 Pro and P7 Max — in the Nepali market. The P7 Max boasts an eye catching, shimmering design, which Gionee has dubbed ‘aglare visual sense’, that houses a 5.5-inch HD screen.
It comes equipped with a 13 MP rear camera and a 5 MP front camera with screen flash feature. The rear camera has fast shutter speed and fast focus feature (0.2 second) thanks to PDAF technology. The P7 is powered by an MT6595 Octa Core 2.2 GHz CPU, and a 3100 mAH battery. It has 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage.
AI take on human translators
Artificial intelligence (AI)-based programs and human professionals will engage in a translation battle in Seoul at 2 p.m. on Feb. 21, according to Sejong Cyber University and the International Interpretation & Translation Association (IITA), Tuesday.

In the competition, a professional translator will face a showdown with Google Translate and Naver Papago, the two most popular commercialized AI-based translation services that support English and Korean.

Both human translators and AI-based programs will be given two English news articles to translate into Korean, and two stories written in Korean to be rendered into English. Thirty minutes will be provided for each article.

All the news articles will be chosen randomly, according to the organizers. Their translations will be evaluated on accuracy, according to the organizers.

"Human translators and interpreters and those who seek to do these jobs in the future are increasingly facing concerns that they may lose their presence as AI-based automatic translating technologies have rapidly been improved," IITA Secretary-General Kang Dae-young said. 

"Though the event may not completely dispel such worries, we hope to confirm that humans and machines have different strengths and weaknesses and highlight that human professionals will still have their roles in translation and interpretation of the future."

Automatic translation programs using machines have been fast improved thanks to the introduction of a technology called the neural machine translation (NMT) since 2015.

Before the NMT, programs worked based on a paradigm called the statistical machine translation (SMT), which produces translations on statistical analysis of bilingual text corpora. In this way, these programs translated the original text word-by-word and this has led to errors or awkward expressions.

But the NMT translates a whole sentence at a time. It utilizes machine learning and big data analysis and thus is capable of self-improving its translation, resulting in higher accuracy in time.

Tapping into the NMT technology, Naver launched its translation program Papago in October last year. Following in November, Google applied the technology for its Translate service.

Sejong University English Language and Literature professor Kwak Eun-joo, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation professor Kwak Joong-chol and professional tech writer and translator Cho Gil-ja will take charge of evaluating and judging the competition.

Sejong Cyber University said it will provide a real-time stream of the event on its website.

Expectations are that the human translator may win the showdown in terms of the quality of translation, though the AI-based programs will outperform their human counterparts in speed.

"Though AI translation programs are superfast, they cannot rectify errors that they have already made," a source from the translation industry said. "But humans can polish their draft work to improve the degree of completion."

A freelance interpreter here said, "We may not say that the upcoming event is the ultimate showdown between human translators and machines. But soon, I believe machines are highly likely to surpass humans because they are rapidly evolving by accumulating massive amounts of data."

Global digital healthcare biz

KT is expanding its digital healthcare services business globally under cooperation with an Australian startup, the telecom company said Tuesday.

The Seoul-based outfit said it will expand its digital healthcare services business, focusing on respiratory and cardiac disease diagnosis. It pointed out that the deteriorating environment is causing more smog and ultrafine dust, making more people suffer from respiratory and cardiac illnesses.

"We seek diverse global business models under cooperation with partners with innovative technologies in the digital healthcare sector," said Koh Yoon-jeon, senior vice president of KT's Future Business Development Unit. 

"Starting from providing early diagnosis and prevention of infectious diseases and chronic illnesses and improving the environment for maternal and child healthcare, we will continue to expand our digital healthcare services business."

Under their memorandum of understanding, the two companies will combine M3DICINE's mobile-connected stethoscope and KT's digital healthcare service platform.

Established in 2015 by Nayyar Hussain, M3DICINE is working on the development of a connected stethoscope named "Stethee." The company noted it is only 110 grams, small enough to hold in one hand, and can be connected to a smartphone.

"In the inevitable paradigm shift to digital healthcare, mobile diagnostic devices and hospitals' cloud electronic medical records will be increasingly interconnected," Hussain said.

According to M3DICINE, Stethee is capable of detecting cardiac and cardiopulmonary indexes such as cardiac sounds, vascular murmurs and oxygen saturation rate. Ordinary stethoscopes cannot measure such biometric data.

Once it is connected to a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet computer, the collected data can be shared. It can also tap into GPS to record where the diagnosis was made.

In January 2015, M3DICINE acquired approval for the device in European countries and seeks approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in March.

KT said it has worked with medical institutions in developing countries and university hospitals to provide on-site diagnosis services.

Earlier in August last year, the company collaborated with Yonsei University Health System and University Teaching Hospital of Kigali in Rwanda to provide telemedicine services for patients in remote areas. With this service, patients send their blood and urine samples from regional health centers through a long-term evolution (LTE) network to the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali database for diagnosis of viruses such as malaria, dengue fever, AIDS and renal failure.

In September, it also cooperated with a consortium of Pusan National University Hospital, Busan Technopark and local medical institutions in Kazakhstan for a similar telemedicine service.

Last October, KT has signed to an agreement with Ugandan healthcare business Critical Care Solutions to run a joint digital healthcare business in the country.

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