Whenever I go to World Mobile Congress I always make a point of getting to the NTT Docomo booth. They never fail to impress by coming up with something unique. Of course, I just don’t get a few of their ‘innovations’ like the ‘real wood’ shell for a smartphone, and they don’t seem to want to let that one go. This year’s surprise was a translation program. You speak into a phone on one end and it translates real time. I stood on one side, the Japanese demonstrator on the other and we attempted to have a conversation. While not perfect, it definitely opens up a very interesting potential market. After all, voice recognition continues to get better and better. I use Vlingo all the time with pretty good success.
I can absolutely see this type of application working in the next 10-20 years.
At the NEC booth I found my second most interesting application. A camera that scanned the crowd and recorded demographic information – sex and estimated age. The only issue if you keep standing there it keeps guessing your age which makes you wonder on accuracy if it was looking for a quantity of people count … in my case it guessed my age from 30 to close to my real age, 43. There are clearly some bugs to work out but you can see the application. Currently retail stores have trip counters that record traffic as people walk in and out, giving an estimated close rate when correlated to sales. This provides a completely different level of potential sales and demographic information. Enjoy me at a point in time between 30 and 43 …. 35.
Along the same lines was VTT’s digital interaction demonstration, a product seeking an application. You appear on the screen and random word bubbles jump up beside your head. Amusing, but I am not sure of the practicality. Of course, that is part of what VTT does as a research institute.
A small smattering of different applications and ideas hidden among the business show.