MWC19 Barcelona is all about mobiles. The clue is in the name after all. But this year has marked a change. Mashable even proclaimed: ‘After years of the same old, mobile is exciting once again.’
The difference has been in the breakthrough tech: foldables, multiple cameras, 5G. It’s a leap forward that has not been seen for years.
Recently, MWC has also reinvented itself so that it is not solely about mobiles. This year, we’ve seen the march of the robots, smart cities, autonomous vehicles, coding challenges.
It’s all connected by the same tech of course — 5G is opening up the possibilities of more and more innovations. The Internet of Things, where machines talk to machines, is advancing at pace. Smart car technology is accelerating to the point where we are now talking about real-world deployments.
MWC19 is trying to beat CES at its own game, but with the mobile network at its core. That’s probably why it has changed its name this year to reflect its new identity – MWC19 Barcelona, instead of Mobile World Congress.
It’s a subtle, but meaningful change. Mobile World Congress is dead. Viva MWC Barcelona.
- HTC launched the Exodus 1, a mobile phone geared towards users wanting a little extra crypto protection. It claims to be the very first native web 3.0 mobile device that empowers users to own their own data
- Day two saw a MWC first, as a man implanted an RFID chip under his skin live on stage. It is as gross and exciting as it sounds depending on your point of view. In the words of the lucky human guinea-pig, Alex Rodriguez Vitello, he could, “Withdraw it very easily, simply making a little cut and pressing it. The chip is the size of a grain of sand or two and it’s covered in a material that is biocompatible so our body doesn’t degrade it over time.” For now, we think we’ll stick to contactless
- War and tech – always a touchy subject. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has defended the use of HoloLenses on the battlefield after agreeing to a deal with the US Army. Nadella says Microsoft approves selling its HoloLens augmented-reality headsets for war, provided it is sold to democratic governments
- Western Digital launched its 1TB microSD card, continuing the trend of smaller devices with larger storage capacity. The lengthy named SanDisk Extreme microSDXC UHS-I 1TB microSD card is now available for pre-order from its website, priced at $449.99
Smart City Living
More and more people are choosing city life in preference to the countryside. The rise of the Megacity –with a population of more than 10 million people – will dominate the headlines in the next 20 years. We need a smarter way of living.
The leading tech companies were keen to show off their solutions at MWC19.
Intel takes existing technologies such as AI, 5G and edge computing and combines them into a ‘network-in-a-box.’ It offers customers an array of possibilities including:
- Safety first: industrial and manufacturing sites are protected by a smart, virtual fence that stops heavy machinery if an intruder is detected
- Best behaviour: in retail, a smart sign performs flashes up tailored products it knows are of interest to each customer in the store. The tech is a joint venture between LG-MRI, AT&T, and Smart Edge
- KaPow! In entertainment, Intel has partnered with various telecoms and entertainment companies to produce superhero VR demos starring Spiderman and Batman – they’re on display at MWC19
Blue Lights, Cameras, Action!
As anyone who has travelled to Barcelona for MWC knows, the congested roads can be a headache. When it comes to the emergency services, the consequences can be deadly. In a story that’s very close to home, the government of Catalonia – where Barcelona is located – has partnered with Juniper and Vodafone to show the 5G-connected ambulance.
Speed is of the essence, so having a direct route to a hospital is vital for patient survival.
Equipped with real-time HD cameras, they can provide a relay to hospital specialists at the roadside. The control room also has full visibility of ambulance location points and response times for their crews.
Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of the Alibaba Group, has also been busy, launching seven new products at MWC. It’s all about the age of the intelligent business, so the launches range from serverless computing, data analytics, global networking, high performance storage, and the enterprise database.
With more and more applications relying on 5G, edge computing, and IoT, having fast, secure, access to data is vital for a successful enterprise. To help customers manage and analyse large corps of data, Alibaba Cloud has introduced the improved DataWorks and MaxCompute 2.0 that can handle processing 100PB/day.
A PB is a petabyte – that’s a lot of data. Look it up.
Robots, Drones and Gadgets Galore
As we mentioned, MWC isn’t all about phones phones phones, you know. The event also offers audiences the opportunity to see the latest and greatest of other technologies – from robot companions, translation earbuds, and water drones, even to gadgets for your furry friend.
The most successful of these gadgets will likely be the ones that can make a direct impact on the consumer – that’s you! So, do you fancy a fitness tracker for Rover or a robot that can change Tiddles’ litter tray?
Robot companions are not cheap and can cost as much as $2,655. But that’s peanuts when compared to the cost of a human carer – just don’t complain when granny leaves the family fortune to Liku.
The products most likely to last will be the ones that mix innovation with real life issues and solutions. Take, for example, the Cubroid Coding Blocks, which teach children how to code through blocks that are triggered by sound, light, or touch.
Ultimately, prices may go down for some of this technology, but the way in which they’re used and how they help us in everyday life should remain the same, regardless of the price.
That’s a wrap on Day 2 at MWC19 Barcelona – or Mobile World Congress as we still prefer to call it! Tune in for more highlights for tomorrow.
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March 25, 2021