As exhibitors tear down booths and pack up demos, companies attending the Mobile World Congress these last few days have some big shoes to fill in the coming year.
Besides meeting a flurry of demand for hyped-up tablets and smartphones, new applications, devices, markets, and networking standards will drive innovations even deeper into the consumer electronics space. Enhanced graphics for gorgeous gaming. Augmented reality with all sorts of 3-D craziness. Solar-powered phones. LTE (Long-Term Evolution) and 3G HSPA+ networks. The list goes on and on. For engineers designing mobile’s next-generation products, it may be like celebrating your birthday, hitting the lottery, and winning a Nobel Prize – all in the same day.
The sheer amount of expected Internet connectivity in the consumer electronics space is staggering. Qualcomm Inc.’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Paul Jacobs threw out this figure the other day during his keynote: Nearly 70% of consumer electronics devices will be connected to the Internet by 2014 (He cited a survey from Consumer Electronics Association).
In his view, Web-connected, mobile phones will act at the hub for everything around us, serving almost like a 6th sense for the machine-to-machine interactions.
Among the many things Qualcomm’s got on the drawing board, Jacobs pointed to the company’s work on wireless charging devices without needing plug points. He also painted a picture of how embedded sensors could help medical professionals track patients with chronic diseases.
And, this goes well beyond consumer electronics. Over at the NXP Semiconductors booth, they were talking about having “NFC (near field communications) functionality as an everyday experience,” as Jürgen Schröder described it.
Teaming up with automotive supplier Continental, NXP showcased a technology concept car that demonstrates how its NFC technology can get people to interact with their car via mobile phone. Basically an NFC mobile phone could be used as key to open a car door, he said. Once in the car, you can comfort preferences and then dock the phone so it can be your on-board entertainment and communication system. Of course, too, the NFC-enabled phone can use GPS and find a car “lost” in a big parking lot.
Likewise, Power.org, an open community whose members design, develop, build and support power architecture-based solutions and include IBM, Freescale, LSI, Xilinix, among others, are working a number of applications that would serve multiple markets, Fawzi Behmann, director of marketing and strategic advisor
He said members are working on software-defined radio (SDR); mobility; energy management; compatibility between GSM, LTE, WiMax, WCDMA; accelerating processors, and storage. They will be mostly used in eight key markets: high performance computing, wireless, industrial, automotive, networking/server, medical, consumer and military/aerospace.
It is anyone’s guess what will come out of all these grand plans, but at least we’ll have lots to talk about between now and next year’s show.