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T.um exhibit at SK Tower

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I also had the great privelege of going to the T.um exhibition
(pronounced Tume) in the SK Tower. Designed primarily for investors
the public does not have general access to the exhibits and as a
result I was not able to take pictures. However there is a T.um exhibit video which gives
you a flavour of what is on offer. I was actually late so was only
make 30 mins of the presentation, so it's possible I missed some
stuff.

Much like Microsoft's vision of an active home, the T.um exhibit is an
hour long snapshot tour into the world of the future. To be more
specific, the world of the future of a married man with a wife and two
kids and a very hectic schedule of emergency board meetings (they
always are aren't they?) and international holiday arrangements. With
a slightly fire and forget attitude to shopping or a highly disposable
income.

I was escorted around the exhibit by, I have to say, a very pretty and
bubbly tour guide who had this digital vision sewn up. She explained
how the current communications network metaphor could be extended into
futurist type thinking; Home as base station, cars as hubs and
personal avatars as nodes.

The home was run by a glowing green flower sprite that was essentially
your digital assistant. 'She' could retrieve documents requested by
others' emails, diagnose your health and stress levels and prescribe
the ideal therapy in the form of music and idyllic wall projections,
which were incredibly life like. Every wall was 'intelligent' and able
to react and respond to types of participation. The sprite could also
contact a central mainframe and find out my flight details, check
traffic conditions and calculate how much time was left until I had to
leave for the airport to catch my plane. Having a few hours to kill
the digital assistant suggested I watch a movie in the meantime. Any
products featured in the movie could then be bought immediately at the
click of a button to be on my doormat awaiting my return from holiday.
Whether the digital assistant let the post man in was inconclusive.

I then got in my car, which resembled something out of the iRobot
film. I am a big fan of the movie so I was looking forward to
re-enacting this futuristic world. The sense of speed in the
simulation was impressive - I think this was to emphasize the fact
that in world where both the car and the road were 'intelligent' you
could presumably drive as fast as you like, Drive, though was the
wrong word as the entire process from home to airport was automated
and the car sans steering wheel.

This gave me more time to communicate and shop! Coz, that's what
everyone does in the future right? And being a forgetful man that I
am, I was able to make a last minute purchase of a present for my
beautiful wife and receive, "daddy, daddy, daddy!" type updates from
my kids. For a moment, I lamented the loss of my brooding, sarcastic
and stubborn self, until I stepped out of the vehicle and realised
nothing had changed there.

The next transition was curiously to step into my wardrobe, to
demonstrate the avatar concept and actually I found this part the most
interesting. Through radio frequencies my wardrobe was able to
determine my actual body shape under my clothes, which then got
transcribed to a digital format, namely my avatar. My assistant
explained that now, in theory, I could download the entire shop
catalogue and style myself on a digital catwalk with my avatar
strutting the runway. Presumably they intended me to download only the
mens section but I secretly thought to myself, "hey, this is the
internet, I can be whoever I want!" Shame your average department
store doesn't have a wigs section.

With avatar's as nodes in the network, the overarching concept of both
the drive and shopping mall experience was that my avatar could
communicate with other avatars in my network. Thus my bubbly assistant
provided the perennial practical use case of ubiquitous connectivity;
say I want to buy some clothes for my girlfriend, I will finally be
able to know what size she is and what clothes might suit her! Finally
technology could compensate for my missing chromosome. At this point,
I was sold. Just the day before I had a similar problem in Dongdaemun,
the fashion 'zone' of Seoul. Having come across a pretty cool top for
my missus I was totally stumped on the choice of colour (white, pink
or blue) and the undeniable fact that as a man, trying to assess
women's sizes for something as simple as a t-shirt is like Gulliver
looking through his laundry after it's shrunk in the wash. In the end,
I had to take a punt on the size and call my sister ? blue was
neutral, therefore I couldn't go wrong. However, had I really been in
the future, I'd have been able to download my girlfriends avatar,
match the size and then send a copy to my sister's avatar of the
entire set of colour choices and defer to her style pre-emninence.

The most convincing technology was mobile 'swipe zones' where you
could join a multiplayer game of football, scrabble or connect four by
swiping your phone at the hot spot. Another pretty cool thing was the
ability of these ubiquitous digital zones was they were able to detect
'edges' and digitally introject a 3D world. What this meant was that
games could be played with other virtual avatars. Fantastical and
funny creatures like Doraemon could dance around next to you and 'on'
objects in your vicinity. This hit the sweet spot. No futurism about
it ? simply unbounded imagination meets the constraints of technology.

Whilst I have a tendency to believe that futuristic visions are
inherently condemned to be anachronistic, what was telling about the
exhibit was where SK Telecoms corporate strategy really lay. Rather
than seeing the network as trucks or a series of tubes that carried
data, they were far more focussed on the idea of ubiquitous
connectivity, and consequently were more interested in being present
at every possible transaction point that made life easier and simpler.
There was a brief history of the company at the exhibit, which showed
all the different payment platforms and technology they had supported.
Calling (audio & video), mobile phone swipe payment systems, and pay
TV were some typical examples.

It was a genuine privilege to be able to view the T.um exhibit at SK
Telecom and I'd like to extend my thanks to them. It's a great
presentation for investors that does practically translate the
grandness of their vision and transcribes the depth of their thinking
and understanding of technology. T.um is closed to the public but if
you are in Seoul and in the mobile & telecoms industry go and knock on
SK Telecom's door and I;m sure they would be happy to show you
around. In the long run, I hope they take it on as a work in progress,
develop the ideas and seek to open it to the public to enjoy for what
it is ? a giant thought experiment and adventure into possibilities.

Posted by jc1000000

10th Nov 2008, 01:40  

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