on 22-02-2019 10:46
Welcome to the MWC 2019 Megathread. We're keeping it simple this year, and using this thread for ALL things MWC.
► Seen something at MWC you want to post about? Tell us here.
► Seen something you're interested in? Want to know more about? Tell us here.
Just what is MWC?
MWC is the biggest mobile centric event on the planet. It's where individuals and businesses convene under one roof to showcase the latest and greatest advancements in mobile technology. Check out this thread for more info.
Will O2 / Telefonica be there?
Our parent company Telefonica will have a strong presense at MWC, as with previous years. I'll be visiting the stand this year and will update this thread with photos and info.
What can we expect at MWC this year?
Ohh, so so much! As the name of the event suggests, expect to see lots of phones, phone tech, and maybe more strangely - things that are very not a mobile (eg, drones, driverless cars, smart home tech etc). Here's some of my bigger expectations:
- Mobile Phones: Interesting handsets from non-major players (in the UK, at least). Expect the likes of Xiaomi, Vivo, ZTE, Oppo & others
- Networking & 5G: With 5G phones on the way and networks across the globe rolling out their 5G network in 2019/2020, expect a lot of this!
- Smart Stuff: I expect to see a lot of smart home tech, smart wearables, and pretty much just smart everythings. The rise of IoT & 5G could be huge.
- Cars: Each year I've gone to MWC I've seen prototype cars in some shape or form, so I expect to see more smart / connected car concepts this year
- The Unexpected: Every now and then there's a surprise at MWC. Something that makes people take notice. This year, I've got my fingers crossed for a graphene battery breakthrough that's fully developed, safe and robust enough to be considered for consumer tech in 2019 or 2020.
Right, I'm excited and intrigued. Will you be keeping us updated?
Yes! As you can see below I've created a few 'placeholder' posts. I intend on us posting a daily summary / wrap-up of the best bits of tech I've seen that day (either posted later that night, or earlier the next day). If I see any tech that I'm just really excited about that I don't want to wait to share, i'll create a new post and effectively 'bump' the thread.
Can I make a request?
ABSOLUTELY! I'm here in part for you guys, so if you see or hear about any tech at MWC that interests you, just tag me, Marjo, Martin or Emilie and I'll do my best.
In fact, lets kickstart things. Tell us below what tech companies or kind of tech interests you the most, and if I see anything similar, i'll capture some photos & details.
22-02-2019 10:46 - edited 25-02-2019 21:41
Wow, what a first day! I was a little worried from previous years at MWC that it was becoming a little more business and 'sales-y' oriented but this year couldn't have proven me more wrong... There was so much cool consumer tech on display, and that was only from 1 of the 8 halls (admittedly the biggest & coolest hall, though).
Foldy Foldy McFoldy
Foldables are this years big rage at MWC, with several of the 'big dogs' showing off brand new folding phones. A few days ago Samsung unveiled the 'Galaxy Fold' and just last night Huawei unveiled the 'Mate X', which many are hailing as the crown jewel of tech at MWC this year.
The bad news is both devices were locked away out of reach with no hands-on demonstrations. They were also kept several feet out of reach so it's really difficult to get a sense or feel for each device. However, I personally prefer Huawei's take on the new form factor, but as their folding screen is on the outside, it's potentially more prone to scratches and breaks, whereas the Samsung folding screen is on the inside, keeping that big display a little safer.
Also dotted around MWC were several others showing off their tech in the form of consumer handsets, display tech they sell to others, prototypes or concepts. All-in-all, foldables have stolen the show here at MWC this year for sure.
This used to be just a concept, but for a few years now Moto/Lenovo have been innovating with their modular 'Z' range of phones, which you can 'upgrade' by attaching a Moto Mod which are all held on very security with magnets. What's great about their tech is that you don't only get mods that give you room-filling stereo audio, or print polaroid-like photos, but they've also made it possible to turn a phone with no 5G capability into a 5G-friendly device. That kind of blows my mind a bit - sure, you're doubling the thickness of your device, but that kind of innovation really impresses me.
Of course, my first visit today was to our parent company, Telefonica's stand. Visually, this was a very cool stand and stood out from the crowd, with very clean geometric shaped design cues dotted all around. The stand had with a clear focus on 5G tech - or rather, different potential use cases.
The extreme low latency is the muscle behind 5G, and is what everyone is promoting or demonstrating at MWC this year. Though 5G is capable of some impressive speeds, it's that low latency that has the potential to completely change industry, from the way warehouses are stocked, to smart roads, or from automated factories to augmented reality field work.
I got to see the new range of S10 models in the flesh, and let me tell you, they're even nicer than you could imagine. The S10 Plus feels like an utter powerhouse in your hands - that new CPU and 8GB RAM really do make this a machine. The camera tech is impressive too, with the wide angle lenses being amongst the best I've seen on a smartphone. Ohh, and that display with the camera cut-outs instead of the notch? Yes, it is a noticeable difference, and a welcome one at that - you know it's there, but it feels nowhere near as obtrusive as a notch.
Microsoft's newly announced HoloLens 2 was on display today, with what looks like a more comfortable, more compact and better designed upgrade from the previous HoloLens. Besides having better tech with a field of view that's almost twice as large as the previous headset, what sets this one apart is there is no consumer developer unit. This is aimed squarely at enterprise and business customers who want to arm their workforce and front-line with augmented reality to help them work better, and more efficiently.
This was one of those ones that took me by surprise. It's a company I've never heard of, but they had two demonstrations that caught my eye. The first, the phone fully submerged under water (and would be during the entire MWC event), and the second with one of their phones fully encased in a block of ice (and yes, my cold hands confirm it's real ice).
That got me talking to one of their staff who demo'd their X4. Summing this phone up is easy - it's a rugged smartphone, action cam and smartphone gimbal stabiliser all rolled into one. Imagine the Caterpillar phone having a baby with a GoPro - that's what the X4 is. I got to go hands-on with it and the self leveling tech they've built works really well in the flesh, and captures the sort of smooth & level video you'd expect from a gimbal.
22-02-2019 10:46 - edited 26-02-2019 23:19
That's day #2 done and dusted at MWC this year. Tomorrow's my last full day where I'll be scoping out the last two halls, and revisiting anything I may have missed. If you've seen anything elsewhere you want more photos or info on, just let me, Martin, Marjo or Emilie know.
Water Purification, phone powered
I met up with one of the start-ups at MWC's '4 Years From Now' event. They are called 'Waterologies' and are a young start-up that have designed and created a water purification device that can be powered entirely by your smartphone, eliminating up to 99.9% of impurities and bacteria.
When I asked if it was safe to drink, they told me their purified water is all they've been drinking all day, then proceeded to drink it. Now that's putting your money where your mouth is! They're currently working on a new unit that is about half the size, and cheaper to make.
Nubia. Never heard of them? Take notice.
Nubia aren't a new manufacturer, but they're relatively unknown here in the UK, which is a shame, because they don't make boring products at all. On proud display today was three main products:
- A dual screen smartphone that feels fantastic in your hand, with a rear screen that is very unobtrusive when not in use, and then springs into action when you need it to. I was amazed at how the rear screen looked completely transparent until you woke it up.
- A gaming smartphone aimed squarely at taking on the likes of the ASUS RoG or Razer phone, with air cooling tech and even LED's on the rear. I'm such a sucker for flashy lights on tech. WANT.
- A wearable phone. This is basically a smart watch gone bonkers, and can do everything your phone can. Send/receive texts, make/receive calls, take photos & videos, play music - everything. It even has motion sensors so you can perform certain actions using gestures, without touching the watch.
Are you a cat owner? Here's a smart litter box. No more sh*........!
Having lived with cats before (sorry, not a fan!), I know how smelly they can be. Kicking their litter about everywhere, spreading their smells. Urgh. Well, 'PurrSong' are at MWC to try and make life a little easier with their LavvieBot.
This litter tray knows when your cat has done its business (and what type of business) and then proceeds to scoop the nasty into a collection tray. If it detects more litter is needed, it'll automatically deposit some, and spread it out evenly. It'll even track the number of times your cat 'goes', so you can determine if it perhaps has any kidney or other 'bathroom complications'. It is a rather sizeable unit so it may not be for everyone, but the expectation is when they launch in Europe next year, it's going to cost upwards of $400-500.
Next level waterproofing
I spent some time with a company called P2i, who are a major player in the nano coating waterproof game. Chances are high if you have a waterproof smartphone, wearable or earphones, these guys provide the nano-tech - they're in hundreds of millions of devices around the world.
They're working on their brand new version called 'dunkable', which they're so confident and sure about, that they drilled two holes into a demo phone and kept it submerged for over 12 hours (and counting). The inside of that phone is completely flooded with water, but as their nano-tech has bonded with every component at microscopic level, it's completely impervious.
They're working on bringing their new tech to a big player (Samsung? Sony? Huawei?) but are unable to confirm who, until the deal is done. But expect to see next level waterproofing sometime this year in phones and other smart tech.
Wireless Charger Innovations From Lexon
Nope, they're not a company I've heard of either, but they're pushing the boundaries of what a wireless charger is, and can do. They were showcasing three of their models:
- A no frills charger with the thinnest profile I've ever seen on a wireless charger
- A wireless charger with a built-in bluetooth speaker (that sounded loud even in such a busy environment)
- A 'vase-like' odd looking charger that had a built-in UV sanitiser
When it comes to wireless chargers I assumed this was one of those 'it is what it is, it's not going to change' kinds of tech, but Lexon are pushing the boat out and exprimenting, and I love that!
Taste your music
Turkcell had this really cool machine at MWC. Glossing over the tech and how it works, you choose your favourite song based on your current mood, and analysing the sound, the machine mixes you your very own juice drink. Jokes aside (I know you're all better than that!), Ed Sheeran tasted very good! (oi! I said don't!).
Is this something you'd like to see at The O2 or an O2 Academy, or is it too gimmicky? Come on, you've never wondered what 'Spice Girls - Wannabe' would taste like if you could make juice from the song?!
22-02-2019 10:46 - edited 27-02-2019 23:19
It was my last full day at MWC today and again, it presented some really great tech. So lets dive right in, shall we...
Stores of the future
At the Intel stand today, I got a demo of what a store of the future will be all about. And it's not just a concept either - I was told stores in China had already deployed the tech and it was working as expected. So, what's it about?
There's a camera array built overhead and connected to an intelligent AI system. Upon entering the store you 'check in' by tapping your phone to a barrier. Once inside, the system tracks your movements and intentions - it knows when you take something off a shelf or put it back, and it's so smart it can catch you stealing. I tested the system out and done my best thieving (don't worry, all above board - in fact, they encouraged you to try and beat the system) to try and steal a mini bottle of shampoo. Nope, the system knew I took the bottle and charged my virtual account anyway. And because the whole system is tracked via an AI system, it keeps track of inventory too, so there's a better chance your favourite items will always be stocked.
No barcodes. No scanning. The entire system is automated and it works incredibly well from my demo.
Robotic Barista (NOT READY FOR DEPLOYMENT! ERROR! ERROR!)
At MWC there's a curious use of robots this year, one of them as a barista and serving you coffee. I saw this particular robot from 'CloudMinds' successfully serve a coffee to a random punter. So I approached, asked for a coffee, and I honestly thought I broke it. 'Cathy' (the robot) went silent for a period of time, told me to enjoy my coffee (which she hadn't served to me), and then a few seconds later proceeded to launch said coffee towards me.
So are robotic baristas the future? Possibly. If they get the order right, I've no issue with it. But is it imminent? Not if robots like Cathy go against Asimov's laws of robotics and throw coffee at me!
pureLiFi's 1gbit Prototype
You may remember the network trial we launched with these guys last August, but they've been hard at work creating the next evolution of their technology - which is capable of an astonishing 1gbit per light source. In their small booth with 4 spot lights overhead, there was a total of 4gbit flying through the light rays.
Vuzix Blade AR Glasses
I was never fortunate enough to test drive Google Glass, but I have been with the Vuzix Blade, which many tech outlets have hailed as already successing Glass in every way - so there's some impressive tech here. Unfortunately the price of around $1k is likely to deter many comsumers - which is what these glasses are aimed at.
I got to try a few demos out and here's my verdict and notes:
Note▶️ They are comfortable and feel unobtrusive. I was able to hold a conversation with someone without the images being displayed causing distraction
1️⃣▶️ One demo was me being outside a good court with the restaurant logos displayed. The glasses then displayed the restaurants rating, their phone number, and the option to book a table
2️⃣▶️ Demo 2 was impressive - it was of someone speaking Spanish, and the glasses realising they weren't speaking my language, automatically displays a live transcription
3️⃣▶️ Demo 3 was of me in a supermarket setting with a pre-made shopping list. You look at the item and if its on your list, it marks it off and keeps a running price total
4️⃣▶️ The last demo was a live map with speed display, which could be used while cycling, walking or driving, giving you a live view
HTC Exodus 1 - A cryptocurrency / blockchain phone
This is the Exodus 1 smartphone from HTC and full disclosure, this is only going to interest the geeks out there, or the biggest personal security enthusiasts amongst you.
Without boring you with the details, this phone uses extreme encryption via blockchain technology not only to keep your phone ultra secure, but also to give you power and control over your data.
Have you ever googled something only to see Facebook advertise that product to you? Or have a one-off conversation with a friend for Facebook to show you an ad for something you've only spoken about, but never searched for? This is a result of companies spying, buying and selling your data. With this Exodus phone, your data is in your control and you can choose to see what companies would be interested in that data, and even sell your data to them in exchange for cryptocurrency if you wanted to.
Graphene tech is the future, but an evolution rather than revolution
I visited the Cambridge Graphene Centre today learned what the phone of the future could be (sadly they had no prototype phones, just the tech):
▶️ Thinner, stronger casings
▶️ Camera systems that include spectrometers. You could for example take a photo of a bunch of apples and find out which is the freshest.
▶️ A screen that has haptic feedback built in, meaning you'll feel vibration to the touch, not just the small motor in your phone vibrating.
▶️ More efficient batteries where the vendor can decide between faster charging (at least twice as fast than anything on the market currently) or higher capacities.
It doesn't look like Graphene technology will be the huge leap forward I thought and hoped it could be, but it will result in faster, slimmer, more efficient phones in the future. Seeing graphene tech in phones won't be an overnight exlosion either - it's likely to trickle in over time, bit by bit.
on 25-02-2019 21:44
MWC has some amazing tech on display this year, including the new Samsung & Huawei folding phones (though, we weren't allowed to touch them), 5G everywhere by everyone, cool tech from phone makers I've never heard of, and so much more.
Check out the Day #1 wrap-up here and let me know your best bit, if any of it interests you and you want more, or if you've seen anything at MWC you love the look of.
on 27-02-2019 00:54
The water purification using a smart phone could be very handy back home. We have a filter machine for use in the home and have to buy bottled water when ut and about. But what do you do when you are miles from anywhere in a village with no 7-11 store. I hope they make a portabe system which isn't too bulky.
on 27-02-2019 06:50
Agree with @jonsie re the portable water filter. Would have a massive impact on countries that don't have a water system like the UK.
And the nano water proofing sounds incredible. Drilling holes into a phone is an insane way to prove their tech works!
on 27-02-2019 08:54
The water purification system sounds great but makes me wonder
1) Do you need a phone signal for it to work?
2) If it's as 'easy'as that, why can't the powers that be develop something similar on a larger scale NOW?
When you see adverts of children drinking foul water in under developed countries, it's sad and sickening.
By the way @Chris_K not impresssed with the cat litter box. Too big and cumbersome. Cats don't smell.. they are cleaner than dogs. (Pfffttt to you not being a fan ) All you need is a good owner who changes the litter trays frequently.
The rest of the tech is pretty mind blowing btw...