North Korea showcases first smart house

Kim Il Sung University graduate school student demonstrates IoT. Image: Seogwang website screengrab

Competing brands for IoT-enabled speakers such as Kakao Mini and GIGA have been garnering a lot of attention in South Korea recently. In the midst of this trend, North Korea has also just announced its first IoT-enabled smart house.   

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to networks of devices, vehicles, and home appliances that feature electronics, software, actuators, and connectivity, allowing these entities to interact and exchange data.

In a video introducing the IoT-enabled smart house, a PhD student from the Kim Il Sung Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, explains, “This smart house has been equipped with IoT and AI technology, enabling everything to be controlled through voice commands.”

The student then goes on to demonstrate turning on the lights, TV, and air purifier with voice commands.

As he gives the command, “Air purifier, turn on”, the power button switches on and an AI speaker responds that the “command has been completed”.

The North Korean IoT technology appears limited to only turning appliances on and off, putting it far behind similar technology in South Korea which can interconnect nearly everything in a house including smartphones, speaker phones, electronic appliances, and gas supply, etc.

After Kim Jong Un took power in North Korea, there has been a heightened interest in advanced technologies such as IoT and AI. The North Korean leader has since focused on the reform of science and technology, promoting the development and spread of knowledge regarding cutting edge technology, and encouraging scientists in their research.   

On the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the National Institute of Science, Kim also decided to restructure the Institute with two major departments, Advanced Technology and Core Technology. He also ordered the construction of a new science and technology center and provided guidance for intranet use inside North Korea to spread information, deliver cyber education, and telemedicine.   

However, North Korea’s potential for technological advancement is greatly limited by the country’s reclusive nature and weak industrial base.  

Kim Il Sung University appears to be at the forefront of technological research in North Korea. A newspaper article recently published on November 11 in North Korea’s state-run newspaper praised the accomplishment of the Kim Il Sung Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology for taking first place in a competition for the best facial recognition technology during the 29th National Information Technology Conference.

Another article was later released on November 16 congratulating the Kim Il Sung AI Research Center for winning the Ryongnamsan award of excellence for their creation of vocal recognition software.

*Translated by Brian Boyle