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AI, robots to lead future medical industry

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Published : 2017-03-19 10:47
Updated : 2017-03-19 10:47

Medical supplies and equipment based on artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic technology will dominate the global health care sector in the future, industry watchers said Sunday.

The remarks were made during the Korea International Medical Clinical Laboratories and Hospital Equipment Show (KIMES) at the Convention and Exhibition Center (COEX) in southern Seoul where nearly 1,300 medical instrument manufacturers from both home and abroad showcased their latest medical technologies and products.

Photo from 'KIMES 2017' (Yonhap)

The annual event, the 33rd of its kind, is hosted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The ministry said the goal of the event is to navigate the future of the global health care industry, which is largely seen as the next new growth engine.

Global IT giant IBM Corp. showcased its AI-based supercomputer called "Watson" that can diagnose and treat cancer, one of the leading causes of the death in the world.

Last year, Gachon University Gil Medical Center in Seoul employed Watson for the first time in the world to assist doctors in diagnosing cancer. Andrew Norden, Deputy Chief Health Officer at IBM Watson Health, said AI devices like Watson were created to help doctors not to replace them.

The doctor added that Watson can become human doctors' greatest helpers, predicting more hospitals will adopt the system in the near future.

In a bid to raise the country's competitiveness amid growing calls for South Korea to revamp its R&D strategy to catch up with other global powerhouses, the Seoul government has rolled out various measures to stimulate growth momentum.

South Korea-based SELVAS AI Inc. also unveiled its AI-based medical speech transcription solution, "Selvy MediVoice" and heath checkup machine, "Selvy Checkup."

The midsized company supplies human-machine interaction (HMI) solutions, such as handwriting, image and speech recognition, through specialized research and development based on state-of-the-art deep learning technology.

"Visitors can experience the service of having six major cancers including lung and liver as well as other major diseases checked if they bring results of the latest health checkup through the Selvy system," the company said in a press release.

Reflecting the growing interest in this field, companies taking part in the exhibition showcased more than 30,000 examples of advanced medical supplies and equipment, hoping to grab the attention of international buyers.

Major research centers and leading tech firms, including Samsung Electronics Co., as well as venture firms also introduced their latest robotic hardware to potential customers.

Curexo, one of the leading companies in the field, introduced the latest surgical robots created through a joint project with Hyundai Heavy Industries Co.

Market sources said that medical robots have increasingly taken over the surgical table at many local hospitals on the back of the government's robust efforts for support measures and advanced medical technology. They said such developments will gain speed down the road and it can benefit people needing medical attention.  (Yonhap)