Mobile World Conference: Insights from the Floor

Today, I made my way out to the exhibition area of the convention.  I had no idea just how large it would be.

I walked up halfway — yes halfway — and snapped this photo on my phone.  I still don’t think it does the conference justice.  Suffice to say, it’s a massive event that spans the entire Fira de Barcelona.

The exhibition grounds

The exhibition grounds

There is so much going on, it’s unreal. The technology on display here is nothing short of amazing.  As innovators and early adopters, we’re very in tune with technology.  We live and breathe this stuff.  Still, taking a step back, even I have to admit, it’s pure magic.

Solving Real Problems

The evolution of mobile isn’t so much about new technology as it is about finding innovative ways to utilize what already exists to solve real world consumer problems.

For example, cell phones that can make video calls are old news.  One company, Bioaccez, is applying the technology to security.  They’ve created a 3G, sim card enabled video camera that you can call any time from your mobile device.  Need to monitor your store or babysitter?  Just call it up.  The camera can even be controlled remotely through your phone.

People will embrace what they can use easily and effectively. Technology for the sake of technology is hardly ever useful.

Enabling Consumers

But what’s the point of it all? Technology is about empowering the user, giving them something that will improve their lives and enable their lifestyle.

One of the big pushes here is technology convergence, putting more capability in consumer’s pockets.  Take Sony Ericsson’s new handset, the IDOU, it features a 12 megapixel camera allowing you to capture images in large format, print quality resolution or Samsung’s new BEAT DJ platform that features live mixing, looping, sampling, and scratching — yes I said scratching — all on a mobile device.

It doesn’t stop there.  Both nVidia and Texas Instruments had devices on display with full high definition video playback capabilities.  These handsets feature HDMI outputs so you’re not limited to viewing your hi-def content on the mobile screen.

Still, mobile technology isn’t just about phones, it’s larger than that.  On my way across the pavilion, I stumbled across a car with a DVB digital hi-def TV system built in.  For those not acquainted, DVB technology enables the broadcast of hi-definition TV over the air.  I have a DVB tuner on my mobile phone now and it’s nice to see the technology making inroads elsewhere.  I can’t wait until they start putting this in minivans.  There are going to be some quiet kids on those long car trips.

Solaris Mobile's DVB enabled car

Solaris Mobile's DVB enabled car

Building Mobile Devices That Keep Up With You

Life moves fast, and people need technology that can keep up. Remember when you used to worry about dropping your phone or getting it wet?  You don’t need to worry anymore if you own the i-mate. It runs Windows Mobile 6.1 and is perfect for businessmen who need to watch that National Geographic film while in a fishbowl.

The difference is dunkability

The difference is dunkability

In other exciting news, the Universal Charging Initiative (UCS) announced an agreement to produce a “universal charger” that works across handsets.  This means an end to throwing out your chargers every time you get a new phone.  Personally, I’m excited to be able to borrow my friends’ adapters.

The capabilities and functionality now being integrated into mobile devices used to require several individual pieces of hardware, each with separate accessories, wires and components.  Even after acquiring them all, you would have to worry about compatibility.  Those days are slowly fading away. We are transitioning into an age of convergence and cross platform technology. There simply is no more room for a phone that’s just a phone, or a car that just drives.

I’ll have more photos, videos and gear previews tomorrow. Unfortunately, most of my photos are trapped on my other phone.  I only have one voltage converter and the power here in my hotel is only enabled while I’m in the room, making it impossible to charge devices while I’m out (it’s activated by the presence of my key).  It’s a smart idea: cost efficient and very environmentally friendly.  I just wish they had kept the end user in mind and left a plug that remains on.

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