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SKT museum offers visitors peek at the future

Sept 29,2017
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Top: A virtual-reality ride at T.um takes visitors by rail, sky and underwater through a futuristic city set in 2047. Bottom left: A space control center monitors climate and weather conditions on Earth. Information is shown on a transparent display. Bottom center: Virtual-reality headsets let visitors watch as drones and sensors help rescue people in distress. Bottom right: Visitors are given the grave mission of saving the Earth from crashing into a meteor by launching a gravity field-generating device remotely. The museum tour ends when visitors complete the mission. [SK TELECOM, SEO JI-EUN]
For tech enthusiasts seeking mild thrills, SK Telecom’s remodeled museum at its T-Tower headquarters in Euljiro, central Seoul, might be the answer.

T.um, which reopens today, offers a glimpse into possible future technologies, with a range of installations, devices and rides based on virtual scenarios. They imagine everything from hyperloop transportation to space exploration and underground cities.

“We have renewed T.um to allow visitors to experience a wide range of technologies based on 5G networks as well as future information and communications technology,” said Yoon Yong-chul, executive vice president of SK Telecom.

The museum, set inside an indigo blue-colored glass building, is spread across two floors and divided into two sections representing the present and future.

The space devoted to the present is located in the left corner of the building’s entrance on the ground floor. Despite the theme’s name, the displays are about the future three to five years from now rather than the strict present. They depict a lifestyle made possible by faster wireless networks, most notably 5G, set to be commercialized as early as 2019.

A model vehicle allows users to experience autopilot technology, and a virtual reality set-up puts visitors in an online shopping experience where they can pick out items on display as if they were products on real-life shelves.

The displays get bolder as the theme moves toward the future. Escalators lead visitors to a so-called “Hi-Land” on the second floor, where a future city set in 2047 is imagined.

The space is four times bigger than the one dedicated to the present and includes a virtual-reality ride simulating a trip inside a hyperloop, a high-speed mode of transportation that promises faster travel on long routes.

Ten rooms each with a different theme beckon visitors to ponder how advanced technologies might be able to help humanity deal with problems like natural disasters. One simulation shows how drones, sensors and network technology can work together to rescue people in distress.

SK Telecom first opened T.um in November 2008 to present its future vision for information technology, and the exhibition hall has gone through several rounds of transformation in tandem with technological advancements. The space has accumulated 65,000 visitors from 178 countries around the world.

The name T. um, the company said, combines “T,” which stands for technologies and telecommunications, SK Telecom’s core businesses, and “um” from museum. In Korean, the word also means “sprouting.”

The museum is open Monday to Friday, and guides in English and Chinese are available.


BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]