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Klaus vom Hofe

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The fair gives you wings

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The 3D image of a bird enters the virtual world – and then the real world as a 3D print. A mobile phone is frozen within a block of ice. Others stand in the pouring rain all day long. A crazy Mobile World Congress.

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Do you also enjoy just wandering aimlessly through exhibition halls? Without any plan or real purpose? I simply love doing that. Even if it means quite a bit of traipsing around and discovering that I somehow managed to walk in a circle on more than just the one occasion. This time, my only goal: don’t get caught up with 5G, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, despite these certainly being the main topics at the Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona. And quite obviously they have a huge amount of hype surrounding them. I repeatedly walk past groups of people that are mesmerized by sensors of all different shapes and sizes, for all kinds of things and measurements. Pure connectivity.   

But enough has been written about all of that, I think. I’m trying to train my eye on the little, colorful things of digital life. I stop at a stand with toy figurines. The Israeli company EyeCue Vision Technologies is using these to demonstrate its app, QIone. It scans real objects such as a wooden bird and makes a 3D image of it. That takes around half a minute. A few taps with the fingers and the bird receives an individual color or pattern – and off it goes to the 3D printer or to friends via Messenger. Or to virtual worlds, if the user wishes to integrate it into augmented reality or virtual reality applications. I’m curious about how the availability of 3D scans for everyone will in the future change our communication with each other, in both a business and private context. 

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While walking on, I keep thinking about how easy the app works – only to stop at another app stand – garishly colored and with lots of emojis. Again, it’s something to make everyday life easier. It allows drivers to dictate messages into a special microphone that they want to send via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or SMS. It lets them keep their hands at the steering wheel.
The app converts the dictation to text, waits for a voice commence and then sends the message off, as Lorraine Wang from kikaTech explains.

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I’m a fan of tough phone cases – simply because gravity has a way of repeatedly wrecking my devices. So, it’s no surprise that the beige and brown of the “outdoor” stand of the British Bullitt Group catches my eye. The company conducts the product design of smartphones for big companies in completely different sectors, including Caterpillar and Landrover, as well as their manufacture and distribution. Rather bulky devices, I find. But that’s a part of what they are. Practical, as they’re tough and waterproof to a specific depth and amount of time. Just a few steps further along and I chance upon the Crosscall stand from the south of France, which stages everything very cleverly: a switched-on phone encased in a block of ice that is slowly melting. Similarly in the portfolio: a device – useful for surfers – that floats on the water’s surface and featuring a conventional whistle for emergencies. I can imagine that these phones will be well accepted by all those who like to be active in the great outdoors.

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Finally, I do end up getting caught up with sensors again… this time built into a sports shirt from “AiQ” of Taiwan. It not only processes physiological data. It also records the wearer’s location and body movements for all manner of applications. Trainers of athletes will be able to work with these shirts as well as physiotherapists whose patients wear them. With it, it is also conceivable that devices can be controlled simply through the body’s movement. And: equipping senior citizens with them could help to identify if and where someone has taken a fall. Again, more examples of the capabilities of connectivity… I am really eager to see how all this will continue to develop in the future.

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European Aviation Network (EAN)

Mobile World Congress

From February 26 to March 1 DT presents new solutions at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

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