It was an absolute pleasure to attend Mobile World Congress this past week, even though the famous Barcelona sunshine did not make much of an appearance. However, there were some real standouts at the show, which made traveling through storms to get there totally worth it.
Once you walked into the show, you immediately noticed there were some majors themes at play. Namely around virtual reality, 5G, biometrics, and new product launches.
It was impossible to miss the virtual reality stations at the show. You could do anything, be anything, and drive anything. Samsung even had a simulation where you could be a dragon or walk on the moon! I took the somewhat lazy route (since I didn’t want to stand in line), and tried a simulation where I sat in a room with other avatars and watched movies and threw popcorn. It really was extremely impressive, and it was my first time trying any type of virtual reality. Definitely surpassed my expectations.
I know, 5G has been the hot topic for years. But, this year we did finally get to see it in action (on a small scale). Intel used 5G to broadcast certain Winter Olympics events, like skiing and snowboarding, so that no wires got in the way of the courses, and to give fans and athletes an enhanced viewing experience.
If you took a stroll down Hall 3 of the conference hall, every single telecommunication company was advertising 5G – Nokia, Intel, Verizon, Vodafone, LG…the list goes on. It’s definitely an exciting new technology, but we’re still going to have to wait at least a few more years for it to become more mainstream, as we still need the infrastructure to be developed and the devices to support it.
Biometrics were everywhere at the show. You could even use your biometrics to get in! GSMA was testing out facial recognition on a small sample of event attendees, in order to see if it would actually ease access and streamline attendee experience. PwC will help assess and analyze the participation data to see how many people opted into the experiment and if it was useful.
In addition, almost all new devices launching at the show had some form of biometric integration, which was amazing to see (we’re a little biased). Since the biometrics market has grown significantly over the past few years, it was refreshing to see so many new technologies and applications of it, especially moving away from hardware dependent models of deployment.
There were some very exciting new products at the show, but here are just a few that stood out to me:
The Huawei Matebook X was, simply put, a stunning laptop. I’m a lifelong, loyal Mac user, but this might convert me. The Matebook X, while appearing to be a MacBook copycat, does has some pretty clear differences. The laptop introduces some smartphone innovations into the laptop world, with fingerprint and iris recognition, and faster charging times. They also removed the camera away from the top of the display and added it as a pop-up key on the keyboard (and the camera quality was fantastic.)
Another great product launch was the new Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+. The camera was redesigned, which provides better low-light images and supports slow-mo videos. It also introduces the AR Emoji – which is similar to the iPhone X’s Animoji feature. A feature that Veridium is really excited about is the integrated iris scanner. We can’t wait to see how it does and if consumers like it!
Finally, a product launch no one was asking for but everyone needed was the Nokia 8110 4G – a.k.a the banana phone, a.k.a the phone Neo had in The Matrix. Nokia burst back onto the scene this past year after being revived by HMD Global. It’s a nostalgic blast from the past, but this time they’re here to stay with new designs and cool features. Cool features, which in this case means almost no features. This is not a smartphone, but more of a retro phone – with only some social media and email integrations. If you are looking forward to retreating from the connected world with a phone from one of your favorite Sci-Fi movies of the late 90’s, this one delivers.
All in all, Mobile World Congress was a fun and productive event for our team. We got to catch up with old friends and make new connections.