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Efforts pick up to help senior citizens use tech in daily lives

The government and companies are seeking to help senior citizens benefit from technological innovations, in light of concerns they might be left behind amid fast-changing digital trends.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said earlier this month it would make its high-tech welfare program available to more senior citizens. Using internet of things technology, the program helps deal with emergencies by monitoring the temperature of houses and physical movements.

Meanwhile, mobile carrier SK Telecom has upgraded its AI speaker-based welfare program for senior citizens. Through Nugu’s artificial intelligence algorithm, senior citizens who live alone can enjoy casual conversations with the smart speaker. More details on the upgrade will be announced as early as next month.

“In order to improve the elderly’s accessibility to the AI speaker, we are developing new functions for the Nugu smart speaker,” said an SKT official, indicating that the upgrade might include providing podcasts for senior citizens. 

SKT official explain how to use the smart speaker Nugu to a senior citizen living alone. SKT
SKT official explain how to use the smart speaker Nugu to a senior citizen living alone. SKT

The expansion of the programs came as part of efforts to ensure the older generation benefits from the country’s technological advancements. There has been concern that they might not be keeping up with digital innovations as much as other age groups. 

According to a 2018 survey by the National Information Society Agency, the level of digital literacy for those above the age of 55 was 63 percent of the average, lower than other vulnerable groups, such as the physically challenged and low-income earners.

Accessibility to digital gadgets for the age group was about 90 percent of the average, but their ability to use them was only half that of other age groups.

“Digital infrastructure appears to have been established for elderly people, but they seem to have trouble using it in their everyday lives,” NISA said in a report.