Mark Bridge writes:
“Hot products. Cool companies. Meet the press.”
That was the tagline for ShowStoppers, a showcase event that took place last night before today’s opening of Mobile World Congress. As you probably heard in today’s podcast, I went along and met a few of the participants.
Although the overall impression was of start-up businesses, there were also new product from well-established companies. Alcatel-Lucent was there with the lightRadio antenna it announced last week. This promises to replace conventional antennas and base stations… and it was much smaller than I imagined. To describe is as a ‘box’ would be an exaggeration; it’s the size of your fist!
Another well-known name there was touchscreen text input application Swype. Its director of business development, Brian Lysak, talked to me about the company’s existing technology – currently preloaded by 12 OEMs worldwide and distributed on 20 million devices last year – and its plans for the future.
A couple of conversations that didn’t make it into the podcast were my chats with SnapKeys and Wolfhound. In many ways, SnapKeys is a rival to Swype… and in many ways it’s from a different planet. In a nutshell, you use an invisible keyboard to type on-screen. Yes, invisible. How do you know where the keys are? You don’t really need to know, because there are just four keys. Yes, four. It’s certainly impressive when demonstrated.
Also impressive – and much easier to comprehend – was the Wolfhound-PRO from Berkeley Varitronics Systems. Imagine a mobile phone detector with design by Star Trek. You’ve got it. Rather like a geiger counter for cellphones, it let you know when you’re heading or pointing in the right direction. Ideal for prisons… or even exam halls. The latest version can also detect DECT 6.0 phones, which are approved for use in the US and Canada but are illegal in the EU.
The overwhelming impression at ShowStoppers was that the mobile industry is innovating in pretty much every area. Much as you’d hope, really.