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The artificial intelligence (AI) voucher business plays a role in supporting various AI-based services and technology development to help the socially disadvantaged people. The Ministry of Science and ICT and the National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA) are conducting the AI voucher business, and they issue vouchers to small and medium-sized venture companies (demanding companies) that need AI solution application, and the demanding companies receive AI solutions from small and medium-sized venture companies (suppliers).Even though the original technology was developed, it needed a lot of time to apply and verify the technology. It is meaningful in that it accelerates the research and development by applying AI. The AI voucher project is expected to play a major role in the positive spread of AI as social and economic ripple effects.

Companies participating in the AI voucher project are attracting attention as they provide major services to those who need a social safety net, such as dementia and the disabled.

According to the Central Dementia Center, in 2018, 10% of the population over the age of 65 in Korea suffered from dementia. 70% of among these are known to be Alzheimer's disease. Thirty years from now, the number of dementia patients will quadruple, and the cost of treatment is expected to increase from 12.17 million KRW per patient to about 200 million KRW per year, which is eight times higher. It is a huge burden for people who are in the blind spot of dementia due to expensive examination and treatment costs.

Cantis, one of participants from the AI voucher support project, is dreaming of early diagnosis of dementia through an AI technology-based algorithm for predicting and diagnosing Alzheimer's disease. They are company specializing in biosensors and has been researching technology for early diagnosis of dementia for 10 years since its establishment. Cantis reduced the research time and improved the accuracy of early diagnosis of dementia by applying AI technology to body fluid analysis information through the AI voucher support project. Currently, diagnosis of dementia costs about 600,000 KRW, including MRI scans. With AI technology, not only more precise diagnosis result but also cost has been reduced by one-tenth.

An official from Cantis said, “Thanks to the AI voucher, we have commercialized a product that can diagnose dementia quickly at a low cost.If convenient and inexpensive early screening becomes possible, it will pave better the way for treatment.”

IoTPLEX has developed an online video conferencing solution that includes text interpretation for the hearing impaired.

According to the Korea Disabled people’s Development Institute, among the disabled population in Korea, the number of people with hearing impairments (14.4%) is the second highest after mental retardation. IoTPLEX designed a product to change the reality that video conferences occur frequently after COVID-19, but the hearing impaired are inevitably neglected.

In the existing video conference, even if the subtitle function was used, a delay time of 3 seconds or more occurred and the recognition rate of text conversion was low. IoTPLEX secured voice data files through the AI voucher business and improved the accuracy of speech recognition and text conversion recognition by more than 80%. Real-time subtitles (text) are implemented for voice and remarks so that even the hearing impaired can communicate.

All statements during the meeting are printed on the timeline within the maximum of 3 seconds. Considering the progress of the meeting in various environments, AI technology was used to develop and apply noise processing technology. An IoTPLEX official said, “Through the AI voucher support project, we have applied AI technology and are ahead of commercialization. We hope that there will be no more neglected people by creating an environment where even the hearing impaired can easily attend meetings.”

An official from the Ministry of Science and ICT said, “There are many companies that have used AI vouchers to create various social values such as safety and environment, as well as health care and disabled people. We will continue to support the realization of a society for the place where we can develop together by adding AI to existing technologies and values.”

By Staff Reporter Ji-sun Kim (