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What’s ‘hot’ and what’s ‘not’ at MWC2015 : a personal view

By Joo Teoh, managing director

Apppli

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March 5, 2015 | 5 min read

As MWC15 winds down today, and the residents of Barcelona get back to normality, here's my take on what was hot and not so hot from the congress floors this week:

Apppli managing director Joo Teoh reports from MWC2015.

HOT

Next generation LTE: Who will be the first to effectively and successfully apply the knowledge that someone is approaching or moving away from a POS, a piece of content, or a point of interest and generate brand engagement or transactional value from this location-specific and contextual data.

More than just touch: Gesture recognition & motion sensors now mean you can swipe and zoom without touching the screen. Ford is quick to claim that before Siri, there was Sync (Ford's in-car voice enablement system). I'd love to see more of these touch-free interactions in action.

Truly smart cars: inside the car, dynamic dashboards mean we will no longer need to look at the same old speedometers and rev counters when driving. We will have maps, points of interest, smart route suggestions, and football scores instead. Outside the car, vehicle-to-infrastructure connections will mean your car can adjust for situations mapping can't yet account for, such as a truck reversing out of a construction site up ahead, school gates about to open around the corner, or a simple burst water pipe flooding the road. Even more exciting (forgive me if I'm slow on the news) all Audi models starting 2016 will feature smart dashboards.

Huawei: Every single beautiful, cool device you see in Apple's range is echoed in Huawei's portfolio. Walking into one of Huawei's three massive exhibition stands was like walking into an Apple store. Should Apple be scared or proud?

Polaroid Zip photo printers: these go on sale at the end of March. Print stickers of the photos in your phone from a little BLE device much smaller than most smartphones. The magic is that you never have to buy ink for this printer.

Smart fabrics: My problem with wearables is having to wear something extra while doing a physical activity. Progress in smart fabrics with sensors and detectors woven into the fibre will remove the need for additional gadgets. I look forward to seeing more smart fabric clothing in shop windows soon.

IoT for enterprise: AT&T put Oculus headsets to good use to demonstrate how smart connected devices applied to enterprise solutions such as shipping can bring tangible business efficiencies, provide security where needed, and ensure better product quality when delivered to the end consumer.

NOT SO HOT

5G: Don't get me wrong, 5G will be amazing when it's here, but my sense is that to rush too soon would result in widening the gap between geographies who are ready and those who are just catching up to 3G or 4G. Instead of widening the gap, I'd like to see 4G as the standard before taking it to the next level.

Kodak smartphones: Enough said.

Ugly durability: Why do devices have to look clunky and ugly in order to be durable and tough? This is not good enough. Only exception, perhaps, being the Caterpillar phones, which at least match the brand's values and design aesthetics.

Vodafone Call+: This is Vodafone catching up rather than leading in this space. Nice to have, but hardly a groundbreaking shift in user experience. We have been able to switch between voice and video calls for many years.

Babolatplay: Babolat's smart tennis rackets can give you data on your topspin or back hand habits, but doesn't have a simple gps chip to track your movement patterns on the court. Missing an advantage here.

Too many ways to pay: Too many contactless connected devices are indicating that spending money is going to be even easier than it is today. Three years ago, the words "card clash" weren't part of daily vernacular. Soon, device clash may be the problem, as your wrist watch clashes with your wallet and your phone. Surely we can leapfrog all this by moving directly to biometric payments? This strikes me as the simpler, device-free solution I didn't see at WMC15.

"Smart" watches: For all the features all the models are promising, I am failing to get excited about any of these watches, and cannot imagine ever wanting to wear one. I challenge one of the manufacturers to make me eat my words.

Joo Teoh is the managing director of Apppli.

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