Mobile World Congress Americas took place in Los Angeles in mid-September, bringing together thought leaders and exhibitors from across the IoT and connectivity industries. More than 400 companies sent representatives, with exhibits promoting a range of topics including the improvement of in-building connectivity in 5G settings and how best recycle legacy mobile hardware.
Verizon was among the companies that made a major announcement, debuting its 5G fixed wireless service. Along with Verizon’s news, a number of key trends stood out.
Smart cities are becoming brilliant
Within its display, Verizon had a section dedicated to its approach to smart cities. It highlighted a variety of partnerships and technologies that are coming online to truly power robust smart cities. These ranged from partnerships with companies like ShotSpotter, which helps identify gunshots in a city, as well as other companies that build software and hardware to address issues like traffic congestion and cell connectivity.
AT&T also demonstrated its smart city IoT product, which is cleverly designed as a lamp post. The product is embedded with an HDR color camera, GPS receiver, microphone and environmental sensors and has dedicated portals in order to access the data on the street and manage the hardware. The connectivity enabling this technology will require AT&T LTE service, with Ethernet and Wi-Fi backhaul to be used when required.
Though many smart city initiatives are still in the early phases, the coming years will be very exciting as new technologies roll out to make citizens’ lives both safer and more convenient. Smart cities are likely to be one of the more significant applications of 5G to justify the need for such high speeds. This is also why companies like Samsung showcased their new technologies to enable 4/5G networks. As smart cities continue to be overlaid or built from the ground up with many of these technologies, it will be important to have dense macro coverage across every portion of the city.
Retail is about to get a makeover
One of the most impressive demonstrations at the show came from Samsung, which highlighted a combination of mobile and augmented reality technology aimed at transforming the retail experience for shoppers and customer service representatives alike. Its demo showed the lifecycle of a customer experience taking place in a home improvement store, from the customer first walking in and asking for help through actual checkout and follow up. Using a smartphone, the “customer service representative” was able to look up and gather information on how the customer could overcome their household challenge, in this case a leaky toilet. Through the use of location technology and augmented reality, a series of questions guided the customer service rep to lead the customer over to the precise aisle and bin. The customer was even able to pay at the moment the correct product was identified and given the option of receiving an email containing the link to a how-to video for fixing the issue.
Industrial IoT isn’t being left behind
Sprint had a working demo it referred to as “IoT in a box,” which were essentially prepackaged sensors that could be implemented in a number of industrial IoT use cases. One of the more interesting demos was a sensor that could be used to track the temperatures of commercial freezer units and freezer trucks to ensure food is stored correctly and limit the chances of expiration. Currently, these initiatives are usually handled via manual input into a running diary. The new services and package from Sprint aim to automate this process, creating an early alert system for malfunction and enabling food warehouses to more rapidly respond to malfunctions. The IoT in the box uses unlicensed spectrum to send the signal between the device the base station, but may require a paid Sprint connection should someone wish to access it remotely. Should more IoT use cases in this market become standardized, there could be benefits to having stronger indoor network infrastructure to support the added mobile usage.
Mobile World Congress Americas often serves as a precursor to the full Mobile World Congress that takes place in Barcelona each year. This year’s event in Los Angeles sets that stage for a variety of exciting developments and lays the groundwork for an entirely new ecosystem of connectivity and devices when the international show opens in February 2019.
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