This week was my first time to MWC Barcelona. It’s an event I’ve been wanting to go to for years’ but had never had the chance to attend – until now!
I’d seen the footage of all the innovative tech that’s on display every year and the big-name brands that exhibit. But I only had a 24-hour stopover so, I needed to make the most of my time there.
As I make my way from the Metro to the South Registration stand, I take a moment to take it all in, looking at the hordes of people darting around in blue and grey suits. I knew it was a big event, but I hadn’t anticipated the sheer scale of it, with more than 100,000 visitors in the 9 halls of the Fira.
After collecting my badge, I make my way over to hall two to meet a couple of clients that are exhibiting, whilst resisting the urge to stop and gawk at several pretty awesome robots en route. Once client meetings are done, it’s time to explore. I make my way back to the robot band that I passed on the way through, they’re playing the piano and the drums and drawing a large crowd. It’s no New York Philharmonic, but the concept is fascinating. I also make my way back to another exhibit I passed, robot dancing! There’s a guy from the audience showing off some dance moves on stage, with an army of tiny robots following his every move. I wonder if we can get one in the office?
I move into the next hall where 5G, IoT and Smart City stands are ubiquitous, and are certainly the telecoms buzzwords for 2019. And I’m pushed to find one stand not offering some kind of product or service associated with 5G or IoT – it’s everywhere! One thing I did really enjoy was the range of interactive use cases that so many exhibitors had put together to demonstrate what IoT connectivity could bring to so many aspects of our lives. I had a play around with a really fun train model that tracked assets over mobile networks with eSIMs, they even simulated travelling across national borders and swapping SIM profiles. The real-time dashboard gave me every little bit of information a customer could possibly need to seamlessly track and trace.
In the next hall, I found what may be one of the coolest things as this years’ show – cyber jamming sessions over 5G! My attention was immediately drawn to the large crowds and the music I could hear. There was a small stage with a guy playing the guitar on his own, and next to him, there was a projection of a woman singing and playing the keyboard – via real time video-link over 5G. They were having a good jamming session when the spokesperson came on stage and informed the audience that the singer was in fact in a white box at another part of the stand, playing on her own. We all rush round and sure enough, there she is.
The final element of the show that really caught my eye was the cars. There were Mercedes Benz, Audi, BMW and a rather beat up Repsol branded 4×4 on display. The connected cars were certainly impressive. I spoke with a guy that fitted the technology to the Audi and he told me about the interesting trip into the building the car had. Because it’s so technically complex, only the designer was actually allowed to drive the car – but he wasn’t there. So, after it had been shipped and trucked over to the event, he ‘drove’ the car by remote control through the halls to the stand. That could have been one amazing behind-the-scenes video. At the BMW stand a very exciting VR experience was on offer but it was sadly booked up. On several stands there were VR experiences on offer and driving games. I couldn’t resist. Myself and Anu took it in turns on a driving simulator for a traffic control app. I won’t boast but I came third on the leader board…
The last order of the day was filming a short interview for one of our clients. Once everyone was in position and happy with the script, filming commenced and the demo started. It was nice to see so many faces walking by, evidently interested in what was going on. Once filming has wrapped up, it’s back on the metro to the airport to fly home again.
Of course, the real innovation doesn’t just come from big cars and VR simulations. I was really interested in the latest in mobile identity, IoT platforms and CPaaS technologies that the mobile community was creating, to mention just a few.
I had some really interesting conversations with numerous businesses at MWC, from IoT service providers to traffic solution app developers. It was inspiring and energising to feel all the passion and talent going towards designing networks that are going to transform the way we live and work in future. Did you head to MWC Barcelona? Share your pictures with us on Twitter @IsolineComms.