Mobile World Congress: The best gadgets
There was plenty of good stuff in Barcelona which didn’t grab the headlines
Foldable keyboard: Microsoft basically reinvented the keyboard
Volvo, Ericsson and sports gear manufacturer POC have teamed up to develop a connected helmet that warns cyclists about potential dangers
Get real-time feedback on your brushing with Oral-B’s Bluetooth electric toothbrush and smartphone app
A wearable brain sensor called U-Wake aims to help combat the problem by detecting fatigue and alert the driver
Smart Rope: Developed by Tangram, the rope has embedded sensors which track every jump.
The Babolat tennis racket may look and feel like a normal racket, but it has sensors, Bluetooth and an on-off switch
Bluesmart’s connected luggage will ensure you never lose your suitcase
Some of the hottest gadgets from some of the world’s best-known brands were unveiled at Mobile World Congress. There was the Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone, the HTC Vive virtual reality headset, LG’s Urbane smartwatch and Huawei’s talkband, among others. They are all very good, but here are some that didn’t get the same global attention and you may have missed. They’re just as cool.
1 Bluesmart connected luggage Bluesmart’s connected luggage will ensure you never lose your suitcase, even if an airline does. The suitcase has a built in tracker so you can pin-point its exact GPS location at all times. What’s more, you can lock and unlock the suitcase using your smartphone. Don’t worry if you forget to lock it, the suitcase will automatically lock if it is separated from your smartphone. The company also gives you a set of keys with the bag, which can be used to unlock it in the event that your smartphone dies or freezes – let’s be honest our phones like to crash every now and again. Bluesmart’s connected suitcase also has a built-in digital scale that tells you whether your bag is overweight. Just lift the bag up and the app will display how heavy it is on your smartphone.
2 Babolat connected tennis racket The Babolat tennis racket may look and feel like a normal racket, but it has sensors, Bluetooth and an on-off switch. The sensors are integrated into the handle and allow players to have access to a lot of information such as power, impact locator and the number and type of strokes played – forehand, backhand, serve and overhead. The impact locator analyses each ball impact, determining the location of the ball on the string bed. All of this information is displayed on your smartphone and the app will show you accuracy, how much spin you apply in each shot and how fiercely you hit the ball. You can even send the data off to your coach for analysis or share your performance with friends. It is also the tennis racket of choice for Rafael Nadal. Just saying!
3 Smart Rope Developed by Tangram, the rope has embedded sensors which track every jump. It can accurately count jumps and communicate the number to your smartphone. The app can also track and recommend workout sessions and calculate calories burned based on your body mass index (BMI). As you jump, LED lights on the rope display the number of jumps you have done thus far. The smartrope is currently raising money through a kickstarter campaign so is not on the market just yet. However, as it’s looking for $60,000 and $63,000 has already been pledged in the first week, it is only a matter of time before this product is developed.
4 U-Wake Driver fatigue is the cause of a huge proportion of road crashes. What’s more, one in 10 Irish motorists has admitted to falling asleep at the wheel, according to research by the Road Safety Authority. A wearable brain sensor called U-Wake aims to help combat the problem by detecting fatigue and alert the driver. The lightweight device rests on a driver’s forehead like a headband and a sensor measures the brain’s electrical pulses. This information is sent to the driver’s device (be it a smartphone or tablet) via Bluetooth. As a person gets tired, their brainwaves change. The smartphone app will alert them when this is happening, and sound an alarm (by ringing and vibrating) when they are getting too tired to drive.
5 Oral-B Bluetooth toothbrush Get real-time feedback on your brushing with Oral-B’s Bluetooth electric toothbrush and smartphone app. If you apply too much pressure to the toothbrush, the app will tell you to reduce the pressure. The app will make recommendations depending on what requirements/needs you have, such as reducing bad breadth, whitening teeth or fighting plaque. Your dentist can also provide you with recommendations via the app. For example, they can tell if you keep missing a particular area such as your back teeth and put a note in to focus on them.
6 Smart helmet A bicycle helmet connected to the cloud. Yes you read that correctly. Volvo, Ericsson and sports gear manufacturer POC have teamed up to develop a connected helmet that warns cyclists about potential dangers.
When there is a vehicle approaching on a blind spot or about to overtake the cyclist, the helmet vibrates to alert the cyclist. Flashing lights also appear below the visor to further warn the cyclist of cars they can’t see.
7 Foldable keyboard Last but not least is the foldable keyboard. Not a gadget per se, but it deserves a mention, because Microsoft basically reinvented the keyboard. In the age of tablets, regular keyboards can be too big to carry around, while touch keyboards are often too small, especially when you have a lot of typing to do. Microsoft’s universal foldable keyboard is the perfect solution. It can connect wirelessly to Bluetooth-enabled phones and tablet, and the battery lasts upwards of three months on a single charge. The best part is that it folds into the size of a CD case so is easy to carry round and it is lightweight too.