For every technological leap forward that changes how we live our lives, another which solves a problem seemingly nobody has is never far behind, writes Peter O’Dwyer

And so it was in Barcelona where, fresh from launching one of its finest smartphones, LG followed it up with a robot designed predominantly to entertain your cat. No, really.

The Seoul, South Korea, company decided to have a little fun on the opening day of Mobile World Congress by unveiling its Rolling Bot — a smartphone-controlled robot that roams your home when you can’t. The palm-sized sphere, which resembles Star Wars’ BB-8 and boasts an 8-megapixel camera, can control home appliances and monitor your home — but its main selling point appears to be its ability to keep your cat entertained while you’re out.

In the company’s own words: “LG’s Rolling Bot can keep an eye on your home and be your cat’s new best friend.”

Thanks for that.

Selling point is an overstatement, however, given that LG hasn’t provided any information as to how much your cat’s new best friend will set you back once it’s available to buy.

If LG’s questionable decision to cater for the feline market captured the imagination more than most devices, a number of eye-catching prototypes were also unveiled.

GMSA, the company behind Mobile World Congress, is predicting that close to three quarters of the world’s population will be connected to a mobile network by 2020, with 1bn new users signed up by then. It appears those in the mobile sector are looking for increasingly novel ways to harness that growth.

As part of its drive to expand its Xperia range beyond handsets, Sony announced three product concepts, including a personal home assistant. The Xperia Agent — which resembles an air freshener but boasts quite a bit more brain power — will interact with its surroundings, turn devices on and off, and generally make your life a little easier. A promo video shows the assistant welcoming its owner home and switching on the lights, for instance.

A prototype projector, which it is envisaged could turn surfaces such as a wall or table into an interactive dashboard, was also unveiled.

If the opening day is anything to go by, the world’s premier mobile event is likely to have a few more surprises up its sleeve yet.


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