Click visits the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to look at the latest from the world of smartphones.
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This week: how not to wear your headphones.
Cow joins the Internet of Things.
And people clap a plug.
Every year, as spring comes knocking on the door, Barcelona opens its
gates to the Mobile World Congress, a place where anyone
with anything mobile comes to flaunt their mobile wares.
Almost all the biggest mobile manufacturers,
with one notable exception, Apple, launched their latest devices
at this event, and this year is no different.
And in fact, if there is one company that can rival Apple in terms
of high-profile product launches these days, it's Samsung.
This is the new Samsung phone, the S7 and S7 Edge.
More of an improvement than a complete redesign on last
year's model, the S6.
But it does have some favourite features from older models too.
All hail the return of the much-missed SD
card expansion slot.
More storage, anyone?
And yes, Samsung is once again waterproof, it is true.
Maybe the most notable new feature is the game recording mode,
which means you can record as you play your favourite title,
a gamecaster's dream.
The AMOLED screen is power efficient enough to stay on all the time,
in part at least, so you can keep your eye on the time
or the date without killing the battery.
The S7 Edge now curves all the way around, should you care,
and it even has a ruler, a killer app, ladies and gentlemen -
until someone invents, I don't know, a ruler!
LG also unveiled its new flagship device, the G5.
This is a modular phone where the bottom slides out to make
space for other attachments, like this music player by Bang
Olufsen, which can play back hi-fi audio.
And a camera attachment, LG Cam Plus, essentially reshapes
the device for a better camera grip, gives the phone extra juice and has
a physical zoom dial.
In fact there haven't been many other big phone announcements
from the big players this year.
Sony has launched a selection of mid-range devices.
Huawei, now the third biggest manufacturer of mobile phones
in the world, has no new phones on show but it has launched this
new tablet-computer hybrid running Windows.
Is that the surface pro?
Is that the Surface Pro?
I hear you ask.
No, it's the Mate Book, pretty similar to Microsoft's
Although it is a bit nicer, a bit lighter and a bit slimmer.
Yeah, so it seems the interest in new tablets and smartphones may
have hit a lull.
The devices are no longer flying off the shelves, and so the industry
is trying to refocus its efforts on the next big thing.
Which is what?
I hear you ask.
LJ Rich and Kate Russell are on the MWC show floor looking
at some of the possibilities.
Internet of Things is the buzz phrase flying around this place
again this year.
Does anyone actually know what it means yet?
Excuse me, Internet of Things?
I don't speak English.
It's very great.
It means everything you have and everything you see will be
connected to a large network.
Well, technology is going very fast and wearable devices,
this is the future, I guess.
Why would you connect your toothbrush?
Because my dentist says it's going to be good for me.
Well, it's connecting everything together,
so that's from a personal and professional perspective,
connecting everything digitally.
Most specifically it's connecting devices, allowing them to talk back
and forth and communicating back to humans about what they are doing.
Everywhere you look there seems to be somebody somewhere claiming
that their device is smarter than the next.
The connected fridge horse is still being flogged with food
ordering through a built-in tablet, though why this is better
than using a regular tablet is still a mystery to me.
When we get connected food containers it might well be able
to tell you when the milk has gone off.
You know, in case your nose and your taste buds suddenly stopped working.
Talking of not working, this voice-activated personal robot
might look cute, but today he's really not in the mood
Play some Rolling Stones.
Rolling Stone is a biweekly magazine that focuses on popular culture.
On a more serious note, this kit demonstrates how
the Internet of Things could help lifeguards monitor a beach.
Motion sensors on buoys talk to 360 cameras on the light towers calling
in an alert if they spot a swimmer in trouble.
Clothes are also smartening up.
We are used to seeing contactless payment symbols on our credit
and debit cards these days but MasterCard are stuffing this
technology into all kinds of wearables.
I could pay with this dress, I could pay with a glove,
I could pay with this ring.
I could even pay with Michael's arm.
CHUCKLES Thank you, Michael.
Michael is actually wearing an NFC payment band that is
measuring his heartbeat to authenticate the transaction.
This will give us as consumers much more peace of mind,
especially when it comes to making bigger purchases using NFC.
The reason I can't wear it is as soon as I take it off it's
not going to be valid any more and I won't be able to clear any
transactions, so I'm afraid, Michael, you're coming with me.
And for the selfie obsessed, your face could soon be your fortune
as biometrics replaces the MasterCard secure code
by authenticating a transaction with a selfie.
Shoppers need to blink to prove to MasterCard they are alive.
Who's a clever boy? Who's a clever boy?
A better behaved robot, this beauty is to show off
A better behaved robot, this cutie is here to show off
a collar-mounted tracker for your pooch.
Recording activity levels and sending an alert if it strays
from a safe zone.
And it might even keep an eye on his health when he in transit.
And it might even keep an eye on his health when he's in transit.
But while I'm looking after the dog LJ Rich is looking
after some grapes.
Come here and have a look at the bottom.
We've actually got soil sensors.
These are measuring temperature and humidity, and then further on up
we've got another sensor here.
This is measuring humidity and temperature in the air,
as opposed to the soil.
The whole thing is solar powered.
The idea is that these grapes will be able to tell the farmer
when it's time to pick them.
The software, called Traco Vino, collects this sensor data alongside
other things like sunlight intensity, and this gets sent
to the farmer's mobile device.
But it doesn't stop there.
Monitoring crops like this helps farmers know what the
For example, plotting it against the weather.
Once more data is gathered the software should be able
to predict the quality and quantity of the produce.
The system is currently on trial in four German vineyards.
Agriculture is not the only thing to get the Internet
of Things treatment.
There are many 'udder' ways to connect.
Fujitsu's connected dairy cows to their farmer who can find out
more about cow health, therefore how much
milk their herd is creating.
Think software as a service connected to cows.
Take this idea a step further and you get what amounts
to a fitness monitor for cows.
Senso Wave showed us some connected cows in a farm in northern Spain.
I wonder if they charge up using a 'moo-SB port'.
Real cows in real-time.
This is a farm and we've got the three cowers here,
and clicking on each cow brings up a picture with the information.
That's where this cow has gone in the last day.
It's because there is so much data already that farmers can more easily
tell when a cow needs attention, disease can be caught early,
which apart from obviously being better for the cow,
can save the farmer money.
This year's Mobile World Congress is full of cars.
Well, I suppose they are mobile.
This early demo shows intelligent sensors spotting road hazards
and recognising landmarks to assist the driver.
It can even translate foreign road signs.
Handy, but I'd like to see how well it works in
a dynamic real-world environment.
And Volvo wants you to leave your keys behind,
unlocking and driving the car with a smartphone app.
This makes sharing keys quick and easy, and you can take them back
just as easily with a swipe.
Useful for car rentals and perhaps disciplining surly teenagers.
Thank you so much, brilliant.
The good news is they have said I can take this baby
for a test drive.
So I've got the key on the app and...
The battery is flat.
So we are seeing improvements in phone screens, phone processors
and in phone cameras.
One thing we have not seen much change in over the years
is phone batteries.
They are pretty much all still rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.
Apart from this one.
Researchers at the Graphene Institute in the UK have taken this
phone's battery out and replaced it with a super capacitor
which is partly made of graphene.
Graphene is this wonder material that everyone is talking
about these days.
It is really conductive, it's flexible, and it's
really, really strong.
And it turns out it can store a vast amount of energy too and absorb that
energy really quickly.
A few seconds of juice from the mains can keep this
phone going for minutes.
The vision is that one day our mobile devices could have
graphene-based batteries, which not only charge super quickly
but also last a lot longer too.
Here at Mobile World Congress graphene is making an appearance.
Like this graphene-coated film that could be used for
There is a small area here dedicated to these kinds of technologies.
How about this to feed our ever-hungry mobile phones?
A graphene-powered charger pack.
This will recharge in five minutes.
It doesn't mean you can charge your phone in five minutes,
but you can then plug your phone into it on the go.
This is the first prototype and will only charge a large phone
like this by about a third.
Next year they hope to have the third prototype
out which will be able to fully charge it.
Here's the secret.
Inside the battery pack is layers, about 25 layers of
graphene ink-coated oil.
graphene ink-coated foil.
That allows this battery pack to charge super fast.
You can then pop it in your bag and take it with you.
Another possible solution is a hydrogen fuel cell battery.
With something this size, think of it like a mini power
station using hydrogen to make power.
So it's not refillable or rechargeable, you would buy
replacement batteries like this and this could last up to a week
alongside your typical lithium-ion battery in here.
The great thing about these is it could be powered completely off
the grid and it's a green energy source.
Another possibility for your mobile phone power management,
a battery that will actually charge inside the phone
in under 15 minutes.
The manufacturers can't tell us what the material
is inside the phone at the moment.
It's all super-secret, and it's not out just yet.
But when it is they say it's going to be the safest and fastest
way of charging your phone in all of the world.
Mobile World Congress, the only place in the world
where there is a press scrum for a phone charging.
But wouldn't it be great if you didn't have to charge your
phone quite so often?
This handset has a photovoltaic layer in the screen,
which feeds a trickle charge from solar power into the battery.
This is the photovoltaic crystal layer that is embedded
in that phone.
And as you can see it's completely transparent so it isn't
going to interfere with your view.
I don't know about you, though, that I keep my smartphone
I don't know about you, though, but I keep my smartphone
in my pocket or my bag, where there isn't an
awful lot of sunshine.
So perhaps a better place for this would be in a smart watch
like this one.
As you can see, come September, this material is going to be made
for smart watches just like this.
5G, the fifth generation of mobile connectivity promises to be fast.
New estimates say it will be here in 2018 rather than 2020.
Easy access to all that tasty bandwidth on the move will change
how we do everything.
So how about getting up close and personal with your favourite pop
in virtual reality.
Could this be the future of broadcasting?
What I'm wearing here is a simple GoPro camera that could be connected
to 5G that would allow for real-time streaming.
Yes, you could be walking around this trade show.
More bandwidth can mean more connections at once,
opening up new ways to provide mobile access.
For example, a drone like this could float a 5G signal over
a massive ten kilometre radius for around two hours.
It could potentially revolutionise communications in areas where mobile
signal is weak, for example after a natural disaster
or in a temporary setup.
5G also means lower latency, that is it will take less time
for instructions to go from a human to a machine and back again.
With me is Cristian from Ericsson Research,
who has added a dimension
to flying a drone, where you can actually feel it.
Yes, indeed I have.
Inspecting infrastructure such as wind turbines, power lines,
agriculture and stuff like that is actually something
that is estimated to become a pretty big business in the coming years.
We think that doing this over 5G could actually benefit
from all the great stuff we are thinking about developing
as technologies right now.
Ultralow latency, we are talking about high-resolution video,
we are talking about Internet of Things, and cloud solutions.
A virtual barrier where the quadcopter should not be
is programmed into the system.
If a quadcopter gets too close to, in this case the wind turbine
blades, the programme sends a signal to the controller making it harder
to move in that direction.
The remote human operator finds it more difficult to push the drone
into the structure because they feel pressure as a warning.
Is this controlling the forward and backward and this is controlling
up and down?
Yes. And you have sideways as well.
It's called telehaptics and it's surprisingly intuitive and responds
to a very light touch.
When I try to fly too close I feel the controller pushing back,
giving the impression of a force field.
Aligning the quadcopter roughly with the blade with two stripes
unlocks a bonus mode.
I feel a slight kick back and the drone is now
following the turbine by itself.
It can now inspect the structure, or take pictures and readings,
all without a human putting themselves in danger.
What we are doing here is simulating what 5G could actually be about.
This is no fantasy.
All of these things we are talking about are actually in the pipes.
If we are ever going to start seeing flexible devices then some of these
slots are going to have to start disappearing.
There is already rumours that Apple are thinking about dropping
the headphone jack slot in their upcoming models.
One of the other things that is likely to go
is the Sim card slot.
As you can see here this device actually replaces the Sim card
with a case and instead of having a Sim card inside the phone
what you end up with is a virtual Sim card that lives on the cloud.
The case allows the phone to talk to the cloud,
which means eventually with a virtual Sim you could end up
completely changing your service contract provider every five minutes
if you wanted to.
And in fact, as he walked across the countryside you could hop
from one service provider to another depending on who has got
the better connection.
Cheaper roaming? Yes, please.
But a virtual Sim also has huge implications for Internet of Things,
as Jean-Christophe Tisseuil from GSMA explained when we caught
up at the show.
So, today products are getting smaller.
There are a lot of companions coming.
You can have dog collars, a watch, Fitbits, whatever.
Those products want to be connected independently from the phone
to the network.
So today if you take the Sim and the reader that you put
in the device to put the Sim, this is going to be reduced in size
by 90% and more.
Meaning that you can use this extra space for a battery, for example.
So, in a watch the size for a battery matters
because if you need to reload your watch two or three times a day
because the space is taken by the physical Sim and its reader
if doesn't work for the user.
it doesn't work for the user.
Does it mean that users can switch providers more easily without having
to wait for another card to be delivered?
In the first studies we have done it is just to download one profile.
In future releases of the specification we will do,
you will be able to have multiple profiles in your Sim indeed.
However, you will be, as a user, in charge of using one operator
at a time.
I can imagine a lot of the people here at this event
are travelling a lot.
Does that mean that their Sim could travel with them and change
location with them in the same way?
We call that plastic roaming, meaning that you play with cards.
You can probably do the same thing with this new technology.
Except that you will download another subscription.
I arrive in India, for example, and at the airport
I can buy a Sim card.
I will buy a subscription and this subscription will be downloaded
to my device.
With this ability to give more devices their own Sim card,
what kind of benefits will everyday people experience?
Let's take the watch as an example.
If I'm going today running with my watch I need
to carry my phone because the connection to the cellular
network is over Bluetooth with my device in my pocket.
Tomorrow with the Samsung Gear S2, for example, I will be able to go
out, run without carrying my iPhone or my Samsung S7, or whatever device
I have and independently connect to the network my watch,
meaning that I can make calls, access to my e-mails.
Going running maybe not, but I will have this independence
of the connectivity without the main device.
There are some independent providers of virtual Sim solutions.
They're talking about this like roaming technology.
How is that going to fit with what you guys are doing and how
are the operators going to respond to that?
It will change things. It will go slow.
I think it will take time.
It's not like the Sim card is going to disappear overnight,
it's going to take a long time.
But it's the first bricks in the wall.
Another interesting find, these are no ordinary headphones.
Swivel the top down and you have a retinal imaging
display, which beams low powered LEDs off 2 million microscopic
mirrors shaping the light into an image inside your eye.
The picture is pretty good, but they aren't half heavy
on your nose.
Wow, that's really kind of cool.
It feels like you have a big screen in front of you, and I was kind
of surprised to find you sitting there.
But I'm not the only one wearing goggles,
I promise you.
This place is full of them.
VR bringing the wow factor everywhere you look.
From this hard-core VR makers, HTC revealed the final consumer
version of its headset.
So we looked at the Vibe back at CES and we already
So we looked at the Vive back at CES and we already
have the forward facing camera.
But now HTC have added the ability to send and receive text messages
whilst you are still in the virtual reality environment.
And don't worry, if you want them to go away because you're busy
playing games there is a standard message for that.
Now, the big news here at Mobile World Congress is that HTC
have announced they are going to be shipping these in April.
Retail price, $800.
Hairdressing appointments are extra, though.
One of the problems with VR is it's traditionally quite
a lonely experience.
Well, not any more.
Welcome along the starship.
Were about to go to Mars.
Before we do we are going to do some training so that you are accustomed
to the instruments.
Yes? Are you going to be OK?
Copy, Gold Leader.
You've now been promoted to lieutenant.
This is a space landing game where you read
instructions out loud.
Some of them might be for you, some for the other players.
Change escape system to one.
We interact together to land our rover.
Realign satellite uplink.
Looking at each panel activates it and moving the controllers in front
of me changes the value.
It's a bit like the collaborative gaming app Space Team.
Change printer cartridge.
OK, that last one was a joke.
This is the first demo that I've played with in VR that actually
is sharing the space with other people.
You can see them.
And I can see this becoming quite a thing.
I've always said that VR is lonely, not any more.
That's pretty much it
for our coverage of the Mobile World Congress.
But just on that thought of virtual reality, you may have noticed
there is not that much content available for your VR goggles
at the moment.
This could be a solution.
Samsung has just announced the Gear 360 which is a 360 camera,
so you can record your surroundings and then watch it back
on some VR goggles.
It's two lenses, one pointing that way, one pointing that way.
They are both really fish-eye lenses, and so together they give
you a 360 picture, which you can see being streamed live over Wi-Fi
direct to this S7 Edge here.
This is one of a few 360 cameras around.
Another is LG's newly announced 360 Cam, which records video
and stitches it into a 360 sphere in the camera.
Users of Samsung's Gear 360 will have to transfer the recording
to the phone first.
That's what's doing the stitching of Talia filming some 360 footage
of Talia filming some 360 footage.
Wow, that was all rather meta wasn't it?
And who knows, this may be the thing that makes VR actually a thing.
Who knows, we'll have to see.
That's it from us, though. More on Twitter as usual @BBCClick.
And we'll see you soon.