LAS VEGAS--As CTIA's Super Mobility conference winds down, it's worth taking a look at the lighter side of the second-annual confab the trade group put on, which brought together several different conferences and co-located events.
Even though there was a relative dearth of mobile device announcements and the conference again had to contend with a major Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) event, there was definitely a lot of activity at the show. The hallways seemed bustling, the keynotes were packed and there was a great deal of talk about 5G networks and related future-looking technologies, the role mobile can play in the enterprise market and the upcoming incentive auction of 600 MHz broadcast TV spectrum. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he is "supremely confident" the auction will start next March as planned.
According to CTIA, the show attracted 30,000 attendees, roughly flat from last year, though there did seem to be much more activity and energy this time around.
Although some companies held meetings off-site, most of the activity took place at the Sands Expo & Convention Center. The conference brought together not just the usual exhibitors but a wide range of partners and co-located wireless events under one umbrella. Those include the Northwestern University Mobile Intelligence Conference, largely focused on the future of mobile networks, the Open Innovation Summit aimed at CIOs, as well as partner events like the Tower and Small Cell Summit, Rural Wireless Summit and Media Technology Summit, aimed at CMOs and those who specialize in advertising, content and media. The hallways of the Sands and the Venetian hotel were busy throughout the show, a marked uptick from last year.
Drones are becoming more prevalent at wireless conferences and in the industry more broadly. Stampede, a global drone distributor, was at the conference showing off various different drone models. The one pictured here can travel at up to 35 miles per hour. One of the co-located events at Super Mobility this year was InterDrone, the International Drone Conference and Exposition, which was billed as "the first global scale conference for the builders, flyers and buyers of commercial drones."
Japanese startup Freetel, which launched three years ago, has achieved the No. 1 position in that market in terms of the "open market," or direct-to-consumer smartphone sales, according to CEO TJ Masuda. The company in June unveiled two Windows-based smartphones and plans to expand to 30 different markets by year-end, including the U.S., where it will first launch direct-to-consumer sales. At Freetel's booth the company employed people wearing traditional Japanese costumes and garb to help it stand out.
It's not a Segway, it's a Glider. Technically, the gizmo the woman in this photo is standing on is a "self-balancing personal mobility device," according to a Glider employee. Although some models do come with hand-bars, most don't and it seems less bulky than a Segway. Several conference attendees were seen zipping around the show floor on the Gliders. Sensors in pads in the main part of the device detect the presence of the user's feet and automatically activate. The trick is not to fight to stay balanced, since the device will do that for the rider automatically, though that's easier said than done. The Glider retails for $599, significantly cheaper than a Segway, which often retails for thousands of dollars, depending on the model.
One of Super Mobility's main conference zones was a mobile health and fitness area. In this particular part of it, attendees could participate in a spinning class, which matches stationary cycling to music. Wireless sensors in the bikes connect to heart-rate monitors and help riders determine their optimal heart-rate zone for their workout. Attendees could take part in a 30-minute demonstration, according to Lori Lowell, a co-owner of MOi Cycle (and pictured here leading the demo).
Electric car startup Innova showed off its low-speed electric Dash vehicle as part of a partnership with Verizon Wireless. The Dash is designed to be used on college campuses, dense urban environments, in retirement communities and large corporate campuses, according to Aaron Foster, Innova's universities and clean cities project coordinator. The car is a connected car, with 40 different wireless sensors, including gyroscopes and a lateral accelerometer. Verizon provides data connectivity to send that information from the car up to the cloud and also supports Innova through its Auto Share car-sharing program. Verizon is providing an application that lets users unlock the car, rent it, pay for the rental and even purchase insurance, Foster said. Innova currently has four beta trials at different universities, including the University of Washington in Seattle; Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, Colo.; the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Pittsburgh. The trials have been going on for a little more than a year, Foster said, and are aimed at researching ways to make campuses more sustainable while also taking cars off the road through car sharing. Innova will introduce its own car-sharing program, called I Dash, in the next two months, Foster added.
Samsung Electronics had a massive booth to show off its network gear and new smartphones, like the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5. It also set up chairs for attendees to experience its Gear VR virtual reality headsets, as shown here.
AT&T Mobility touted its connected car solutions at its booth, including the Audi convertible, shown here. At the show AT&T announced an agreement to provide connectivity for Jaguar Landrover North America's vehicles.