Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona
Mobile World Congress is a global showcase of the latest & greatest in technology, a chance to experience what’s next in the worlds of AI, machine learning, VR & cloud, with a whole heap of impressive hardware to bring these experiences to life.
Craig Lister (Reprise UK MD), Jorge Seeliger (Reprise Head of Innovation and Product EMEA, Gemma Coles (Mubaloo MD) and Mark Stewart (Mubaloo CTO) made the trip to Barcelona and had the chance to catch up with our teams from the US & Oz.
Highlights included the Voice keynote from Alexa, connected drones and the chance to walk on the moon, thanks to Samsung’s clever S9 VR experience. Off the back of the show, we’re now investing efforts in building up a Tech Hub that can help clients from across the group to create new experiences using these technologies.
Below, we highlight the top stories, products and visions set on this incredibly big event.
As mentioned above there are a lot of players coming at this space, each defining the role that they will play to make technology faster, more intelligent, more connected and also more socially responsible.
5G was a massive topic. It’s a shame that we need to wait a little longer in the UK as internet speeds are highly connected to pivotal technology in the coming years such as VR/AR, 3D, IoT, AI and others. Just so you have an idea, 5G’s low latency between 2 & 5 milliseconds means fiber-fast internet on a wireless device.
On the 5G hardware front, world-leading semiconductor components supplier Qualcomm is leading the education around 5G, illustrating both the metrics and application of bigger, better data. Cisco is driving the 5G revolution with a clear roadmap of its Cisco’s 5G Unified Enablement Platform.
Economic conditions in Europe have delayed 5G, so it’s likely to reach the UK in 2021 but we’ll start to see 5G devices at MWC in 2019.
No-one is working on edge technologies alone; we saw some great partnerships that present more of an applied context to the technology. For example, Lenovo and Google are offering 180 degree 3D camera capabilities within a live streaming context, and this is just an example as you’ll see more and more public collaborations within the technology sector.
Tech for Progress
Social responsibility was an exciting theme, where lots of the big players are keen to balance out the fear of AI, driverless cars, VR/AR with the social value that it presents. We saw a few case studies of robotics, drones & VR being applied for disaster relief and progressive concepts around the future of connected cities (i.e. Innovation City) as a way to improve people’s lives.
Voice keynote by Max Amordeluso, the EU Lead Evangelist at Alexa really highlighted the power of voice for the coming years.
Voice is everywhere. It is changing human interaction with technology and brands. Interpreting and understanding speech is complex, but technology is now enabling this – virtually unlimited storage and NLP AI (natural language processing) have made complex challenges around speech understanding achievable.
A significant focus for the voice scientists at Alexa is to determine the meaning intended from a context, e.g. 4 miles, for miles, etc.
The open SDKs by Amazon mean that these capabilities (and contextual analysis) are not limited to the Amazon ecosystem, and there’s a big space where organisations can use the Alexa engine to power voice-enabled services and devices.
Like websites, social media presence, and lightning fast internet connections are now commonplace. Voice will also become the standard in our day-to-day life. Future generations will grow expecting that you can always talk to your house, phone, car, meaning voice will stop being a luxury feature and will instead be a necessary requirement when developing digital products and hardware.
Hardware and Gadgets
Samsung S9 is a winner – miniaturization, power, capability (e.g. 960 frames per second) and super design. The CPU is powerful enough to run a traditional computer, and it can connect to a mouse, monitor, keyboard. Bizarrely, the next phone on our list after the S9 is limited to messaging and games (and not very smart). The Nokia banana phone 8110 has retro appeal, and yes, it is yellow and shaped like a banana. Dell showcased a smart drone that can fly itself.
The most popular laptop is Huawei’s Matebook, the $1,000 competitor to Macbook with a touchscreen.
ZTE, lesser known outside of China, and one of the fastest growing handset makers in the world showcased an elegant dual screen phone (more to come on the enterprise application).
On the camera segment, the Polaroid camera phone demonstrates an excellent mix of digital immediacy with old-school Polaroid retro. Some real-world experiences still hold value.
Enterprise applications for technologies
Rugged Cat S61 – With thermal imaging feature, it enables facilities management to detect pipes, wires, human presence, and footfall just to name a few applications.
Alexa enabled smart glasses (Vuzix) – Driven by enterprise rather than consumer need, allow significant use cases in fieldwork. It will be great for simulating remote or risky work environments.
ZTE Axon M – This smartphone uses dual screens for multitasking & scale.
Intel is offering real-time facial recognition service, and telecom firms will be discussed how AI is being used to enhance their networks.
Overall MWC met our expectations as a leading technology conference where, above everything else, it helps you get a pulse of what’s to happen and how far we’ve come from the old mobile days. We’ll need to give it some time to see how these technologies materialise and come to fruition both on an enterprise level and how brands will approach these technologies when engaging with their customers.