Insights

5 technological trends leading at MWC BARCELONA 2022

7 March 2022, By Canela

The Mobile World Congress 2022 has fulfilled the most ambitious expectations. The first edition of the congress since the pandemic closed with 61,000 visitors, 1,900 exhibitors from 200 countries and seven pavilions, confirming the comeback of face-to-face events. Despite being far from the record number of visitors reached in 2019, in the corridors of MWC Barcelona 2022 there was a sense of normality and, above all, a great desire to do business.

There was also no shortage of new products, from mobile devices that will be on sale this year to all kinds of apps and specialised proposals. Here is a summary of the five main trends at MWC 2022.

The metaverse, still in its early days

There was a lot of expectation at this edition of MWC Barcelona to find out about exhibitors’ innovations related to the metaverse. These virtual environments that combine virtual reality and 3D promise to revolutionise the way we interact with consumers and companies in the digital world. The proposals we have been able to see at this MWC are frankly promising, from the virtual platforms of HTC or the Korean operator SK Telecom, to the futuristic holograms at the Telef√≥nica stand.

In addition, the Spanish operator and Meta (formerly Facebook) have announced the creation of a Metaverse Innovation Hub in Madrid where local developers will have access to a 5G lab to develop concepts aimed at the metaverse. However, the general impression is that the realisation of the metaverse will still take a few years to become a reality.

More gadgets than disruptive smartphones

No folding phones, no holographic projectors, no virtual reality: while smartphones were, as always, the stars of the MWC 2022, manufacturers generally opted for classic, tried-and-tested formats. In the numerous mobile phones presented at the fair, innovation is within in the form of more power, resolution, features or fast battery charging. The most eye-catching proposals were seen in the mobile device ecosystem, from cyborg dogs and wearables for cats to smart toothbrushes and tattoo printers.

There were also plenty of all-in-one computers and laptops, a segment enjoying a resurgence with the spread of remote working, as well as see-through TVs.

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Tomorrow's connectivity: Open RAN and WiFi 7

MWC Barcelona 2022 is not only a chance to see what’s new in the sector, but also to anticipate the trends of the future. And, in terms of connectivity, there are two technologies that we will have to keep an eye on in the coming years. One is the so-called Open RAN, an open standard for radio access network technologies that will serve to drive the deployment of 5G in a more collaborative way. This makes the development of 5G less dependent on large network companies, which has allowed Rakuten, for example, to launch its own commercial 4G/5G network in Japan.

Other operators, such as Telefónica, Vodafone and Orange, are now rolling out their first deployments of this technology, which promises to bring 5G to the whole world. Meanwhile, now that almost all new devices already incorporate WiFi 6 connectivity, Qualcomm has presented at MWC 2022 its first chip with WiFi 7, the next evolution of this protocol that will make wireless connections in homes and offices even faster.

Applications for new market segments

Apart from devices, we also learned about a wide variety of apps for mobile devices that aim to reach untapped areas of the market. Many of them were exhibited at 4YFN, the parallel event to MWC Barcelona dedicated to startups, where numerous entrepreneurs competed to attract investors to their projects.

Creativity is not lacking: the detection of emotions through the camera, medical diagnoses based on facial recognition and art collecting on mobile phones are some of the proposals that aim to become the next technological “unicorn”.

The launch of Huawei AppTouch, the app shop with which the Chinese manufacturer is raising its bid for independence from Android, also generated a lot of expectation.

Connected car and Industry 4.0

In its more B2B dimension, MWC Barcelona gave us the opportunity to see the latest developments in electric, connected and even autonomous driving vehicles.

The Fisker Ocean, which is presented as a rival to Elon Musk’s Tesla, aroused particular interest. There were also concept cars from more traditional manufacturers, such as BMW, which are jumping on the electric mobility trend.

Regarding Industry 4.0, there was much talk at this year’s show about digital twins. These are virtual replicas of products, components and even machines or entire factories, which, once processed by artificial intelligence, make it possible to create all kinds of highly accurate interactive simulations. Research firms such as Gartner and KPMG have already identified digital twins as the next big disruptive technology. Precisely one of the winners of this year’s GLOMO awards was the port of Tianjin in China, which is already using digital twins in combination with other technologies such as 5G.

Which MWC 2022 innovation did you like the most? Comment on social media!