Seoul's satellite city to provide smart care solutions for 543 vulnerable residents living alone

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : February 16, 2023, 11:09 Updated : February 16, 2023, 15:25

[Courtesy of Seognam City]

SEOUL -- Three different smart care solutions -- the internet of things-based monitoring devices, artificial intelligence-based care robots, and Bluetooth-based robot psychologists -- will be distributed to middle-aged and older people with a high possibility of dying alone. The solutions, already used by some 300 residents in 2020, will be provided to additional 543 residents.
The total number of single-person households in Seongnam is 122,461. About 38.5 percent of them are aged 40 to 64. In 2022, smart care devices that inform community centers through a screen regarding the residents' conditions were provided to 300 people to reduce the burden of human caregivers. The solution classifies conditions depending on the changes in the house in four stages: "normal" "caution", "alert" and "danger."
Seongnam said in a press release that the three smart devices will be distributed to 543 people by the end of February. About 100 million won ($77,778) will be spent for the provision of the devices. "Some of our residents who often felt anxious when living alone said they felt relieved after receiving our care solutions last year, saying that they felt like they were being taken care of," a Seongnam official told Aju Business Daily on February 16. She added the solution was adopted in 2022 as the municipal office found it difficult to look after vulnerable residents for 24 hours.

The internet of things (IoT)-based monitoring devices will be provided to 350 single households. It ​automatically detects the temperature, humidity, and movement of the residents. In case of emergency, the solution will notify human caregivers. A total of 113 artificial intelligence (AI)-based care robots will be distributed to old people living alone. The AI robot called "Hyodori" can engage in verbal conversation with humans and notify the elderly of when to take medicines. For 80 people suffering from depression, Xingo, a Bluetooth-based robot psychologist capable of singing and dancing, will be offered.   
The number of single-person households has been rapidly increasing in South Korea with a population of about 52 million. Government data showed that the country had some 1.6 million single households aged 65 or older in 2020. The proportion of old people who live alone is steadily increasing from 16 percent in 2000 to 19.6 percent in 2020. The number of lonely deaths also skyrocketed to 1,145 in 2019 from 68 in 2011.
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