Cars everywhere. Some, are a very similar to the ones I saw at CES (see my previous blog, The Connected World and Autonomous Cars @CES 2017) while some are new concepts with tighter ties to technologies and ideas at Mobile World Congress.

A car is a mobile device, and as such, a target and opportunity for mobile technology that can enhance the consumer experience and improve safety. There are cool capabilities a connected car can have like remote diagnostics that the car manufacturer can then prescribe preventive maintenance or deal with potential problems before they happen Think of a car as a 4G WiFi hotspot with all our devices connected to the internet as they are at home. It can deliver real-time weather and traffic information, providing a safer and more effective driving experience. The car can communicate with other cars, for example, to be warned of a potential collision, all this to reduce the millions of collisions happening in the U.S. per year. The car can communicate with city infrastructure to optimize the car’s speed for green lights, or in general to provide the optimal traffic flow in high traffic areas.

Autonomous and electric cars are still a common theme here on the show floor. Some companies here are thinking about new business models, including autonomous car sharing instead of outright ownership. To me, it makes a lot of sense, given that the car can find us and drive itself wherever and whenever we need it.

Along with the bells and whistles, come screens and more screens for self-driving cars. After all, why do you need to watch the road ahead if the cars drive by itself? The ultimate concept I saw was in this one booth, where the car didn’t have a single window and the driver is immersed in VR (virtual reality). I can see playing Grand Theft Auto on the way to work while the car drives itself!

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Roberto Aiello
Managing Director, Itron Idea Labs - Itron Idea Labs
Dr. Roberto Aiello is the managing director of the Itron Idea Labs and responsible for new business innovation at Itron, including Internet of Things.

His previous experience includes managing wireless research at Interval Research, Paul Allen's technology incubator and technology transfer at Disney Research. He is an advisor to Google Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) and is a Lean Startup expert who serves as a mentor at the Cleantech Open and Startup Weekend.

Dr. Aiello also founded two venture-funded, wireless semiconductor companies and one web/mobile startup. Dr. Aiello worked as a physicist at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and Superconducting Super Collider.