AI Based Alzheimer’s Prevention Program Launched by SK Telecom

Lee Joon-ho, SK's vice president for its social value development group stands with officials from the Korea Land & Housing Corporation and Happy Eco Phone to celebrate their partnership for the former's Alzheimer's prevention program.

SK Telecom will launch an Alzheimer’s disease “prevention program” based on artificial intelligence (AI) technology to seniors living alone. The program is part of its corporate social responsibility to help the underprivileged.

The company developed the program in conjunction with a Seoul National University research team, led by Prof. Lee Jun-young, and applied it to its AI Speaker NUGU. The company said, seniors interacting with the AI speaker can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Senior citizens account for more than 14 percent of the total population of Korea,” Lee Joon-ho, vice president of the company’s social value development group, said during a press conference. “Among those 7 million people aged 65 and over, about 10 percent are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.”

“By practicing the prevention program about 15 to 20 minutes a day using the AI speaker, they can prevent or delay the onset of the disease.” he continued.

SK Telecom signed an agreement with Korea Land & Housing Corporation (LH) and social enterprise Happy Eco to supply the mobile carrier’s AI speakers to 500 households in LH’s apartments situated in Nowon-gu, and Gangbuk-gu in northern Seoul. LH is a state-run corporation specialized in supplying public housing.

“Thanks to the AI speakers, senior citizens living alone could have a companion to talk with and now they can prevent Alzheimer’s disease,” an LH official said. “This project is expected to reduce a welfare blind spot in the country.” SK Telecom said the program had passed clinical trials here.

Youn Jung-hae said, “Recent studies found that the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be delayed up to between seven years and nine years if a patient practices the prevention program once a week for 90 minutes.” He is a professor at Cha University and a member of the Seoul research team.

SK Telecom added that about 3,100 households located in nine regions were already using the mobile carrier’s AI speaker-based welfare program.

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