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SK Telecom pilots AI program for dementia diagnosis

All News 10:35 November 02, 2020

SEOUL, Nov. 2 (Yonhap) -- SK Telecom Co., South Korea's largest mobile carrier, said Monday it has started testing an artificial intelligence (AI) program that can detect dementia by listening to patients' speech.

The carrier said it partnered with Seoul National University College of Medicine last year to develop the program to allow early diagnosis of the disease.

The two will start testing the program at major hospitals and the country's dementia centers this month to improve the program's accuracy.

The AI program listens to and analyzes patients' speech for characteristics only found in dementia patients to determine whether they have the disease, according to SK Telecom.

The carrier said it is developing the program as an online application so that patients can access it easily without having to visit hospitals or medical facilities.

Dementia has recently risen as a major disease for the country's rapidly aging population.

South Korea's number of dementia patients is expected to reach 1.36 million in 2030 from 788,000 in 2019, the carrier said, citing National Institute of Dementia data.

SK Telecom said it will improve the AI program next year by adding additional features, such as facial recognition.

A patient uses SK Telecom Co.'s artificial intelligence program that can assess dementia by analyzing the patients' speech, in this photo provided by the company on Nov. 2, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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