MWC 17: The Cacophony of Techno Optimism

Mobile World Congress, one of the world’s largest annual events for the mobile industry and technology giants, organized by the GSMA was held in Barcelona, Spain from 27 February – 2 March 2017.

This was definitely a platform for big as well as small technology giants and Smartphone makers to showcase their latest products and innovations to a worldwide audience.

With so many companies showcasing their recent developments and technologies, it can get a little daunting to write about all the products and technologies that were showcased.

However, to make sure that, at least some of us (readers of our blog), are in the loop at one of the world’s premiere international event, we’ve created a comprehensive glossary of terms you might want to hear from MWC. Pictures are meant to paint a thousand words, so we have a selection of them that we hope captures the true essence!

A Summary of What Happened at this Year’s Event

2,200+ global tech leaders

600+ New start Ups

700 global investors came to meet new start-ups

2,100 exhibitors

108,000 visitors

1. Connectivity – Standardization of Narrow Band IoT (NB-IOT) – 3GPP

NB-IoT is one of three cellular standards for the IoT backed by the mobile industry, along with Extended Coverage EGPRS (EC-EGPRS) and LTE Machine Type Communication (Cat-M). As a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology, NB-IoT has the potential to make it more efficient to connect devices that require long battery life or are in hard to reach areas, using existing cellular networks along with an extended battery life of ten years. This costs just $5 per module to deploy.

This would mean that, with the help of NB-IoT, IoT devices can be deployed away from mains electricity or that there would not be any need of batteries to be replaced frequently; thus providing a feasible and cost-efficient solution to many IoT ideas.

  • At the MWC 2017, u-blox, a global leader in wireless and positioning modules and chips, joined hands with Vodafone and many different companies across the IoT ecosystem to demonstrate the power of NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) technology. They had illustrated many use case demonstrations run on NB-IoT device, u-blox SARA-N2 NB-IoT module.

NB-IoT Chip - u-blox

Image Credits: Vodafone

  • Vodafone, in collaboration with Huawei, has been developing research into NarrowBand cellular IoT technology since 2014. Vodafone’s first commercially available NarrowBand Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network is now operational in Spain. This network will soon have the capability to connect more than 100 million new devices to the Internet of Things.

NB-IOT Timeline

Vodafone’s-IoT Pilot and Commercial Rollout Timeline

Hopefully in the next few years, with NB-IoT, we would not have to notice the spider web of wires and cables above, when driving through the streets of Kochi.

2. Forget 4G: 5G Wireless Technology

Though not expected to be finalized until 2019, 5G, the official fifth-generation network standard made its mark at the MWC with several wireless providers and IT vendors exhibiting their pre-commercialized product sets and planned 5G customer trials.

  • Cisco partnered with Verizon with a 5G architecture that the carrier needed for its pre-commercial mobile network trials during MWC 2017.
  • Samsung touted a new portfolio of pre-commercial 5G mobile network products, which will be available later this year, including a 5G router for consumers, and a compact 5G radio base station that’s designed for deployment in dense areas.
  • LG Electronics and Qualcomm took to MWC to announce a joint effort to bring 5G to automobiles. The two companies will test 5G and Cellular-V2X (C-V2X) communications within vehicles. LG is currently developing automotive connectivity solutions using Qualcomm’s connected car platform, according to the company.
  • Ericsson has also teamed up with Qualcomm to conduct 5G New Radio trials over Vodafone and NTT DoCoMo’s mobile networks.

3. Respond in Real-Time with Augmented Reality

MWC 2017 has been a showcaser for the latest Image Recognition and Augmented Reality solutions for retailers, agencies and mobile developers. Some of the highlights are listed below:

DAQRI Smart Helmet™

Image Credits: Ubuntu Insights

  • DAQRI Smart Helmet™ is an advanced, Augmented Reality helmet powered by a 6th generation Intel Core m7 processor for highly performant multimedia and AR.
    The Smart Helmet, powered by an Ubuntu AR application, can be used in industrial settings and brings to life all the data generated by the new world of Industrial Internet of Things. DAQRI’s public C++ API gives you direct access to sensor data and DAQRI software libraries, allowing unlimited flexibility to create software for DAQRI Smart Helmet™.
    All of Tango’s AR processing runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 SoC.Qualcomm calls this the “Snapdragon Heterogeneous Processing Architecture,” Qualcomm revealed it has been “working closely” with the Google Tango team for the last year and a half to get Tango up and running on Snapdragon.

Developing custom apps for the Tango Peanut requires downloading and installing the Tango SDK. The SDK comes in several forms, depending on what it is integrated with.

  • Unity API – This SDK works with the Unity Engine ( https://unity3d.com/), a popular game and visualization engine that is cross-platform and provides high-level scripting and a GUI for 3D world design.
  • C API – This SDK is apparently still in development, but would be useful for low-level, direct implementation of SDK functionality. Since Android apps are based in a Java-like VM, C API would probably need to be wrapped through JNI to be used in an app.
  • Java API – This SDK provides functionality in Java, which is the native environment for Android app development. The downside is that certain operations may incur performance penalties.

The Tango website include tutorials and documentation for the various SDKs @ https://sites.google.com/a/google.com/project-tango-sdk/home/software-tutorials

4. Automotive Industry – Connected Cars

Attending MWC 2017 brought the feeling that much of the new growth for mobility companies is likely to come from connected vehicles in the next decade.

  • French automaker Peugeot took the AI solution one step further with the debut of its Instinct concept car, an autonomous car designed to drive differently according to reading your mood and needs.
    The car is connected to Samsung’s Artik cloud service, allowing it to gather data from other connected devices, such as your calendar schedule or your heartbeat rate from a smart watch, in order to determine between four driving modes: drive boost, drive relax, autonomous soft, and autonomous sharp, to provide the most suitable driving experience.
  • Ford announced a partnership with Vodafone at its press event that will lead to 4G modems being built into a select range of its upcoming vehicles in the European market. The modem will bring 4G LTE connectivity over Wi-Fi, with up to ten devices able to connect at once, effectively turning those Ford models into a media hub on wheels.
    Visitors to the booth explored the Concept EQ with VR, the COMAND Online connectivity and navigation tools in the Mercedes-Benz E Class Coupe.The company is also debuting its “smart ready to share” service, which lets owners share a car with friends or coworkers, and the “smart ready to drop” service, which allows package deliveries right to your trunk.

5. Taking Enterprise App to the Next Level: Apple-SAP Alliance

SAP has partnered with Apple to create a toolset that aims to help developers build “enterprise-grade” apps for iOS. Called the SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS, the tools will use Apple’s programming language Swift to present developers and designers with a collection of pre-built UI components and provide easy access to iPhone features (Touch ID, location services, notifications, etc.) in order to “accelerate app development and increase adoption.

Overall, MWC 2017 has been pretty momentous with a couple of events lined up by companies like Sony, HTC, Oracle being a few among the others. Though MWC 2018 is a year away, it is not too early to start planning.

Here are some wonderful snapshots of MWC 2017. Do check them out!