By: Bill Spencer — October 25, 2019
I Fight Wildfires at the L.A. Mobile Conference
The world's largest mobile tech conference wrapped up in Los Angeles yesterday, and I've never been so reluctant to leave an event.
I saw so many familiar names and faces... met so many new ones... and was awestruck by the sheer variety of firms, products and services on offer.
For three solid days giant household names -- Google (GOOGL)... Verizon (VZ)... Comcast (CMCSA)... Facebook (FB)... Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)... Qualcomm (QCOM)... Ericsson (ERIC)... Nvidia (NVDA)... Nokia (NOK) -- sat cheek-by-jowl with hundreds of plucky start-ups and small-cap firms...
... each staking its claim to the future of tech with little more than "a dollar and a dream".
On Wednesday I spoke with Case by Case, a firm launched with $60,000 raised from Kickstarter. The company has developed a kind of "Swiss Army Knife" of cell phone cases.
(Click any image to enlarge)
Here's Co-Founder and CEO Ty Aloe holding the design award his firm won at last year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
He told me, "Our product is practical and tactical. It's a phone case that's modular by design. You can add a whole bunch of different components."
According to Case by Case:
"This really is the best phone case ever. We know because our specialty is not only building products but breaking them as well. We personally take our products through the most extreme testing. We have jumped out of planes with our GoPro Compatible Mount, broken speed limits with our Handlebar Mount, thrown our phones in the ocean to prove we can make them float."
And speaking of Kickstarter, I also got to meet Andy Yang, CEO of Indiegogo, a "crowdfunding" platform with a focus on technology. His platform allows inventors and entrepreneurs to raise capital to launch their own tech visions into the marketplace.
Regular readers of True Market Insider have heard us say that the Technology sector has by far been the strongest broad market sector for years now. The reason is that there's simply no industry or sector that high-technology is not transforming.
Take the fragrance and perfume markets for example. How can technology -- particularly mobile or wireless technology -- possibly make inroads into the fragrance industry??
As it happens, technology has done just that.
Deepscent, out of South Korea, markets AROM, a smart gadget known as an "aroma styler".
You insert four "fragrance capsules" into AROM...
... and then use the Deepscent mobile app to dial in exactly how much of each scent (from 0% to 100%) you'd like to smell. You can save and register your own customized "scent recipes".
I also encountered dozens of companies marketing cutting-edge hardware to support the 5G revolution that is already underway.
Here are Jason Brent, Ph.D, and Quang Dang, two of the "system architects" at RF DSP.
They are standing next to something called an O-RAN radio unit. (O-RAN stands for Open Radio Access Network). Jason told me his unit will sit at the bottom of a 5G base station. It's basically the final bit of "signal processing" that happens before a cell phone signal (or other type of signal) goes into the 5G transmitter.
As I wrote on Wednesday, 5G is everywhere at the MWC2019.
In fact, smack-dab in the middle of the South Hall of the L.A. conference center I spotted a full-size replica of the top section of a cell phone tower, the kind you see along the sides of highways.
In 2019 there are more than 100,000 of those towers standing. I don't know if those two fellows are actors, or actual tower technicians. (And I don't know how long the one guy was hanging there.)
The company that really stopped me in my tracks is BadVR.
The 'Bad' in the name stands for "Bring All Data". And the company means what it says. CEO and Co-Founder Suzanne Borders is a pioneer and leader in the field of "data visualization".
Using a virtual reality headset (made by a firm called Magic Leap), BadVR is able to crunch a nearly infinite amount of data and present it in front of your eyes in visual form.
I got to test drive a BadVR data visualization program -- one that was designed for emergency responders tasked with fighting wildfires. (Details in a second.)
"I've always loved with immersive technology. I was a big Star Trek fan. I loved the idea of the Holodeck," CEO Borders told me. "I thought that if I combined data visualization with immersive technology -- Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality -- I could show people more data in a single view and I could display it to them in a way that made it more accessible to a broader number of people".
"The human brain is set up to ingest data three dimensionally. Think about it. Right now you're ingesting a ton of data -- the temperature of the room... who's standing behind you... background noise... And you're doing it all without burdening yourself".
Wildfires are a serious problem in California. In fact, just yesterday my colleague, Doug, nearly had to evacuate his home in Healdsburg because a wildfire was burning just nine miles away.
Under the headset, I could see to my right a "geospatial" map of Encino County. To my left a map of Ventura County.
Directly in front of me was a 3D representation of what Suzanne calls a "data stadium".
I could "point and click" (actually just move my hand) and select filters that would show me things like: All rooftops in the city of Santa Monica made of a particular material:
When I aimed my pointer at a spot in at the data stadium, up popped photo and all necessary information about a particular member of my firefighting team.
I could also see TV screens showing real time feeds from any number of drones flying above and around the affected area.
In recognition of their innovative technology, BadVR received a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation.
Of course I asked Suzanne if BadVR was looking to be acquired or to go public.
"If I'm going to do anything, I'm going to take it all the way. I hope eventually we'll be able to IPO".
I'll be watching this potentially game-changing company like a hawk. If and when they go public, I'll make sure you're the first to know.
Talk to you soon,