Taking mobile technology to the next level

July 10, 2013 9:00:42 PM PDT
From Facebook to Angry Birds, your phone is hardly about making phone calls anymore. In San Francisco on Wednesday, a conference all about your mobile phone yielded some big product announcements.

Over just a few years, the Mobile Beat conference has really grown. Put on by the tech website VentureBeat, it now spans long hallways full of meeting rooms, and ballrooms packed with booths. So how do you find your way around this mess? Well, not with GPS.

"GPS doesn't work inside. So this is the big thing," said Janne Haverinen, the CEO of Indoor Atlas.

That's why Indoor Atlas -- a company from Finland -- is here showing off their technology. They showed us a video of a cellphone navigating from aisle to aisle in a grocery store. This, they say, is the next frontier in location. And unlike solutions that Google and Apple are working on, theirs doesn't require Wi-Fi.

"Our approach is based on small magnetic field variations which are very typical of modern houses and buildings, inside of buildings," said Haverinen.

And how do you measure that? Using your phone's built-in compass, of course. The possibilities are endless.

"Like airports, finding gates, and also shopping malls, and campuses, finding your friends," said Haverinen.

The conference is becoming a place for major product announcements, like a brand new tablet which is built to take some serious abuse. You can throw it on the ground and get it wet and it will still work.

"We deliver tablets that are used by the U.S. Military," said Jim Plas, the marketing vice president of Xplore Technologies.

Now, those are tough, but they're also big and heavy.

"And sometimes is a little bit of overkill because they don't necessarily have to withstand the impact of an IED to go install cable," said Plas.

The cable guy, the plumber -- that's who this new android tablet's for. But even at $1,300, it's found another audience:

"Extreme athletes -- people that are doing mountaineering, mountain biking," said Plas.

But if you prefer four wheels, Sprint and IBM want to make your car smarter. They've announced a system that makes your phone a car remote and so much more. It can move your seat forward or backwards.

"It remembers all these things about you, so that it really makes your car your car, and it all gets stored within the cloud," said Nina Kim, the head of marketing for Sprint Velocity.

Soon, instead of grabbing your keys, wallet and phone, your phone may be all you need.

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