Mobile World Congress 2015 has been full of the usual fare: cutting-edge smartphones, high-tech wearables, and plenty of discussion regarding the hottest technology trends.
There’s been a whole host of announcements from the likes of Google, Microsoft and Samsung, so as the event in Barcelona comes to a close, we’ve rounded up some of the biggest stories to emerge so far.
The “most immersive” VR experience
Virtual reality continues to make headlines, and not sales, and this year’s MWC was no different. Despite competition from more established names like Facebook’s Oculus and Sony’s Project Morpheus, HTC’s Vive VR headset has made a major impression.
Developed in partnership with Valve, the device connects to the wearer’s PC and makes use of two wall-mounted sensors to deliver a fully realised 360 degree 3D experience. It also comes with two handheld controllers monitoring the position of your arms and hands.
Early reports suggest that the Vive headset offers a much more realistic experience than previously unveiled VR products and with HTC teasing a release by Christmas this year, the device has a huge opportunity to steal a march on its rivals.
Samsung Galaxy S6
2014 was not a good year for Samsung. Its Galaxy S5 smartphone suffered disappointing sales and the South Korean firm saw its profit margins eroded by Apple at the top end and budget Chinese manufacturers at the bottom.
All that means a lot is riding on its two new flagship phones, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. The latter device is the most eye-catching, sporting a curved edge screen on both sides. Samsung is also pushing the premium angle for both phones, with its traditional plastic approach replaced by high-quality glass and metal.
Whether or not the Galaxy S6 can help the firm reclaim lost ground in the smartphone market remains to be seen, but Samsung will be hoping that consumers view the curved display as more of an essential feature than an unnecessary gimmick.
The LG Watch Urbane LTE
With the Apple Watch on the horizon, wearables are expected to take off in a big way in 2015. One of the hurdles to mainstream adoption, is that smartwatches often require a smartphone to be nearby in order to operate. The LG Watch Urbane LTE, however, breaks the trend by using its own LTE mobile data connection to get online.
The Urbane LTE is also capable of sending and receiving calls and messages independently and could possibly be used for mobile payments as it also features NFC technology.
Even if smartwatches do not become the next big thing, LG’s Watch Urbane LTE is certainly an interesting addition to the wearable market.
Death by drone
Drones have been a hot topic for discussion for some time now. The FAA recently proposed new regulations regarding their use, Parisians have been nervously watching their skies after several unidentified objects were seen overhead, and both Google and Facebook made drone announcements of their own at MWC.
While the technology giants are quick to point out the opportunities afforded by drone technology, namely providing Internet access in developing countries, it was a rather more gloomy discussion that made the headlines at MWC this week.
Kevin Curran, a senior figure at the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineering, explained that deaths caused by drones were only “a matter of time.” While provocative, Mr Curran’s views merely reflect the growing concern that current safety legislation is ill-equipped to manage drone use.
AVG Privacy glasses
Our final news story from MWC is one that may appear comical, but raises serious questions about our privacy.
In the pre-show event in Barcelona, AVG unveiled some rather garish “invisibility glasses.” The spectacles use infra-red light and reflective materials to make it more difficult for cameras and other facial recognition technologies to see who you are clearly.
While the glasses are currently just a proof-of-concept (and they would need a significant re-design to convince anyone to wear them), they do help to remind us that our privacy is an increasingly valuable commodity in today’s digital world.