Mobile World Congress boasts record attendance of 109,000 visitors
World's largest mobile industry fair draws to a close in Barcelona with 2,000 more attendees than last year
Barcelona's Mobile World Congress (MWC) drew to a close on Thursday, boasting a record attendance of 109,000 visitors, some 2,000 more than last year.
The world's largest fair for the mobile industry, which is held annually in the Catalan capital, this year welcomed some 2,400 exhibitors from more than 200 different countries.
The MWC 2019, which kicked off on Monday, focused primarily on smart connectivity, through the fusion of 5G, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.
Among the companies participating at the fair were some of the world's top tech firms, including Facebook, Google, Huawei, Nokia, Samsung, Sony and LG.
At the Catalan stand, the authorities promoted a record number of 77 local companies, although in all there were over a hundred firms from Catalonia, many with their own stands.
One of the novelties presented at the fair by the Catalan authorities was a prototype ambulance that uses 5G technology to call in remote help from health specialists.
5G was also the focus of another Catalan initiative that saw surgeons from Barcelona's Clínic hospital remotely carry out an operation. Earlier in the month, the hospital became the first in Spain to adopt 5G technology to carry out operations at a distance in real time.
"[With MWC, Barcelona is] more attractive for digital innovation hubs, for centers of excellence, for multinationals, that are thinking to implement some kind of project abroad"
Joan Romero · Head of Catalonia Trade and Investment
Also, auto manufacturer Seat, whose production plant is in Catalonia, unveiled its new Minimó model, a 100% urban electric car that also connects to the 5G network.
A main highlight was Microsoft's HoloLens 2 "mixed reality" headset designed for industry, which shows the user the world overlaid with virtual graphics integrated with real objects.
Meanwhile, Huawei followed Samsung's lead earlier in the month and presented its new Mate X smartphone, which boasts 5G connectivity and features a foldable screen.
Robotics were also a feature of the fair, such as the android called Kebbi, which recognizes faces and voices and can perform tasks like dancing or helping children with their homework.
Arguably Barcelona's largest trade event of the year, the MWC has an economic impact on the city of more than 470 million euros, while 27,000 of the city's hotel rooms were reserved.
Yet, the event was also the object of some controversy, with pro-independence activists protesting the presence of the Spanish king, Felipe VI, at the fair's inauguration.
Barcelona 'attractive for digital innovation hubs'
Joan Romero, the head of Catalonia Trade and Investment (ACCIÓ) public agency, praised the MWC for making Barcelona "more attractive for digital innovation hubs, for centers of excellence, for multinationals, that are thinking to implement some kind of project abroad."
"What we want," added Romero talking to Catalan News, "is to increase the number of ICT companies, now we have a big amount of them, we have 15,000 ICT companies in Catalonia."