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February 26th, 2014

MWC14 day 2 Report: Beacons, IoT and Mobile Payments

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Designing apps and connected devices
The day started with presentations and panels on service concept design and connected devices. AKQA presented 3 case studies about app design and connected devices, Interaction design Lars Stalling talked about connected devices and connected cities and President of DMI’s Mobile Application Solutions Division Magnus Jern spoke about User Centric Design and the importance of User Testing and gave some tips on the critical success factors for apps.

A couple of the highlights were

  • Apps are becoming physical – Social media printer and Telefonica Me that translates social media into voice through a physical device
  • Speed of innovation keeps on accelerating. Enterprises have to learn how to do things differently in the mobile world and break existing processes and rules. Launch apps faster, update consistently and listen to users.
  • “There is no Internet of things, there is only Intranets of things. We need to start providing more open access to the devices and information.” – Lars Stalling

What do we think?
With so many wearables and connected devices launched and showed at MWC this year it’s clear that one major shortcoming is that most of them can’t talk to each other and don’t provide any kind of open access. To make the devices truly life-enhancing we need to be able to combine the information from your fitness band with the heart pulse meter, to your
smart toothbrush and other devices. The other challenge is that developers find it hard enough to keep up with iOS, Android and Windows so launching additional OS and versions of OS will be a limiting factor for developer support.

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Connected toothbrush in the connected city 

Procter & Gamble’s Oral launched and showcased a connected toothbrush. The device gives personalised advice and helps people improve their brushing through an app. The device uses Bluetooth 4.0 to connect.
More details can be found here

What do we think? The concept itself may not be mass market but it’s well thought through, well executed and it actually works. The main shortcoming seemed to be lack of open APIs to access the information.

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Beacons and Payments

We visited a couple of companies including Indoo.rs, WiseSec, Wirecard, Nordic Semiconductor and Mobisfera to see how beacon technology can be used in different combinations.

  • Indoo.rs has a nice solution for indoor mapping, navigation and communication
  • WiseSec showed how Beacons and BLE can be used in solutions that require a high level of security
  • Wirecard has a demo of how Beacons can be used as a payment enabler in stores/restaurants
  • Mobisfera and Radius Networks has implemented a scavanger hunt application (MWC’14 Challenge) showing a use case for Beacons
  • Nordic Semiconductor shows various examples of BLE used for glasses, hearing aide and a low energy heart monitor
  • Paypal had a couple of showcases of mobile payments but nothing specifically showcasing beacons
  • Qualcomm Gibal was apparently shown to some visitors but we did not manage to get a look

This week Apple also rolled out its specifications for iBeacons while simultaneously beginning to certify devices that use the technology through its MFi program. This will help hardware manufactures improve credibility for use of the standard.

What do we think?
We had actually expected more in terms of demos and show cases. The lack of bigger companies in this space shows that the technology is still relatively immature. We liked however that most of the companies were honest about the fact that BLE beacons are complementary to Wifi and other technology and that there is no silver bullet. More to follow in this space.

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Eyewear and smart glasses
Generally there are a lot of smart glasses and HD video eyewear this year at Mobile World Congress. Google Glass can be seen here and there, Epson’s BT-200 and Vuzix Wearables were used in various displays to prototype new concepts.
Read more 

What do we think?As per our 2014 trend report, we believe connected glasses have a lot of utilities in the workspace but most of the things we saw at MWC was consumer focused. Nothing ground-breaking but entertaining and interesting nonetheless.

Also in the news:

  • Google’s Project Tango Phone – We missed writing about this earlier in the week when it was announced. A 5-inch device codenamed Project Tango, was revealed on Thursday. Its sensors can read a room by tracking the motion of the device itself and simultaneously mapping the environment around it with “a quarter million 3D measurements every second.” 
  • Mobile app search startup Quixey is trying to reinvent the way apps are found and used.  By allowing developers to determine what information within the app is surfaced, Quixey will allow developers to “make the best argument to users” as to why they should use a particular app, based on location, time of day and other factors.

The day 3 report to follow tomorrow…

Tags: beacons events internet of things IoT Mobile payments Mobile world Congress MWC

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