Huawei Eco-Connect Europe 2017: Connected cows, delivery drones and more!

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You’ve probably never heard of Huawei, pronounced Waa-Wey. But chances you will have come across them at some point and not realised.

As well as manufacturing various digital set-top boxes, including the YouView box rolled out by TalkTalk in the UK, the Chinese giant is also the world’s third largest mobile phone manufacturer.

Earlier in the year I was fortunate enough to be invited to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona by Huawei and was given one of their P10 smart phones. And I can honestly say it has the best digital camera I’ve ever seen on a smartphone – much better than the iPhone 7.

This time, I’ve come to Huawei’s Eco Connect Conference in Berlin to find out what some of their commercial partners are up to for a piece I’m writing on digital banking for The Telegraph. I’ll also be writing up some of the content for my own tech blog, Tech Digest.

Yesterday I learned all about various applications for the Internet of Things, iOT, most memorably how they work with agriculture tech companies to make dairy farming more efficient.

Not only do farmers can use IoT sensors to detect when a calf is born in order to ensure everything is OK, they also know when is the best time for a cow to mate with a bull – the ideal ‘rutting’ period as it’s known!

Less graphic perhaps was finding out about applications for narrowband IoT, a low power wide area network which can be even be used underground to monitor water usage/wastage for the development of smart cities.

Today, it was the turn of companies like DHL to show how they are using augmented reality glasses, drones and robotic trolleys to make the process of sorting items at their depots more efficient. DHL is even using drones to send important deliveries such as medicines to mountainous regions in the Alps, cutting down delivery time from days to minutes.

But you’ll be pleased to know it hasn’t all been work, work, work. I’ve also had time to take in Berlin, a city I’ve been coming to on and off for 25 years. Yesterday we went to former Eastern Berlin where I took this picture below of the famous Fernsehturm TV tower near Alexanderplatz.

Built in the 1960s by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) as a symbol of Communist power, it’s easily the most striking of Berlin’s buildings. It’s fair to say though that technology has moved on a little bit in the last 50 years with many of us now watching TV programmes over IP (Internet Protocol) – via our Chinese manufactured Huawei set-top boxes of course!

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Let’s forget the Nokia 3310. The future is much smarter and more interesting

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Artist and photographer Chris Levine (left) appears in a selfie with me at Huawei’s launch of its latest P10 smartphone at the Metronom gallery in Barcelona

While all the hype may be around the relaunch of an old favourite, the Nokia 3310, which I’m already completely bored hearing about, for those of us who prefer to look forwards rather than backwards, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona offers an exciting glimpse into the not too distant future.

Thanks to Huawei (pronounced Waa-Wey, though I’m still not sure how), I was privileged enough to get a brief glimpse into this future in Barcelona at the weekend.

From the minute I landed at the city’s fabulously named El Prat airport where literally hundreds of different companies all holding name boards had descended to meet their guests, I could sense the anticipation and excitement around the latest hi-tech products, about to be unleashed at Mobile World Congress.

Ostensibly, I was there as a guest of Huawei to meet various artists at Barcelona’s Metronom gallery . The one thing they have in common? They’ve all used the latest Huawei P10 smartphone to compose the images displayed in a pop-up exhibition that runs until March 2nd.

And while the Chinese smart phone manufacturer which is, believe it or not,  the third biggest in the world after Apple and Samsung, isn’t the first company to collaborate with the artistic community in order to gain kudos and credibility, it is the first one I’ve seen which has done a really convincing job.

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I was simply blown away by the quality of some of the images which I’d expected to offer good resolution, but which also seemed well lit too, thanks to various post production facilities within the cameraphone.

Talking to light artist and photographer Chris Levine, who is perhaps most famous for taking pictures of the Queen with her eyes closed (here he is above with one of those images), you could see that he was genuinely excited about the quality and potential that new smartphone technology offers photographers.

Sure, he hasn’t quite ditched his iPhone 6S completely yet, but he told me that the Huawei P10 provides the best quality for photography he’s seen from a smartphone yet, thanks to its Leica dual lens system. Is he telling the truth? I think so judging from what I’ve witnessed, but I’ll let you know when I test out the dazzling blue P10 (which doesn’t seem so dazzling to me) which they gave me to keep!

You can read the specs of the Huawei P10 here on my tech blog Tech Digest here. My interview with artist Chris Levine will follow later this week on ShinyShiny.

Above: Some photographs taken by Chris Levine using the Huawei P10 smartphone. 

Below: Andrew Garrihy, Chief Marketing Officer for Consumer Technology, Huawei Technologies, talks about the strategy behind the Huawei P10 launch including its collaboration with colour company Pantone and camera manufacturer Leica in this YouTube video below.

Apologies it’s a little shaky – I would like to say it’s because of all the glasses of champagne at the launch but I wasn’t even drinking at the time!