Mobile World Congress: Catalan highlights
A hundred Catalan tech companies, from big businesses to start-ups, attending this year’s edition of the fair
With thousands of foreign visitors, the Mobile World Congress is a window to the world. And Catalan companies are not missing the opportunity to show off their latest innovations. From big businesses to new start-ups, there are 102 Catalan firms, with 73 of them using spaces provided by the Catalan government.
The companies are divided into three sectors: Catalonia’s main stand, located in the central part of the MWC and encompassing the largest number of technological firms: 46. In the App Planet, for smartphone app developers, visitors will find 16 Catalan companies. Around 12 Catalan firms have also joined forces to have their own stand in the area dedicated to drones.
An example of Catalan innovation is the Computer Vision Center (CVC), a non-profit institution affiliated to the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). This year, they are presenting the Real Time Crowd Counting, an algorithm that can be used to count large numbers of people with a narrow margin of error.
“It counts the number of persons in one image. And it is especially good when you have a big amount of persons. For instance, ten thousand persons in an image. Think of stadiums, large demonstrations, these kind of crowds,” said Dr. Joost Van de Weijer, researcher at the UAB responsible for the project.
The algorithm uses training data. “You need images where you know exactly how many people are there,” said Van de Weijer. “We then give this to the computer, the neuronal network, which tries to estimate the number. If it does wrong, you tell him and he tries to do better. Every time you give a new image it gets a little bit better in this task.”
Other examples of Catalan innovation are companies that use augmented reality to display all kind of objects on real surfaces, such as dices, cars and mansions. Another firm has created a mat connected to a screen, which displays the areas where you apply pressure allowing you to find the right balance when practicing yoga.
One area in which Catalonia has a strong sector is drones. A dozen firms joined Catalonia’s stand to present their flying devices. Sitep, an engineering firm, has developed a drone equipped with thermal sensors. The company has already met with Catalan firefighters to showcase this drone, which could eventually become a crucial tool to protect forests from blazes.
Another company has created an innovative system to help school professors teach students how to design their own drone. And if they have a 3D printer, they could even build it themselves.