Internet of Things-style technology emerges in N.Korea, state TV shows – NK News


August 26, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Uncategorized


Internet of Things-style technology has come to North Korea, state TV showed on Wednesday, with domestically produced tablet devices that allow users to interact with machine equipment located remotely in factories.The Byeol Mu Ri or ‘Star Group’ device – a seven-inch flash tablet – was shown helping users remotely work with equipment throughout North Korea, the Korea Central TV (KCTV) news broadcast showed.The device was described as being equipped with Human Machine Interface (HMI) software, whose “mission” is to monitor and control devices involved in factory operations in real time, KCTV said.Like the Internet of Things, related HMI technology allows users to control and manipulate physical equipment from remote locations.According to a wall banner in the video, the price of the Byeol Mu Ri is much “lower” than similar imported technology, because the North succeeded in “domestically producing” the HMI device.State TV said the North developed an embedded operating system for the device based on Windows CE technology, linked to the Seattle-based Microsoft Corporation.Windows CE is a “pared-down” version of the classic operating system which was made to do very specific or limited tasks, like in an ATM (automated teller machine) or a robot in a factory, said Eric Johnson, an independent information technology expert with experience analyzing the DPRK.“When someone says they are running Win CE (it has a newer name now), what that says to me is, we’re talking about a computing device meant to control an industrial process,” he said.As a result, the technology could be a meaningful step forward for factory automation in North Korea, though regular power cuts might be a much larger hurdle for managers there.“Instead of doing everything by hand,” Johnson said the broadcast appeared to show how HMI could help “automate” a factor. “It’s not a very computerized society, so using a computer to do, control or automate anything is a step forward.”A new device equipped with Human Machine Interface (HDI) tech to remotely control factory operations I Credit: Korean Central Television (KCTV)A new device equipped with Human Machine Interface (HDI) tech to remotely control factory operations I Credit: Korean Central Television (KCTV)DOUBLE-EDGED SWORDOne observer specializing in the DPRK economy said the new device demonstrated an evolution of Kim Jong Un’s industrial technology policies, once primarily focused on Computer Numerical Control (CNC).“The North pursues the policy of applying cutting-edge technology – like CNC – in an attempt to jumpstart its industry at once, which has been lagging behind (other) information-oriented societies,” Nam Seong-wook, a professor at the North Korean studies department of Korea University told NK News.CNC has been a sort of fad technology, which was widely embraced in the latter days of Kim Jong Il’s rule, on which hopes were pinned that major improvements in the economy could arise through computerized control of factory equipment.But while North Korea’s renewed technological focus might help improve productivity, Nam warned the automation could be a double-edged sword.“If unmanned technology and automation are persistently pursued, workers providing simple labor will lose their jobs,” Nam said, adding that it could “lead to an unemployment problem in the North”.The new device was introduced at the seventh IT and hi-tech products exhibition of the Pyongyang State Academy of Sciences, and comes just a week after North Korean state media introduced a Netflix-style video-on-demand system to its citizens.“There were more than 100 IT successes and over 90 hi-tech products helpful for various domains of the national economy on an automated, intellectual and unmanned basis,” the narrator said of the exhibition, emphasizing the locally produced nature of the tech on display at the fair.Featured Image: KCTV

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