This week a record-breaking 92,000 people congregated in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress, where the likes of Samsung and LG announced an eclectic mix of smartphones, smartwatches and even smart sofas. Here are some of the best – and weirdest – gadgets we’ve seen.
Rumours of the once-giant US camera maker’s demise remain just that, but in order to keep up with the times Kodak has decided to launch its first smartphone, the IM5. It may be a five inch touchscreen device that looks like a generic smartphone, but it’s actually the last desperate attempt of a once-iconic company to remain relevant.
US car giant Ford hopes to reinvent the bicycle with its MoDe smart electric bike. The concept bike has sensors to warn the rider if a car is approaching too fast and, once given a destination via an iPhone app, handlebars which vibrate to indicate which way to turn creating a sat-nav of sorts for the rider.
PEBBLE TIME STEEL
While Huawei may have drawn inspiration from Apple Watch to create its smartwatch, Pebble decided to go a little further with its Time Steel smartwatch, which is nearly indistinguishable from the upcoming iPhone-maker’s device. Pebble Time Steel, available on Kickstarter, puts notifications, a 10-day battery life and constantly-glowing colour e-ink display on your wrist.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S6 EDGE
Since the S3, Samsung’s annual Galaxy updates have received an overwhelming “meh” from critics and customers, falling into a dull cycle of thinner, faster, lighter. This year Samsung has thrown caution to the wind and turned out something different with its curved-screen S6 Edge. It feels great to hold, brings an extra level of immersion to video and comes with wireless charging as standard.
With smartwatches from Samsung and LG (and, of course, the looming shadow of Apple Watch next month) vying for attention this year, Huawei really had to pull something out of the bag to steal the limelight. Luckily it did with Huawei Watch, a premium smartwatch that takes more than just a leaf out of Apple’s playbook with its ultra strong sapphire glass screen and fashionable design.
IKEA SMART FURNITURE
2015 is likely to be the year that your furniture becomes smart. Or, at least in the case of Ikea’s range of furniture with built-in wireless charging, it could be the year you start having to plug in your coffee table. Next month Ikea will start selling lamps and tables that come with built-in wireless charging pads to charge your shiny new Samsung S6.
ZTE GRAND S3
It’s not quite a household name, but Chinese smartphone group ZTE made a splash in Barcelona this week by unveiling the world’s first retina-scanning smartphone. Simply gaze into the front-facing camera of the Grand S3 and ZTE’s EyeVerify technology will scan your retina in order to unlock your smartphone.
Not content to let Facebook’s Oculus and Samsung’s Gear VR (made in partnership with Oculus) have all the virtual reality fun, HTC made a surprise entry into the market this week. Partnering with legendary video game maker Valve, HTC is launching Vive, a wireless virtual reality headset that will bring a whole new immersive experience to games, movies and TV shows when it goes on sale this year.