Thursday 13 November 2014

Apps World, London - Day 1

I attended the first day of Apps World in London yesterday and wandered around all the exhibitors, chatting with many of them and making a few notes. I also watched Jason Bradbury deliver an interesting and entertaining presentation about wearables (and more). I'll return to that shortly.

The exhibition hall was organised well, with companies of similar types, grouped in a logical way. So for example there were a good few companies involved in mobile payment in one way or another and they were all clustered together in one corner of the hall.

On mobile payment, most of what I saw seemed to involve cloud based payment of one sort of another. Unless I missed it, I didn't see anyone offering NFC card emulation payment solutions. I talked with Zapp for a while, a new company "owned by the UK banks" who said they were looking at beacons to enhance the in-store purchasing experience and I was shown a mock up of how this would work when buying a coffee.

Zapp's beacon payment mock-up

I also visited the Pandapay stand, where they showed me how their app allows you to split a bill after a meal (perhaps) with a little less arguing about who had what, and to pay your share with ease from your smartphone.

More interesting given my role at the Bluetooth SIG, were the number of companies whose business was based around indoor location and/or proximity. Yes, there were quite a few beacons on display. Some companies were taking a more holistic approach to location though and beacons figured as only one source of location data from several. I spoke with Indoorz, Sensewhere and Proxitee for example.

Blukii have an extensive range of Bluetooth products including various beacons, some running off larger batteries and some of which are mains powered. The latter could make a lot of sense in some situations and of course would eliminate the need to keep an eye on battery levels. They also have a very simple (in a 'why didn't I think of that!' way) feature which allows you to configure your beacons so that the advertising rate drops to a minimum when outside a given time period. Clearly this allows you to make sure your beacons are fully active during opening hours and put them into a kind of energy saving mode when the shop (e.g.) is closed. They have more products than you can shake a stick at, including developer kits, so check out their web site but my favourite was a proximity solution which locks your laptop when you walk away from it and unlocks it when you get close enough.

Star were show-casing their Bluetooth POS printers, designed for retail environments where they tell me, wi-fi doesn't work too well but Bluetooth is perfect.
Star Bluetooth POS printer

"Wearables" had quite a high profile too. For example, I spoke with ebankit who are pioneering the use of smart watches in banking and also with Wear Lynx who have an interesting idea that makes wearables a central part of group communications, in conjunction with a smart phone app which has, I thought, a rather nice UI. Oh and they also have a very cool, retro adventure game (Go North!) for a Pebble smart watch. Could there be a rebirth of such games for your wrist? It would work really well I think!
Wear Lynx
The most enjoyable part of the day was without question, Jason Bradbury's presentation on wearables which in fact turned out to be an entertaining and interesting review of the exponential rate at which new technology is progressing or materialising and how this has produced wearables, amongst other things. Jason thinks we're at a point in that exponential growth where the curve is about to steepen significantly and all sorts of amazing things are just around the corner. He also made a comment to the effect that Bluetooth is having a kind of resurgence and that he's seeing it in more and more devices. I guess he's referring to the explosive adoption of Bluetooth Smart!
Jason Bradbury

All in all, a good day. Sadly I won't be able to make it to Day 2!

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