The Mobile World Congress (MWC) is about mobile devices and the hottest new handheld devices – from smartphones to tablets to wearables. You’ll get the latest on the Samsung S5, Nokia, and LG, and Intel chipset news, but if you look a bit deeper, you’ll also see that data is a big theme within and around the show.
Many of this year’s MWC programs revolve around the relationships between us and our devices, and understanding and utilizing the growing quantities of data produced by our digitally-connected possessions:
- MWC and FitBit have challenged attendees to try wearable tech firsthand, offering a discounted wearable fitness band for each attendee and encouraging participants to track their health and physical activity data over the course of the conference.
- The CarConnectivity consortium is focused on the development of apps that link your smartphone and your car. Apps that can cleverly facilitate data-sharing between your vehicle, your phone and systems in your home have the potential to make cars safer, smarter and more adaptable to our needs.
- The Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) is working out standards and specifications for how mobile phones and apps should share data with other connected devices independent of wireless networks and platforms; to support the rapidly-growing landscape of the Internet of Everything (IoE), also called the Internet of Things (IoT).
- The NFC Challenge is a contest to find the best apps using Near-Field Communications (NFC) and mobile.
Consumers currently expect “mobile device” to mean smartphone and the apps we use on it, but a plethora of other device types are changing that expectation – such as the Nest thermostat (which Google just acquired) or its open source thermostat competitor built by Spark.io and blogged about on Adafruit. In addition, Ford, Cisco, HP, IBM, and a host of other large companies are seeking to understand how the data generated from mobile and not-so-mobile devices can improve our consumer and business lives.
The fast growth of these connected devices gives us more control over our things: timing home thermostats to turn on as we drive home, turning lights off from anywhere and easily checking security cameras while away on vacation. As more manufacturers like Nokia, Samsung, and Apple build these connected products, the intent is to simplify our lives by integrating our devices more seamlessly and flexibly.
That simplification and access comes with a price, as Kashmir Hill frequently covers here on Forbes. She reminds us that we need protect our own privacy by paying attention to device settings (see left sidebar on her home automation tests). This is one of the reasons I’m glad to see the Open Mobile Alliance in the Mobile World event.
When you look at the current ecosystem of connected devices, you’ll find no shortage of projects on Arduino and Raspberry Pi, mini-computers hailing from and championed by the maker communities. Two new hardware platforms, Tessel and Espruino, are being designed with internet connectivity and GPS built-in. Soon, all of our devices and projects are going to be internet-connected (via wifi or cell phone).
Dealing with this explosion of IoT data, a new social platform, Plotly, lets you stream data to its cloud for free. Plotly allows you to do data analysis and visualization in one sweep. Arduino, Tessel, and Raspberry Pi can connect to Plotly and stream their data to Plotly’s cloud for free. Plotly automatically creates and saves an interactive chart of this data, which can then be easily shared, embedded on a blog, or scraped for data analysis.
For example, here is a Plotly chart from a user streaming temperature data from different parts of their home using a Nest, Rasberry Pi and Arduino. Plotly has thousands of users streaming various types of data to its platform – and it has a social component that allows you to comment and “star” the chart, similar to Instagram and other social networks that allow you to “like” the work.
The fact that we see lots of sessions and effort around Internet of Things data at the Mobile World Congress leads me to believe that the mobile community is taking the potential and implications of data seriously. The amount of data from IoT devices and the number of mobile products that help us share and make sense of it will only increase.