Thanks to KAIROS Society, two of our team had the opportunity to head out to Barcelona last week, for the Mobile World Congress and 4YFN, myself included. I’m going to do a quick round-up of the sort of businesses that were out there, as well as some of the exciting technology that’s just around the corner, and about to hit the market.

Doug and I spent the first two days at 4YFN, and were given the opportunity to see some of the innovative, new and novel takes on technology today. Considering themselves as one of the fastest growing business platforms in the world, we were unsurprised to see thousands of people moving around the venue, networking with some of the brightest people in the world. People were talking about a variety of technologies and applications, from deep learning and artificial intelligence to Fintech, and LiFi, and the team behind the conference made sure that a useful application built by Grip was available, to make sure that everyone had adequate opportunity to network, and explain their ideas.

 Some of the ideas that stood out in particular for me, were those that were looking at novel applications for machine learning and deep technologies, such as connecting mobile phones to create a low-latency mobile data transfer between close-by devices. We also saw companies that were aiming to help those suffering from mental health issues, PTSD and social causes such as culture; something that resonates closely with me.

Our objective for the conference was to meet some interesting and inspiring people and look for people that would be interested in joining our team, as we are currently in the process of growing out our software engineering, and our marketing team. We found lots of people happy to talk, and the both of us even managed to do a little mentoring for a few of the startups that were exhibiting. One thing that we could be sure of though, was the fact that this was a conference tailored to startups. With beer flowing from the early hours of the morning, and a design-led stand focused on design-thinking, we were able to dive deep into the companies that grabbed our interest.

We heard some very interesting talks, including one from another KAIROS Society fellow, talking about the impact Fintech has on society. With companies such as Intel and IBM talking about the future of society and technology, I certainly walked away thinking that we’d made the most of our experience, and had grasped a strong hand on what could be expected in the world of startups and technology more widely for the next 2–3 years. With one day left, we had the opportunity to visit MWC and see some of the global corporates exhibit new technology and ideas, as well as talk about how they see the future of technology developing.

Mobile World Congress, blew us away from the minute we walked in. Eight halls, that would cost 25-minutes in walking end-to-end, made it clear as to just how many people were attending the conference. Global CEOs, recognised technologists, and technology enthusiasts littered the halls, with thousands of people being shuffled along by an aptly named ‘flow manager’ sat in an umpire style chair, observing the moving conveyor belts of people. To put things into perspective, some of the exhibitors had ‘stands’ that were three stories high, with built in meeting-rooms, and chandeliers. It made the 1x1m stands at 4YFN, seem incredibly stripped back.

The technology at MWC however, is the thing that really took my breath away. The biggest things coming out of the conference included IoT, 5G and VR. Red Bull Racing is using Hololens to live stream information back to their engineering team in Milton Keynes, making sure that the best minds are able to work on cutting milliseconds off of pit stops during F1 races. This is due to the regulation in place stating that only 6 engineers are allowed to be on the trackside at one time. As a result, they’re able to streamline their cars in innovative ways, and they’re able to make sure they select the perfect time for changing tyres.

5G was being pushed heavily, and it will come as no surprise as to why. With speeds at the conference of up to 4.77Gbps, current systems pale in comparison. It’s already being tested in parts of Asia and is expected to hit the European market in the next 5 years. It’s something that’s going to shake up the data transfer industry forever, as connected devices through IoT will be able to remain connected and transfer data quickly, as latency rates continue to get smaller, and the speed continues to increase.

One other company, that will remain in my mind for months to come, was VIVE, a VR company that are producing dangerously lifelike systems and games. I watched as one man played an FPS game, that made Call of Duty seem like child’s play. The winner of the day had to be their walk the plank style simulation, which saw people being lifted to the top of a skyscraper, before being told to walk the plank and make the jump. One lady screamed as she walked out of the virtual lift, before turning around, and refusing to walk the plank. After a few seconds, it became apparent that this technology was so lifelike, that it had reduced her to tears. For me, this is the technology that we can expect to see in the coming years.

Mobile World Congress, is an event where you can be easily inspired, and see some of the upcoming technologies, that will almost certainly change the way that we see the world working. Big thanks once again to KAIROS, for securing us with free tickets, and giving us the opportunity to attend. Last but not least, if you’re ever in Barcelona, make sure you head over to 100 Montaditos, a low cost, quick, and enjoyable Spanish outlet offering finger sandwiches filled with 100 different fillings, from traditional Jamón to more luxurious fillings such as roasted vegetables and chicken kebabs. Plus, if you’re up for it, they even have a selection of sweet sandwiches. I challenge you to 10 Montaditos, a side of chips and a Jarros of beer. If you can finish that, and still walk afterwards, I’ll take you to lunch. Until next year MWC.