For the past seven years Fjordians from all over the world have travelled to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to get inspired, peek into the future, share insights, and build new and existing relationships
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Connected Car Congress?
One of the most popular themes at MWC this year was the
Ford launched the new Ford Focus model, and in conjunction
with this unveiled the Ford Automated Research Vehicle,
Ford Sync 2, a step on the way to the future of the connected
car. Ford’s decision to launch a new vehicle at Mobile World
Congress underlines the event’s significance, and the
growing convergence of technology and mobility.
Other products worth mentioning were the VW connected car
solution using mirror link, Neonode’s steering wheel pressure
sensor demo, Telefónica’s connected car solution for Tesla,
and QNX and Qualcomm’s partnership in developing
Snapdragon Automotive Solution featuring facial, gesture
and voice recognition abilities.
Ford: Through the eyes of
Pressure sensor demo by
Nenode at MWC
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But where is the consumer benefit?
Yes, cars were everywhere, but the strong consumer angle or
meaning, was missing.
Two examples where this isn’t true, and things we found
interesting, were firstly the connected motorcycle helmet and
gloves from Telefónica, that automatically alerts emergency
services if the wearer has an accident (to their location too). The
gloves feature sensors that allow control over the helmet functions
with minimal gestures.
Another highly imaginative development is Volvo’s food delivery
service which allows drivers to get food delivered to the boot (or
trunk) of their car at the press of a button, using a digital key which
is valid for one use only. Watch this one: your car is now
addressable (and soon other objects too) and keys can disappear
after use – we will hear more examples like this.
In terms of Fjord’s views on the connected car, our own Iñaki
Amate, shared insights on the subject and his views on the future
at the Car Connectivity Consortium during the App Developer
Conference. The presentation is available on Slideshare.
Inaki Amate sharing insights on the future of the connected car
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Wearables – start-ups vs giants
Wearables were, just as the connected car was, a major theme
at this year’s Mobile World Congress. Wearables were
everywhere, however we felt that everything was still a bit
generation one and a lot of companies were perhaps creating
wearables without thinking through the consumer element fully,
and addressing their reason to exist (the wearable, not the
consumer!). In our Fjord Trends this year, we offer advice to
companies on Wearables strategies; make sure there’s a reason
The Samsung Galaxy Gear took a central role on the wearable
scene this year (Samsung generally seemed to be as ubiquitous
as cars and wearables). Sony presented its activity and life-
logging wearable SmartBand, which also includes location data
and social media happenings in real time. Italian company I’m
sPa, exhibited I’m Tracer, a wearable GPS targeted at children
and pets, which can be worn either as a wristband or a collar.
The show also saw promises from both HTC and Motorola of
wearable devices in the future.
Which major will bet the house on a wearable start-up first?
Watch this space in 2014 for rising valuations.
Samsung Gear at MWC
The GPS wearable
I’m Tracer from I’m
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But winners will have to conquer battery and cable
Something we really noticed though, was that the majority of
devices saw a 3-4 days battery life, and they all needed (non-
standard) cables and chargers, which people will find frustrating
and challenging. This will definitely be one of the challenges to
solve for designers and companies in the future.
The show also saw some wearable headpieces, one from the
Japanese firm Mirama which, among other functions, lets you
send emails and take pictures using only your hands. But how
long do we wish to hold our hands up in front of us to interact
before it gets tiring?
Huawei announced TalkBand1, a fitness band that doubles up as
a phone as it features a wireless Bluetooth earpiece, allowing the
wearer to make hands free phone calls on the go.
Huawei TalkBand1 at
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Mobile: Samsung everywhere
As usual Apple stayed away and Google’s presence was notably lower key. Which left the field open for Samsung to
dominate – showing their ambition with:
- a clear move to enterprise with v2 of their Knox security software given real prominence
- Displays dedicated to education, health, cars etc…
- Every screen size imaginable and the Galaxy S5 launch
- Even a stand in Hall 8.1 (the outlier hall where start-ups and the advertising crowd hustle)
Sony demonstrated it’s new flagship phone, the Sony Xperia Z2, which most notably contained some impressive
photography abilities demonstrated by Sony on giant HD televisions at the show.
The Mozilla Firefox OS, an open platform built entirely using HTML5, was also very prominent this year, definitely
something to watch.
We also saw LG display their self-healing phone, and their bendy LG G Flex version, which they say will offer a better
video experience and more ergonomic phone calls, but design-wise might impose a challenge if you wish to carry the
phone anywhere else than the back pocket of your jeans.
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But innovation thrives at the edge too
Another one to watch is Blippar - an AR advertising service. It
places an augmented layer via your mobile over products or
anything your phone can scan. Brands have been using it to
bring campaigns and messages to life in truly creative and
Another very smart start-up is Brow.si – Israeli start-up of the
year with a breakthrough mobile web browsing solution –
worth a close look.
Fairphone is a new social enterprise that “puts social values
first” and makes a smartphone, and thus stood out in the
commercial mosh pit of MWC. It’s ethically sourced and built,
and features a time bar that allows you to silence your phone
for a given period “I want to be at peace with my phone
The Ericsson stand was well worth a visit – if you could get
an invitation – not just for the abundant food, but for the
innovation. We were struck by the network base station that
doubles up as an LED lamp post and Connected Paper –
which makes it easy for the individual to access information
about anything with print on it by touching it. You have to see
it really. Possibly the most magical thing on display at MWC.
Sandisk has stuffed 128GB into a microSD card. It’s smaller than
Technology from Fraunhofer was a hit for its (pretty accurate)
age and gender detection. Expect smart mirrors with health
functionality and detection at MWC next year.
And finally Fjord’s own Mark Curtis presented at the NAB show
which was during MWC on the effect mobile has on broadcast
media, and how this might develop in the future. The full
presentation is available on Slideshare.
Ericsson’s connected lamppost Fairphone’s silence slider
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Join us next year