5 Things from #MWC18
Mobile World Congress has just closed for another year in Barcelona, the world’s biggest mobile industry event; five days of launches, deals, pitches, bragging, shield-hammering and general celebration of everything mobile tech.
This year our man-on-the-ground was Bray Leino’s Technical Head of Digital – Brad Stacey. Here are his five things you need to know.
1. Virtual Reality is going mobile
We saw a lot of mobile VR solutions at this year’s show. This included:
- A wider range of cardboard style accessories that let you put your existing smartphone in a headset, with a selection of vendors now offering headsets that meet Google’s new Daydream standard
- HP was promoting a high-end PC in the form of a Ghost Busters style backpack, which will let you take a fully-fledged VR system with you on the go
- Lenovo showed off their stand-alone VR headset. Using tech and display from a standard smartphone in a streamlined headset, able to run fairly complex VR without any additional cables or set up
HTC also demoed their enterprise room scale Vive product, which allows people to experience highly detailed VR with the freedom to move around a large area. They say it is a great fit for enterprise learning and development.
Although these improvements are welcome, none of them feel like a fundamental shift in the capability of VR, and some vendors demoed systems that have been on the market for years. I expect VR to get more mobile and more capable as time goes on, but it’ll be slow progress.
2. Augmented Reality is mainstream
This time last year neither Google or Apple were in the AR game. This is no longer the case, and at this year’s show we saw a wide range of new AR tech and a good number of firms using AR on their stands.
MapBox demoed their new location-based AR platform, which allows you to create AR experiences using information about your location and what’s around you. If you were to attend the next Olympics, for example, this might mean an app that could overlay information on your camera display, showing you where your next event is, how to get there and who’s competing.
It’s clear that AR is becoming an important medium for telling complex stories in an engaging way. As long as we keep doing interesting things and getting it into the hands of users, I don’t see the demand for AR diminishing any time soon.
3. 5G is on its way
Exhibitors from every corner of the supply chain were clamouring to ‘own’ 5G, claiming new breakthroughs and claimed biggest, best and fastest industry firsts.
Intel are a great example. They discussed their 5G deployment at the Winter Olympics, trials of 5G connected self-driving cars in Tokyo, completely wireless 5G powered VR and – of course – a 5G enabled touch screen laptop.
The suggestion is that by 2019, 5G will leapfrog land line networks, allowing users to download the equivalent of 3 HD films in a second. This kind of promised speed is a clear opportunity for Agencies like ours to start thinking about the creative possibilities for rich media in mobile campaigns. Our experiments will begin immediately.
4. Digital detox is becoming productised
The surprise hit of the show was Nokia’s reboot of the 8110, a response to the growing scepticism around living an always-on lifestyle.
This shift in attitude will be a big challenge for social brands as social platforms and their users become more sceptical and selective. The onus is on us to create more engaging, useful and worthwhile content.
5. The definition of ‘mobile’ is expanding
The mobile ecosystem is so much wider than network providers and handset manufacturers. I spoke to big data companies, security businesses, home automation and VR specialists, and more…
Alibaba Cloud demoed a smart system deployment (now live), which cut emergency vehicle response times by half in the Xiaoshan District of Hangzhou, by shaping traffic management systems to prioritise emergency services during an incident.
Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Seat and BMW, all demonstrating connected, self-driving, electric and voice-controlled cars. Want to be able to ask your car out loud “where’s the nearest fast food joint?” and get a useful, actionable response? Soon you will.
Huawei spent lavishly, while VISA showed off their commitment to innovation by demoing proof-of-concept systems and hosting fintech start-ups on their stand.
Governments were eager to demonstrate being on the forefront. The UK Government’s ‘Britain Is Great’ campaign (confess an interest here – this is being delivered by the team at Bray Leino Events) had a presence in various halls, touting a dizzying array of nimble, innovative startups as well as promoting big initiatives like smart city deployments and 5G rollouts.
This astonishing variety, scope and ambition is joined by common technical themes – hyper-connectivity, super-efficient data processing, ubiquitous and low-cost cameras, cheap and abundant storage.
Lastly, shout out to my colleagues in the city of Bristol, which won the Judges choice in the MWC Smart City awards.
Brad Stacey is Bray Leino's digital Technical Head, follow him on Twitter: @BradleyStacey