SK Telecom unveils virtual assistant

SK Telecom has unveiled its own virtual digital assistant, the first to understand the Korean language.

The operator announced NUGU, an artificial intelligence service based on voice recognition technology, following in the footsteps of digital assistants such as Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana.

NUGU will offer a wide range of services including music recommendations and playback, smart home control services and assistant services such as schedule notification, weather information and smartphone location tracking.

The digital assistant will be implemented through a 29.1cm cylindrical device that doubles as a home speaker and LED lighting system.

As an example of NUGU's capabilities SK Telecom said the system will be able to respond to requests such as “play me some happy music,” and be able to answer questions regarding the tracks playing, such as the title of the song.

NUGU will use cloud-based deep learning to be able to improve by itself as more customers start using the service, for example by improving its speech recognition accuracy. SK Telecom also plans to constantly add to the platform's functionality via over-the-air updates.

Planned new features include voice-enabled e-commerce services, real-time traffic and transformation information and additional media services. Starting in the first half of next year, the company also plans to open NUGU APIs to eternal developers.

“In the past, the evolution of input device - from a conventional keyboard to mouse, and then to touchpad – has brought great changes to people’s daily lives. Now, we are once again standing at a turning point that leads to a dramatically different world created by voice recognition and artificial intelligence technologies,”SK Telecom head of device supporting division Park Il-hwan said.

“Starting with the launch of NUGU, the first-ever virtual assistant service that supports the Korean language, we will promote the popularization of artificial intelligence technologies and services to realize enhanced value for our customers.”    

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