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Robot cafes, virtual doctors, — how South Korea is creating a fully contact-free society

South Korea’s government is encouraging people to use contactless services, and has even coined a special term for them: ‘untact’.

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In a cafe in Daejeon, South Korea, a robot barista serves drinks to reduce person-to-person contact between staff and customers.

It’s one example of an innovative solution to the difficulties of social distancing. But even before Covid-19, many kinds of contactless customer experience were becoming a feature of life in South Korea.

The march of ‘untact’ services

From online shopping and ordering food remotely to chatbots and appointments with virtual doctors, digital technologies have enabled the rise of services that minimize direct human interactions.

And in South Korea, there’s even a word for it: “untact”.

A term initially used by marketers, untact services are now being deployed in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to aid the country’s economic recovery.

The Digital New Deal – part of President Moon Jae-in’s $62 billion five-year Korean New Deal stimulus package – outlines plans to prepare for “surging demand for remote services”.

Projects to boost “untact industries” include building 18 smart hospitals for remote healthcare, providing digital care services for seniors and other vulnerable groups, helping small and medium-sized businesses set up virtual conferencing and online sales support for small companies.

There will also be investment in technologies that enable untact services, such as robotics, drones and high-speed internet.

is a Senior Writer at Formative Content.

This article was originally published in the World Economic Forum.

Also read: Pandemic-inspired homes could be the future of design innovation


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