Smart AV Displays and Control Systems Debut at Mobile World Congress '13

The annual Barcelona confab, known as Mobile World Congress (MWC), wrapped up its 2013 show last week to record attendance and significant buzz about new tablet and smartphone devices, as well as a few key AV technologies.

  • After moving to Barcelona's newest convention center, the Fira de Barcelona, the show coordinators, the London-based GSM Association, announced that the all-under-one-roof strategy had paid off: more than 72,000 visitors attended the 2013 MWC event, surpassing last year's record attendance at the older, multi-building Fira Montjuic by the end of the second day of the event.
  • Buzz surrounded a number of key smartphone and tablet devices, including pending devices from one company who never exhibits at either MWC or the US-based CTIA show: Apple, Inc. Yet it was clearer at this year's show that Samsung is the dominant Android device manufacturer, as attendees were greeted by a hands-on display of the latest smartphones and tablets even before they left the adjoining Europa-Fira train station to enter the Fira grounds.
  • Samsung showed off new versions of the Galaxy series, including a Galaxy Note update with a software-based wireless transmission somewhat akin to Apple's AirPlay. Having watched Apple leverage its Apple TV device as a way to push content from a tablet or smartphone to a larger display device, Samsung's SwipeIT is designed to push content from its mobile phones and tablets to a Samsung smart television.
  • Originally launched on New Year's Day and shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Samsung has incorporated feedback from CES to make the software more responsive for demonstrations at Mobile World Congress.
  • Like Apple, the Samsung ecosystem is closed, but perhaps even a bit more closed than AirPlay, since an Apple TV can be connected to almost any HDMI-equipped device. There's no word yet as to whether MOVL, the company who built the app for Samsung, will expand the technology into other set-top box (STB) devices.
  • Speaking of STBs, a French smart-toy manufacturer named BeeWi showcased an interesting AV control unit for STBs, televisions, and even other AV gear. The prototype of what BeeWi is calling the Mobot is a far cry from its typical fare of Bluetooth-controlled model cars and Bluetooth dongles for mouse and keyboard usage, but the Mobot might just find a potential place in the AV control pantheon.
  • Looking like an outsized wall plug, the master Mobot unit has a SIM card slot that lets it communicate to an app on your smartphone, wherever you might be. On the LAN side, or within the local room where it's plugged in, Mobot's embedded Bluetooth and WiFi modules can discover other Mobot base units. According to CNET, BeeWi originally used ZigBee as the intra-Mobot communication protocol but has switched to Bluetooth instead for ease of use. The app on your smartphone allows control of the device plugged into the Mobot as well, if the device can be controlled via Bluetooth or WiFi.
  • In addition, Mobot has a simple integrated motion detector that can also be used to control power to the plugged-in device, whether it be a stereo system or home theater, when motion is detected in the room. In addition, an integrated temperature gauge could be used to program Mobot to act when heat reaches a certain temperature

Mobot is currently only slated for release in Europe within the next thirty days. Anticipated pricing will be around $200 for the master Mobot (the one that contains the SIM card) and about $60 for the base units (Mobots without a SIM card).

Tim Siglin is a frequent contributor to AV Technology magazine and the chairman of Braintrust Digital. Contact Tim via