Tag Archives: Mobile technology

Connected Liverpool @ Mobile World Congress

Hello there!

It has been a while since we last spoke as we have been busy, time to get you updated, on Barcelona this time!

From 25 to 28 February, Connected Liverpool attended the Mobile World Congress based in the Fira Gran Via conference building in Barcelona after the team happily accepted the invite from Svetlana Grant, Director Smart Cities – Connected Living Programme GSMA. This year, 72,000 people visited the conference…..MASSIVE.

Early Sunday morning (24 February), we arrived in the sunny but cold Barcelona after a short and smooth journey, ready to get our conference tickets and free tube tickets (see below) from the “fast-track registration desk” at Barcelona-El Prat Airport.

After a short queue and showing our personal ID conference code on our smartphone to a lovely Spanish lady, it was time to get into the city centre and have breakfast in an authentic (and tasty) Spanish bistro as shown below. Lee was so kind to let us take some pictures while enjoying his breakfast.

Day 1 of the Mobile World Congress was mind blowing to say the least, the 240,000 square meters conference centre with 94,000 square meters of exhibition space divided over 8 halls and 2 floors was impressive. Seminars and keynote speeches from people as the CEO of Deutsche Telekom, Chairman of China Mobile, CEO of AT&T, CEO of Foursquare, CEO of Dropbox, CEO of Mozilla, CEO of Vodafone and more….what else is there to say.

Besides the exhibitors, day 1 covered such topics as “Vertical Disruption”, “Reshaping Mobile in the Digital Revolution”, “Building the Ecosystem for NFC Services”, and “Apps: Evolving the Ecosystem” located in the Conference Village of the conference centre.

Day 2 had an early start as Svetlana Grant, Director of Smart Cities – Connected Living Programme GSMA, invited Connected Liverpool to an Exclusive Networking Smart Breakfast Event from 8 till 10 a.m. at the conference building. The Barcelona City Council presented its Smart City Team which then introduced its Smart City Agenda. This was our opportunity to connect to key people in the Barcelona Smart City Team such as Manuel Sanromá (CIO Barcelona City Council), Josep Ramon Ferrer i Escoda (Smart City Strategy Director), and Pilar Conesa (Congress Director Smart City). From that day, we have been sharing experiences, initiatives, and pilots within both of our cities. As Barcelona is a well advanced and progressive city, we are keen to learn from them so we can use this knowledge to deploy our own smart city agenda in Liverpool.

Some of you may be aware that Barcelona is no longer using the term ‘Smart City’ but uses ‘Mobile’, or as their brand new city programme is called: “Mobile World Capital Barcelona”. This programme explains Barcelona’s understanding that the ICT industry is one of the main driving forces behind social progress and that its development is essential to drive economic growth and society’s transformation. Their stand was one of the eye-catcher during the conference.

We ended day 2 with an Exclusive Networking Reception at the Connected City stand of the GSMA, a real city street complete with a car showroom, office, town hall, department store, mobile shop, apartment, electrical store, hotel and café, where companies like AT&T where showcasing their innovation in the field.

Day 3 was filled with interesting seminars and talks such as ‘The Mobile Consumer’ given by Nielsen, and ‘Mobile Innovation 2023′ given by such experts in the field as the CEO of Deloitte and the CEO of Telefonica.

The final day of the conference was a big one for Connected Liverpool as we received Kevin McManus of Liverpool Vision to speak about the International Festival of Business 2014 and Connected Liverpool’s smart city agenda for Liverpool on the Mobile Monday event. One of the chairs of this event was Ajit Jaokar, who led the panel into an interesting discussion around venture capitalists, start-up funding and round 2 funding. See pictures below!

Just before the end of the day, we joined the Barcelona City Council crew at their Barcelona Fashion&Trend Festival celebration (planned for September 2013). This will be a creative and digital event around Fashion and another opportunity for the city to showcase its innovation.

Overall an amazing event with lots of networking opportunities, making the right connections to drive our Liverpool Smart City Agenda, and a rich source of cutting edge information when it comes to the future of mobile technology in our daily lives. A very big thank you to Svetlana Grant and the GSMA for the amazing experience!!!!








Transmitters that cost a penny to print

Researchers in Korea have devised a cheap way of transmitting data from objects to mobile phones when swiped with the use of Near Field Communication, which is already used in some devices allowing shoppers to make card payments by touch.

The researchers from Sunchon National University and the Paru Printed Electronics Research Institute have printed small rectennas (a cross between an antenna and an AD/DC current converter) onto plastic foils using electronic inks that use radio waves emitted a smartphone to transmit data to it from a tiny chip.

“What is great about this technique is that we can also print the digital information onto the rectenna, meaning that everything you need for wireless communication is in one place,” co-author of the study Gyoujin Cho told the IoP.

The advantage of the rectenna over current technology is lower cost, since the research team produced a roll-to-roll printing process with high throughput in an environmentally friendly manner. Additionally, they can integrate many extra functions without huge extra cost in the printing process.


The printed rectennas cost less than one penny per unit to produce and could be used as an alternative to QR codes. In general, QR codes are rather limited in terms of usage. They can only be used for one thing at a time and can only contain so much data.

The rectennas will make their debut in the journal Nanotechnology, published by the Institute of Physics (IoP) this month.







Use of Smart technologies in packaging

There’s a trend going on to incorporate a wide variety of smart technologies into labels and packaging. An example of this is supermarket chain Marks & Spencer. Earlier this year they introduced a new packaging for their strawberry in the UK.  They started using their It’s Fresh! technology in the packaging which increases shelf life.

Eef de Ferrante, director of the recently launched Active and Intelligent Packaging Industry Association AIPIA, said that it seems that all sectors decided that the time is right to start looking into commercial applications for active and intelligent packaging.

AIPIA, the Dutch company that launched in February, already signed up over 40 blue chip companies from different sectors like the food sector, pharmaceutical and logistics industries. These companies want to drive new technologies out of R&D and into commercial use. AIPIA wants to have a look at the entire supply chain to develop standards, implementation processes and communication platforms which will link production, packaging and logistics to the retailer. Some of their member today include Bayer, Motorola,  Dow Performance Packaging, DSM, NXP and Avery Dennison RFID and also some logistics companies like UPS and retailers like Marks & Spencer.

De Ferrante said that AIPIA, together with their members, is now developing a wide range of intelligent technologies like RFID, Track & Trace, gas scavengers, sensors and more. Together with developments in nano-technology, NFC and mobile commerce, AIPIA now has the ability to bring all these technologies to a huge market.

One of the applications that AIPIA is offering is a mobile technology. Consumers can use their mobiles or smartphones  to communicate with products in supermarket shelves, and this is achieved through technologies on the packaging. Also applications like scanning products with your phone to get a discounts, join loyalty programs and go online to websites catalogues aren’t possibilities anymore, these applications have become reality. But to provide these hi-tech solutions, there is a need for a bread industry network, and AIPIA offers this network.

Amina AITai, founding partner and marketing director at brand innovation lab Immagemme, said that brands need to reevaluate their design process and how they engage with their consumers on packages. Up to now, communication through packaging with consumers has always been one-way and focused on product information. Now brands need to create a two-way dialogue using smart technologies. This is because consumers nowadays want to be involved in the brand, the want to co-create and they can start doing this virtually.

AITai predicts that NFC will become more important, especially RFID, which allows smart phones to engage with tags embedded in packaging. Consumers need to get  an authentic and controlled brand experience while in their local supermarket for example. QR codes were popular the last year but they have some shortcoming which RFID can answer to. For example they often need dedicated apps or they are ineffectively implemented.  With NFC technologies like RFID, consumers can access information faster and more seamlessly.

But the problem is that NFC tags are expensive. QR codes can just be printed on the labels or packages without a significant impact on the price, but more expense is added to the production process when you want to add tags on the package. AITai said that it will probably be a challenge to smoothly incorporate NFC into the design of packages. It’s up to the packaging designers to strike a balance between being on-brand while also being commercial enough for consumer to benefit from the added value of the NFC.

It’s important to realize that the look and feel of a package will always be important because our brains respond to visuals and colors before they decipher words. But this isn’t enough anymore. Modern consumers need an evolved experience, they need to be engaged in an on-going dialogue. So brands need to create an in-store brand experience and increase the brand communication. And one of the ways to do this is the NFC that was just discussed. It can be used to provide additional content and interactive ways to engage the consumer.

Madelyn Postman, from brand design agency Grain Creative, doesn’t believe that there is no future for QR codes. She said that labels and packages lend themselves to the use of QR codes and they provide an opportunity for consumers to engage. An intriguing application of QR codes are the virtual stores. Images of products are displayed on a screen and clients can scan a products QR code to purchase or reserve the item. Tesco created a virtual store at a train station in South Korea, UK retailer Argos ran a similar campaign at London’s Paddington station in the run up to Christmas 2011 and also Chicago will have its own virtual store soon. But it is true that it takes time to open the app needed to read the QR code and scan the code. And this might be one of the reasons that people are losing interest in QR codes.

Connected Liverpool at Ovum Smart Cities Europe Conference 2012

Connected Liverpool was proud to contribute to the Ovum Smart Cities Europe Conference 2012 which was held in London last week. Jordy van Kuijk of our Innovation Lead, Connected Liverpool, spoke at a panel discussion about “Who Invests and Who Benefits from New Digital City Services?” under the umbrella of creating New Business Opportunities in Digital Cities within the Smart City industry.

The panel discussion was led by Don Strickland, President and CEO at Strickland & Associates and former President & CEO at iPIX, former Vice President at Apple Computer and former Vice President at Eastman Kodak. Besides Don Strickland, the following panelists joined the panel discussion:

  • Gianni Carbonaro, Head of the Municipal and Regional Unit, European Investment Bank
  • Allan Mayo, Head, Business Services Policy Unit, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Kai Hendry, Managing Director at Webconverger
  • Jordy van Kuijk, Innovation Lead, Connected Liverpool

Each panelist was given the opportunity to introduce himself and highlight his interest in the Smart City industry to continue the discussion around the main topic of Who Invests and Who Benefits from New Digital City Services?. We have asked Jordy to comment shortly on his experience within the panel.

“It was interesting to be on a panel with such inspiring figures that speak the same language and have aligned objectives to empower citizens and businesses to make use of the many commercial opportunities that the Smart City industry has to offer.

I was asked to share my vision on how technology can lead to new business opportunities within the digital city framework and specifically clarified the opportunities that are provided to us through mobile technology. Currently, with a world population of 7 billion, there are 5.9 billion mobile phones worldwide compared to the 2 billion internet users, the 1.2 billion personal computers and the 1.7 billion televisions. 16% of those 5.9 billion mobile phones are smartphones, which is predicted to grow to 1 billion smartphones by 2013. On average, people look at their phone 150 times a day (every 6 minutes) and even though not everyone can afford a smartphone, it is expected that the average price will decline from $600 (2011) to $10 dollar in 2020 as production costs will decline drastically.

Currently, 11% of the Americans are already using their smartphone to make their payments through mobile banking and contemporary technology such as NFC, RFID and Augmented Reality are given new dimensions all over the world. Through this, more and more businesses will be stimulated to start operating in this mobile technology space to develop smart applications/ mobile software that can increase people’s quality of life and assist them in their daily activities. The NFC reader that allows people in Stockholm to check-into their hotel rooms without any human contact and allows students at the Arizona State University to enter their dorms and rooms is an example of such a smart application enabled by mobile technology. This opened up a completely new market which will experience significant grow in the upcoming years providing SME’s with plenty of commercial opportunities. As this smart mobile technology will also be taxable, it also opens up a new income stream for the government. It is an exciting space to be in and I would advise any mobile technology entrepreneur to get involved”

One of the topics that was raised by the audience was the difficulty for entrepreneurs to acquire public capital to develop IT prototypes and market their innovative products and services. Entrepreneurs seem to struggle to finding public funding and even though the TSB and other public bodies are offering opportunities for funding, this is often poorly communicated with entrepreneurs.

Moreover, the aspect of ‘Trust’ was emphasized. As we are shifting towards a new era of opening up data and making government data more transparent, citizens are worrying about their privacy. Making public data available will create an important resource for SME’s as it will motivate them to make use of this data for commercial purposes. Nevertheless, clear standards of data usage will have to be established to ensure people’s privacy is guaranteed.

Overall, we were proud to be part of this exciting conference which was perfectly aligned with our own vision within Connected Liverpool. We’ll keep you posted about any new developments that will help us to build a smarter Liverpool City Region!