A look from Mobile World Congress

8 Surprising Topics at #MWC17

Mobile Is No Longer An Emerging Technology. So What Is?

Conferences, Industry News Comments (1)

Conferences are ideal locations for gathering business intelligence about a specific industry. There are presentations revealing the latest thinking in the field, and exhibitors want to show off their sparkling new ideas. Even at a distance, looking at the online program of a major conference can point to where an industry is heading.

Mobile World Congress 2017With that in mind, I reviewed the online program of the 2017 Mobile World Congress, taking place from Feb. 27 to March 2 in Barcelona, Spain, during which more than 101,000 people from around the globe convene to talk all things mobile.

Mobile can no longer be considered an “emerging” technology, as the conference website noted:

“Mobile has become fundamental to the everyday lives of nearly five billion people. Mobile is revolutionary, dynamic, personal and ever adapting. Mobile is the force behind every emerging innovation.”

Having studied the mobile learning industry for the past decade, I was looking for ideas and innovations that I may not have seen even one or two years ago. There were the expected trendy topics like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, and Wearables, but I was looking for surprises – things that I wasn’t expecting at a mobile technology conference. Here is what caught my eye: 

1. IoT Security

Monday, Feb. 27 – 10:15-13:15

Participants in this session will hear about “risks inherent in multiple, complex and inter-connected systems.” Discussing the security of connected devices is necessary, because the Internet of Things (IoT) has made the Internet less secure, opening many more doors for hackers.

If you are going to develop businesses in this sector, you need a skilled security partner.

2. The Disruptive Impact of Blockchain 

Monday, Feb. 27 – 11:00-12:10  

There are two sessions on blockchains at this conference, which is a topic that I’ve previously written about.

Blockchain technology “has the potential to disrupt in a range of industries such as financial services, telecoms, legal, manufacturing, and transportation.” I found out that there are “several hundred blockchain start-ups globally” and that “the Internet of Things could also establish a key role for blockchain.”

A second session called Blockchain, The Revolution, is offered on Monday, Feb. 27, at 15:00–16:00.

3. The Industrial Internet 

Monday, Feb. 27 – 11:00-12:10

The description for this session noted:

“industrial Internet and massive IoT have the opportunity to increase productivity and streamline industrial manufacturing technology by accumulating and making sense of data from production lines and equipment. Furthermore, it allows manufacturers to become predictive, understanding when and where faults are likely to occur, mitigate risk and reduce downtime. A recent paper by GE proposed that a 1% increase in productivity in industrial processes could translate to US$10-15 trillion increase in global GDP over 15 years.”

That is true impact. Building custom apps and dashboards connected to industrial and commercial equipment will be an emerging area for enterprise mobility.

4. Tech Trends To Understand The Present And Plan For The Future 

Monday, Feb. 27 – 13:00-13:30

Have you heard the terms “hourglass brands,” “blurred reality,” or “ephemeral stories?” I hadn’t, so I dug deeper and found this article explaining them. Or you can hear directly from the author, Mark Curtis, chief client officer at the design firm Fjord, in this session.

5. Autonomous Vehicles 

Monday, Feb. 27 – 16:15-17:45

I was surprised that the topic of self-driving vehicles was being presented at a conference on mobile technology, but as the conference website noted, “The mobile network is at the heart of the autonomous vehicle. Low-latency, always-on and fail-proof are just some of the key requirements for cars.”

In 2014, The Economist called autonomous cars “smartphones on wheels.” The question being asked in this session is, “Will 5G [the future network standard in development] be enough to handle this demand?”

See also the session “Cars as a Service” on Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 14:00-15:00 for more ideas on the connection between autonomous vehicles and mobile.

6. The Ungrow Framework, A New Paradigm For Corporate Venturing 

Tuesday, Feb. 28 – 10:00-11:00

The description reads, “In an ever accelerating competitive environment where speed is key, large organizations struggle to keep up. The Ungrow framework allows them to operate as a low-mass organization focusing on validating the core hypothesis of a specific business as a startup would. Gaining agility and reducing risk.”

Not sure what “low-mass organization” means in this context (perhaps “lean?”), but it sounds intriguing.

See also the session “How Does A 150-Year-Old Swiss Company Act Like A Start-Up?” Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 13:00-13:30.

7. Connected Living – Mobile IoT (LPWA) – Open for Business

Wednesday, March 1 – 13:30-15:30

“Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) is an emerging part of the IoT and represents a huge market opportunity as the IoT scales.” Use cases being discussed in this session include leisure, industrial and logistics tracking applications. The number of IoT applications for business will explode in the next five years.

8. Drones, Phones and Automobiles: Privacy and Transparency across the Mobile Ecosystem

Wednesday, March 1 – 16:00-17:30

Finally, there are two sessions on drones at this conference, indicating that this will be a focus in coming years. “New technologies such as drones and the Internet of Things are creating new angles on the responsible collection, use and safeguarding of consumers’ personal information… Regulators, striving to ensure companies are transparent and do the right thing, often struggle to keep up.”

See also: “NEXTech Lab: International Drone Festival”, Thursday, March 2, from 9:50 – 13:00.

The good news for a company like Float is that we are already on the leading edge of many of the technologies described above, and, some technologies like mobile computer vision and audio augmented reality are not present at this conference, indicating that Float is ahead of the curve in several important areas in our custom development practice.

Interested In An Augmented Reality Demo?

If you have an innovative idea for mobile development and need a design or programming partner, please contact us.

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Gary Woodill is a senior analyst with Float, as well as CEO of i5 Research. Gary conducts research and market analyses, as well as assessments and forecasting for emerging technologies. Gary is the co-editor of "Mastering Mobile Learning," author of “The Mobile Learning Edge,” and the co-author of “Training and Collaboration with Virtual Worlds.” He also presents at conferences and is the author of numerous articles and research reports on emerging learning technologies. Gary holds a doctor of education degree from the University of Toronto.

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On February 8, 2017
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