Mobile World Congress this year was full of highlights, amazing launches and plenty of surprises. Over 100,000 attendees from 204 countries came to Barcelona for an extravaganza of innovation demonstrations; with so much going at the show, it’s often hard to keep track of all the announcements and the most important developments. So, to make sure you haven’t missed what mattered most, we’ve listed out the highlights from the show that caught our eye the most.
The Founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, the world’s richest and most influential 31-year-old, grabbed all the headlines at the start of MWC by arriving in style at the launch of Samsung’s S7, S7 Edge, and Gear VR headset. As you can see in the picture above, while the thousands of attendees were immersed in a virtual world inside their Samsung Gear VR headsets, Zuckerberg quietly strolled past them to the stage. As they took off their headsets, they could then see him on stage ready to deliver the keynote speech. The surprise didn’t end there. Zuckerberg went on to reveal a new VR partnership between Facebook and Samsung, using Oculus technology, and explained how “VR is the next platform where anyone can create and experience anything they want.” He then went on to say VR is “going to change the way we live and work and communicate.”
According to Zuckerberg, VR will be the most social platform, and thanks to Facebook, will become the new way to interact and meet people. VR, instead of being used just for games and entertainment, will also be used for business and wider communication across the globe. This move is indeed a game changer and was arguably the most prominent highlight from MWC this year. It’s also worth noting that Zuckerberg explained how VR will be a “killer application of 5G”. Facebook announced the Telecom Infra Project, an initiative designed to overhaul telecom network infrastructure in an effort to meet the world’s data needs ahead of the roll out of 5G.
Our own VR experience, Tom’s New Mobility Journey, was also available during the show, as you’ll see in the video below.
— Gemalto Mobile News (@GemaltoMobile) 24 February 2016
The continued evolution of the IoT and wearables
The Internet of Things was everywhere at MWC this year, and as expected, was more prominent than ever before. We even saw connected cows! Overall, there were many IoT launches, talking points and lots of announcements. Here are some of the key ones we saw:
- Second-generation networks are being gradually decommissioned to pave the way for LTE, which means many IoT devices connected to carrier 2G networks will need a new way to connect. Carriers are now racing to offer a replacement for 2G networks. This race will coincide with the race towards 5G, which in turn will ultimately make the IoT more powerful and faster.
- Talking of 5G, a huge step forward was made at MWC this year as the EU and Brazil announced an agreement to cooperate on ultra-fast networks. As we’ve mentioned, this move to 5G will be the key to unlocking the potential of the IoT.
- Wearables were once again a big part of the IoT discussion at MWC this year. The future for wearables is brighter than ever, especially as they could become more independent and less reliant on phones to pair with, thanks to embedded SIMs. The GSMA has now given the greenlight to eSIM which means we could improve wearables considerably. At the Gemalto stand, we demonstrated this use of eSIM with our Samsung Gear S2 connectivity activation, which you can see below.
Lewis Hamilton comments on self-driving cars
Three-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton was on hand at MWC to discuss autonomous vehicles and the technologies available that make his driving better. While he admitted autonomous vehicles could eventually replace human drivers on normal roads, he said he wasn’t worried a robot would replace himself or any other F1 drivers in the foreseeable future. He could be wrong, though.
Perhaps his final years as a racer could be in competition against a robotic field of opponents in an epic test of man vs. machine? Time will tell.
Six second predictions of the future
MWC 2016 also saw some impressive predictions for the future, thanks to our Connected Living 2025 report, showing us what the youngest generation of mobile users expects from our connected world in 2025. To help us discover more insights, we invited attendees at MWC to come to our stand at MWC this year and give us their six second predictions on what 2025 has in store for us all. It got off to a strong start with GadgetsBoy predicting Augmented Reality will overtake Virtual Reality by 2025. See below for 5 more of our best predictions overall from the show.
As you can see from just these few highlights, it was an action-packed MWC, with plenty to see and enjoy. There was also a huge number of new products on show, from new forms of tablets, amazing new phone cameras, heat-seeking smartphones, and more. There was also a great offering for those who love after show events and nightlife in Barcelona. With this in mind, we’re already looking forward to MWC 2017!