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Can’t imagine how 5G fits into your life? Find out at MWC.

Feb 28,2019
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From left; LG U+ employees give a demonstration of the company’s 5G smart factory at MWC 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. Visitors play virtual reality baseball on Monday at KT’s “5G Playground” booth at Fira Gran Via conference facility in Barcelona. Conference-goers demonstrate a virtual reality headset at the SK Telecom booth. [YONHAP]
BARCELONA, Spain - Escaping the hustle and bustle of a business conference room floor is surprisingly easy at MWC 2019 this year - by just putting on a headset and taking hold of a sensor-equipped handle, a visitor can be teleported to the tranquil lobby of a virtual reality hotel.

Using the handle, the user can take a look around various types of rooms and add interior items like flowers, balloons and plants to improve the ambience. If they finally settle on a design they like, the user can make a real-world reservation on the spot. A similar system is also available for restaurants as well.

This is all possible at the Connected Space, one of the main corners of the SK Telecom booth at MWC. Other corners cover connected vehicles, smart factories and social virtual reality.

Helping visitors firmly grasp how 5G will actually impact people’s daily lives is apparently the mission of Korea’s three mobile carriers at this year’s MWC.

When this reporter visited the SK Telecom booth on Tuesday, the Connected Space corner was one of the most popular, with visitors from the IT industry and press lining up to get a glimpse of what 5G can really offer.

“I wanted to try it out because the gadget and all that stuff made it look like it’s going to offer a very futuristic experience,” said IT analyst Aaron Tayler, “but actually when I tried it, I could imagine how this VR and 5G technology can be used in our daily lives.”

“I think commercializing this technology would be helpful because through the VR experience, we can feel the ambiance and mood of the hotel room before making a reservation,” said Kristina Helmer, a freelancer. “It might prevent being fooled by nice and decorative photos.”

SK Telecom also showcased an artificial machine vision factory solution which detects faulty products on the manufacturing line through the 5G network and cameras. Sensors on the conveyor belt busily scan product parts to detect faulty ones.

“Through the 5G network, a more precise and fast detection has become possible,” said an SK Telecom staff.

A live image of Haeundae beach in Busan was available in real-time in Barcelona at the KT booth.

Visitors could control the direction and angle of a camera installed on the “skyship” - a blimp-like balloon complete with a camera and 5G equipment - floating above Haeundae in real time. There was hardly any delay despite the 6,200 miles between the two cities, thanks to the 3.5-gigahertz 5G network set up in Busan.

Six corners were set up at the KT booth including an AI hotel where a robot can deliver amenities at a guests’ command, plot its own routes, get in elevators and avoid obstacles all on its own. It is an upgraded version of the AI service KT demonstrated last year in Korea.

Another popular technology demonstrated on the sideline of KT’s booth was a robot barista.

In collaboration with KT, Seoul-based coffee franchise Dal.Komm Coffee was showcasing a robotic arm that makes coffee to order and even manages to greet customers as well.

When a customer places an order through a smartphone, it gives you a number, and when the number pops up on the robot, it means the coffee is ready to be served.

“This is the second generation which will get commercialized around March,” said a representative from Dal.Komm Coffee at the booth. “The upgraded 5G version is able to interact more with the customer, such as make greetings and hand gestures when a customer approaches the machine.”

The representative said the coffee robot, named Beat2E, costs 100 million won ($89,400) per unit, but is available at cheaper prices on lease.

Smart factories are another inseparable element of 5G technology.

LG U+ set up a joint booth with LG Electronics and demonstrated giving orders to logistics robots located in a factory in Pyeontaek, Gyeonggi, with just a tap of a finger on the control screen.

“A 5G modem is installed on every major object inside the factory so that it can communicate or network in real-time,” said an official from LG U+ at the booth. “We are planning to implement it in an LG factory in Cheongju [in North Chungcheong] soon.”

The joint booth with its electronics affiliate, which just unveiled the 5G V50 and G8 smartphones, helped the mobile carrier promote the super-fast network better.

With the help of VR and AR headsets connected to the phones, visitors could hang out with K-pop stars, taking them either to a concert hall in VR or just standing in front of them at the booth in AR.

The 3-D K-pop content was filmed with 30 cameras beforehand, according to the company.

MWC 2019 will end its run today.

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BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]