Saturday, May 31, 2014

KAIST's raptor robot exceeds 28 mph (46 km/h), faster than Usain Bolt

Since I will leave KAIST near the end of June to join the faculty of SUNY-Korea in Songdo, you'll permit me to display a bit of pride in a recent KAIST accomplishment.  This time it is scientists from KAIST's Mechatronics, Systems and Control lab who are in the news. They have built a robot modelled after the velociraptor dinosaur that, as shown in the accompanying YouTube video, can run at speeds up to 28 miles per hour.  As reported by the International Business Times of the UK, this is faster than Usain Bolt.  The report also noted that the Raptor robot developed at KAIST, while not as fast as Boston Dynamics cheetah robot, is built very differently. "Cheetah is a four-legged quadroped robot powered by hydraulic actuators and is heavy, but the Raptor only has two legs, which are made from lightweight composite material, and it weighs just 3kg. The Raptor also has a 'tail' – a spinning rod – that keeps its body stable as it navigates around and over obstacles, according to Jongwon Park, a PhD student at KAIST's Mechatronics, Systems, and Control Laboratory." As I've argued in previous posts, Korea's robotics industry needs to be considered in relation to the evolution of its broadband networks and digital convergence in this country. The two will eventually work hand in hand in many ways.

Semiconductor industry shifts toward Nand flash memory

Korea's largest semiconductor manufacturers are in the news these days, both because of the shift toward NAND flash memory devices. Taken together, these two companies dominate the global market for NAND flash memory.  As reported by The Joongang Daily, Samsung has begun mass producing 3-D V-NAND flash memory, which has 32 vertically stacked cell layers. As noted in the article, "It is the company’s second-generation V-NAND, an improvement on its first generation featuring 24 vertically stacked cell layers. Both are produced using the same equipment at the company’s semiconductor plant in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi. The popularity of the vertical NAND was helped by the vertical NAND solid-state drive (SSD) Samsung started selling last year." The Joongang Daily articel also noted that "NAND flash memory accounted for 42 percent of the global memory market last year and is expected to increase to 56 percent of the global memory market by 2017, according to a recent research report by Gartner." Click on the accompanying graphic to see a full size version. Not to be outdone, SK Hynix has signed a deal to acquire a U.S. flash solution provider. As reported by The Korea Herald, "SK hynix said Friday it has signed a deal to acquire part of U.S. data storage firm Violin Memory to enhance its presence in the fast-growing market for flash memory devices. The deal will allow SK hynix to secure Violin’s PCIe intellectual properties. “This purchase will enable us to respond to growing demands for high-value-added solid-state drives for servers in the NAND flash markets,” SK hynix said."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Korean reunification: an approach toward gradual economic integration

The Park Geun-hye administration is steadily releasing more details about its policy on national reunification.  As reported in the Korea Joongang Daily, the topic of reunification finance has attracted attention both at home and abroad since President Park's major address recently in Dresden. The Korea Joongang Daily reported on a speech by Shin Je-yoon, chairman of the Financial Services Commission in which he indicated that the Korean government will help attract foreign capital into North Korea if the regime opens up its economy. “For now, we don’t encourage investment, because they don’t have basic legal structures yet. If they open the market to global markets, then we will help them induce foreign investment for development. “If those kind of basic areas like legal services or consulting services by commercial entities like investment banks are prepared, we will encourage foreign investors to make investments. We are always ready to help,” he added.  Also in his speech at the 2014 Korea Economic Forum hosted by the newspaper,FSC Chairman Shin proposed four key tasks in preparing for unification in the financial sector: resetting the monetary system, adjusting the exchange rate system, reforming the financial infrastructure and financing development needs.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Minister Choi stresses public-private cooperation at inaugural meeting of IT Strategy Commission

Earlier this week the newly formed IT Strategy Commission (mentioned in this earlier post) held its inaugural meeting. Organized by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and headed by the prime minister, the commission includes researchers, private companies and economic experts.  As reported by The Korea Joongang Daily, Minister Choi Mun-kee emphasized the importance of public-private cooperation in his speech as follows. “The public and private sectors have to cooperate through the IT Strategy Commission. The commission aims to resolve urgent problems - low growth, job creation, low fertility, the aging society and reunification with the North - that our society is facing and to accelerate economic growth.” The plan announced at the meeting is part of the government’s investment of 1.4 trillion won ($1.4 billion) over three years in an ICT technology development policy package that includes supporting the software industry and commercializing the superfast 5G network, Internet of Things and ultra high-definition broadcasting.

Disaster at sea in the information age

The tragic sinking of the ferry Sewol in mid April and the heartbreaking loss of so many high school students who were onboard has gripped South Korea and also the entire world.  It is beyond words to describe, especially in a short blog post.  I would simply note that the entire tragedy is profoundly conditioned by this countries advanced digital broadband networks.  Already, the public here and the whole world has gained insight into what occurred as the ferry sank through videos recorded on smartphones, which are universally used by high school students these days.  The loss of young people, especially students, strikes a universal chord all around the world, but most especially in this nation which places such a high value on the education of its youth.