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MWC 2012 – Women March 13, 2012

Posted by reto wettach in poetic.
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Well, the Mobile World Congress is kind of a very techy-businessy event – with lots of men in their traditional uniform of white shirt and suit.

Of course in such an environment, some products do tell a lot about the phantasies of these men, or at least of some of them:

The iPad Receptionist is a concept from Japan: the idea is that you install an iPad at your front-desk or at the bell. Visitors can then interact with this wonderful lady:

(by Analog12)

Even stranger is a similar concept of Virtual Assistant by Narada Robotics from Spain, a projection of a lady, which the user interacts with through voice. Interesting is that the screen, where the lady is projected to, has the shape of a lady. They advertise with the “closeness feel” to the user-client interaction (source):

(by Narada Robotics)

Last but not least a service also offered at the MWC: Modellvilla by MobileKing is a “sorority style house with over 100 beautiful, young models”. The users can interact with these girls “24/7”:

(own scan)

Well, I am happy that I am not the psychologist you has to interpret these offers…


MWC 2012 – Software March 13, 2012

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, mobile, new technologies.
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Second part of my MWC-Report:

(own image)

The App-Planet was not at all what its name promised – in fact, there were hardly any apps being shown at this year’s MWC. Talking to my colleague Johannes Landstorfer we assume that this is related to the fact that today more and more app vendor do not have to sell through the large telcos, but through the app stores directly to the customer.

As Apple did not participate, the MWC felt like a big Android party – (sorry guys at Nokia…)

(own video)

Actually, the only booth, which showed Apps, was Android.However, for somebody in the field, it was not really exciting. The presentation also lacked any form of excitement: no new releases etc:

(own image; I am not sure, why Google presented this material exploration wall, as nothing is less haptic than the smartphone world…)

A large part of the software offerings were related to easy-creation and easy-portation of apps:

iTude is one of these companies. They have a good description of why they do what they do: Mobile apps are coming of age. Simple brand presence apps no longer captivate consumers. Consumers expect mobile apps to have the same functions as online services. At the same time, companies are struggling to catch up with developments in mobile apps. Lulled by a decade of stable internet technology, they now find it hard to adapt to the fast changing mobile world. iTUDE has developed mobile apps and mobile websites since 2006 and has a proven track record of professional, successful apps and websites. (source)

AppSpotr was one of these service providers: their claim at MWC was: “Build your native app in 5 minutes”.
Their apps run on iPhone and Android and can be update “anytime, anywhere for everyday changes.”

(own image)

Additionally to the easy-development of simple apps, specialized easy-to-use app kits were presented:

AR was very prominent amongst these specialized kits. The best I saw was Metaio, a software, which could recognize and augment (in real time) 3.d-situations. The demo was a model city, where augmented fires started a various buildings. This technology could be very interesting for a lot of use cases, unfortunately most AR-applications presented at MWC were around augmenting ads, packages or magazines…

(image source)

Ads seems to be the driving force in a lot of offerings at the MWC:

Smaato is offering the integration of ad in your apps.

Mobile Marketing was also a huge topic, even though I never really understood, what it is. I guess these companies make it very easy to send out your message via all available mobile chanels, be it SMS, Bluetooth, App or Websites. CyTech is such a company.

MWC 2012 – Hardware March 12, 2012

Posted by reto wettach in gadgets, light, mobile, physical interaction design.
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(own image)

Here my personal report on the Mobile World Congress this year in Barcelona:

1. Even though by the end of 2012, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth (according to Cisco), M2M is still just for the industry: None of the exhibitors understood that M2M (Machine-to-Machine or ‘Internet of Things’) could be an interesting field for inventors, startups and  small or medium sized companies. All the ready-to-use-technologies that I saw were pretty heavily directed towards engineers – at not (as with Arduino or Fritzing) towards the community of creatives.

(own image – excuse the quality)

Of course one can find the good old use-cases as home-network, health and car, and very little applied and innovative M2M-products. So, you can imagine how happy I was when I saw Glowcab by my friend David Rose. Next to his product, At&T showed Garmin GTU, a pet GPS–tracker, and Amber Alert GPS, the same for kids:

(own image)

2. Mobile phones are getting boring – just more of this and more of that:

– More Pixels

(images source)

Even though the 41-Megapixels offered by Nokia 808 PureView are not meant to be stored directly, but to improve the quality of the images, I just want to show that it is all the same, but more in the details.

– More Computing Power

It has been long time that I got excited about the performance of computers – but at MWC this topic was – as expected – huge. Wow, a quad core 1,5GHz mobile phone – please show me, for what we can use all this speed!!!

(image source)

– More Design

(image source)

The mobile phone industry decided to go down the lane of the wonderful black monolith (known form the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”) – and now some of the major players are trying to add some design to this object:

Nokia is very proud of the “one-piece polycarbonate body”, which comes in various colors. For me it rather looks like an unnecessary add-on:

(image source)

Sony shows with its Xperia U another mobile phone with an interesting feature, similar to Philips AmbiLight from 2002: the transparent bar is illuminated and “echoes” the major color currently on the screen. I couldn’t find out, why – besided on looking different…:

(view at 0:43)

Medias, the mobile phone brand of NEC, is showing a double-screen-smartphone “Medias W”. Well, “pixel everywhere” – who knows, maybe we will be seeing it one day in real live!

(own image)

– Finally: Mobile with Projector

IxDS, the company where I work with, did already in 2008 a project on exploring the potential of pico-projectors in mobile context. We came up with a couple of ideas and concept, none strong enough to make our client launch such a product right away. But now, Samsung came up with Galaxy Beam. A long line of visitors had to wait to experience this device in the dark-room. I was rather disappointed as the use-cases were nothing special: projecting slides from a presentation, home made videos or downloaded stuff…

(image source)

3. Mobile Sensing – still exciting!

Just one example – to not turn too nerdy here: ST Microelectronics presented a 10-axis-accelerometer-board. I first was not sure for what this should be good (another tilting-based game) until they explained to me that with this technology, they can “determine location reliably to within a few metres even in the absence of GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) satellite signals.” (source) – which is good for indoor location tracking. Wow!

(own image)

4. Mobile Actuation – there’s hope…

I finally had the chance to meet some guys from Immersion: they were displaying their “HD Haptics“, which was pretty impressive: Their demo was a selection of musical instruments on a touch screen, you choose one and then shake the mobile and can really feel the instrument. It is hard to describe, but it really gives me hope for richer tactile interaction. Technologywise, the system is based on piezo – I guess similar to my friend Ivan Poupyrev’s touch engine from 2002.

(own image)

(image source)

Well, another interesting approach to mobile actuation was presented by the Japanese company ChatPerf. They propose an mobile actuator, which sprays perfume:

(image source)
Currently they only have a prototype:

(image source)

5. Body!

Well, there was very little real “Physical Interaction” at the MWC – more or less as expected. So it was nice to meet the friends from Oblong Industries: they presented their new intuite interaction tool called Mezzanine: