This year we had the pleasure of attending MWC 2019, one of the biggest conferences in Europe, held annually in Barcelona. The main trend is 5G, the next step after 4G. All communication-based technologies (AR/VR, IoT, Automotive, Industry 4.0) benefit from 5G. HTC introduced its new VR device which has frontal cameras. Therefore, we could witness a mixed VR which, until now, would isolate users from the external environment via Augmented Reality. Ericsson had one of the biggest booths at MWC, but access was restricted because of the large number of attendees. The technical solutions on display there were practical and showed us how well we can integrate current technologies with 5G, whether we talk about industrial robots, Augmented Reality or autonomous boats which report on the quality of ocean water. We also had the pleasure to conduct an interview with Mr. Magnus Frodigh, Head of Research la Ericsson, which we will fully publish in the next couple of days, an interview which explains the relationship between 5G and IoT. At the same Ericsson booth, I learned about educational solutions which use Lego Mindstorm for 10-14 year-old students, a software framework which integrates all hardware solutions and all the protocols for data transmission and 5G. Moreover, we discovered that there are technical solutions for low-coverage areas in the case of 5G. One of them relates to using 4G for data upload, and to getting a broader spectrum and a wider coverage area for downlink. Moreover, a software upgrade can be performed on 4G relay transmitters, so that by mixing them with 5G resources the result leads to faster coverage, starting from current infrastructure. In relation to the same 5G topic, I saw an interesting project from Autair: a racecar which had a 5G receptor. Special relay transmitters were installed to ensure signal coverage, and a steady 2G/s flow was achieved at this speed. HTC DeepQ introduced a new VR application which presents human biology. The project was completed over the course of 6 years by an Australian professor, and HTC offered a solution which combines research and technology. The application is used by the Medical University of Taiwan and can also be purchased online. You can find out more details about this in an interview with Lexis Change, HTC DeepQ manager. During the press conferences of the Taiwan team, we discovered the indoor solutions of Starwing Technology. The team used a special token, AI and sensors to come up with an accurate solution for locating persons inside buildings. This can be used for medical purposes, but also for locating cars in the parking or for monitoring inmates. The automotive industry was also represented by many products. For example, we saw the SDL framework from Toyota. It is designed for the application developers which have access to a car's front screen and to sensors. We also conducted an interesting interview with Paolo Battiston, Executive Vice President, Digital Payments & Labs Mastercard. We talked about the solutions offered by Mastercard for online payment, which we found has become more secure and more device-enabled: telephones, bracelets or watches. We were also given a brief demo where a transaction was validated by using different criteria: purchase history, purchase location or the tilt degree of the phone at the moment of the purchase. Of course, if the transaction score was insufficient, the user's biometric authentication would be required using their fingerprint.
As attendee, I must admit I was impressed by the conference size and the number of visitors. The booths which were spectacular had representatives eager to showcase their work and products. Most of them had practical solutions to current problems.
We saw robots which imitate dancing moves and innovative solutions which refurbish an iPhone (by adding a carcass in other colors than the ones from Apple and selling them 30% cheaper than the initial ones).
Coming back to the conference, here is a list of solutions which I hope will inspire us: all badges had information about participants through NFC, and the badge just had to be scanned for access validation or for participants contact detail retrieval. Access was enabled via facial scanning. The Breeze service could be accessed by the more courageous. Before the conference, a photo was taken and then sent to the organizers. On the basis of this photo, organizers would validate your attendance without the need to have your badge shown. The system works only when you enter the conference space. Getting the badge at the airport, before the conference, was really useful. Moreover, I received a transport pass for all transportation means in Barcelona for the entire duration of the conference.
To wrap things up, we noticed the outreach of Spanish participants at MWC, event which has generated some of the most diverse comments and reactions in the more delicate Catalonia context. This state of facts in addition to the reticence of the Barcelona population towards tourists led to a metro strike, on the very first day of the conference. The conclusion after the first MWC day is that it amasses everything related to diversity, technology and practical solutions. We will come back with more details about the booths in day 2.
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