This week has been all about Barcelona and MWC (Mobile World Congress) 2019. Mobile phones make most of the headlines—foldable phones, anyone?—but beyond the flashy new smartphone screens and improved smartphone cameras, several trends, product announcements, and innovations are relevant beyond the mobile phone sphere in the greater IoT (Internet of Things) space.
One notable trend at #MWC19 was 5G. Some companies, like Qualcomm, even made 5G a sort of slogan at the trade show, claiming “5G is here.” All the major U.S. carriers were abuzz about their own announcements about their rollouts for 5G. Manufacturers like Huawei, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, Xiaomi, and ZTE, among others, have integrated or are planning to integrate 5G into their devices, whether 5G networks are truly ready or not, it seems. Other 5G products, too, were showcased, such as the HTC 5G Hub, a mobile smart hub to enable 5G on multiple devices within home and office environments. ZTE also displayed the potential of 5G by demonstrating everything from 5G intelligent manufacturing applications to a 5G-based dancing robot.
Innovations showcased at MWC may have ripple effects beyond smartphones, depending on how the technology is received by consumers and how well it stands the test of time. For instance, the LG G8ThinQ smartphone offers palm vein authentication. Called Hand ID, LG’s tech identifies owners by recognizing characteristics of the veins in the palms of their hands, including the veins’ shape and thickness. The device also responds to Air Motion commands—commands given by a user to the device without the user having to touch the phone. Wireless charging too has advanced thanks to Qualcomm’s newly announced Quick Charge technology, which Xiaomi was quick to adopt for its new Mi Wireless Charging Pad and other wireless charging products.
Another big splash at MWC was Edgar Pons, the man who volunteered to have an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip implanted under his skin during a live presentation. Pons said he plans to use the chip to authenticate himself to his smart home, for instance, by unlocking his front door as he approaches it. A second man, who already had an RFID chip inserted, demonstrated another reason this could be useful, using the chip and his smartphone to make a mobile payment while on stage.
Nokia also had IoT news from Barcelona. The company announced Rakuten, a prominent Japanese e-commerce and Internet company, will leverage its IMPACT (Intelligent Management Platform for All Connected Things) platform to uncover new revenue opportunities through the rollout of IoT services in Japan. Nokia says IMPACT simplifies the process of bringing and scaling multiple applications onto a single platform, which will allow Rakuten to deploy various IoT applications faster and more cost effectively across sectors like agriculture and automotive.
Finally, Microsoft announced its HoloLens 2 VR (virtual reality) device at MWC. HoloLens 2 is designed to unlock new ways to work, learn, and communicate with the help of mixed reality. Microsoft says it focused on three areas of improvement for the second generation of its device: creating a more immersive experience, creating a more comfortable experience, and accelerating the solution’s time-to-value by bolstering Microsoft’s ecosystem of mixed-reality partners. As the technology—both in terms of the hardware and the software/applications—continues to improve, the value add of VR and mixed reality will start to become more obvious to an increasing number of enterprises and enterprise use cases.
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