MWC 2024 Cool Tech: AI, repairability, and the Barbie phone? : Technology : Tech Times

(Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images)

The annual Mobile World Congress is underway in Barcelona, ​​and there are already plenty of interesting announcements, concept products, and unusual designs.

MWC is more about business than new product launches. Peek behind the huge, famous booths on the show floor and you’ll find even more space devoted to meeting rooms and corporate hospitality. But that doesn’t mean we’ve also seen some cool announcements, from Nokia’s return as an HMD to celebrated (what else?) Barbie phones, Lenovo’s crazy see-through his laptop, and Samsung’s smart his ring. There were many. Oh, and AI too. Lots of AI.

Plastic life, it’s amazing

Let’s start with the Barbie phone from Human Mobile Devices (formerly HMD, formerly Nokia). This is a pink flip-style retro feature phone that will be released this summer. It’s kind of an odd choice for a company that seems to be trying to distance itself from the once great Nokia brand. In recent years, the Nokia brand has been associated with cheap non-smartphones.

It’s also probably the brand’s most recent partnership to date, and when it launches it will be about a year since the Barbie movie was released. Unfortunately, the only image shared by HMD was a pink pixelated rectangle.

clear future

Equally fanciful, and perhaps just as practical, are Lenovo’s new transparent laptops. Personally, I find it really impressive. At his off-site Lenovo launch event in Barcelona, ​​the ThinkBook transparent display laptop concept attracted the most attention. It’s easy to see why. The 17-inch screen looks like a block of clear Perspex or glass. It just lights up like a screen. It has a clear view all the way to the desk behind it, and anyone standing next to it can read and see what’s on the display.

The transparent screen is joined by an equally impractical touch keyboard and a dark glass plate that can also be used as a pen tablet. It’s hard to see how this setup could be useful as a regular laptop, but it’s easy to see how it could be used for in-store displays, self-check-in desks in luxury hotels, information kiosks in boutique shopping malls, etc. I understand. upon. It also looks really cool.


Another trend is repairability, which is finally starting to gain traction among major manufacturers. Lenovo has (again) unveiled its next generation standard business laptop, the T14 (5th generation). Thanks to continued discussions with iFixit, Lenovo has managed to improve his T14’s repairability score from an already good 7/10 to an excellent 9/10.

Simply remove the bottom cover, remove two more captive screws, replace the two screws with the new battery, and remove the entire keyboard assembly. It also gives you better access to the trackpad assembly, making it easy to swap out his RAM, SSD, and even his USB and Ethernet ports using just a screwdriver. Full disclosure: I spent the weekend helping iFixit demonstrate these new repair features. I was paid by iFixit, not Lenovo.

ring cycle

The Samsung Galaxy Ring is a full-fledged piece of wearable smart jewelry that was unveiled to journalists at Samsung’s off-site event over the weekend. It comes in 13 sizes in gold, platinum, and black, and we know it’s packed with a bunch of sensors on the inside. What we don’t yet know is what these sensors will do, how much they will cost, etc. Although it’s more of a concept design than a product at the moment, the smart ring is definitely a great idea.

AI everywhere

But like everywhere else, the biggest trend at MWC is AI. I can see this running locally on my offline laptop. You can also check out Bard’s new name, his Gemini chatbot on Google.

Despite the number of demonstrations, it seems that AI has not yet found a real purpose. It can be used to lengthen emails or condense long emails to make them easier to read. Of course, you can also generate images for your corporate girlfriend’s PowerPoint presentation, and you can also read out the slides of the same guy’s PowerPoint presentation to lull the entire audience to sleep.

The demos are fun and sometimes moving, but they also contain quite a few contradictions. While companies are moving to make devices more repairable to limit waste and comply with upcoming EU legislation, AI is becoming increasingly difficult to power all AI data centers. Our staggering thirst for electricity is creating new environmental disasters. It consumes more power than the simple cloud storage data centers we are used to.

Technology trends come and go, and MWC is a great way to see what sticks around and what doesn’t over the course of the year. For years, Bluetooth has always been the next big thing. And now pay attention to it. It’s done. Repairability has now reached critical mass, both from a legal perspective and how manufacturers differentiate, and it looks like it will be a sure win in the future. But AI? It is still useless at the moment and consumes far more power than the Earth can tolerate. Perhaps it will eventually become as successful as Bluetooth. Or maybe it will follow the same path as cryptocurrencies and NFC. We’ll probably find out next year.

About the author: Charlie Sorrell has been writing about technology and its impact on society and the planet for almost 20 years. Previously, you could find him on Wired’s Gadget Lab, Fast Company’s CoExist, Cult of Mac, and Mac Stories. He also writes on his website, StraightNoFilter.comLifewire Tech News, and iFixit.

ⓒ 2024 All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.

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