Mobile World Congress: Forget Gimmicks, “Utility” and “Monetization” Are the New Cool

Our team —and 100,000 fellow visitors— are slowly returning to reality after a crazy week spent at the world’s largest mobile-themed “amusement park” that is Mobile World Congress. And even if MWC still resembles a tech Disneyland, this year, it was not only about taking the latest Virtual Reality devices for a spin.

Besides entertaining the masses, companies started to focus on how to create useful, profitable use cases around emerging tech such as AI or Augmented Reality, to make people’s lives better and drive business.

Companies were looking into valuable use cases at MWC

Take a very good example, Samsung. Of course, they brought their most fun VR rides to Barcelona. But they also exhibited projects from their C-Lab, a branded innovation hub on the quest for practical applications.

Their projects enabled users to ensure that a piece of furniture would look good in their home before purchasing it, or to visit a city at different times of the day to get a feel of a trip before buying a plane ticket.

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After a fun intergalactic escape on Samsung’s Space Wheel ride, 
you can prepare a reasonable real-world trip with the TraVRer app.

Other leading innovation powerhouses were showcasing concepts such as connected cars or “cars as a service”, or technology for smart cities, helping communities save energy and better serve their citizens.

We also spotted more collaborative efforts among public organizations and technology innovators. This may be translated into what ComputerWorld called “a touch of tech optimism” in a time characterized by political tension, growing global concerns and saturated markets.

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Smart lighting for cities presented by AT&T; interactive classroom technology
as a result of a partnership between Fatih and the Turkish government; connected kitchen at MWC.

Artificial Intelligence as key tech to make people’s lives —and business— easier

Technologies like AI and machine learning have finally entered the stage at Mobile World Congress.

Such solutions will continue to gain importance as an enabler for better shopping experiences, education & training, and serving customers in general.

Nexshop Training, for example, is an artificial intelligence based chatbot for training retail personnel, helping sales assistants better serve customers and manage the retail space by asking for information and suggestions via voice commands.

nexshop-training.jpgNexshop Training helps retail personnel provide better service at stores

Telco giants like Telefónica also used Mobile World Congress as an opportunity to announce their mission to provide better customer experience via AI endeavours.

Their new Aura initiative is an open eco-system that not only helps customers get information and make decisions, but the customers themselves can customize the system and what they want to do with their information.

Is it only about “utility”? Where is the money in it?

Let’s be fair, profitability is an important driver for innovation in the business world. As BusinessInsider pointed out, the rapid uptake of Augmented Reality, AI and Virtual Reality solutions can be explained by changing consumer habits.

Take the example of advertising.

Walking around Mobile World Congress, you could sense brands’ struggle for better monetization by witnessing how many mobile advertising networks and marketing platforms were exhibiting. They all tried to nail the best ROI possible by offering better insights and personalization.

Generally speaking, as aversion to traditional “obtrusive” advertising continues to grow, publishers and agencies are increasingly turning to alternatives, such as immersive video, Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR), to win back some of their lost market share.

Solutions like AR, Image Recognition or Artificial Intelligence are not only attractive to users, but they can also help companies provide more suitable content or search resultsmonetize assets, drive traffic, and facilitate the customer journey.

Let us show you how you to achieve this through our own example.

Retail & product experiences with better engagement and monetization

At Mobile World Congress, our team at Catchoom was showcasing to agencies and retailers how they can use Image Recognition and AR solutions inside their mobile apps to create excitement about products and facilitate a purchase.

The technology behind this demo video has powered more than 750M real-world interactions, used by agencies and brands around the globe.

What makes it so popular, and why is it a great example of what’s “hot” in tech this year?

It is not only enjoyable, but also useful.

It serves a valuable purpose, making it easier to customers to learn more about products with one scan, instead of tediously searching online. It empowers them to make more educated decisions, faster.

At the same time, nothing beats the magic of pointing your phone at something and seeing content come alive.

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The mymuesli “scanner & mixer” app; 
Condé Nast leading Glamour readers to online stores.

It helps companies monetize offline assets.

Brands and publishers can lead customers from print assets, outdoor advertising or product packaging to digital content or purchase pages as part of a “scan-to-shop” experience. This way, they can facilitate a profitable cross-channel customer journey.

The fact that the companies don’t need any special print or QR codes eliminates extra costs and makes content management easier.

It is designed for real people, not a niche “early adopter” market.

Such experiences can not only can be implemented in native mobile apps, but also in web shops. Thanks to mobile devices being omnipresent, it’s easy to scale and is more “democratic” than developing for smart glasses or special gadgets.

Regardless the complexity and serious engineering behind the technology, to the users it feels as easy as taking a photo with their phones.

We believe that the unique combination of utility, profitability and engagement is the next big shift in mobile experiences, and the trends at Mobile World Congress this year have clearly showed that we are not alone.