Day Three: Mobile World Congress

VR the ‘cool kid’ at MWC

On day one, we reported that from what we had seen VR had potential, but it was a bit hit and miss. Though having spent more time here, we’ve realised it is taking MWC by storm. VR doesn’t stop at headsets, the technology brings with it a whole ecosystem of tech designed to immerse us ever further into our newly found virtual worlds. This wider ecosystem has been on full display at MWC 2016, just in time for a host of big name headsets to hit the market. Nokia and LG are both looking at the production of VR experiences. Nokia’s got OZO the VR camera for professional production that it unveiled last year, and LG has focussed on a camera that’s a little more suitable for home use, to accompany its relatively sleek new headset. 

The really exciting components of the VR ecosystem, however, are already building on the VR experience. The full HTC Vive set up, as we already knew, uses cameras to track you moving around the room, pushing VR beyond just the ability to look around and allowing you to duck, or walk around at will. Dolby is using its Atmos technology to move sound around you. If there’s speaking, music or a gun shot behind you, you hear it behind you as you would in the real world allowing you to respond or in some cases, terrified, just as you would be in the real world.

At 4YFN, the start-up show happening alongside MWC, meanwhile,Gloveone is demonstrating a glove using haptic feedback to help you touch the world you are immersed in. A mixture of sensors and actuators allow you to feel the rain fall on your hand or make your fingers fizz if you touch fire (it’s a strange sensation instead of a burn), making virtual touch afar nearer reality.

With these ingredients all now in play, I’d happily bet that MWC 2017 will bring at least one brand displaying a complete VR room – strap on a light weight VR headset and some haptic gloves, walk in, forget the tradeshow around you and take in every sight, sound and texture of your dream world.

360 cameras: coming soon

A big task for the VR industry is convincing content creators that it is worth their time investing in the technology and creating virtual experiences. At MWC we have seen a number of the large brands try to make it easier by introducing 360 cameras to the market. Samsung, LG and Nokia are all showing off new cameras that allow the user to capture full 360 video and images. You can see the potential it has from a VR point of view – film your favourite holiday destination or a special moment on your 360 camera, play it on your VR headset, and you can be right in the moment. This is a really interesting technology and one that we expect to see more of over the next 12 months.

On a side note, what we wouldn’t give for 360vision to be installed in all the attendees at the congress. We’ve lost count of the number of times a member of the team has had to dodge or bump into another attendee as they had their head down engrossed in their smartphone. It made us think of earlier in the week when we stopped by the Ericsson stand and it was talking about internables – internal sensors in the body (think wearables for your organs) – becoming a future trend. If we are looking at a future of half man, half tech we would like to put humans with 360vision forward as a very practical, if not essential, use case, please…

Mi 5 makes an entrance… sort of

This was the first time that Chinese mobile giant Xiaomi had a presence at MWC. You may not have heard of the brand before or used its products, but Xiaomi recently regained the top spot as China’s top smartphone firm, totalling 15.9 percent of all shipments. So of course we were excited to see whether this would be the show that the company made a statement on the European stage. The answer: sort of. As rumoured, the Chinese company used a press conference in Barcelona to reveal its latest flagship handset, the Mi 5. We haven’t been able to try the device out as Xiaomi doesn’t actually have a stand at the congress, but initial media coverage has been positive. With many noting the ceramic body and cheap price of the handset.

There are, however, still questions being asked about availability of the Mi 5 in Europe. It has a launch date in China but the rest of the world is “coming soon”. While it was a stake in the ground holding dual press conferences in Barcelona and Beijing, we are still no clearer on when Xiaomi’s products will be available here.

Above all though, watch this space, Xiaomi could be a real disrupter to the global mobile market in years to come.

by Magnify Team | February 24, 2016 | posted @

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