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Five takeaways from the Barcelona Mobile World Congress

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Five takeaways from the Barcelona Mobile World Congress
A man tries out new Virtual Reality technology in Barcelona. Photo: AFP
09:30 CET+01:00
The phone industry's largest annual trade fair, the Mobile World Congress which wrapped up in Barcelona on Thursday, was dominated by fast-charging phone batteries, virtual reality and connected objects, from toothbrushes to cars.

LONGER LASTING BATTERIES AND FAST CHARGING

An ultra-tough phone in a block of ice and still working. Photo: AFP

Several phonemakers unveiled new smartphones with batteries that can last longer and be charger faster.

Huawei, the world's third-largest phone maker after Apple and Samsung, said its new flagship device, the P10, features a 40 percent boost in battery life.    

The battery also features "super charge" technology that promises a full day charge in just 20 minutes.

Blackberry's new devices, which bring back the brand's iconic physical keyboard, have the brand's biggest ever batteries. They also feature a "boost mode" that allow you to get a a 50 percent charge in roughly 36 minutes.

DRONES AND ROBOTS

Photo: AFP

Drones and robots were everywhere at this year's trade show. At Korea Telecom's stand, two robotic arms played the drums, varying the songs throughout the day. Japanese firm Softbank drew crowds with its human-like robot Pepper which can be employed in shops to greet customers and demonstrate products, while Barcelona-based Pal Robotics displayed two humanoid robot models.

The fair set up a special "drone zone" for the first time to demonstrate their use in the delivery of goods to remote areas or aid to farmers by surveying crop growth.

VIRTUAL REALITY  

Wearing a VR headset at the MWC in BArcelona. Photo: AFP

Virtual reality (VR) headsets were front and centre, in a sign of the importance placed on the technology by the sector.    

Samsung unveiled several new innovations including a 360-degree virtual travel app designed to allow people to reminisce about past experiences.    

Lithuanian mobile app developers TeleSoftas showcased an app which allows business meetings to be held in virtual reality with avatars representing people in different parts of the globe.

VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS  

A man tries out a selfie stick. Photo: AFP

Following on the heels of the success of Amazon.com's Echo, a hands-free speaker with AI-powered virtual assistant Alexa, several firms showcased their own version of the technology.

Sony unveiled a new version of its Xperia Ear earphones which includes a virtual assistant called the Sony Agent.  

Both LG and Motorola presented new flagship smartphones that integrated a virtual assistant while Samsung announced that its new high-end phone which will be presented in New York at the end of the month will also have one.    

Research firm Garner predicts that by 2019, 20 percent of all our interactions with a smartphone will be carried out via such assistants.

CONNECTED DEVICES  

Lechal's smart soles which connect to the user's smartphone. Photo: AFP

Companies rolled out products based on a future centred on the "internet of things", a network of devices, vehicles and building sensors that collect and exchange data.

Several driverless cars were on display while a small French firm called Kolibree showcased a smart toothbrush that measures how well you brush your teeth and sends the statistics to your smartphone.

An Indian start-up, Lechal, displayed shoes with smart soles which vibrate to guide users to their destination. They work by connecting to the GPS tracker of a user's smartphone.

   By Daniel Silva, Emmanuelle Michel, Erwan Lucas / AFP

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