Mark Halliday, Head of Airwave APAC, gives us the top news, views and insights from Mobile World Congress 2016 happening in Barcelona
My final day in Barcelona revolved around start-ups – some with big backing, and some at the very early stages of their development.
I spent the morning at the main Mobile World Congress venue speaking to some very interesting programmatic technologies. Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) have been hogging the headlines for the last few years, as agency trading desks and digital media buying have evolved. It’s difficult for new players to offer something new, but I was very pleasantly surprised to see real innovation in this space around the areas of forecasting, anti-fraud and buying efficiencies.
4FYN – 4 Years From Now
The afternoon was spent at 4YFN (4 Years From Now), which is hosted in the former venue for MWC in the stunning backdrop of the Fira de Barcelona.
This is the third year of the event, but the first time I’ve been to see it. The exhibition hall houses hundreds of early stage start-ups who could be the next big thing, and grow into household names over the coming years. I was particularly impressed with the number of teenagers and adults in their early 20s who have developed products and services which are good enough to show to the tech savvy audiences in Barcelona.
Sri Lanka had a good turnout with two apps of particular note. Kaawo is a collaborative story telling app, where you can build short stories with your friends. One person writes the opening few paragraphs before crowdsourcing additional content from their followers, which allows the story to shoot off in different directions, with multiple endings.
Similarly, Katha was an app that allows for audio storytelling. Individuals can upload and share audio content which can then be downloaded by anybody. Impressively for such a young team, they have secured some professional content via mainstream news organizations in Sri Lanka, so essentially it’s a democratized podcasting platform which allows consumers to also supply content.
I met two indoor mapping companies which took very different approaches. Mapwize from France can map building schematics and allow users to zoom between floors, and get directions between two points within a building – great for shopping malls, museums and hospitals. BriteYellow from the UK are more visual by building 3D plans and overlaying rich graphics. Both suppliers can embed their tech into existing client apps, so let me know if this might be of interest!
FaceOn are a Spanish company trying to replace passwords with facial recognition. I asked a few awkward questions, and I’ve been assured that it can determine minute differences and can recognize the difference between identical twins.
Clip from Hong Kong took a novel approach to Augmented Reality by also facilitating the printing aspect. Their founder showed me an example of a postcard of a family on holiday, which displayed video once the recipient scanned the postcard using the Clip app.
More from 4YFN
There were dozens of health related start-ups. This includes Sense4Care‘s wearables, which can detect if somebody with Parkinson’s Disease has taken a fall. TopDoctors is a private health professional database and aggregator. Taniwa‘s goal is to detect neurological disorders.
Weirdly enough, there was a lot of tech aimed at the elderly or monitoring the elderly. There was the FamilyYar tablet with easy navigation and big icons. YouSnap can inform relatives via in-shoe wearables if there has been an accident with a family member.
Not all the exhibitors made sense though and there was definite whiff of creating solutions for problems that don’t exist! Probably the oddest start-up I spoke to was Getupcode, who are Recruitment consultants for Spanish app developers. They personally test the coding capabilities of their candidates (that’s actually quite a good idea) but they then place their CV into an auction for hiring companies to bid on the candidates. It seemed a bit too silly and unnecessary to me.
So that’s the end of my 3 days in Barcelona and it has been exhausting. Referring to my smart watch, I can see I clocked up 45k steps / 21 miles of walking and three blisters. Ouch.
My mission this week was to better understand the tech solutions that can excite our teams and our clients today. I was less interested in the conceptual tech that won’t be relevant for a few years’ time. However, the reality is that the “futuristic” tech is actually a very real possibility for now, or the imminent future, so it’s vital that we are adapting our solutions and educating our clients on the brave new world. It’s been an extremely enlightening experience and a real pleasure and honour to attend MWC 2016.
Author: Mark Halliday