You might not realize it, but you just missed Mobile World Congress 2017 – the largest annual gathering of the world’s mobile industry. It’s held every year in Barcelona, Spain and this year’s conference ran last week (February 27th to March 2nd). While the conference primarily attracts professionals from the mobile industry, the technologies on display and discussed in conference sessions will soon be changing how all of us live.
While I wasn’t able to attend the conference in person, I did have some “feet on the ground”. Representatives from Codal – an application development and UX (user experience) design company – promised to look into some of the emerging technologies and send me notes and photos so that I could have something of a virtual experience of the show. And, from what they reported to me, the conference was extremely exciting with some very highly innovative technologies on display.
Some of the most interesting technology trends in evidence at the conference were in the areas of robotics, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things, commonly referred to as IoT. Here are some of the more exciting observations that were reported to me.
According to Matt Gierut, COO of Codal, robotics were everywhere. One of the particularly interesting roles that robots on display fortell is how the use of robotics in industrial production will be moving heavy boxes around warehouses or preparing them for shipment.
Even more exciting is the likelihood that many of us will soon be greeted and assisted in retail establishments by robots that will speak to us and help customers find what they’re looking for. Keval Baxi, Codal’s CEO, described a robot named “Pepper” who spoke to conference attendees and carried an iPad that the robot used to provide additional information. Mr. Baxi said that Pepper was of human proportions and bore some resemblance to Star Wars’ C-3PO.
The Codal reps also told me that virtual reality permeated the conference, particularly in gaming as you’d likely suspect. Keval Baxi commented that “This immersive technology changes the way that gaming is experienced, adding a lot of value to this industry.” The ways in which virtual reality might move beyond games to some very critical areas — such as health care and military applications — might end up being even more mind-boggling.
Virtual reality moves game playing to an entirely different plane. As Matt Gierut pointed out, the games at display at Mobile World Congress make it clear that participants are no longer just playing games, they’re in the games in ways that make “game playing” an entirely different experience. You could find yourself walking around on the surface of Mars, battling an alien invader, or flying a bomber during WWII with more realism than you previously imagined possible. The opportunities for virtual reality to provide surprisingly effective training and life-changing experiences are rapidly coming within our reach.
The Codal reps were not surprised to find IoT dominating the show floor. As Matt Gierut pointed out “Connected cars were everywhere, and even automotive companies were exhibiting, such as Ford and Mercedes, showing off their new, innovative connected cars.” In case the concept of “connected cars” hasn’t yet come to your neighborhood, let me just add that a connected car is a vehicle with its own Internet connection, allowing it to communicate with other IoT devices. For example, you might get a push notification on your smart phone reminding you that your car needs an oil change and suggesting that you make an appointment at your service station.
Keval Baxi added that IoT was also being showcased for its use in agriculture. While this particular industry is a latecomer to the Internet, IoT devices might soon be providing farmers with information on their soil and crops — the need for particular nutrients, moisture levels, and possibly even the presence of harmful insects. Instead of sending someone into the fields to run tests manually, the IoT sensors will send reports to farm managers that can help guide their decisions and make the farming operations more efficient and successful.
While you may have missed Mobile World Congress 2017, 108,000 people didn’t. Technical professionals from 208 countries and territories made it to Barcelona along with 3,500 members of the press and media outlets. While I didn’t make it either, I’m very excited by the highlights that Codal shared with me and will be on the lookout for the first robot ready to help me find what I’m looking for at Costco!