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10.03.2015

Wearables, mobile payments and other trends setting the stage at GSMA Mobile World Congress 2015

Once again, the MWC held in Barcelona featured a great protagonist — smartphones remain the real star of consumer electronics today. Technology giants from around the world gathered in Barcelona to show their new smartphone models.

Without a doubt, if something has managed to overshadow mobile technology at the event, it is wearables, and particularly, smart watches, which received a lot of the limelight at the MWC. Major brands have realized that technology is beginning to shift from our pockets to our wrists. Thus, companies like LG and Huawei have seized the opportunity in Barcelona to showcase their new smartwatches, with which they’ll try to stand up against the much awaited Apple Watch.

Along with smartwatches, we also found other devices harnessing the technology of the Internet of Things (IoT), such as ‘fitbands’. One of the most noted fitbands has emerged from the agreement between HTC and the sports brand Under Armour: the HTC Grip. This wristband is equipped with the new UA Record system that lets you store, keep track of, analyze and compare data from your workout sessions.

Virtual reality is another technology that shone at the latest edition of the Mobile World Congress. Although the arrival of Oculus Rift aroused the interest of many not too long ago, it wasn’t until the Mobile World Congress that we actually saw the first models of major companies; among others, the Taiwanese company HTC has partnered with Valve to create the HTC Vive. Also as a result of an alliance, we saw the Samsung Gear VR, created within a joint venture between Samsung and Oculus.

We won’t have to wait too long before we can get our hands on the virtual reality glasses from the South Korean company — rumor has it that they could go on sale this autumn. Any patience we have left can be put towards watching another developing trend that marked this year’s MWC — the Internet of Things. The desire among certain companies to create connected environments has clearly been shown during the Congress in Barcelona.

Vodafone has also announced the launch of a business unit to develop a ‘smart city’, reducing up to 50% the cost of services such as lighting and garbage collection. Meanwhile, Ford has introduced a new version of its innovative smart mobility plan, in which electric-powered bikes will play a key role. The car company presented MoDe:Me and MoDe:Pro models at the MWC in Barcelona, with which it aims to address certain mobility issues in cities.

A recent trend that has become evident in the 2015 edition of Mobile World Congress is that, sooner or later, we won’t need a wallet or credit card to go shopping. Mobile payments are gaining ground, as demonstrated by companies like Samsung or even Google, which announced their latest tech-related services at the MWC in Barcelona. Of course, all of these companies are trying to compete with Apple Pay, the alternative from Apple that didn’t partake in the Congress in Barcelona yet whose presence was felt nonetheless.

But the MWC also has space for ordinary citizens who, at the end of the day, will be the ones reaping the benefits of all the new technologies described above.

Beyond the direct applications in sectors such as wearables (and their impact on our health) or smart technology (transforming cities in many parts of the world), the MWC presented several initiatives aimed at bringing technology and innovation to audiences of all ages, such as the Graffiti Wall, the models of the future Smart City Campus and many others.

Such projects and initiatives will be returning to Barcelona once again in February next year.