World Mobile Congress hears of new era of truly smart car

Deals in Barcelona include Eir taking on Asavie’s connectivity platform

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton during his speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton during his speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

 
Virtual reality gave way to the internet of things on day two of the Mobile World Congress, with everything from connected cars to machine-to-machine platforms coming to the fore.

In his keynote speech closing the second day of the event, Qualcomm’s president Derek Aberle took to the stage with Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton to outline the development of the automotive industry and Qualcomm’s role in its future.

Mr Aberle said the company had already shipped 300 million chipsets into cars.

“We’re at the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “The car of the future is going to look very different.”

The always-connected car would become much more autonomous, he said, with cars increasingly powered by electric or hybrid engines. “In the future, the car is going to connected to everything.”

Range anxiety

Mr Aberle described a future that involved wireless charging through infrastructure embedded into parking spots and eventually the roads, which would allow manufacturers to build cars with smaller batteries while also eliminating range anxiety.

He predicted wireless charging would be available in electric cars within three years, with dynamic charging on streets following later.

Cars would communicate with the city around it and even interacting with pedestrians to improve safety. Technologies such as 5G would play an important role, he said.

Elsewhere, Irish company Asavie announced a deal with Eir Business that will see the firm’s connectivity platform Passbridge used in Eir’s new Connect IoT offering. The platform is designed to be used by firms to connect their assets to the internet and collect real time, intelligent data that can help with the delivery and design of products and services.

Asavie is also providing technology for an internet of things testbed, the Infinite IoT platform, that is being led by EMC and Vodafone Ireland. The testbed will allow industrial manufacturers to prototype new products in the machine-to-machine and IoT space, with the Passbridge platform providing the underlying connectivity for the system.

“Everyone assumes connectivity is easy, which is not actually the case,” explained Ralph Shaw, chief executive of Asavie. “It’s essentially about making connectivity simple and delivering it in an on-demand manner.”

Mr Shaw said the deals were significant for the firm. “We see it very much as a multimillion dollar opportunity globally for Asavie, in the medium to long term,” he said.