The Buzz from Barcelona

05th March 2018
The Buzz from Barcelona
Focus on 5G... at the Mobile World Congress

This year's Mobile World Congress provided a glimpse of new technologies that will fuel your smartphone  in a 5G era.
Anand Parthasarathy
March 5 2018: Hype about  5G, the upcoming fifth generation of cellular networks, was in  huge overdrive last week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the  annual showcase of the  mobile device business. And the fever pitch of preparedness has ensured that many of the technologies riding on 5G would begin trickling in even ahead of  the formal launch in 2019-20.  
Here is a roundup of   tech trends from MWC that we can expect to touch and feel  between now and  5G Day.
Finger print authentication
Phone makers seem to be homing on finger prints  as the way  to open the device.  Scanners on the back of the phone are awkward.  Vivo  previewed  its  APEX concept  smartphone, with the world's first  half-screen  fingerprint scanner embedded  in the main display.  It uses optics rather than capacitive technology so it will work only with phones with OLED or organic light emitting diode displays.  The scan area is so large, you can place two fingers side by side to enhance security.  And these could belong  to different people. Indeed a  highly secure phone could be opened by two persons, just as a bank locker today needs two keys.
A parallel  development is seeing   face recognition as a tool to open your phone.  Korean  player Suprema,   which supplies  its technology to many phone brands, showed  "LookSign"  the first  3-D face scan solution for handsets.RIP SIM card?
SIM cards are a pain for most mobile phone users. They hey come in multiple sizes: standard, micro, nano.   Users often  like to use  two SIMs. But  many phones   give you a  difficult choice: either 2 SIMS  or one SIM plus one microSD card. What if you  could dispense with SIMs altogether?  Phone chip maker ARM  unveiled an iSIM  or integrated SIM -- this is actually a virtual SIM or SIMs  built into chipset and occupies less than a square mm.   Right now, it is being used in  IoT applications -- like card swiping machines  or  devices  to connect  Radio Cabs.  But inevitably it will come to mobile phones. You can soft-configure the iSIM to behave like an Airtel  SIM or a Jio SIM  or whatever. It  requires all providers to  come on board  to wirelessly activate   your SIMs . This is yet to happen.
Wireless charging.
Very soon, you can throw away those messy charging cables for phones.  Most new  handsets in 2018, will come with a technology called Qi, which will allow the phone to be charged wirelessly, by placing it on a Qi-compliant  pad that is connected to the mains or has built-in power.  Even if you current phone is not Qi-ready you can still buy a special Qi  patch that you can paste on the back of the phone -- for around Rs 350.  The wireless charging pad itself  is available online for less than Rs 1000. The beauty is you can charge multiple phones 
Augmented hearing
Earphones have become smart!  They  understand what you are hearing and  react. The most dramatic  application is on-the-fly  translation. Use the smart earphones when you  speak to a person whose language you don't  understand. The device  will  live-translate the  conversation and speak  in  your language . If the other guy also uses a smart earphone, it will work both ways. A great boon when you are holidaying in a foreign country. Google is the first to offer the feature in its  Pixel Buds earphone  which should reach India this year. They cost the equivalent of Rs  10,000 internationally -- and yes multiple Indian and international languages are supported.
For images of these five technologies see here