At Mobile World Congress (MWC) last week, the air was electric with the promise of artificial intelligence (AI). This buzz wasn’t new; just two months earlier, CES had also showcased AI as the predominant theme across consumer tech products. However, amidst the excitement, distinguishing between genuine innovation, potential concerns, and passing trends can be challenging.

Ben Wood, Chief Analyst at CCS Insight, aptly described the MWC atmosphere as “omnipresent… but also overwhelming,” suggesting a looming risk of AI fatigue among attendees. However, amidst this saturation, there were notable demonstrations highlighting the tangible benefits AI could bring, rather than mere claims of AI-readiness.

Compared to the previous year’s MWC, where AI was still in its nascent stages, this year marked a significant leap forward. On-device AI, once a concept, had become a reality, evident from the diverse array of demonstrations attendees could experience firsthand. These demos showcased AI’s transformative potential across familiar products like smartphones and automobiles, as well as the emergence of entirely new AI-centric devices such as wearables and robots.

The prevalence of on-device AI underscores its immediacy and relevance in today’s technological landscape. It’s no longer a vision for the distant future; rather, it’s a technology readily available for integration into the devices consumers use daily, potentially influencing their purchasing decisions.

One of the striking revelations from MWC was the varied approaches adopted by tech companies in deploying AI. For instance, Samsung focused on translation with its Gauss large language model, while Honor incorporated eye tracking into its Magic 6 Pro. Similarly, Oppo and Xiaomi leveraged generative AI for camera enhancements, highlighting the diversity of AI applications tailored to distinct user experiences.

Y.J. Kim, an executive vice president at Samsung, emphasized the importance of delivering tangible benefits to users through AI-driven innovations, aiming to elevate the smartphone experience beyond the conventional.

Collaboration among tech giants such as Google and Qualcomm further underscores AI’s transformative potential. Google’s AI features, accessible across multiple smartphone brands, and Qualcomm’s AI Hub, empowering developers with plug-and-play AI models, signify a collaborative effort to democratize AI integration across devices.

The democratization of AI, however, poses challenges regarding accessibility and affordability. While currently predominant in top-tier smartphones, efforts are underway to extend AI capabilities to a broader range of devices, albeit with potential discrepancies in quality and performance.

Beyond smartphones, AI is reshaping user interactions with devices, paving the way for novel experiences. Qualcomm’s technology, showcased in concept phones like the T Phone, envisions a seamless, appless interface driven by AI, hinting at a paradigm shift in device interaction.

Furthermore, AI’s integration into wearables and robotics, as demonstrated by devices like the AI Pin and Stella AI, signals a new era of experimentation and innovation. These devices, leveraging generative and interactive AI, offer a glimpse into the future of human-machine interaction.

As the AI revolution unfolds, with MWC 2024 serving as a pivotal moment, the trajectory of technological innovation appears boundless. Amidst the hype, genuine progress in AI integration across devices promises transformative experiences, laying the foundation for a future where AI becomes seamlessly woven into the fabric of everyday life.

By Impact Lab