So, that’s it. MWC is over for another year and what an amazing event it was. We had thousands of visitors to Huawei’s exhibits in Hall 1, and it was clear that many months of planning and preparation had paid off.
The Huawei exhibition area clearly demonstrated our technology and thought leadership in the industry with some truly ground-breaking products and ideas. These included Digital Twin technology for designing antenna sites, the new Cloud IoT Platform and – of course – Huawei’s new Mate X foldable phone, which stole the show on the first day and continued to draw the clouds on the following three days.
The official theme of MWC19 may have been “Intelligent Connectivity” but having spent a few hours on the last day taking a look at what the rest of the industry was promoting I began to think that the unofficial theme was “Fun Connectivity”. Many operators were demonstrating the new businesses and applications that are going to take full advantage of the massive mobile bandwidth and near-instant response time of 5G. And many of these applications are a lot of fun.
I was particularly impressed by the live demonstration of a “Cyber Jam Session” that featured a remote keyboard player appearing by hologram with a live guitar player. This was like something off Star Trek’s holodeck. In general, Virtual Reality video applications were all over the place. It’s clear that cloud computing and 5G connectivity are now expected to enable the type of fun consumer applications that have previously remained in the imaginative minds of Hollywood’s finest directors or the more optimistic venture capital backers in Silicon Valley.
Aside from entertainment, the other clear emerging theme was next-generation transport. I love the idea of drone-taxis that scale up the flying technology to create a brand new category of urban transport. It will bring very real benefits to our congested cities and our personal mobility.
Huawei KOL & Cendol CEO Arnold Aranez gets a lift in the world’s first flying drone
Of course, the technology is one thing and any new category of transport will need new regimes for safety and regulation. It will be fascinating to see how long it takes these drone-taxis to take to the air commercially. At the same time, the car industry itself is using IT and connectivity to change its business models to meet the changing needs of urban travelers as it predicts that personal car ownership will steadily drop and both car-sharing and ride-hailing will continue their inexorable rise. Many stands featured connected land vehicles and it’s clear that the remote control of transport over 5G networks will become a reality over the next few years. In addition, I particularly enjoyed seeing a unique attachment that turned a hover-board into a personal sit-down vehicle that looked very much like the Sinclair C5 from 1985. Not much changes.
Robots were also everywhere. Whether they were playing musical instruments, running quality assurance on factory product lines or just providing useful public information, robots controlled by Artificial Intelligence are going to become integrated into our lives. And, of course, this AI will require massive amounts of cloud computing power and the bandwidth provided by 5G networks. (Make sure you take a look at how our Atlas AI computing platform is rising to this challenge.)
It’s All Good For Telcos
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the telco of today does not need to worry about being relegated to the role of the dumb pipe when everything will be connected and managed in a virtuous circle by AI.
The big innovation in smartphones was the launch at MWC of foldable screens. But it wasn’t the only new thing. New products and discussions were taking place on improving the audio quality on mobile devices for the playback of content, as mobile devices are increasingly used as the first screen for content consumption and for personal communications in noisy environments such as restaurants, exhibitions or, in some countries, the cinema. Power consumption is also a battleground, with Huawei already having deployed AI to intelligently prolong the smartphone battery life. One manufacturer at MWC was taking a less sophisticated route, releasing an Android phone with an incredible 18,000 mAh battery delivering 50 days of standby on a smartphone. It’s nearly 2 cm thick and brings a new meaning to the idea of bricking your device.
Although many exhibitors had made a great effort to bring some fun to MWC, there were also demonstrations of very serious 5G applications. Thankfully, the city of Barcelona is ahead of the curve and already has fledgling 5G connectivity which was used for everything from Smart Locks to live 8k video streams. One highlight in Huawei’s case was the use of a 5G network to power 8K, glasses-free 3D game streaming with our Cloud X solution. Another was in the field of healthcare where a renowned medical professional provided expert assistance to a live surgeon from the MWC conference hall taking full advantage of the high-resolution video images and low latency of the 5G network in real time.
MWC19 was a healthy mix of telco industry standards and fun cutting-edge applications. It seems to me that this year, the fun applications that bring together cloud and networks are starting to take over. It’s going to be an exciting 12 months. See you again next year.
Leave a comment below and let us know what you thought about this year’s MWC.