Event Recap: Mobile World Congress, Day 1

Live from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, it’s the IPG Media Lab! We’re on the ground covering the latest news from the conference. As expected, the major consumer electronic players are very well represented at MWC:

  • Samsung looks to have the next big hit on its hands with the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. It supports wireless charging (Qi and PMA), a payments platform, and perhaps the fastest camera ever included in a smartphone to date.
  • LG’s new Urbane LTE smart watch may be the best-looking smart watch we’ve seen. However, this designation might be short-lived, as Apple’s March 9th event is quickly approaching.
  • China’s Huawei (pronounced “Wah-Way”) is continuing the momentum they captured at CES earlier this year; their exhibitor area has been well attended and their new smart watch has garnered a lot of praise.

We’ve also uncovered several notable themes at this year’s MWC:

Open Source

Across multiple categories and sectors, the term “open source” was bandied about, particularly in relation to:

  • Alliances increasing adoption rates: The Allseen Alliance (backed by Qualcomm and partners) and the Open Interconnect Consortium (backed by Intel and partners) will simplify the market and allow IoT providers to build robust product suites that consumers can confidently invest in.
  • Platform validation: Ford’s Smart Device Link is an open platform for developing new in-car experiences for the infotainment system. They’re hoping third-party app developers can create “sticky” experiences, especially in markets like China where new car sales are exploding.
  • Creating needed competition: Cyanogen, the company behind the Android-based open source mobile OS, has recently partnered with Qualcomm, increasing compatibility to over 200 devices. Cyanogen may even try and launch their own app store.

New Interfaces

Another theme we noticed today at Mobile World Congress was the rise of new interfaces. Whether they manifest as sensors, wearables or devices, these new peripherals have the potential to change how we interact with the world around us:

  • ProGlove: This enterprise-focused wearable is a sensor-based “smart glove” that helps manufacturers boost performance by leveraging Intel’s sense technology to help employees visualize difficult task.
  • Yubi Navi: A Nintendo Wii-like device that guides people to their destination with subtle tactile cues.
  • SOSO Brainno: This prototype EEG wearable analyzes a user’s emotions, heart rate, and temperature. The goal is for it to be embedded into VR headsets so it can adapt to a user’s environment and their emotional state in real-time.

Today’s coverage was just the beginning; check back tomorrow for more updates from MWC.

Header image courtesy of MWC.

CES 2015: HP Unveils Zvr “Blended Reality” Display

Read original story on: Forbes

Alongside with the expected updates of its 5K, 4K and “immersively curved” high-end displays, HP also unveils at CES today a new screen with the wow factor—a display that blurs the boundary between the digital and physical worlds. The new Zvr “Blended Reality” Display allows users to rotate, manipulate and navigate 3D images via its various embedded tracking sensors. Could this point to a new direction in the development of advanced interfaces?

Leaked: LG’s webOS TV

With days before the kickoff of CES, an image of LG’s new Smart TV interface has been leaked. It appears that LG will be using webOS, which it acquired from HP opposed to the current Google TV OS. It is not identical to webOS on smartphones, but does include a thumbnail overview of any apps that are running. While the future of the living room remains up in the air – will it be Smart TVs or set top boxes or workarounds like Chromecast – the need for an intuitive interface that lends itself to lean-back viewing is paramount.

Scalable Interfaces And The Web

Designing and developing web apps that are consistently beautiful across devices can be difficult. People access the web through a myriad of devices with varying aspect ratios, resolutions, and pixel densities. Users expect the same experience across their devices. And rightfully so! There is nothing wrong with this expectation. It is what I expect of the sites and services I use. However, achieving this seamless experience is a complicated process.

Content and elements need to rearrange and resize. Which brings up questions: Should you use media queries? Browser sniffing (gross)? Some other solution? How do we best use the available space to deliver our product? This is a question that I’m not going to attempt to answer. I want to talk about user interfaces and the stuff they are made of. More specifically, what is the best way to handle interfaces across a wide range of ever changing screens?

Infinite scalability is the answer. Draw your UI with code and you’ll never have to worry about resizing or blurry interface elements again. I don’t mean SVG because SVG sucks. Yeah, you can do amazing things with SVG, but it ignores one of the key architecture principles of the web. Design your interface with HTML and CSS3. Style the hell out of those semantic tags. CSS3 is slowly adopting nearly all the necessary tools to design beautiful UIs. It already supports things like gradients, shadows, and rounded corners, however, designers know these are not enough.

The way things are now, CSS3 is hardly as powerful of a design tool as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, making images still necessary in many situations. In fact, I admit that I think images will be necessary for a long time to come in order to achieve the maximum level of artistic detail, but we are rapidly approaching a point where CSS alone is good enough to produce beautiful interfaces without sacrificing user experience. And in the end, that’s all that matters, right?

That being said, I am excited for the future. The Adobe Web Team and Canon have already drafted and submitted a proposal to introduce blend modes into browser rendering models. Photoshop plugins that convert layer styles to CSS already exist. This is not just a trend but the start of a new era of web/interface design, where the browser is your canvas and CSS your brush.