Though the twelfth annual Mobile World Congress drew to a close last week, there’s still a lot of buzz around the biggest gathering in the mobility industry and the tech innovations announced there. Did 2018’s trade show in Barcelona hit all the bases?
It sure did—there were big tech industry names, even bigger mobile innovations, and the biggest crowd you can imagine with over 100,000 attendees. Conference goers obviously received the latest updates from huge companies, like Samsung, LG, Sony, and BlackBerry, but there was a whole lot more. The event themes for MWC 2018 included broadly named categories, like The Network, Digital Consumers, Applied Artificial Intelligence, and Innovation.
If you didn’t brave the rain and hordes of mobility enthusiasts in Barcelona, don’t be too bummed. Here are all the tech innovations from the show that deserve your attention—and a few that might not have a foreseeable role in the office IT portfolio, even if they’re super cool.
1. Google Pixel earbuds
Mobility, AI, and speech recognition convened at MWC 2018 in one of the coolest tech innovations to date—the Google Pixel earbuds, which can translate 40 languages in real time. These earbuds are only compatible with the Google Pixel smartphone, but they’re still a futuristic pop of mobile innovation.
Is it useful? This invention could play a role in multicultural, global workplaces by helping with collaboration and communication. Even if the first generation Pixel earbuds are a bit rusty at speech recognition and translating, it could make for some hilarious multilingual workplace conversations.
2. LG’s tube display
There’s a new type of television display—and you can carry it in your back pocket. The LG tube display is flexible and lightweight enough to be rolled up and transported.
Is there value? For IT pros in certain industries, there’s a lot of value in a screen that can be rolled out or held up for demonstrations in almost any situation. But sadly, this may fall into the category of mobile innovations you really want but can’t quite justify for your business.
3. Energizer smartphone
A battery company released a smartphone with a giant battery that doesn’t zap the processing power. According to TechRadar Pro, the Energizer Hardcase H590S has two days of life if you aren’t “going too hard on the features.” Other specs include 6GB of RAM and an expansive 128GB storage, but it’s been described as a rugged device that isn’t glamorous or lightweight.
Should you wish-list it? If you’re rarely near a wall outlet or allergic to wireless charging, this may be something worth considering. Like many other rugged phones by non-mobile brands, the Energizer phone will most likely appeal to individuals whose workstation is not an office.
4. Huawei’s 5G robot
There’s a new humanoid assistant on the block—a human-looking AI robot whose movements are powered by 5G and the motions of a human wearing sensors. In the future, this robot could keep human workers safe by conducting dangerous work in industries like manufacturing and energy.
This 5G humanoid assistant robot could complete dangerous tasks for us in the future — here's how it works. pic.twitter.com/RSypanARk2— Business Insider (@businessinsider) February 28, 2018
Unfortunately, this isn’t office IT. Even though it’d be really fun to strap sensors all over yourself and send this robot into meetings on your behalf, you probably won’t get the budget approved to cover it.
5. Nokia’s banana phone
Do you remember the banana phone Nokia handset from The Matrix? Well, it’s back. This isn’t a 2018 mobile innovation, but it’s controversially become one of the biggest announcements at MWC 2018.
Does your office need it? Probably not, but this handset has three winning characteristics: affordability, fun, and Matrix nostalgia.
6. Dual-listening earphones
Named the best wearable technology from MWC 2018 by T3, the Sony Xperia Ear Duo is not necessarily the most cutting-edge mobile innovation, but it’s unique—it’s essentially the opposite of noise-canceling headphones. It’s designed for a dual-listening experience, seamlessly blending your personal soundtrack and the world around you, so you can answer questions without removing your earbuds.
Take in every sound of the wilderness, while staying in touch with your digital world. Introducing a revolutionary dual listening experience with #Xperia Ear Duo. #SonyMWC https://t.co/kiGFtOLzHb pic.twitter.com/XkMM25Oloy— Sony Xperia (@sonyxperia) February 27, 2018
This may prove valuable, especially if you frequently work from non-office locations, like a coffee shop, or if you work in an open office environment where people frequently talk to you anyway. Plus, studies reveal some exposure to ambient noise can make you more productive.
7. Sprint’s nationwide 5G network
While it’s too soon to call who’s officially won the race for 5G, Sprint announced at MWC 2018 that it’s ready to light up 5G nationwide, including immediate connectivity in six big urban hubs.
Can you use it? Assuming your workplace has mobility capabilities, yes—5G means an increased upload speed up to 10GBPS. That translates to better IoT connectivity, uninterrupted video streaming for work calls, and more seamless multimedia getting-stuff-done, whether you’re in the office or not.
8. Almost foldable phones
Graphene, a hyper-flexible 2D material that’s the strongest ever tested, is the darling of MWC 2018. It has the potential to do just about everything, from filtering drinking water to creating medical supplies. While this isn’t technically a 2018 tech innovation, the fact that foldable mobile phones are only five years away is worth mentioning.
Useful or just hype? The potential role of a foldable mobile device depends on how clumsy and accident-prone your colleagues are. If you want to buy into the hype, there’s a good chance your industry will be transformed by graphene in some way.
9. Sony’s 3D selfies
Sony smartphone creating amazing 3D selfies using camera and motion sensors. pic.twitter.com/UZQ75B8Ktt— Over-C Ltd (@OverC_) February 28, 2018
Need we say more? There’s almost no meaningful workplace applications for this technology, but it’s 3D selfies, y’all.
While a few 2018 mobile innovations on display could be real game changers, the rest aren’t the best fit for a business context. Still, Mobile World Congress 2018 gave some fascinating insights into what innovation will look like in the upcoming year and what kinds of futuristic tech might start entering the mainstream. And remember, if you’re adopting any new technology in the workplace, make sure you’re vetting its security features—while it’s exciting to bring on new tech, you don’t want to open up your environment to cyber risk.
Looking for more conference coverage on Tektonika? Check out “SecureWorld 2018: Cybersecurity pros are the heroes of the future” or “HIMSS 2018: Keep a steady pulse on health care IT,” and click subscribe at the top of the page to stay up to date with the latest trends in IT.