MWC mobile technology fair to showcase new phones, AI, metaverse End-shutdown
LONDON– The latest folding-screen smartphones, immersive experiences from the metaverse, AI-powered chatbot avatars and other eye-catching tech are all set to wow visitors at the annual MWC wireless trade show starting Monday.
The four-day fair, held in a large Barcelona conference center, is the world’s largest and most influential gathering for the mobile technology industry. The range of technology on display illustrates how the fair, also known as Mobile World Congress, has evolved from a forum for mobile phone standards to a showcase for new wireless technology.
Organizers expect up to 80,000 visitors from up to 200 countries and territories as the event resumes in full force after several years of disruptions due to the pandemic.
Here’s a look at what you can expect:
There was a lot of buzz around the metaverse at last year’s MWC and other recent tech shows like last month’s CES in Las Vegas. Expect even more at this event.
A host of companies plan to showcase their metaverse experiences that will allow users to connect with each other, attend events in faraway places, or enter fantastic new worlds online.
Software company Amdocs will use augmented and virtual reality to give users a “meta tour” of Dubai. Other tech and telecommunications companies promise metaverse demos to help with physical rehabilitation, virtually try on clothes, or learn how to fix airplane landing gear.
The metaverse’s popularity exploded after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg hyped it up in late 2021 as the next big thing for the internet and his company. Lately, however, doubts have begun to arise.
“All the business models around the metaverse are a big question mark right now,” said John Strand, a veteran telecom industry consultant.
AI has captured the attention of the tech world thanks to spectacular advances in new tools like ChatGPT that can hold conversations and generate readable text. Expect artificial intelligence to roll out as an “excess buzzword” at MWC, said Ben Wood, principal analyst at CCS Insight.
The companies promise to show how they are using AI to make home Wi-Fi networks more energy efficient or detect counterfeits.
Microsoft press representatives have hinted that they might have a demo of ChatGPT, but haven’t provided any details. The company added artificial intelligence chatbot technology to its Bing search engine, but was quick to make corrections after it responded with insults or wrong answers to some users who got early access.
The startups will demonstrate their own AI-powered chat technology: D-ID will show off their creepy “digital human” avatars, while Botslovers says their service promises to “free humans from boring tasks.”
NOT JUST SMARTPHONES
MWC peaked in the previous decade as the smartphone era flourished, with device makers vying for attention with glitzy product launches. Today, smartphone innovation has stagnated and companies are increasingly introducing phones in other ways.
The focus at the show is on the potential uses of 5G, the next generation of ultra-fast wireless technology that promises to unlock a wave of innovation beyond smartphones, such as automated factories, driverless cars and smart cities.
“Mobile phones will continue to be a hot topic at MWC, but they have become a mature, iterative and almost boring category,” Wood said. “The only excitement will come from the sheer number of foldable designs and prototypes, but the actual size of the market for these premium products remains unclear.”
Device launches will be dominated by a host of lesser-known Chinese brands, including OnePlus, Xiaomi, ZTE and Honor, seeking to take market share away from market leaders Apple and Samsung.
Chinese tech giant Huawei will have a major presence at MWC, despite being blacklisted by Western governments as part of a broader geopolitical battle between Washington and Beijing over technology and security.
Organizers say Huawei will have the largest presence at the fair among some 2,000 exhibitors. This even after the US pressured allies to have their mobile phone companies block or restrict Huawei’s network equipment out of concern that Beijing could induce the company to engage in cyber espionage or sabotage communications infrastructure. criticism.
Huawei, which has repeatedly denied those accusations, has also come under pressure from Western sanctions aimed at depriving it of components such as microchips.
Analysts say a message Huawei could be sending with its large screen is a challenge to the West.