The full gamut of industry 4.0 technologies, blockchain included, may need to be used in tandem with one another in order to fight back against the coronavirus pandemic – and that theory could well be put to the test as a new app featuring Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and blockchain technology rolls out in South Korea.
Backed by Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, the South Korean mobile carrier and internet provider KT said that it has launched a blockchain-powered smartphone app called the Study of Health Information for Next Epidemic (SHINE for short). The app, said the company, will gather data for researchers, and could be used to power AI, blockchain, and Big Data-driven efforts to provide key insights to medics fighting highly infectious diseases.
The project has been in the pipelines for over half a year. In April 2020, KT announced that it was teaming up with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A number of other players from the South Korean healthcare and medical IT scene have also been working on the app, including the Korea University Medical Center and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information, as well as Mobile Doctor, a smartphone app developer that specializes in health-monitoring software. The blockchain firm MediBloc, run by medical professionals-turned blockchain businesspeople, is also onboard.
KT and the Gates Foundation each stumped up around USD 5.5m in support for the project, which now appears to be ready to start bearing fruit. Per Hanguk Kyungjae, the app can keep healthcare professionals and users aware of the current risk status level of not only the coronavirus, but also other infectious diseases that cause flu-like symptoms including fever, high temperature, headache and persistent coughs.
The app has been released for general download via the OneStore, the Apple AppStore and via a KT-run website. The firms also stated that users volunteering to submit their data could receive up to USD 18 in gift cards.
The companies stated that the app will also be used in a number of wide-scale medical trials at four of Korea University’s affiliate hospitals, and will also involve gathering data from respiratory tests conducted by doctors at the institutions – as doctors search for a predictive model that projects disease-spread patterns using AI and blockchain technology.
A Gates Foundation official spoke of “increasing the preparedness and responsiveness of infectious diseases” by providing using KT’s “state-of-the-art solution” for “low-income families.”
The development will likely find backers in government – Seoul has been championing industry 4.0-powered solutions to help the country both fight back against the coronavirus pandemic and also mitigate its economic impact. The multi-billion-dollar “Digital New Deal,” the brainchild of the Moon Jae-in presidency, has been emphasizing a holistic approach to funding blockchain and industry 4.0-related progress, particularly in the area of contact-free IT solutions.
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