Mobile World Congress 2015: innovating for practicality

Popular technologist Tim O’Reilly, most known for popularizing the terms open source and Web 2.0, once stated “What new technology does is create new opportunities to do a job that customers want done”.

This may seem too obvious to state, but I think that his quote is worth repeating in an age of prolific tech that doesn’t always live up to this promise. Walking through Barcelona’s 2015 Mobile World Congress, I was looking for O’Reilly’s vision of technology – things that do a job that consumers want done. This shouldn’t be such a hard task, as we are now incredibly well placed to identify such problems because the connected world has no qualms about broadcasting them across the web!

One big trend that has grown in recent years is Nomophobia: the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. The word was coined in a 2010 study by YouGov, and its existence is supported by the internet population in the guise of popular memes and high volumes of hashtagged media: nostalgic references to tougher phones of the past like Indestructable Nokia 3310 are still prevalent, as well as the many millions of people hashtagging pictures and posts: #BrokenPhone , #NoSignal and #NoBattery.

MWC2015 (1)MWC2015 (2)

Fig. 1) Indestructible Nokia 3310 Meme & Google Trends graph for Meme

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Fig. 2) ‘When Your Phone Has No Signal And You Go All Lion King On It’ Meme, often accompanied with #NoSignal

Thankfully, a few kind technology brands came to the rescue at MWC 2015, to save the majority of Britain from Nomophobia therapy. Here are a few examples:

 

  • Samsung and Ikea aim to minimise #NoBattery by rolling out affordable furniture with built-in wireless induction charging capability – able to deliver 4 hours of charge to new-wave phones in just 10 mins.

 

What’s more, the general public (who turned in over 50 responses to my MWC15 survey) agreed that these technologies were the coolest 4 of the 10 innovations cited within my Mobile Tech Futures survey, with 52% or more giving these 4 smart solutions the highest cool rating score of 9 out of 9 – Firm evidence (if more was needed) that British Culture wants to see an end to Nomophobia.

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Bradley Hill

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