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Friday, February 26, 2016

Barcelona hosts Mobile World Conference

by Mark Ollig

Along the Mediterranean Sea is the beautiful city of Barcelona, Spain.

Last week, it played host to the world’s largest mobile industry gathering.

In addition to attracting 100,000 professionals from around the world, the 2016 MWC (Mobile World Conference) showcased over 2,000 industry exhibits.

The MWC is such a popular annual event, the local Barcelona TV station:, broadcast it live.

Mobile communications is big, and so is the potential of “mobile money,” which was one topic discussed during the MWC.

The GSMA Mobile Money program (think PayPal) is being used in 85 percent of the countries lacking access to formal financial institutions.

According to GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications), which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, there are 271 Mobile Money services available in 93 countries.

Over 1 billion individual Mobile Money digital transactions were processed during December 2015.

Are you using the short-range, wireless Near Field Communication (NFC) chip inside your mobile smartphone for “tap-to-pay”?

You can quickly pay for a purchase by simply “tapping” your smartphone against a store’s NFC compatible payment terminal to wirelessly transmit your payment information, and quickly complete a transaction.

Samsung Electronics Co., held demonstrations showing their newest Galaxy S7 Edge smartphone’s compatibility with the Gear VR (Virtual Reality) gaming headset.

When worn, the VR headset looks like futuristic aviator eye goggles.

There are many virtual events you can “teleport” to, using the “AltspaceVR” application.

This app brings people together in a “social virtual reality environment.”

One experiences VR from a 360 degree, immersive world perspective, and can participate in virtual reality scenarios with other people using the AltspaceVR app.

VR venues include: deserts, outer space stations, hiking trials, scuba diving, and most any other setting you can imagine.

You can virtually share experiences and interact with others while watching movies, playing games, or even while enjoying the comedian performing inside a virtual comedy club.

Learn more about sharing virtual reality with anyone, anywhere at:

During MWC, many electronic wearables were exhibited, including a new fitness tracker in your choice of colorized, artsy-looking, plastic-sculpted wristbands.

It’s called the Garmin Vivofit 3.

This wearable uses a backlit display, and tracks activities using its Move IQ auto feature.

Move IQ monitors one’s walking, running, biking, elliptical training, and swimming (it’s water resistant to 164 feet).

It keeps track of the number of calories burned, and evaluates how you sleep.

An alert-tone can be activated if you’re physically inactive for too long (I might disable this feature).

The Garmin Vivofit 3 battery lasts for one year.

Accenture Digital presented: “The Era of Living Services.”

Living Services associates itself with the interconnected IoT (Internet of Things) devices inside the cloud; commonly known as the Internet.

The reason it’s called Living Services, is because the IoT wearable devices we use travel and “live” with us in real-time.

They continuously gather information about our varied surroundings; this accumulated data allows a personalized profile to be created.

Accenture Digital’s analytical software studies this information, and provides suggestions on how we can better ourselves within our surroundings.

Computer processing chip maker Intel Corp., along with Ericsson (a communications company), presented several 5G mobile wireless technology demonstrations.

Demonstrations showed how 5G technologies will improve the operation of robotics, building security systems; cars connected the Internet via 5G, and the energy management systems within “smart” homes and businesses.

They also showed real-world applications of using 5G technology benefits used within rural agriculture applications.

Two included remotely controlling farm machinery, and information-gathering haptic helicopters (aerial drones).

Facebook’s Chairman and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, after appearing last year, was once again in Barcelona.

“We believe that everyone should have access to the Internet,” he addressed the conference attendees. “It’s kind of crazy . . . we’re sitting here in 2016, and still, 4 billion in the world don’t have access to the Internet.”

Zuckerberg went on to say; “This year we’re going to launch our first satellite over Africa in order to be able to work with operators to extend connectivity [of the Internet].”

The Graphene Pavilion area at the MWC showcased its research and latest achievements, along with prototype devices made with graphene materials.

Use of graphene will allow for extreme flexibility and bendability for much thinner wearables, smartphones, IoT devices, display screens, and batteries.

“The impact of graphene applications in the mobile industry will be profound,” said Prof. Frank Koppens, of The Institute of Photonic Sciences located in Barcelona.

The website for Graphene Flagship the European Union’s largest research initiative, is:

While watching the live Barcelona MWC TV broadcast, I noticed many of the walls inside the conference center had these three large, prominently written words: MOBILE IS EVERYTHING.

I agree. Advances in mobile technology are essential; being it serves as the transport medium for today’s and tomorrow’s IoT.

By keeping ourselves educated, we better understand of how mobile’s technical fabric is being interwoven into our lives.

Search the latest tweets/messages on Twitter from this year’s Mobile World Conference using hashtag #mwc16.

The website for the MWC is:

Follow the Twitter rants and ramblings of yours truly here: @bitsandbytes.