Coming back from a few days in the beautiful city of Barcelona, I want to share some of my highlights from Mobile World Congress (MWC)
My overall impression was that there was not much truly revolutionary at the event – amongst the plethora of devices, there were mostly incremental technologies that are starting to get real applications, for example in virtual reality and augmented reality, which were both prevalent. We saw the miniaturization of sensors, for example with spectrometry, temperature, gases. There were numerous drones, with applications ranging from recognition to agriculture. In the world of fintech there was a lot of discussion around authentication and security.
However within these incremental advances, and interesting use cases, four main areas stood out:
Minority report just around the corner
While virtual reality received many of the headlines, one area I think many commentators overlooked was the advancements being made in projection technology – so for example there were many phones and tablets with acceptable embedded projectors that could project a good looking screen of 40 to 60 inches in a dim room. The luminosity is still low (40 to 50 lumens) but this is improving fast. Pocket projectors have also gone down in prices, with some of them in the $50 range, with even better luminosity than those of the phones, so we are starting to see the convergence of the phone with the laptop/desktop/tv because phone can pack a lot of power. If you could project that, combined with voice recognition, you have the minority report happening right before us! And one with immediate business and consumer benefits.
The impact of IOT just beginning, and mobile health will be a key sector
In the tech industry we have perhaps grown immune to some of the staggering statistics which are often mentioned regarding the internet of things (IOT). But one statistic for me stood out – in just one year the number of connected devices that Aeris Communications (an IOT service provider) has on its network, more than doubled to more than 7 million devices. At the event there was a lot of IOT in healthcare with remote monitoring and care. PWC estimated the market value in 2020 of mobile health to be $45 billion. Interestingly, sports and fitness was also highly prevalent with wearables and smart clothing. There were numerous options similar to Google Glass for sports and industrial applications.
Automotive firms show the car is a different kind of mobile environment
Automotive manufacturers such as Nissan, Ford, and others were showcasing their “smart” cars with lots of connectivity, available SDKs and frameworks. Just as we have seen at other events, such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the presence of automotive manufacturers and suppliers has grown exponentially in recent years as the car has become its own unique computing environment.
World of advertising is missing their biggest threat – they’re in a bubble
Much of the discussion at this year centered around ad-sellers versus ad-blockers. There was a heated discussion between Yahoo and one ad-blocking company. But my take was different: at the event it was surprising to see booths that probably cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for barely known brands. And this is all happening at the same time as companies such as Facebook and Google make it harder to judge the effectiveness of campaigns through different sites, devices and ecosystems. My take is that we are currently in a digital advertising bubble, and that we can expect the world of digital advertising to go through some major shifts in the next 12 to 18 months.
I’m interested to hear from others who were at the event or were following online. What surprised you the most?