Friday, 13 March 2015

Mobile World Congress 2015 - highlights

Friends,

I was fortunate enough to attend MWC last week in Barcelona. Even though many good and detailed reviews are available across sites, I wanted to write another with my perspective.

Gadgets

There were many new gadgets from established players and start-ups. I will list out a few outstanding ones. 

VR

Software giants are putting a lot of investment in virtual reality. I could see many developer booths with small prototypes using these SDKs. And HTC has surprised everyone by showing their new VR headset, Vive in partnership with Valve. I could not even reach out to the demo because of the long waiting queues. But the reviews are so promising and believed to be the most advanced VR currently under development. Even Samsung gear VR stands second to HTC here. But one benefit of Gear over Vive is its mobility. Gear VR supports use of S6 and S6 edge where as other VRs have to be connected to a PC.

All praises go to HTC and Vive and they really stole the show.



Just for your information, I am listing down the active VR headsets (in my knowledge).


IoT devices

There were numerous IoT devices especially from start-ups. I could not go through all. But following are the one that I noticed.

Huawei introduced many WiFi adapters. And the car WiFi dongle with LTE support was worth a look. 

Another interesting one is a snore stopper, VVFly that does not wake you up. There is an Android app too, but available only in Chinese! This ear fitted device will vibrate as soon as you start snoring and adjusts itself when you stop it. 

Smart suitcase from Bluesmart has got many smart features such as in built digital scale, many sensors, battery charger etc.


Automobiles

Ford has displayed 2 bike models which are currently under development. One is targeted for the personal use and the other for commercial. Both can be folded and has got decent battery power. The e-bike is smart enough to give hand vibrations to the cyclist to inform him about turns to take, vehicle overtake etc.


Intel and BMW collaboratively developed a system that connects the helmet and the bike. The motorcyclist can give commands and get information such as tire pressure, engine temperature etc.

Audi connect was displayed in Audi theatre at 4YFN (4 years from now, startups meet). This is a next generation car that can fully integrate with your mobile. It has got the first Google Earth installation. For more details, watch this video. 




Nokia, who is also working on the self driven cars, had a good pavilion with a demo car showing how maps HERE can give intelligent recommendations to the drivers. Compared to the Audi Google Earth, I liked Nokia HERE implementation because of its ease of use. It is also powered with smart location experiences.

SmartWatches

As expected, many companies came up with their Android smart watches to MWC. Samsung took a break this time. The prominent one was Asus Zenwatch, not only its look but also the price was attractive. Apple lovers please excuse this infographic.


Other major players were Huawei, China Mobile, Motorola(same old moto36o with new straps) and water resistant Sony watches. Huawei and China Mobile shows real interest, where as Sony just made a desperate attempt. 

The different guy was as usual Pebble, this time with a premium edition. Pebble Steel is different from its predecessor in display, battery and straps. In short very impressive.

Others

There were many wearables from HTC, Huawei and Sony. I didn't show much interest to them. The furniture master Ikea also made their hands dirty by getting into this field. There were few products that even wasted my time such as smart projectors from Lenovo and ZTE.

SmartPhones & Tablets

I really want to skip this section as there were tonnes of them. Obviously Samsung got the attention because of their excellent presentation and the usual hype. Samsung Pay was a surprise element. Both S6 and S6 edge are amazing. Though I repeatedly asked to the Samsung guy whether a custom app can show notifications on the edge, he was not sure about it. Seems like a fancy stuff for now. 




Curved phone from LG, Asus ZenPhone2, Nokia N1 tablet, BlackBerry passport(a bit old) were all good. Huawei came up with a handful of devices. It was like like visiting a Chinese toy shop. Lenovo had a good stage but none of the products could attract the visitors. I want to put Sony and ZTE at the bottom of the list.

Other new players:

Mozilla

This booth has got only interested guys, like me. 2 years after launching, Mozilla has spanned over many countries especially developing countries. This time they have launched FirefoxOS in high end devices like ZTE.

Ubuntu Phone

At last Ubuntu made it! Actually Canonical did. This phone has no home or back buttons and no apps too! They introduced the concept of scopes. You can read more about it here

Jolla

If you have heard about Sailfish OS, you will be familiar with Jolla a crowd-sourced tablet. This device has got decent look and very light in weight. Played around it for some minutes; I would say it is swipe based OS.

Runcible

Alright. So we have seen many smartphones with rectangular and square in shape. Some curved, some round-cornered. But how about a circular shaped one? A company called Monohm is behind this cool pocket watch. I think this can play a hybrid version of smartwatch and smartphone.


Technologies

I could also attend a few workshops on technologies such as WebRTC. There were a couple of start-ups who worked on this technology by integrating with Robotics, Social Networking etc. Mozilla promised the full support to WebRTC in their upcoming OS versions. 

Telecom

Sundar Pichai's announcement to get into the wireless domain has to be read along with Zuckerberg's internet.org. Both the giants are targeting telecom industry, not sure what the end goal is.

Travel 

There was also a session, Eye for Travel to discuss the trends of 2014. One of the key points was that OTAs are growing bigger than the real brands as far as the Hotel industry is concerned. There are metasearchers and Google who are trying to change the fortune. But still OTAs are successful. But this trend can change in the upcoming years. So everyone has to play hard. To keep the loyal customers, the information has to be personalized and more contextualized.

There were a few start-ups with some prototypes in the cab industry and local content search. Everyone has a USP which is really impressive.

All together it was a really good experience. Thanks to Amadeus for sending me there.

For more details visit

www.mobileworldcongress.com/

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