Mobile World Congress 2014: five app developers you should meet

Are you heading to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona? Nick Booth shares his pick of 2014's debutantes

Are you supposed to be in Barcelona later this month? Poor you.

To save you the bother of schlepping around the world’s biggest, hottest trade event, here’s my pick of the debutants at Mobile World Congress. No one will notice if you take a day off from MWC. There’s a lovely beach nearby at Sitges.

One of the biggest heart sink moments you will experience in the IT industry is visiting the home of the company you are doing business with. A walk down Cox Lane in Chessington, home of two IT distributors and a massive datacentre, is enough to make a grown man weep. The Met Police Communications HQ, in Bermondsey, where I once worked night shifts, was so ugly it would make a bishop kick in a plate glass window. A taxi driver in St Albans once told me that all the locals were convinced that Colt’s datacentre was some kind of high security prison. Basically, IT companies can be hard to find.

This is where Routeshoot could be a massive boon to the IT industry. Among all the millions of other applications you can use this technology for, there’s one that could make visiting your company a lot easier and more enjoyable. You can post videos which show you what to expect on any journey. Mind you, if you watched a film of the journey from Farnborough station through various grim industrial estates you might be put off going there.

One place you should heading for is Honiton in Devon, the home of Alpha Fox systems, which has created a brilliant gadget to end the travesty of counterfeit fraud and grey marketing. They’ve massively simplified the whole process of labeling and verifying stuff, with their own tagging invention, so I hope they don’t mind if, in the interests of brevity, I’ve oversimplified what they do. Basically, they make a gadget that any gormless buffoon could use – even the traffic cops I used to work with. Provided, of course, that a skilled IT expert has integrated it with your business system. Next year, in the war against counterfeit fraud, businesses will throw half a trillion dollars at the problem, so Alpha Fox must be a weapon worth selling. It’s a new company and it’s looking for partners.

Talking of simplifying things, Etaoi systems claims to have edited the human-computer interface down to five tiles. Yes, you don’t need to move your thumb across dozens of keys and several screens in order to type anything into your smart phone. You just need to select one of five tiles. Incredible. I don’t know if it works or not yet but, hang on, don’t these people have any sense of history? The QWERTY keyboard is 150 years old! We can’t just ditch it! English Heritage is going to be hopping mad when it finds out. Etaoi seems to have some kind of twisted plan to use these tiles so that people will start communicating via their smart watches. If you like that sort of thing, they’re open to partnerships, too.

Another company that wants to make life better for the IT industry’s road worrier’s is GeoSho. Have you ever hopped onto the M1 in good faith because the digital signage implies there are no problems, only to join a morale sapping eight hour traffic queue? Me too. When I complained, the Highways Agency told me that it takes several hours for staff to actually type up the problems phoned in. That’s worse than useless! Luckily, Geoshow has invented a way for all the intelligence about every item on the nation’s transport infrastructure to be automatically updated. It involves using our mobile phones, which talk to the cloud, which uses that intelligence to create an up to date analysis of the movements of everything: trains, planes and automobiles. That will be magnificent – but there’s a catch. It can only happen if local authorities agree to allow this money and time saving system to be used, rather than paying their favourite IT contractors millions of pounds to cock it up. Will they let that happen? What do you think?

It’s a lot easier for mobile gadgets to talk the cloud now that Movirtu has invented the virtual SIM card, a piece of software that can assign a phone number to practically any intelligent mobile device. Now you can use your iPad to get onto 3G and 4G networks. Soon the machines will take over the running of the entire transport infrastructure. That may sound a bit creepy, but surely they can’t be any worse than they Highways Agency. Or can they?

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