By Karol Dulat, Senior UX Architect

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The Movify team was heading to Barcelona a few weeks ago for the Mobile World Congress. This year, it was all about 5G, Internet of Things and Wearable (stuff). Discover here a few insights : 

Forget WiFi

5G is probably the foundation of everything that is coming next. With the growth of multimedia platform (Netflix, VOD), Social Sharing, Internet of Things we need super fast and reliable connectivity. NOKIA, AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, VISA, Intel, QUALCOMM had a lot to show in this matter. First 3 companies made some nice presentations how 5G can help improving communications in different industries (like transportation, healthcare, smart cities). Nokia was focusing on smart cities and presented technicality of the connections. Others like AT&T made nice presentation how they can improve tracking cargo shipments or organs for transplantation with 5G networks. VISA showed how it is investing in 5G and broadband to improve connections for payments like Apple Pay or their own systems. Internet

Internet of (every)Things

There was a lot in this topic: from companies that produce chips that can gather data from almost anything like Tennis rocket to balls and shoes, through wearable batteries manufactures, flexible displays to connected cars. I saw a battery that is flexible and stretched, thus can be a part of a t-shirt or jacket. There was a rope, that when spinning fast can project data in the air. Connected cars were also very present. Surprisingly there was nothing about Apple CarKit or Android Car in particular. These solutions were presented as a part of something else. LG presented a smart watch that can unlock a car (partnered with Audi). It can also show where the car is parked or show that the level of stress (based on the heartbeat) is to high for the driver or to low and can vibrate to wake up the driver.

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VISA (with BMW) (picture above) showed integrated payment system within a car. One can fuel without getting out order and pay in Drive-by restaurants.

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Maserati and Qualcomm, (above) showed super multimedia interior (Tesla-like) to provide additional information about routes, places, steer in-car multimedia (infotainment) or send diagnostics to the manufacture to properly service the car. It also provides Wi-Fi hotspots, have voice recognition and wireless charging. On the windshield there is a subtle HUB to collision and obstacle alerts, speed warnings.

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BMW and T-Mobile (two photos above) showed nice in-car multimedia system for the family (based on BMW ConnectedDrive). Driver can manage multimedia for the rest of the passengers, or they can choose their own assets to watch, from Videos to Audiobooks. Same system provides also information about the rout (speed, time to destination, gas etc. Driver is using internal display and driving-wheel controls, other passengers are using tablets. System should work for both Android and iOS.

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Porsche and Vodafone, showed a carpooling service (and rent-a-car) where user can order and activate the car with the phone. For both Android and Apple car systems. This service was dedicated to the rental companies to optimize their business (pickup locations, car tracking, damage tracking) and ease of use (more accessible to customers than through regular paper work). Ford presented their autonomous Ford Focus and their Mobility Project with experimental bike – yes an electric, foldable bike. The idea is that you park the car and use the bike more dense areas. Apparently project is very successful in India. They also provide connected-bike kit – which is a bunch of sensors. This is an open-source research platform to gather information from thousands of bikers about how bikes are used in different urban areas. This should held rental companies to optimize their services, locations and respond faster to customer needs.

Wearable stuff

The last point can be summarized by saying, that now, every major consumer electronics company produces something that you can wear and it is connected. LG, Lenovo, Sony, Samsung, Huawei – to name just few big player produces smart watches, smart bands. Another trend is that fashion companies like Guess or Ted Baker try to get some part of this cake and produce something for this market (Guess made collection of smart watches, Ted Baker produces bracelets and accessories for Sony smart watches and smart bands). Sadly, there was nothing groundbreaking here. All we already saw in presentation from Google or Apple so these products presented just different styles. Except of what I described above wearable things were there just to collect fitness data, track our daily routines and display messages from the phones.

Last, but not least.

There were a lot of phones. First: looks like featured phones are here to stay: a lot of manufactures, including big ones like Nokia, Samsung, LG showed a lot of phones with keyboards and internet connection, but they were no smartphones. We also had a huge Ubuntu and Firefox stand where I was able to play with these devices. Despite the benefits of being a device-agnostic Ubuntu seems to be a very poor OS. It was very slow; animations were chunky and were breaking. Device itself was pretty solid though. Firefox OS – the same issues. Like Ubuntu, mainly HTML5 apps offered very poor performance and not so intuitive OS. I need to ask the guy how to operate it.

The best things I’ve seen there:
  • Maserati in-car system
  • Oculus Rift presentation of a smart home (really stunning VR presentation)
  • Windows 10 (really nice system, with nice device ecosystem)
  • Sony Experia Tablet (incredibly beautiful design)
  • LG Flex phone
The biggest disappointments:
  • Wearable stuff
  • No banking solutions (there were some banks but appointment only for VIP)
  • There was nothing for wireless charging
  • Fist day I walked 23km inside the venue and seen only 3 (out of 8 halls)

By Karol Dulat, Senior UX Architect