The 12 Coolest Exhibits We Saw at Mobile World Congress 2017

Patrick Antinozzi

With over 100,000 people attending Mobile World Congress every year, and all of the world's most prominent media, the competition for visitors attention becomes increasingly competitive with each passing show.

MWC 2017 was no different. It was 4 straight days of sensory overload.

After walking 8 massive halls, talking to dozens of companies, attending several talks (and seeking out the best booth happy hours 🍸), here's what exhibits stood out to me at MWC this year. 

Google's Android Village

mobile world congress 2017 highlights

Google setup an Android Village outside, between halls 2 and 3. Spanning the length of roughly an entire football field, it displayed all of Google's latest and greatest apps, including Messages, Duo, Play Music, and Daydream VR.

But, more importantly, it was a heck of a lot of fun. From handing out free frozen yogurt in exchange for high fives, to creating personalized Android characters and printing custom tote bags, the Android Village was the go-to hangout spot.

It was also the starting point for an Android Partner scavenger hunter. Participants created their own personal Android character (that one up there is mine), attached it to a "passport", and then followed the map around the MWC grounds, collecting unique Android pins at various Android Partner booths.

It was a big hit. Countless people were walking around with their passport in hand.

AT&T's Vision of Our Future Smart Cities

mobile world congress 2017 highlights

AT&T's take on what our future smart cities will look like made for an impressive booth. Several stories were told with the aid of Augmented Reality, implanting virtual objects and landscapes into the physical world around us.

Of course, AT&T was eager to share how they would play such a large role in shaping our smart cities, providing the 5G data connection required to have everything communicate and coordinate with each other seamlessly.

I walked away convinced that they would, indeed, accomplish their ambitious goals.

HTC's Leap of Faith

mobile world congress 2017 highlights

Virtual Reality was everywhere at MWC 2017. Nearly every booth was using it in some form.

HTC's Vive booth was the most prominent of all, displaying multiple demonstrations of their VR technology. But the one that stood out to me the most, and drew the largest lineup, was their "Leap of Faith" setup.

While most VR sets are made up of a headset and a handheld controller, HTC went the extra mile by setting up a physical installation to augment that setup.

Their demo consisted of taking an elevator to the top of a skyscraper, walking out on a single wood plank, and then stepping off it, plummeting 50 stories to the ground. To enhance the experience, they created a physical plank that you have to walk on as well.

It was a great demonstration of how powerful VR has the potential to be. I tried it myself. Even though my brain knew that it wasn't real, that when I step off that plank I was only going to drop about 4 inches, my body responded as if it were real. I got that instant  gut punch you feel just as you're about to lose your balance and suffer a large fall.

It was wild. And for the first time I'm actually excited about what Virtual Reality will bring.

Ford's Take on the Future of Consumer Shipping

mobile world congress 2017 highlights

Ford had a fun little VR demo about what the future of buying and shipping might look like. (it was more interesting than it sounds)

You're in your kitchen preparing dinner for your guests that are coming tonight, realize you forgot to buy an ingredient, place the order with a voice command to your AI assistant, and a drone delivers your order to you on your condo balcony, parking neatly in the designated drone parking spot. (This is the future, after all. No one will be able to afford an entire house.)

It certainly takes late night take out to a whole new level...

Samsung's VR Theme Park

mobile world congress 2017 highlights

Did I mention how VR was everywhere this year? Samsung took their Galaxy Gear VR demos to a whole other... universe.

With 5 massive rides on display, Samsung Galaxy's booth was the life of the party. Twisting, turning, hurling, and flinging visitors all over the place with Gear VR strapped to their face and club bangers blasting 24/7.

This was definitely all about the "wow" factor. Practicality be damned.

Telefonica's "Shadow" Wall

mobile world congress 2017 highlights

Telefonica's booth was chock-full of good stuff, the highlight being the "shadow" wall.

They hooked up a bunch of Microsoft Kinects to their "cognitive powered AI" and combined it with a wall of chips. One side of the chip was white, the other black. When you walked in front of the wall, all your movements would be tracked and mimicked by the wall, flipping the chips over to the black side to outline your body. (I hope that's clear enough...)

It was great to see how creative people got trying to fool this thing.

Alcatel's Restaurant and Bar

mobile world congress 2017 highlights

Alcatel went all out Millennial in their marketing strategy, even going so far as to build a full restaurant and bar at the back of their booth.

Complete with food, coffee, booze, couches and foosball, it was one of MWC's favorite spots to unwind after a long day of booth gazing.

Lenovo's YogaBook Artist

mobile world congress 2017 highlights

I had never heard of Lenovo's YogaBook prior to this show, but I will certainly never forget it now. It is an extremely impressive device, especially at such an affordable price point.

To demonstrate the powerful design capabilities of the YogaBook, Lenovo got an artist to draw personalized caricatures of people. You know, like those ones you always see street artists doing for people in high traffic tourist areas.

It was the kind of thing you'd expect to see from an expensive illustrator pad for design professionals, not a $499 tablet.


NOMU's Drowning Phones

mobile world congress 2017 highlights

It's everyone's worst nightmare.

Dropping your $800 phone in water, grabbing it as fast as you can, then immediately turning it off while desperately trying to dry it as fast as possible. You put it in a bowl of rice for a day then pray it turns on after this terrifying ordeal.

NOMU used this all-too-common problem to their marketing advantage, submerging all of their phones in water. Permanently. All while the devices kept running.

It was effective. And certainly elicited an emotional response from more than a few walking by the display.

Vestel's World Record-Breaking Phone Mosaic

mobile world congress 2017 highlights

Everyone loves a good story, and breaking world records is an easy way to write one. (actually breaking world records, on the other hand, is anything but easy)

Vestel made the world's largest animated phone mosaic, and it was pretty. Sure, it's not the sexiest of record titles, but being able to slap that official Guinness logo up there sure helped a lot.

ZTE's Candyland of Colours and Macro Shots

mobile world congress 2017 highlights

ZTE was proud to talk about their new phone's camera capabilities, especially the macro shot and zoom features.

So, rather than just talk about it, they setup a colorful display and placed their phones around it, providing visitors the opportunity to try it out for themselves.

I gotta say, that is one sexy camera on that phone.

HP's UXMen

mobile world congress 2017 highlights

Ok, I'll admit it. The main reason I loved this one is because it's such a great pun. Also, who doesn't love superheroes these days?

Not to mention, the topic of User Experience really resonates with me personally, as it is something that is all too often neglected by so many businesses these days.

Plus, HP went out of their way to design actual comics for these characters. Pretty stinkin' cool.

Were you at Mobile World Congress this year? What cool things did you see? Comment below or tweet at us @statflo.

About the Author

Patrick Antinozzi

Patrick is our Content Specialist / Brand Ambassador / Internet Geek. He's got his finger on the pulse of business and retail trends, and loves writing in various corners of the internet. When he's not doing that, you'll find him traveling the world, playing hockey, or ranting about the Montreal Canadiens.

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