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Tech
New ETDA head outlines core tasks for ecosystem

New ETDA head outlines core tasks for ecosystem
Aiming to strike a regulatory balance

The newly appointed chief executive of the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) has voiced his commitment to fostering an e-commerce ecosystem and striking a balance between regulations and promotion of digital services.
Chaichana: Joined agency in 2011

Chaichana Mitrpant was appointed to lead the ETDA on July 17 for a four-year working term. He replaced Surangkana Wayuparb, whose resignation took effect last December.
The ETDA will focus on three core tasks, Mr Chaichana said.
First, the agency will be involved in crafting the electronic transaction strategic plan and the infrastructure standards development plan in its capacity as the secretariat of the Electronic Transactions Committee.
The two plans are targeted for completion in September, Mr Chaichana said. The agency is duty-bound to regulate businesses involved with electronic transactions, as well as iron out a variety of related standards.
Second, the ETDA needs to usher in related laws and digital business regulatory mechanisms, plus guidelines for supervision.
“The ETDA’s regulatory role will not focus on control, but serve as a friendly regulator that will support digital entrepreneurs, many of which are new players or have yet to firmly settle,” Mr Chaichana said.
Third, the agency will gear up for the development of related standards and services for digital government, he said.
Mr Chaichana joined the ETDA as assistant to the chief executive in 2011.
Before becoming chief executive he was the deputy chief executive director, with duties that included establishing the Asean-Japan Cybersecurity Capacity Building Centre, managing the Thai Cyber Emergency Response Team and coordinating with various international forums such as Asean and International Telecommunication Union meetings.
A budget of 411 million baht was earmarked for the ETDA for fiscal 2020. The sum rose to 750 million baht in fiscal 2021.
The ETDA, in operation for a decade, has several obligations after the Electronics Transactions Act came into force last year.
The agency is duty-bound to determine standards that will support electronic transactions, such as digital identification, and bring about the appropriate regulations in this regard.
In setting out the standards, the ETDA must seek cooperation with other agencies to ensure data sharing.
The agency will focus on providing recommendations and standards in the context of promotion, while maintaining a secure environment for data protection and security as defined by other laws, Mr Chaichana said.
The need to raise the qualifications of service providers and improve coordination among the technical systems of each service provider is considered critical information infrastructure that can affect confidence and trust in electronic transactions, he said.
As a digital transformation facilitator, the ETDA will serve as the organisation supporting the use of innovation for electronic transactions in management and services by the public and private sectors.

Tech
Everyday luxury

Everyday luxury
Dyson’s V8 Fluffy may seem expensive, but it’s a house-chore game-changer

I am impressed how this gun-like mobile vacuum cleaner shortens my housecleaning time by more than 20%. But is it worth 16,000 baht? That depends on how much money you have in the bank and how clean you want your place to be.
I reviewed a Dyson vacuum five years ago (bit.ly/2WzP5RG) and now in 2020, the V8 Fluffy is their latest entry iteration. What has changed? Let us read on.
I find that the main purpose of this gadget remains the same. It is still a hi-so vacuum cleaner, with some tweaks and improvements. For instance, the Dyson V8 Fluffy has more sucking power and comes with an ingenious wall-mounted charger cradle which makes it easy to slip the machine in and out of charge mode when needed. I do not believe this was available in the previous version.
Also, the tube extension pipe can easily be attached and detached, and can be removed entirely for short-range cleaning. It also comes with five different kinds of head for furniture, curtains and corners.
Removing dust or cobwebs from the corners of the ceiling is not a near-impossible task anymore. Using a broom to do such things is a back-breaking task, I assure you.

I find the Dyson picks up exceptionally fine dust much better than sweeping the floor with a regular broom, something like 10 times better. If you have a person with a dust allergy at home, this might be something to consider, apart from using an air filter machine that is.
It was easy enough for my 12-year-old daughter to assemble and operate without my guidance, which means that it is not too complicated to put together.
Disposing of the sucked-up dust and dirt is easy by pulling a lever, and the dirt will drop down from the bottom of the machine. This reduces the chance of touching the dirt. Nifty and convenient.
The whole set is very Lego-like and can be taken apart for thorough cleaning, which will be needed after a couple of cleaning sessions when hair and other disgusting things get tangled in the machine.
It takes around five hours to fully charge from 0% battery to full and can be at its normal suction power for around 40 minutes. But, at its maximum vacuum power, it can be used for around 20 minutes before it faints and stops.

I wish, in the case that the battery has run out, the vacuum cleaner could operate when plugged in like a regular vacuum cleaner. With this one, it simply will not turn on at all when the battery is depleted even when it’s plugged in. A decent charge is needed before bringing it back to life again.
Using this on damp surfaces is OK, but do not push your luck by using it on wet floors though, since the machine is still … a machine, and machines do not like liquid.
It is rare that any product these days comes with a large A4-size manual (with large fonts and full-colour diagrams as well). It seems trivial but this is very suitable for older and younger ones to actually read.
When fully assembled, the device may weigh around 2.6kg. Not heavy enough to break your back, but not so light that you want to lift it overhead for more than five minutes.
Using one of these for a month, I find it quite hard to go back to a broom and duster now.

Tech
Astrophysicists unveil biggest-ever 3D map of Universe

The efforts of hundreds of scientists from around 30 institutions around the world have yielded the largest-ever 3D map of the universe.
GENEVA: Astrophysicists on Monday published the largest-ever 3D map of the Universe, the result of an analysis of more than four million galaxies and ultra-bright, energy-packed quasars.
The efforts of hundreds of scientists from around 30 institutions worldwide have yielded a “complete story of the expansion of the universe”, said Will Percival of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
In the project launched more than two decades ago, the researchers made “the most accurate expansion history measurements over the widest-ever range of cosmic time”, he said in a statement.
The map relies on the latest observations of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), titled the “extended Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey” (eBOSS), with data collected from an optical telescope in New Mexico over six years.
The infant Universe following the Big Bang is relatively well known through extensive theoretical models and observation of cosmic microwave background — the electromagnetic radiation of the nascent cosmos.
Studies of galaxies and distance measurements also contributed to a better understanding of the Universe’s expansion over billions of years.
– ‘Troublesome gap’ –
But Kyle Dawson of the University of Utah, who unveiled the map on Monday, said the researchers tackled a “troublesome gap in the middle 11 billion years”.
Through “five years of continuous observations, we have worked to fill in that gap, and we are using that information to provide some of the most substantial advances in cosmology in the last decade,” he said.
Astrophysicist Jean-Paul Kneib of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, who initiated eBOSS in 2012, said the goal was to produce “the most complete 3D map of the Universe throughout the lifetime of the Universe”.
For the first time, the researchers drew on “celestial objects that indicate the distribution of matter in the distant Universe, galaxies that actively form stars and quasars”.
The map shows filaments of matter and voids that more precisely define the structure of the Universe since its beginnings, when it was only 380,000 years old.
For the part of the map relating to the Universe six billion years ago, researchers observed the oldest and reddest galaxies.
For more distant eras, they concentrated on the youngest galaxies — the blue ones. To go back even further, they used quasars, galaxies whose supermassive black hole is extremely luminous.
The map reveals that the expansion of the Universe began to accelerate at some point and has since continued to do so.
The researchers said this seems to be due to the presence of dark energy, an invisible element that fits into Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity but whose origin is not yet understood.
Astrophysicists have known for years that the Universe is expanding, but have been unable to measure the rate of expansion with precision.
Comparisons of the eBOSS observations with previous studies of the early universe have revealed discrepancies in estimates of the rate of expansion.
The currently accepted rate, called the “Hubble constant”, is 10% slower than the value calculated from the distances between the galaxies closest to us.

Tech
First Arab space mission to Mars launches from Japan

Staff at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai follow the broadcast launch of the “Hope” Mars probe on a large screen.
TOKYO: The first Arab space mission to Mars blasted off on Monday aboard a rocket from Japan, with the probe dubbed “Hope” successfully separating about an hour after liftoff.
A live feed of the launch showed the rocket carrying the unmanned probe, known as “Al-Amal” in Arabic, lifting off from the Tanegashima Space Centre in southern Japan at 6.58am local time (4.58am Bangkok).
Almost exactly one hour later, the feed showed people applauding in the Japanese control room as the probe successfully detached.
In Dubai, the launch was met with rapturous excitement, with the UAE Mars mission’s deputy project manager Sarah Al-Amiri declaring it “an indescribable feeling” to see the probe blasting off.
“This is the future of the UAE,” Amiri, who is also minister of state for advanced sciences, told Dubai TV from the launch site.
The Emirati project is one of three racing to Mars, including Tianwen-1 from China and Mars 2020 from the United States, taking advantage of a period when the Earth and Mars are nearest.
In October, Mars will be a comparatively short 62.07 million kilometres from Earth, according to Nasa.
“Hope” is expected to reach Mars’s orbit by February 2021, marking the 50th anniversary of the unification of the UAE, an alliance of seven emirates.
– Martian year of orbit –
Unlike the two other Mars ventures scheduled for this year, it will not land on the Red Planet, but instead orbit it for a whole Martian year, or 687 days.
While the objective of the Mars mission is to provide a comprehensive image of the weather dynamics in the Red Planet’s atmosphere, the probe is a foundation for a much bigger goal — building a human settlement on Mars within the next 100 years.
The UAE also wants the project to serve as a source of inspiration for Arab youth, in a region too often wracked by sectarian conflicts and economic crises.
On Twitter, the UAE’s government declared the probe launch a “message of pride, hope and peace to the Arab region, in which we renew the golden age of Arab and Islamic discoveries.”
Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, lit up hours before liftoff with a symbolic 10-second countdown in anticipation of the launch, which was twice delayed by bad weather.
– ‘Holistic view’ –
Several dozen probes — most of them American — have set off for the Red Planet since the 1960s. Many never made it that far, or failed to land.
The drive to explore Mars flagged until the confirmation less than 10 years ago that water once flowed on its surface.
Omran Sharaf, the mission’s project manager, has said the “Hope” probe will offer a special perspective on the elusive planet.
“What is unique about this mission is that for the first time the scientific community around the world will have an holistic view of the Martian atmosphere at different times of the day at different seasons,” Sharaf told a pre-launch briefing.
“We have a strategy to contribute to the global effort in developing technologies and science work that will help one day if humanity decides to put a human on Mars.”
The UAE already has nine functioning satellites in orbit, with plans to launch another eight in coming years. And in September, it sent the first Emirati into space on a mission to the International Space Station.
But the UAE’s ambitions go well beyond that, with a goal of building a human settlement on Mars by 2117.

Tech
Twitter hackers tell their story

OAKLAND, California: A Twitter hacking scheme that targeted political, corporate and cultural luminaries this week began with a teasing message between two hackers late Tuesday on the online messaging platform Discord.
“yoo bro,” wrote a user named “Kirk”, according to a screenshot of the conversation shared with The New York Times. “i work at twitter / don’t show this to anyone / seriously.”
He then demonstrated that he could take control of valuable Twitter accounts — the sort of thing that would require insider access to the company’s computer network.
The hacker who received the message, using the screen name “lol”, decided over the next 24 hours that Kirk did not actually work for Twitter because he was too willing to damage the company.
But Kirk did have access to Twitter’s most sensitive tools, which allowed him to take control of almost any Twitter account, including those of former US president Barack Obama, former vice president Joe Biden, Tesla chief Elon Musk and many other celebrities.
Despite global attention on the intrusion, which has shaken confidence in Twitter and the security provided by other technology companies, the basic details about the people responsible, and how they did it, have been a mystery. Officials are still in the early stages of their investigation.
But four people who participated in the scheme spoke with The Times and shared numerous logs and screenshots of the conversations they had on Tuesday and Wednesday, demonstrating their involvement both before and after the hack became public.
The interviews indicate that the attack was not the work of a single country like Russia or a sophisticated group of hackers. Instead, it was done by a group of young people — one of whom says he lives at home with his mother — who got to know one another because of their obsession with owning early or unusual screen names, particularly one letter or number, like @y or @6. These are known as OG or “original gangster” names in the trade.
The Times verified that the four people were connected to the hack by matching their social media and cryptocurrency accounts to accounts that were involved with the events on Wednesday. They also presented corroborating evidence of their involvement, including the logs from their conversations on Discord, a messaging platform popular with gamers and hackers, and Twitter.
Playing a central role in the attack was Kirk, who was taking money in and out of the same Bitcoin address as the day went on, according to an analysis of the bitcoin transactions by The Times, with assistance from the research firm Chainalysis.
But the identity of Kirk, his motivation and whether he shared his access to Twitter with anyone else remain a mystery, even to the people who worked with him.
It is still unclear how much Kirk used his access to the accounts of people like Biden and Musk to gain more privileged information, like their private conversations on Twitter.
The hacker “lol” and another one he worked with, who went by the screen name “ever so anxious” told The Times that they wanted to talk about their work with Kirk in order to prove that they had only facilitated the purchases and takeovers of lesser-known Twitter addresses early in the day. They said they had not continued to work with Kirk once he began more high-profile attacks around 3.30pm Eastern time on Wednesday.
“I just wanted to tell you my story because i think you might be able to clear some thing up about me and ever so anxious,” “lol” said in a chat on Discord, where he shared all the logs of his conversation with Kirk and proved his ownership of the cryptocurrency accounts he used to transact with Kirk.
“lol” did not confirm his real-world identity but said he lived on the US West Coast and was in his 20s. “ever so anxious” said he was 19 and lived in the south of England with his mother.
Investigators looking into the attacks said several of the details given by the hackers lined up with what they had learned, including Kirk’s involvement both in the big hacks later in the day and the lower-profile attacks early on Wednesday.
The Times was initially put in touch with the hackers by a security researcher in California, Haseeb Awan, who was communicating with them because, he said, a number of them had previously targeted him and a Bitcoin-related company he once owned. They also unsuccessfully targeted his current company, Efani, a secure phone provider.
The user known as Kirk did not have much of a reputation in hacker circles before Wednesday. His profile on Discord had been created only on July 7.
But “lol” and “ever so anxious” were well known on the website OGusers.com, where hackers have met for years to buy and sell valuable social media screen names, security experts said.
For online gamers, Twitter users and hackers, so-called OG usernames — usually a short word or even a number — are hotly desired. These eye-catching handles are often snapped up by early adopters of a new online platform, the “original gangsters” of a fresh app.
Users who arrive on the platform later often crave the credibility of an OG username and will pay thousands of dollars to hackers who steal them from their original owners.
Kirk connected with “lol” late Tuesday and then “ever so anxious” on Discord early Wednesday, and asked if they wanted to be his middlemen, selling Twitter accounts to the online underworld where they were known. They would take a cut from each transaction.
In one of the first transactions, “lol” brokered a deal for someone who was willing to pay $1,500, in bitcoin, for the Twitter user name @y. The money went to the same bitcoin wallet that Kirk used later in the day when he received payments from hacking the Twitter accounts of celebrities, the public ledger of bitcoin transactions shows.
The group posted an ad on OGusers.com, offering Twitter handles in exchange for bitcoins. “ever so anxious” took the screen name @anxious, which he had long coveted. (His personalised details still sit atop the suspended account.)
“i just kinda found it cool having a username that other people would want,” “ever so anxious” said in a chat with The Times.
As the morning went on, customers poured in, and the prices that Kirk demanded went up. He also demonstrated how much access he had to Twitter’s systems. He was able to quickly change the most fundamental security settings on any username and sent out pictures of Twitter’s internal dashboards as proof that he had taken control of the requested accounts.
The group handed over @dark, @w, @l, @50 and @vague, among many others.
One of their customers was another well-known figure among hackers dealing in usernames — a young man known as “PlugWalkJoe.” On Thursday, PlugWalkJoe was the subject of an article by the security journalist Brian Krebs, who identified the hacker as a key player in the Twitter intrusion.
Discord logs show that while PlugWalkJoe acquired the Twitter account @6 through “ever so anxious”, and briefly personalised it, he was not otherwise involved in the conversation.
PlugWalkJoe, who said his real name is Joseph O’Connor, added in an interview with The Times that he had been getting a massage near his current home in Spain as the events occurred.
“I don’t care,” said O’Connor, who said he was 21 and British. “They can come arrest me. I would laugh at them. I haven’t done anything.”
O’Connor said other hackers had informed him that Kirk got access to the Twitter credentials when he found a way into Twitter’s internal Slack messaging channel and saw them posted there, along with a service that gave him access to the company’s servers. People investigating the case said that was consistent with what they had learned. A Twitter spokesman declined to comment, citing the active investigation.
All of the transactions involving “lol” and “ever so anxious” took place before the world knew what was going on. But shortly before 3.30pm, tweets from the biggest cryptocurrency companies, like Coinbase, started asking for bitcoin donations to the site cryptoforhealth.com.
“we just hit cb,” an abbreviation for Coinbase, Kirk wrote to “lol” on Discord a minute after taking over the company’s Twitter account.
The public ledger of bitcoin transactions shows that the bitcoin wallet that paid to set up cryptoforhealth.com was the wallet that Kirk had been using all morning, according to three investigators, who said they could not speak on the record because of the open investigation.
In several messages on Wednesday morning, “ever so anxious” talked about his need to get some sleep, given that it was later in the day in England. Shortly before the big hacks began, he sent a phone message to his girlfriend saying, “nap time nap time”, and he disappeared from the Discord logs.
Kirk quickly escalated his efforts, posting a message from accounts belonging to celebrities including Kanye West and tech titans like Jeff Bezos: Send bitcoin to a specific account and your money will be sent back, doubled.
Shortly after 6pm, Twitter seemed to catch up with the attacker, and the messages stopped. But the company had to turn off access for broad swaths of users, and days later the company is still piecing together what happened.
When “ever so anxious” woke up just after 2.30am in Britain, he looked online, saw what had happened and sent a disappointed message to his fellow middleman, “lol”.
“i’m not sad more just annoyed. i mean he only made 20 btc,” he said, referring to Kirk’s bitcoin profits from the scam, which translated to about $180,000.
Kirk, whoever he was, had stopped responding to his middlemen and had disappeared.

Tech
Solar Orbiter gives scientists unprecedented look at Sun

This handout illustration image released by The European Space Agency shows an artist’s impression of The Solar Orbiter in Space.
PARIS: Scientists said Thursday they had obtained the closest ever images taken of the Sun as part of a pan-European mission to study solar winds and flares that could have far-reaching impacts back on Earth.
The European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral in February and completed its first fly by of our star last month, sending back unprecedented images of phenomena close to its surface.
“The first images are exceeding our expectations,” said Daniel Muller, Solar Orbiter project scientist at ESA.
“We can already see hints of very interesting phenomena that we have not been able to observe in detail before.
“This makes us confident that Solar Orbiter will help us answer profound open questions about the Sun.”
In particular, the team observed dozens of miniature solar flares, known as “campfires”, which until now had never been captured on film.
David Berghmans, from Belgium’s Royal Observatory, said the campfires were several million times smaller than solar flares, which can be observed from Earth.
Nevertheless, the smallest the team observed still measured around 400 kilometres across — “about the size of a small European country,” said Berghmans.
“The Sun seems relatively calm on first viewing but when you look at it in detail you can see miniature eruptions everywhere,” he added.
Solar winds and flares emit billions of highly charged particles that impact planets, including Earth. But the phenomena remain poorly understood despite decades of research.
The largest solar storm on record hit North America in September 1859, knocking out much of the continent’s telegraph network and bathing the skies in an aurora viewable as far away as the Caribbean.
Solar ejections can also disrupt radar systems, radio networks and can even render satellites useless, though such extremes are rare.
During its first orbit, the craft — developed in conjunction with Nasa — travelled around 77 million kilometres from the surface, about half the distance between the Sun and Earth.
Equipped to withstand temperatures as high as 500°C, it will eventually travel as close as 40 million kilometres from the surface, protecting its instruments with a heat-resistant structure that will be exposed to sunlight 13 times stronger than on Earth.
– ‘Terra incognita’ –
Its operators plan to gradually tilt the craft’s orbit, enabling scientists to obtain the first ever images of the Sun’s poles.
Sami Solanki, director of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, said the team was especially excited about images of the Sun’s poles, which he described as “terra incognita”.
The Solar Orbiter mission and is set to last up to nine years at a cost of some €1.5 billion.

Tech
Twitter hacking spree alarms security experts

A 3D printed Twitter logo is seen in front of a displayed cyber code in this illustration taken in 2016. (Reuters photo)
SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON: The extraordinary hacking spree that hit Twitter on Wednesday, leading it to briefly muzzle some of its most widely followed accounts, is drawing questions about the platform’s security and resilience in the run-up to the US presidential election.
Twitter said late Wednesday hackers obtained control of employee credentials to hijack accounts including those of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, former president Barack Obama, reality television star Kim Kardashian, and tech billionaire and Tesla founder Elon Musk.
In a series of tweets, the company said: “We detected what we believe to be a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.”
The hackers then “used this access to take control of many highly-visible [including verified] accounts and Tweet on their behalf.”
The company statements confirmed the fears of security experts that the service itself — rather than users — had been compromised.
Twitter’s role as a critical communications platform for political candidates and public officials, including President Donald Trump, has led to fears that hackers could wreak havoc with the Nov 3 presidential election or otherwise compromise national security.
Adam Conner, vice-president for technology policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank, said on Twitter: “This is bad on July 15 but would be infinitely worse on November 3rd.”
Bitcoin bounty
Posing as celebrities and the wealthy, the hackers asked followers to send the digital currency bitcoin to a series of addresses. By evening, 400 bitcoin transfers were made worth a combined $120,000. Half of the victims had funds in US bitcoin exchanges, a quarter in Europe and a quarter in Asia, according to forensics company Elliptic.
Those transfers left history that could help investigators identify the perpetrators of the hack. The financial damage may be limited because multiple exchanges blocked other payments after their own Twitter accounts were targeted.
The damage to Twitter’s reputation may be more serious. Most troubling to some was how long the company took to stop the bad tweets.
“Twitter’s response to this hack was astonishing. It’s the middle of the day in San Francisco, and it takes them five hours to get a handle on the incident,” said Dan Guido, CEO of security company Trail of Bits.
An even worse scenario was that the bitcoin fraud was a distraction for more serious hacking, such as harvesting the direct messages of the account holders.
Twitter said it was not yet certain what the hackers may have done beyond sending the bitcoin messages.
“We’re looking into what other malicious activity they may have conducted or information they may have accessed and will share more here as we have it,” the company said.
Mass compromises of Twitter accounts via theft of employee credentials or problems with third-party applications that many users employ have occured before.
Wednesday’s hack was the worst to date. Several users with two-factor authentication – a security procedure that helps prevent break-in attempts – said they were powerless to stop it.
“If the hackers do have access to the backend of Twitter, or direct database access, there is nothing potentially stopping them from pilfering data in addition to using this tweet-scam as a distraction,” said Michael Borohovski, director of software engineering at security company Synopsys.

Tech
5G promoted as lifeline

5G promoted as lifeline
Networks tapped for economic recovery

Dr Chalermpon Chairat, chief of the emergency unit of Nopparat Rajathanee Hospital, with the smart ambulance equipped with 5G, the first such model in Thailand.
Amid the carnage caused by the pandemic, 5G networks are expected to serve as critical infrastructure to speed up the country’s economic recovery and promote health technology, say industry pundits.
5G-related issues are expected to be deliberated in the first meeting of the national 5G committee, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. The 26-member committee was formed in May this year.
The issues include the smart hospital scheme, over-the-top (OTT) platform development, Thailand as a global work-from-home hub and 5G adoption promotion.
These agenda items were raised by Takorn Tantasith, then secretary-general of National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), before he left the post at the end of last month.
During the crisis, 5G tech has been deployed by major operators to help the healthcare sector deal with coronavirus patients, including customised robots and a series of solutions.
Trairat Viriyasirikul, acting secretary-general of the NBTC, said Thailand is perceived to have handled the outbreak well because of its outstanding public healthcare sector, partly thanks to 5G network infrastructure installation, which took place a few months after the 5G spectrum licence auction was held in February.
“When the outbreak came, 5G network capability and related solutions proved they could help medical teams deal with the patients in more convenient, quicker and safer fashions with lower budgets,” said Mr Trairat.
ECONOMIC BOOST
Referring to the 5G-related issues to be considered by the committee, he said these agenda items are expected to help drive the overall economy via 5G tech in the wake of the pandemic.
The agenda could facilitate 5G adoption by vertical industries, smart hospital developments as well as work-from-home hub initiatives.
The committee should also promote local OTT platforms, embedded with 5G tech, for everyday use, said Mr Trairat.
Work-from-home measures have been gathering steam for some time during the crisis, driven by innovative platforms.
Thailand has the potential to serve as a work-from-home hub because it was the first mover for 5G adoption in Asean, he said.
 
The True 5G Temi Connect & CareBot genius telecommunication that can be remotely controlled from a distance minimizes the direct, physical communications between doctor and patient.

OPERATOR INVOLVEMENT
Somchai Lertsutiwong, chief executive of Advanced Info Service (AIS), the country’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, indicated the company will invest 35-40 billion baht to expand digital network infrastructure this year.
“AIS is committed to creating a 5G tech network as the new infrastructure of the country through the Eastern Economic Corridor [EEC] project and core sectors,” said Mr Somchai.
All ground, air and marine sectors in the EEC need to be supported with 5G tech to allow for a boost in operations, he said.
AIS has developed medical robots through its 5G test bed under the approval of the telecom regulator since late 2018, known as tele-operation drilling robots that help doctors with surgery, said Mr Somchai.
During the pandemic, AIS announced a “combat mission” against the pandemic, using 5G-enabled robots that help medical personnel deal with patients to ward off the risk of infection. AIS has provided the robots, related devices and platforms to seven hospitals under this mission.
Piroon Paireepairit, head of the 5G working group of True Corporation, said the company has a vision to use 5G tech to accommodate all people, particularly in the public health sector.
True is working with Nopparat Rajathanee Hospital in Bangkok’s Kannayao district to support 5G tech for various tasks, including 5G-equipped ambulances, which would enhance telecommunication between paramedics and physicians for better preparation as patients are taken to the hospital.
True also developed the Vhealth app, which helps hospitals’ medical personnel give medical advice and screen patients who need to receive treatment at the hospital.
The company provides 5G signal coverage at hospitals to facilitate these tasks.

Tech
Line capitalising on online ad spending rise with OAs

Phichet Rerkpreecha, chief executive of Line Thailand. *No photo credit*
Line Thailand says it will focus more on business customers with new features for Line Official Accounts (OAs) as the company marked the one-year anniversary of its “Life on Line” vision yesterday.
“We see tighter ad spending in Thailand this year, but online ad spending continues to grow as consumers shift their spending behaviour from offline to more online channels during the crisis,” Phichet Rerkpreecha, chief executive of Line Thailand, said at a news conference.
He said Line aims to become the platform for this new lifestyle, continuing to invest in staff and product development and “launching new services for corporate solutions, small businesses as well as enhancing OAs in the second half”.
Referring to the first half, Mr Phichet said Line’s business performance achieved its targets, with new features and services offered to meet user demand during the pandemic, including work-from-home measures and social distancing.
Over the past year, the number of Line users rose from 44 to 46 million and people spend an average of one-third of their online time on Line, he said.
Line Call saw a 300% jump in user numbers from January to March this year. Line also developed a shared screen feature that has the capacity to handle up to 500 concurrent users.
The number of OA subscribers jumped from 3 million to 4 million in May. Myshop, one of the OA’s features, saw the number of sellers grow 69% from February to April with a 334% growth in orders.
Line’s food delivery service Line Man saw users in the first three months this year rise 300%, compared with the average number of users last year.
Thai food, Isan food, shabu and yakiniku are among the most popular genres ordered by customers.
Line Thailand ushered in the “Find Food” programme to serve as a venue where farmers can meet buyers. The company also provides a platform where customers can reach out to accommodation and service providers.
In related news, AGB Nielsen Media Research Thailand pointed out Thailand’s first-half media spending dropped 13% year-on-year to 51.2 billion baht.
The largest drop was for cinema, with a fall of 55% to 1.67 billion baht, followed by in-store spending, with a decrease of 40% to 309 million, and print media with a plunge of 39% to 1.7 billion.
TV still recorded the biggest media spending with 29.2 billion baht in the first half, a drop of 15% year-on-year.
Among surveyed media, only the internet channel saw an increase in media spending, with a rise of 23% to 11 billion baht in the first half. In the first six months, four major industries saw a drop in media spending. They are food and beverage with a drop of 22%, personal care and cosmetics with a fall of 10%, media and marketing with a drop of 2% and automotive with a dip of 32%.

Tech
FamilyMart to deploy robots in Japan stores

Telexistence’s shelf-stacking avatar robot, designed to resemble a kangaroo and developed to work in a convenience store, is seen during a photo opportunity ahead of its unveiling in Tokyo, Japan July 3, 2020. (Reuters photo)
TOKYO: In August, a robot vaguely resembling a kangaroo will begin stacking sandwiches, drinks and ready meals on shelves at a Japanese convenience store in a test its maker, Telexistence, hopes will help trigger a wave of retail automation.
Following that trial, store operator FamilyMart says it plans to use robot workers at 20 stores around Tokyo by 2022. At first, people will operate them remotely – until the machines’ artificial intelligence (AI) can learn to mimic human movements. Rival convenience store chain Lawson is deploying its first robot in September, according to Telexistence.
“It advances the scope and scale of human existence,” the robot maker’s chief executive, Jin Tomioka, said as he explained how its technology lets people sense and experience places other than where they are.
The idea, dubbed telexistence, was first proposed by the start up’s co-founder, University of Tokyo professor Susumu Tachi, four decades ago.
Their company has received funding from technology investment company Softbank Group and cell phone service operator KDDI in Japan, with overseas investors including European passenger aircraft maker Airbus SE. It dubbed its robot the Model T, a nod to the Ford Motor car that began the era of mass motoring a century ago.
Its quirky design is meant to help shoppers feel at ease because people can feel uncomfortable around robots that look too human.
Escaping factories
Robots are still a rare sight in public. Although they can outperform humans in manufacturing plants built around them, they struggle with simple tasks in more unpredictable urban settings.
Solving that performance problem could help businesses in industrialised nations, particularly those in rapidly ageing Japan, cope with fewer workers. Firms hit by the coronavirus outbreak may also need to operate with fewer people.
Since the outbreak started, hotels, restaurants and even gas and oil companies have contacted Telexistence, Tomioka said.
“It’s difficult to tell now what impact robots might have in restaurants – it could mean fewer people, but it could also create new jobs,” said Niki Harada, an official at Japan’s Restaurant Workers Union.
Using human operators with virtual reality goggles and motion-sensor controls to train its machines slashes the cost of retail robotics compared with complex programming that can cost 10 times more than as the hardware and take months to complete, Telexistence says.
Although FamilyMart will still need humans to control its robots, operators can be anywhere and include people who would not normally work in stores, said Tomohiro Kano, a general manager in charge of franchise development.
“There are about 1.6 million people in Japan, who for various reasons are not active in the workforce,” he said.
Future telexistence robots could also be used in hospitals so doctors could perform operations from remote locations, predicted Professor Takeo Kanade, an AI and robotics scientist at Carnegie Mellon University in the United States, who joined Telexistence in February as an adviser.
It might take another 20 years before robots can work in people’s homes, however, he said.
“In order for robots to be really usable at home we really have to be able to communicate. The fundamental thing that is lacking is knowing how humans behave.” 

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