My colleague Tuong Nguyen and I discuss the line-up of announcements surrounding Mobile World Congress last week. Tuong was in New York City at briefings by HTC, Canon, Metaio and Sony.
Angela: What was cool and “meh” about what you saw at HTC?
Tuong: I went to the launch of the HTC One. Physically it’s a nice phone – sleek looking. HTC’s Blinkfeed and Zoe features are interesting. Blinkfeed enhances HTC sense by aggregating your favorite social media, news and other content onto your homescreen.. Imagine a “mash-up” of Windows Live Tiles and Blackberry’s social feed and you’ve got the gist of Blinkfeed. Zoe takes a 3 second video while you take a photo. It automatically creates a montage from these pictures and videos. It would be a nice addition to the still photos in an informal album, for example of a day with your kids at the zoo. HTC was also highlighting Beats Audio, but the app I demo’d didn’t have haptics so you couldn’t feel the beat, which would have been cool. Overall, the HTC One is interesting, but won’t make users drop their current contract to go and buy it.
Angela: You cover augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) and said Canon and Metaio had news.
Tuong: Yes, Canon is targeting product development and manufacturing with a mixed reality solution of AR and VR. The headset costs $125K plus a $25K/yearly maintenance contract, which means only enterprise can afford it. It’s still early days in this market, so I expect to see more elegant solutions in the next 3-5 years.
Angela: You told me that Metaio is working with ST-Ericsson and may shake up the AR component market.
Tuong: Right. ST-Ericsson will be offering an AR enhanced chipset that is optimized for the Metaio’s augmented reality engine. Metaio is an AR solution provider. This means the ST-Ericsson-Metaio solution will compete head-on with Qualcomm’s Vuforia solution on Snapdragon-powered devices.
Angela: You seemed a bit disappointed the day after Sony announced PS4.
Tuong: Well, it seems Sony rushed to announce this product before there was much to say about it. In the case of PS4, perhaps Sony thought they needed to announce it before Microsoft announces their next version of Xbox in a couple months. Unfortunately, Sony’s briefing was sparse on details – like detailed specs, a launch date, price, etc. They did showcase some key developers for PS4, for example Blizzard, Bungie, Capcom and Ubisoft. In addition, Sony discussed some of the social features of PS4, such as a “share button,” which allows you to do things such as broadcast and watch friends play, remote game assist and item drops, and even post gameplay screen caps and videos. Yet, many of these features are already on the market. However, Sony certainly has an opportunity to improve on existing solutions in the PS4. Overall, Sony seems to have an idea of how the future of gaming should evolve, but the sparse details around PS4 did not instill confidence they could execute on that vision.
Angela: Tuong, thank you for spending time to give your take on these announcements.
Tuong was featured in a podcast by WNYC about augmented reality. You can hear him and read more about augmented reality here: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/newtechcity/2013/feb/19/
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