During the GSMA Mobile World Congress, held from 2 – 5 March, many new developments were presented: powerful smartwatches, revolutionary fitbands for training, and new virtual reality devices. But, in addition to the devices presented, there was another type of innovation running parallel to the congress’s hectic activity. On the occasion of the celebration of the world’s largest mobile technology showcase, Barcelona Televisió (BTV), the city’s local broadcaster, decided to launch an innovative initiative: covering all the activity at the GSMA Mobile World Congress via mobile telephones, including the live broadcasting of the news. This was how BTV Mobile was born.
Airing a programme live done only with mobile telephones: this was the challenge of the BTV Mobile news team to cover the world’s most important telephone technologies convention. Rather than the standard cameras on set, the producers used three iPhone 6 Plus phones equipped with 4G technology and Wi-Fi to transmit the news right from the Mobile World Capital Barcelona Foundation stand. In addition, all the news on the congress that appeared on this news broadcast had been produced, recorded and edited with three more models of the same telephone. During the congress BTV Mobile became the world’s first programme to make a live connection via Internet using images captured with a smartphone mounted on a drone. The news broadcast could be seen on television and on the channel’s website by means of an online application that also functioned on mobile devices. In addition, the whole production process was explained in real time on Twitter at the @BTVMobile account at the hashtag #BTVMobile.
Although it is true that the success of an effort like this depends to a great extent on the quality of the network to which the mobile phones are connected, one must take into account the advantages that working with smartphones entails. Their reduced size makes it possible to use them in spaces in which it is more difficult to fit a camera, immediately making them a much more versatile transmitter. Having content on the mobile also makes it possible to edit it or share it almost instantaneously, optimising agility and speed. In short, the BTV team exhibited the infinite possibilities that smartphones will have in the future of television.
According to the producers, editors and presenters at the local network, the experience was positive, although there are still some kinks that need to be worked out: improving the preparation of the on-set lighting, precisely calculating the type of shots to be used, and finding a way to help presenters deal with the lack of a teleprompter are some of the next challenges to address.
A similar endeavour was undertaken by the British broadcaster BBC through its technology programme Click: the team travelled to Barcelona to cover the GSMA Mobile World Congress with smartphones and tablets.
In summary, experiences like those of BTV or the BBC demonstrate that mobile technology not only represents progress, but also one of the main ways to advance towards the future – including that of television.