Mobile World Congress 2012 – Day 2
Day 2 of MWC meant an early start to get as much browsing done as possible. Today’s adventures include some serious travel-orientated applications for Nokia devices and a trip to a 'Connected House' to check out what new technology we will start seeing in our own homes in the next decade.
Nokia unveils ‘Transport’, ‘Reading’ and ‘Drive 2.0’
Today’s visit started with a trip to the Nokia stand where we were quickly acquainted with the Nokia Lumia 900 and its little brother the Lumia 610 – Both good looking handsets but certainly no big secret. Nokia have been shouting about the new budget handset targeted at developing markets for a little while now.
Nokia’s MWC surprise came in the form of three new applications (actually two and an update) - let’s take a look at what they had to offer
An application aimed squarely at those that those who use a lot of public transport. Nokia tells us it will be available in the coming days through Nokia Beta Labs and in 4 weeks will be available in the Nokia section of the marketplace.
The application has two layers of information, the first reports on bus lines, metro, trains and station names. It is already available for over 500 cities around the world – impressive for an application so young. Most notable is the apps second layer that calculates in real time the time to get from one point to another around the city, very handy if you’re connecting to different services. Nokia informed us that here in Spain we can use it in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville, but they are talking with state institutions to make it available to all major cities in countries across Europe.
Aesthetically very slick, the application moves very smoothly with very low lag in response times when we were testing it. The example on show takes us to the Sagrada Familia here in Barcelona and as a result of the travel times and route options in the system, it offers several alternatives in terms of our departure time. Once we have chosen an option, just touch it and it shows us another screen with the details of our journey displayed as a timeline clearly showing the time between transfers and total journey time. All very handy if you running round an unfamiliar city!
Nokia Drive 2.0
Nokia billed its latest update to Nokia Drive as ‘A great update to a great application’ and so far we have to agree. The biggest improvement is that we will finally be able to enjoy 100% offline maps. You will no longer need to have data turned on when doing a search or to calculate a route meaning a 100% free GPS at home or abroad! The update also includes other interesting news. The way in which the application informs you about current speed has been made more flexible and can now be either visual only, visual with sound or just plain disabled if you’re in a Porsche on the autobahn. The application also now allows the more sensible user to modify the margin above the national speed limit where notifications start to alert the driver. In other news, Nokia has implemented what it calls the ‘Advanced Dashboard’, which translates as on-screen information displaying journey information and time to arrival amongst other handy data on your trips progression.
Quite simply, Nokia reading is an RSS (News feed) reading application with some nice Lumia-themed styling and a sleek interface. The application allows you to add RSS news and blogs of interest, but also allows you to subscribe to magazines online or download e-books to read offline. There wasn’t much more information about this application, but Nokia informed us that they are closing agreements with a broad range of online publications and publishing houses to provide a plethora of content.
The Connected House - Home of the future or the present?
This year sees the addition of a very interesting attraction regarding intelligent communications in Hall 3. Located in the middle of the square of the ‘Fira’ area operated by the GSMA (GSM Association) sits something called the ‘Connected House’. This is a house where all the rooms have a multitude of sensors that monitor our every move (as long as we want them to, obviously) as well as the specific needs and care that we require. GSMA has made space available to companies who wish to showcase their new products and progress in this area.
In this house everything may seem normal until you find a meter displaying WiFi connectivity on the wall or "Facebook for automation sensors" for example. We will explain some of these exciting new developments in home tech below.
In Home Medical Technology
Hand in hand with Qualcomm (Qualcomm Life in particular) we find the 2Net communications platform. This is an ecosystem of communication between different medical devices that send biometric information in a secure database so patients and doctors can access it when needed. The data is obtained through the 2Net Hub that also encrypts and uploads the information to the cloud via Wi-Fi. As examples, in the home we have seen a glucometer or blood pressure gauge, but Qualcomm advised us that there are about 40 different devices related to health, such as monitors for sleep patterns, cardiovascular or cardiopulmonary monitors - and all this with the patient comfortable at home and data being sent to their Doctor’s surgery or specialist.
We continue the visit and Ericsson said hello to show us their "Social Network of Things". At the moment this is only an idea on which Ericsson has been working with since early 2011. In short, what Ericsson wants to explained to us is that as we communicate with our friends through Facebook and we capture our mood to Twitter, why can’t our home automation devices communicate with us in an easy and friendly way? Imagine that it's hot in your home, you're at work and nobody’s home to turn the air
conditioner on. What may happen is that the sensors in your home’s blinds will detect the temperature, note that the air conditioning needs to be turned on and cool down the house. But there is more the technology can do, for instance before adjusting the temperature, it sends the user a notification to their smartphone asking what time they get home, and what time they want to start the air conditioning. Cool stuff.
The company showcased another example with the household medicine cabinet - we have a bottle of pills that we take every day and the bottle can let us know via a social network if we are running low and ask us if we want to alert the pharmacy to prepare an order that we can pick up. Sounds interesting, right? Ericsson were very excited about the potential uses of this technology and we’re sure that they’ll be bringing many more uses to market when the release date arrives.
To end our visit, we returned to Qualcomm, but this time to their Snapdragon display where we found the Snapdragon S3 Smart TV. No longer just an idea, it is now a reality - a processor that converts the TV into an active and not just a passive device. The processor allows the TV to communicate with our smartphone or tablet and become extensions of them. We can choose what to watch on the TV (in full HD) or the smartphone, use the smartphone to control a mouse cursor on the screen. We can even make video conference calls from the TV! In short, it can convert the TV into a small computer that interacts with all the entertainment devices we own, while offering a very attractive visual interface and super-low power consumption at the same time. This Snapdragon S3 is a dual-core processor at 1.5GHz with an Adreno 220 graphics chip meaning it still packs a punch.
So day 2 at MWC has been all about the in-home technology and the future looks and exciting place to be. Stay tuned for more exciting developments tomorrow as we tackle Day 3 of MWC2012.