The just-opened Verizon Innovation Center is like a museum, except it's all about looking into the future instead of looking back. We just got a tour of the carrier's new 20,000-foot showcase for 4G LTE technology in Waltham, Mass., and tomorrow is looking pretty sweet indeed. We're talking about robots that let sick children attend school virtually, cars that tell you who dinged your car while you were away, and the ability to make voice and video calls made over 4G LTE. We also saw (and touched) a huge App Wall that uses multitouch technology to let you preview any Android app in Verizon's store.
Verizon will be using this space to collaborate with partners, providing wireless expertise and resources to start-ups who might not otherwise be able to bring their products to market. Of course, the carrier is also working with established players, such as OnStar, to make their ideas a reality faster. Check out the videos below and let us know which LTE app you like best.
VGo: Remote Controlled Mobility and Presence
A robot with a purpose in life, the VGo lets users be present and mobile in a distant location. It leverages Verizon's 4G LTE network to let the remote participant drive the robot and communicate in real time with other workers. You can literally walk up to someone's cube and start having a conversation. The VGo also has applications for healthcare (monitoring a sick patient from afar) and education. The Today show profiled a boy confined to a bubble who used VGo to go to school.
OnStar Evolved: 4G Concept Car
Imagine if your car could automatically tell you when that someone had hit your vehicle while you were in the mall--and show you who did it. That's the promise of Verizon's 4G conecpt car, which is equipped with multiple cameras. But that's not all this futuristic ride can do. Using a next-gen OnStar app, you can see inside the vehicle from your 4G phone. And when you're inside, you can conduct sophisticated voice searches and literally see what's going on at home and remotely control those cameras from your dashboard's touchscreen. Video chat is also on board. And because you have a 4G connection, the manufacturer can push out updates to its manual (including videos) to show you how to get the most out of your car.
Voice and Video over LTE: Look, Ma, No Latency!
From Skype/Qik to Apple and Google, everyone is trying to figure out how to nail mobile video calling. Well, it looks like Verizon will be rolling out its own solution come next year. Our tour guide confirmed that the carrier would be rolling out voice over LTE next year, which will have a video chat component. Based on the quick demo, the interface is pretty slick. In fact, it looks like Verizon is trying to figure out a way to combine messaging, location sharing, and voice and video calling in a single app. Of course, there's no guarantee the service will look exactly like this, but 2012 isn't that far away.
The App Wall
No, it's not very practical, but using the App Wall is a lot of fun. Using three huge multitouch displays side by side, you can explore the apps in Verizon's Android app catalog by selecting a category and then tapping on an app. The interface has a slick circular pattern, with icons orbiting the center area where you can look at the app description or perform a search. One of these apps had a video demo attached, and another displayed a QR code so you download the app right then and there. We suggested Verizon add NFC support to the mix so users could download apps to their phones with a tap. (This is the future, right?) The coolest part of the App Wall is that you can literally fling the entire sphere from one side of the screen to the other. Some day we might see something like this in retail, but don't hold your breath.