Apple was nowhere to be seen at the wireless industry’s major Super Mobility Week conference in Las Vegas, yet its presence was felt everywhere.
In casual conversations on the show floor and in formal presentations by telecommunications industry executives, people were dissecting the impact of Apple’s announced entry Tuesday into wearable computing and mobile payments as well as its unveiling of two new iPhone 6 models with larger screens.
Ralph de la Vega, president and chief executive of AT&T Mobile and Business Solutions, heralded Apple’s move into mobile payments as a “breakthrough” moment for an industry that has been trying to convince consumers to use their phone as a wallet, as well as for the technology that makes these transactions possible, near field communication.
NFC allows devices in close proximity — say, a smartphone and a retail terminal — to exchange encrypted information, such as credit card numbers, and complete transactions securely.
“This is a great opportunity for the mobile payments ecosystem to rally around NFC as a mobile solution,” de la Vega said. “That opens up all kinds of opportunity.”
Meanwhile, AT&T Mobility President and Chief Executive Glenn Lurie said the newly introduced Apple Watch creates opportunities for health and fitness and home automation — even if he thinks such devices should be capable of making calls independently of a smartphone.
“We’ve got to get to a place where these devices, inanimate devices, take care of us,” Lurie said.
Lurie, who oversees a team at AT&T devoted to building wireless capabilities in an array of objects — from in-car navigation and entertainment systems to home security — said the coming generation of intelligent devices have the potential to anticipate our needs.
With the advent of these connected devices, Lurie said he foresees a time when the garage door opens, the lights flick on and the security system turns off whenever we come within 25 feet of our homes. He similarly forecasts opportunities for smartwatches, with their built-in sensors capable of monitoring heart rate, to help the aging population stay in their homes longer.
“You ask someone who is 65 years of age or older, ‘What’s your number one fear?’ It’s, ‘My children are going to take me out of my house,'” Lurie said. “For children, the number one fear is, ‘I have to pay $5,000 a month for home care.’ I think we can help solve both.”
Qualcomm CEO Steven M. Mollenkopf, in conversation with Re/code Senior Editor Ina Fried, talked about the interesting products that will come as people begin “metering themselves up” and using that data to mange their health and wellness.
Health care around the world will begin improving, he predicted, aided by access to (presumably anonymous) information that sensors are gathering about wearers’ respiration, heart rate and blood pressure levels.
While declining to say whether he thinks the Apple Watch cracks the code for wearable devices, which have been slow to gain consumer adoption, Mollenkopf said he expects to see a surge of innovation around screen size and battery life.
“There’s a tremendous amount of experimentation,” Mollenkopf said.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.