The final keynote of Mobile World Congress 2016 has the loose theme of “Mobile is Innovation,” and assembles a line-up of innovators and CEOs to showcase their work and speculate about what the future holds for their respective niches in the tech world. Get your buzzword bingo scorecard at the ready; mentions of “AI” and “IoT” abound.
Connecting The Dots
“Steve Jobs was right when he said it’s all about connecting the dots,” says DreamStake CEO Paul Dowling, who comperes the session. We’re very nearly at that point, he says, where deeper tech is taking hold.
The first speaker to take the stage is Professor Kostya Novoselov from the University of Manchester. Novoselov was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in graphene, and that’s what brings him to Barcelona. For those of you without PhDs, graphene is an incredibly strong, conductive 2D material with almost unlimited potential.
Novoselov and his team are bringing together different materials with different properties to form “heterostructures” with numerous applications, from multifunctional sensors and transistors to solar power cells. These tiny composite devices will enable increasingly advanced functionality within IoT ecosystems, he says; “Having a library of two-dimensional crystals gives us this opportunity.”
Moving from graphene to gaming, the next speaker is Xavier Carrillo Costa, Founder and CEO of Digital Legends Entertainment, who predicts that by next year, the CPU power of a mobile device will surpass what can be achieved on a PS4 or Xbox One. Costa shows audiences sample footage from a first-person shooter which demonstrates the advances being made in graphic innovation. “Taking this as evidence of what is possible today,” he says,” in a few iterations, it will be impossible to tell the difference between what is real and what is virtual.”
Crowdsourcing National Security
The session takes a turn for the dystopian when David Peto, Founder and CEO of Aframe, introduces Accession, a new platform where intelligence and defence organisations can gather and analyze real-time video data from CCTV, drones, body-cams, and mobile. “We want to make sure it’s targeted,” Peto reassures the audience, “we want to make sure its use is very heavily controlled.”
There’s very much a case to be made for the necessity of a system which brings in video as soon as it hits the web; the first footage of the Boston bombing was uploaded within 38 seconds of the incident occurring, says Peto. Ten years ago, it took months to go over all the data from the 7/7 attacks in London. Now it is theoretically possible to identify, locate and apprehend suspects in real-time thanks to live face recognition and GPS. This will also enable security agencies to examine their own conduct in the aftermath of operations, says Peto.
Smarter Cities & Cyclists
“Our cities are broken,” says Philip McAleese, CEO of See.Sense. “They’re congested, they’re polluted, and transportation systems are at breaking point.” While the mobile ecosystem has made it easier than ever before for commuters to choose alternate forms of transport, city planning remains a nightmare: “The closest they get to mobile sensors these days is a guy with a clipboard,” he says. “It’s very clear that we need better sensor networks… but cities don’t have the appetite to deploy them.”
See.Sense combines mobile tech with the rise in cycling, enabling cyclists to map cities more effectively, connecting them all up “like neurons in the brain.” The sensor takes the form of a connected bike light which flashes brighter in situations where cyclists need to be seen, such as tunnels and at intersections, and provides valuable data to the individual as well as to the city. “Telemetry isn’t just for F1,” says McAleese, “it has some real applications and real benefits for cyclists.”
The Digital Mozart
Thanks to the internet, voice recognition, apps, and artificial intelligence, our phones do pretty much whatever we want them to, says Ed Rex, CEO of Jukedeck. So far, AI is little more than a “sub par personal assistant,” but that is all about to change. Jukedeck is a generative music platform, consisting of an AI which can write original pieces of music.
Generative music has been largely academic until now, but for the first time, thanks to YouTube, a huge number of people require music made just for them. Jukedeck is designed to save these creators time, money, and copyright headaches. “This is creative artificial intelligence,” says Rex. “Once AI becomes able to come up with truly creative solutions, it will become so much more useful. Music is just one part of a bigger picture here.”