MWC19 Highlights: 4YFN, 5G, BREEZ face recognition, and smartphone trends

MWC19’s Theme: Intelligent Connectivity – A powerful combination of 5G, IoT, AI and Big Data. (Credit: mwcbarcelona.com)

The MWC19 Barcelona took place on February 25-28th this year. This 4-day event had over 109,000 visitors and 2,400 companies in attendance. The original focus of the MWC was primarily on the mobile phone industry, but it has since expanded to include other forms of technology and communications. Below I shared some highlights about 4 Years From Now (4YFN), 5G, BREEZ face recognition, and smartphone trends.

4 Years From Now – 4YFN

4YFN is the startup focused portion of MWC, featuring a startup competition, workshops and a plethora of talks and interviews. While Nanolock Security may have been the winner of the 4YFN awards, Barcelona based Factorial was an impressive runner-up.
Factorial is a 100% free HR software program. The program and all its related services may be free, but the labour counseling service is paid and this is how Factorial can afford to keep running. The only caveat is that only a few countries have this labour counseling service for now. With no limit on the number of employees, this software can in essence work for any company size. There’s even unlimited document storage that can really become useful for bigger companies.
Used by over 30,000 companies already, Factorial’s software features an employee portal, document management, holidays and absences, as well as time tracking and an organizational chart. HR reports and analytics is another feature soon to be released.

Factorial HR Platform
Factorial (Credit: blog.ignig.net)
Author’s Take:

It’s not the fact that this software is free that makes it great, it’s that Factorial has really thought everything through. The organizational chart is great to let you easily find out who your supervisors are; which is a problem in larger companies and all companies that lack a smooth communication. The holidays and absences section excels with its team calendar, letting everyone know when someone will be gone and help reduce having too many people request the same time period off. I can see a lot of growth potential with this software and am eager to see how it will expand in the future.

BREEZ

BREEZ was used as an alternative to traditional badge swiping at MWC this year. Biometric Recognition Easy Entry Zone (BREEZ) is a face recognition program that allowed contactless entry into the event. This optional program enabled attendees to upload a photo of themselves to their registration details and have a biometric profile created. For those participating, they were able to enter through special access points instead of the standard badge scanning entry points. Concerning data privacy, one can rest assured that all of the biometric data was destroyed upon completion of MWC, or earlier by request.

Author’s thoughts

Facial recognition is starting to become more common. For instance, it is becoming the new norm to unlock a phone, replacing both the fingerprint sensor and the traditional pin entry code. Another interesting example is Amazon’s grocery store in Seattle, WA. While it does not use facial recognition, its cameras keep track of your movements and the items you pick up to purchase. Upon exiting the store, your Amazon Prime account is charged for the items that you intended to purchase.
Regarding BREEZ, I personally think it is great to prevent people from sharing badges at events, granting free entrance to others.

5G in Europe

The first trials of 5G live broadcasting by Samsung occurred during MWC and it was of much success. The official media channel, Mobile World Live TV, was both live streamed and aired on TVs of the nearby hotels. This was also the first time we saw 5G phones appear at this event. The European Commission has also released a statement that it intends for all EU states to have 5G access by the end of 2020, which can be read in their 5G for Europe Action Plan.

Phone Trends

Nokia 9 PureView
Nokia 9 PureView (Credit: techspot.com)

For the grand majority of people, 5G means faster data connection for phones and not much else beyond that. 5G phones are just starting to hit the market and that is not the only new trend, phones are now foldable and support even more cameras.
Flip phones are getting an upgrade. Forget half of the phone containing physical keys, you can now get a folding phone where both sides are comprised of a touch screen. The Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X are two of the phones with this newest trend. What sets the folding phones apart is the ability to use a single screen as a standard phone when folded or unfold into a tablet. If you want to get the Huawei with 5G, then you’ll have to shell out quite a bit of money as the starting cost is 2,299 euros.
Gone are the days when a phone had one nice quality camera on the back and one on the front for selfies or video calls. The phones shown at MWC this year had up to 6 cameras. Nokia is making a comeback, their newest flagship the Nokia 9 PureView sports a total of 6 cameras with Carl Zeiss optics! The new Samsung Galaxy S10 5G also has 6, but has dual cameras on the front, unlike the PureView. Following close behind was LG V50 THINQ with 5.

Author’s Take

If you want a 5G phone, wait until next year. Waiting not only lets the price drop, but it also gives developers time to roll out updates for bugs and fine-tune the 5G tech that goes into these new devices. If folding phones are met with huge success this could potentially threaten the tablet industry as people’s phones would now double as a tablet. I still think plenty of people will be more old-fashioned about this and stick to keeping their phones and tablets separate. As for more cameras on phones, the more the better, right? More cameras should mean better quality photos, but it’s also going to depend on the software to actually determine if more is truly better.

Final Thoughts

The MWC is great as there is something for everyone. This year, like all the others, hasn’t disappointed. I’m curious to see if the second half of 2019 will show more events supporting BREEZ or something similar and if other phone companies will try to release their own folding smartphones or come up with something better to increase sales. Lastly, I look forward to seeing how all of the finalists in 4YFN make impacts on society. What did you like most about MWC19?

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