MWC Barcelona has closed its doors for another year. This was an in-person event with reinforced COVID-19 safety measures, combined with some virtual elements.
Event organizers have been struggling since the start of the pandemic and we saw a number of cancellations in 2020 and 2021. Earlier this year, for the first time in its 54 year old history CES did not hold a physical event. Instead, the Las Vegas gathering adopted an on-line only format.
Notably, a number of regular wearable tech attendees were absent from CES. But there were a few and we saw the unveiling of a number of devices. This includes Scosche Rhythm+ 2.0, Honor Band 6, Fossil Gen 5 LTE, Amazfit GTS/GTR 2e and others.
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It is not easy to hold large events. Take the example of the London Wearable technology show. Last year they managed to hold a physical gathering as it was just the beginning of the COVID spread in Europe. But it was rather low-key affair. This year they opted to cancel the show entirely.
Who could blame them? This is exactly what happened with the MWC last year. That news came after scores of companies announced they would not be attending the Barcelona trade show.
MWC Barcelona 2021
But this week, it was different as the Spanish organizers went ahead with an in-person gathering. Some things changed, though, as compared to previous years.
For starters, the event took place from Monday June 28th to Thursday July 1st, instead of the typical 1st quarter of the year. What’s more, the number of attendees was cut from the 100,000 who usually attend to 50,000. Those who attended to walk through the door were required to provide results of a COVID-19 test from the previous 72 hours before arriving.
There were other safety measures, too. This included compulsory masks, social distancing, touchless registration and more. The organizers also regulated the flow of people moving around the venue, there were regular disinfections of stands, product samples and other equipment.
The GSMA and Ministry of the Interior of the Government of Spain did their bit to help things go smoothly. There are currently restrictions of entry to Spain for any national from a country outside the EU, with exceptions only for specific groups of people. But the Spanish government allowed entry for MWC21 Barcelona registrants.
Wearable tech overview
We don’t really get too much at MWC as far as wearables. After all, this is primarily a “mobile industry and technology event”, i.e mostly a mobile phone show. But there were some wearable tech goodies.
TLC debuted its new product lineup. Of most interest to use were its NXTWEAR G Wearable Display Glasses and the MOVETIME Family Watch 2.
The first is a pair of specs that projects a 140-inch display with a 16:9 aspect ration in your line of vision. You can use it to watch movies, play games or for working on the go. The glasses do not have any fitness tech inside, that’s not what they are about. Their goal is to provide a fuss-free watching environment that links to a plethora of equipment including more than 100 smartphones.
The €149 MOVETIME Family Watch 2 comes with child safety in mind. There’s real-time geolocation, geofencing and a log of location history. Beyond that is 4G voice, video calls and text messages that can be enabled with a Nano SIM card. An SOS call button is part of the package. The wearable improves on the original MOVETIME Family Watch in a multitude of ways.
Most wearable tech enthusiasts pinned their hope on Samsung debuting the next iteration of its Galaxy Watch. A multitude of renders of the upcoming device had been leaked in the days prior to the event.
The company has scheduled a 45 minute session on June 28th at 10:45 IST. The official MWC listing stated that Samsung will tell the world more about the “Galaxy ecosystem” and “new watch experience”. And that the company is working on a “reimagening smartwatches.”
Unfortunately we did not see the timepiece. Instead, Samsung used the opportunity to showcase the operating system it is building together with Google.
The software will feature its own One UI, layered on top of Google’s Wear OS. It is expected to offer better performance, longer battery life and a much expanded app selection.
We did learn something about the upcoming Galaxy Watch, though. Samsung said it would be unveiled at its Unpacked event “later in the summer”. That is likely to fall in early August. Some more renders have been leaked on a Galaxy Watch 4 Classic since, which is expected to launch alongside a Galaxy Watch 4 Active.
And that’s pretty much it folks. Not that much as far as wearable tech at MWC but at least large gatherings are starting to take place. Let’s hope it only gets better from here!
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