Four themes from MWC Barcelona 2024

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Over the years, MWC Barcelona (MWC) has branched out from its roots in mobile technology and become one of the largest and most influential connectivity events in the world. Global companies exhibit all kinds of connected devices at the show, from smartphones to laptops, wearables to vehicles, and much more. While MWC and CES both showcase a diverse range of technologies and headline-grabbing showcases, MWC differentiates itself with an expansive international presence. This year, MWC drew more than 101,000 attendees from 205 countries and territories.

Racers supported a variety of activities around MWC, helping companies build buzz by securing coverage in key publications and encouraging reporters, content creators, and analysts to check out different booths at the show.

Looking back at the headlines from the event, four key themes stood out.

1. AI advancements are driving tech innovation

AI was everywhere at MWC. Exhibitors demonstrated how AI is being integrated into applications for the smart home, smart cities, healthcare, cloud infrastructure, and more. Beyond traditional AI, a lot of the hype centered around generative AI.

As companies are developing more powerful silicon, it’s now possible for users to enjoy generative AI capabilities right at the edge. On-device processing offers speed, latency, and privacy benefits for a more seamless computing experience. One example is MediaTek’s SDXL Turbo demo, which used a smartphone powered by the company’s flagship Dimensity 9300 chipset to create images in real time based on text prompts. Media called the demo “magic,” “jaw-droppingly fantastic,” and “mind-blowing” as the SDXL Turbo created incredible images without any lag.

The tech industry has made rapid progress on generative AI applications in a short time span, and soon enough we’ll see generative AI in just about every connected device in our homes.

2. New form factors are reshaping the way we use smartphones

Rollable. Foldable. Wearable. At this year’s event, companies reimagined what the smartphones of the future will look like and how we will interact with them. Just look at Motorola’s bendable phone concept. The flexible POLED display is lighter and thinner than displays in traditional devices. Users can bend the phone in all sorts of ways to suit their style — whether they want to wear their device like a bracelet, use tent mode to take hands-free selfies, or fold the device in other ways to show off to their friends.

Infinix showcased E-Color Shift, a color-changing phone concept. Utilizing E Ink Prism technology, the same technology used in the color-changing BMW concept car from CES 2023, the back of the phone can change colors and play animations, allowing users to customize their device in a fun way.

3. MWC is becoming a concept show

Many media outlets mentioned that previous shows focused more on technology that consumers could buy, whereas a lot of the attention this year focused on concepts that could be implemented in the future. In addition to bendable phones, this year’s show floor was filled with devices of the future that surprised and shocked eventgoers.

Lenovo debuted a transparent laptop that comes with a 17.3-inch see-through screen and a completely flat touch keyboard that doubles as a drawing tablet. The device’s transparent screen gives users more visibility to their surroundings and allows them to place items behind the laptop screen to trace or even identify using AI. Another fun concept was Tecno’s Dynamic 1, the company’s first AI-powered robot dog. Inspired by the German Shepherd, Dynamic 1 can shake hands, do tricks, and even follow you up and down the stairs.

While all of these concepts might not be practical yet, they surprised attendees and did a great job of grabbing the media’s attention. If companies want to position themselves as innovators, showing off futuristic ideas demonstrates that a brand is thinking big and has a vision for what’s ahead.

4. More tech companies are entering the automotive market

According to Straits Research, the global connected car market size is projected to reach $361 billion by 2030, and much of that demand is coming from consumers who want to stay connected on the road. Exhibitors at MWC highlighted how new advancements in automotive technology are revolutionizing in-cabin entertainment, allowing passengers to enjoy seamless streaming, immersive gaming, and smooth video calls while on the go. AI is also providing more personalized experiences. For example, voice assistants allow drivers to change the music or input their destination without taking their hands off the steering wheel. New smart vehicles can also improve safety, such as recognizing and alerting drivers when they’re tired and may need to take a break from driving.

Straight out of a sci-fi movie, the Alef flying car, a prototype vehicle of the future, was a hot topic at the show. The startup is set to begin production at the end of next year with this revolutionary concept in which its fully electric vehicle uses a set of propellers to take off from the ground. Another recent entrant in the automotive space was Xiaomi, which showed off the Xiaomi SU7, its first electric vehicle. Xiaomi is best known for smartphones and IoT devices, so it’s interesting to see how the company is taking its experience designing connected devices to develop the next generation of connected vehicles.

You can explore more of the latest coverage and highlights from MWC by checking out the #MWC24 hashtag across social media platforms. Don’t forget to save the date for next year’s show, which will take place March 3-6, 2025.


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