Mobile World Congress (MWC), the largest mobile trade show of the year, has just closed its doors for another year. There’s been some great showcases of new technology that has left us begging for more, making our current mobile phones look like a Nokia from early 2000.
Aside from a raft of new handset launches; including Samsung’s set of Galaxy S7 mobiles, HTC One M10 and Windows 10 mobile, there was Fujitsu’s Hyper-connected Van (feature image – credit: Sandeep Lally) and Connected Cows showcasing the Internet of Things applications.
Here are my top five innovations from the event.
1. LG G5 modular phone
LG have come up with a different approach to their latest mobile phone. Instead of cramming all the killer features into their new G5 handset, users can choose what to add by the means of modules. Named “Friends”, these modules are added to the phone by sliding the bottom of the phone off and inserting a new module similar to a cartridge.
Upon launch there will be two optional modules available. The first is a 32-bit digital to analogue converter (DAC) created in partnership with Bang & Olufsen. This enables the phone to play higher resolution sounds making the music a higher quality.
The second, is a camera module that will provide a grip and physical buttons for zoom, shutter, record and power. In addition to extra camera features it also will add 1,200mAh to the battery life.
Image credit: TechStage
2. Starship delivery robot
Starship Technologies, created by Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, co-founders of Skype, is leading the revolution in local delivery. They have created a 6-wheeled autonomous robot named “Starship” with the aim of making low-cost deliveries possible.
Travelling at a top speed of 4 miles per hour, the Starship can carry up to 18kg of parcels or groceries, delivering within a 3 mile radius aiming to make local deliveries within 5 – 30 minutes.
Using 9 on-board cameras the Starship can avoid pedestrians and objects on its journey and its progress can be monitored via an app. As a backup the robot can be operated by humans at any time and communicate with people around it if needed.
3. CAT S60 thermal imaging phone
Caterpillar, the world’s leading manufacturer of construction equipment, has produced a mobile phone with a built-in thermal imaging camera. The phone is aimed at construction professionals with its robust and chunky design making it drop, dust and water proof.
The headlining feature is the thermal imaging camera supplied by FLIR, a leading expert in thermal technology. Thermal images are accurate enough for professional use and can measure surface temperatures from a distances up to 30m. Applications include detecting heat loss on buildings, over-heating of equipment and seeing in darkness.
4. MasterCard selfie pay
The increase in banking fraud is driving the push for better security. Biometrics such a, palm vein scanners and smart wallet systems are paving the way in security, but there’s a new feature about to be launched.
MasterCard is trialing a new security feature to verify identification for online payments. “Selfie Pay” is a new technology using facial recognition to authenticate the users’ identity for online payments.
Using the MasterCard app, the user will provide their details as normal for an online transaction. If further authentication is required, the camera or fingerprint sensor can be used instead of the usual selected letters from a memorable word – which we all forget.
To prevent fraud MasterCard have announced a blink test, adding an extra layer of security. This will prevent fraudsters using a photograph as users will be prompted to blink into the camera to prove that they are real.
5. Volvo keyless car
In 2017, Swedish car manufacturer Volvo wants to start selling car without keys. Instead of a traditional key or fob, cars will be accessed via an app on the owner’s smartphone using Bluetooth technology.
Drivers will be able to unlock the car, start the engine, and more interestingly share access with family members or friends. You will be able to grant access to your car when you’re not present and set a time limit for when they can use it.
The car rental market will benefit the most from this sharing feature. For example, if you’re travelling abroad you’ll be able to book and pay for car rental online before travelling and download a digital key instantly. Upon arrival you can bypass the queue at the car rental desk and walk to the car park.