SXSW is in full swing and everybody in Austin is checking out the scene. One of the companies that we've been keeping our eye on, Sony, had quite a few announcements when they took the stage. Following the roll out of Android Marshmallow 6.0 to their Xperia series last week, the Japanese tech giant still has more up their sleeve. They've revealed prototypes for some pretty impressive technology, without revealing any kind of launch date, but it all stems from a program that was announced earlier this month.
The Future Lab Program is a smart move that Sony made in early March, announcing that they wanted feedback from users to help develop their future products. What better way to get more ideas in the door and create a better product that people are going to want? From the two concepts that were displayed at SXSW, we can tell that this program is beneficial because it's giving Sony some room for creativity and expanded use of the imagination. The idea that one could create some sort of augmented reality on top of a coffee table seemed like a far stretch, but Sony has shown that a product like this is in the works.
Imagine being able to bring to life your favorite storybook and to interact with the illustrations.
The prototype is a projector, called simply, Interactive Tabletop, and basically has the ability to turn a flat surface into a touch-sensitive display. We thought it was cool when kids started stomping on the flashing lights on the floor at the mall, but this takes projection to a new interactive level. Imagine being able to bring to life your favorite storybook and to interact with the illustrations. Well, that's exactly what Sony put out for everyone to see. The projector was configured to recognize Alice in Wonderland and users could take the depictions of Alice or other animations, and then move them to interact with physical objects on the table. As we mentioned, the projector is only a prototype, but it is one of the inspirations coming out of the Future Lab Program that has potential to develop further. Now that it has been displayed, Sony will rely on feedback and developers to continue the work on this project.
The other prototype that Sony showed were the Concept N headphones that well, don't have to be used like traditional headphones, at all. Worn around the neck, Concept N recognizes voice commands and comes equipped with a camera so that the user can snap photos at a moment's notice. But, the unique thing about this new model is that the headphones actually don't require that you use the earpieces in your ear. That's right, the Bluetooth enabled device has multi-directional speakers that actually direct the sound back up to your ear, so you're not stuck messing with ear buds that don't fit just right or that hurt your ears after wearing them for an extended period of time. There are some strange looking earpieces that the company is offering with the set if you prefer to put them in.
Similar to the Xperia Ear that we learned about at Mobile World Congress, we're not surprised that another sound-related product is being worked on at the Future Lab Program. Though these ideas are strictly prototypes for now, if the feedback is successful and Sony continues to make progress on these projects, they could be on the market sooner rather than later.
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