Every year nearly 30,000 of the mobile elite from all over the world - engineers and executives alike, congregate at the 3GSM World Congress.
Ken Blakeslee, Chairman of WebMobility Ventures, conceived and directed this year's show and intends next year's series to further portray the fashion, function, fun and freedom of being connected. Ken and a team of cross-industry experts will be selecting the innovative technologies to appear on the catwalk next year.
The Organisers are urging companies and individuals to get in contact to discuss and submit their innovations and explore sponsorship opportunities for next year's week long series of shows in Cannes, France in February 2005.
This year's event attracted personal and wearable products from both a range of big names such as Nike, Philips, Diesel, Seiko, Samsung, Sanyo, Motorola, Bang and Olufson, NEC, IBM, Orange and Siemens, plus some very innovative items from up and coming companies such as IXI, i.Tech, Board.bug, Splashpower, Clothing+, Teleca, Microvision, Bango.net and Thinking Materials, to name only a few.
The catwalk runs depicted business and lifestyle examples of technology designed for simplicity and utility from medical monitoring to music enjoyment; head-worn cameras to virtual displays and keyboards, calling and messaging in new natural and comfortable ways, plus new ways of adding security and competitiveness to your life or if your style and mood suits it, just being funky and outgoing.
Three key trends which are now emerging justify a personal look at mobile technology:
1. The infrastructures of connectivity (mobile and Internet) have become an infrastructure upon which to build lifestyle enhancing products and services. Ubiquitous personal connectivity at increasing bandwidths can deliver anything to anyone at anytime. Devices and accessories are appearing that exploit this connectivity and deliver utility, security, entertainment and competitiveness at the personal level.
2. The propensity to put everything into the mobile phone has produced many interesting all-in-one products specialised toward music, photography, email, video, games, etc. but these combinations also often produce compromises in user-interface or functionality. The basic phone is the item always carried, but accessories are emerging which exploit Bluetooth and other technologies to combine the power and connectivity of the phone with the appropriate user interface for the application being used, whether business or leisure, without being inside the phone itself. IXI Mobile has pioneered this concept and Samsung, Sanyo, Seiko, HIT and LiteOn all showed products which exploit the packaging and usability advantages it enables.
3. A supply of 'connected' personal and portable technologies will increasingly come from outside the mobile telecoms industry. Many of these devices already exist and have matured to become wearable or concealable in style and size. Consumer brands in media, sports, fashion, and entertainment along with business solutions companies are learning the added value of 24/7 data connectivity - a facility which is only a Bluetooth chip away from being part of their existing products due to the omnipresence of the mobile phone already being carried by a high percentage of all people, wherever they go.
Although some of the 60+ items shown in 42 catwalk runs were concept ideas, many have since become commercially available. As a result, a number of specific trends and commercial successes worth note have emerged from 'Cool and Connected' 2004:
- Headsets: At one time ear-to-mouth distance was a key element of mobile phone design and this requirement dictated shape and size and helped spawn the flip phone. People's use of wired headsets took the functionality out of the phone and into the ear, but had a high 'tangle' factor. Bluetooth has enabled all sorts of flexibility for a headset to function as a hands free accessory anytime, enabling talking or listening while sitting, walking or driving. 'Cool and Connected' showed various options for wearing headsets both wired and unwired. Also shown were some combinations of phone and music listening while out and about. A motorcycle helmet prototype with built in Bluetooth headset from Motorola shown in this year's show has now been released commercially and many other new combinations are becoming available on a monthly basis. We expect next year to show more comfortable, fashionable and functional combinations and are soliciting entries.
- Music has long been a subject of personal taste and carried by large numbers of people while out and about. First music became portable (Walkman cassette/CD), and now wearable (pen-sized, watch, ear and clip on MP3 players and FM radios). The next phase uses the player/radio as an accessory to a mobile phone or moving the functionality into the phone or phone accessories such as a Bluetooth headset (i.Tech has several combinations and showed the FM radio/phone headset this year). As mentioned above, headsets now becoming shared between phone and music functions. The same headset can also link into PC/laptop for listening and VoIP talking. We expect more entries of wearable Music/Mobile convergence products in 'Cool and Connected' 2005.
- 'Virtually large, actually small' - Many innovations have made the conflicting need for large displays and keyboards come to life in a very pocketable and wearable way. This year we had virtual head-worn displays (Microvision and MicroOptical) and cameras (Audisoft and DejaView) as well as virtual keyboards (i.Tech and VKB) which allow full colour screens incorporated into eyeglasses and t-shirts and projecting full-sized keyboards in packages the size of a book of matches. We are hoping to find advancements and new innovations in this area which further exploit what the mobile connection can deliver in inputting and viewing terms.
- Fitness, health and well being - There were several examples in this year's show of personal health monitoring, medical, sports and exercise devices which were both wearable and connected. Of special note was the work done by IBM, Bang and Olufson, Vivometrics and IQSystems on the medical side and Nike/Philips, Diesel and Orange, who had products more in the sports and exercise area. We would like to pay special attention to this area showing further integration and innovation in 2005.
- Freedom and security - Several personal and wearable products were shown which help assure safety and security while increasing a person's freedom to be out and about. Wearable devices wirelessly linked to keep track of toddlers (Board.Bug), hidden ID badges and alert devices (Orga and Connexion2) and accurate location reporting accessories (SiRF Technologies) were featured in this year's show.
- Enabling technologies and designs - Several concept designs from Motorola, Frog design, LightGlove, PDD Design and WebMobility were shown in an 'Innovation on Parade' segment of this year's show to highlight the importance of good design and some particular technologies which have relevance to personable mobility. There is a desire to expand this area for next year's show. The intent is to highlight the future possibilities as well as introducing commercially imminent items in other segments of the show.
To register visit www.3gsmworldcongress.com/fashion.
Submit applications before 1 December 2004.
About 3GSM World Congress 2005 (14-17 February)
Organised by the GSM Association and Informa Telecoms & Media, the 3GSM World Congress is the world's leading mobile communications conference and exhibition. Held annually in Cannes, France, since 1985, the event attracted 28,000 visitors from 173 countries with over 4,600 conference delegates, more than 600 exhibitors and 1,000 media in 2004. Media Accreditation: Applications from qualified journalists for media accreditation can be made via www.3gsmworldcongress.com
For more information visit:
GSM Association: www.gsmworld.com
Chairman, WebMobility Ventures
Sue Mutton, 0207 379 6662