Sony Concept N / Future Lab Program

March 18, 2016

Sony, just this month, launched an R&D initiative called the Future Lab Program. Its creation was fueled by a need for devices built upon more customer input. The idea is to "share concept prototypes with users while still at the development stage, and look to them for inspiration, leveraging their feedback to refine and evolve its projects".

This was swiftly followed by the announcement of a product called Concept N at SXSW (South By Southwest) Interactive Festival in Texas on 12 Mar. Its premise according to Sony is a "hands-free user interface that creates a new way of experiencing audio such as music and sound, allowing the user to receive audio information without having to insert any object into his or her ear."

If taken purely from the audio perspective, you sling the device around your neck and the music gets channeled upwards toward your ears like a pair of speakers. How neat is that? It gets better. Sporting the LG Tone look and Google Glass technology in its features, read on to find out more.

What's the Deal?

1. A New Trend?
Sony aren't the first to come up with the concept of speakers around the neck. Music Wrap, born from Kickstarter have initiated something similar just last month. Will this be the start of a product type that'll sell truckloads? Only time will tell. 

2. Sound directed only to you
Apparently, the sound is targeted directly at your ears to the extent that you can hear the music.  Others can tell you are listening to music but won't be able to discern exactly what, according to Nylon.

3. Open-ear earphones
If the open sound direction does not appeal, Sony provides open-ear earphones where you fit an open circle, with a dangling tube linked to drivers, into your ear. This has the effect of letting you hear ambient sound while being able to listen to music from the drivers. 
Credit - Engadget
4. Integrated Camera / Voice Controls
This is where the similarity between neckband headphones like the LG TONE fades and you think more of a futuristic product. Like Google Glass, we have a device that can give you information such as weather and GPS location upon request. Just like you say 'Ok Google' to initiate Google services, the Concept N is triggered by 'Listen up Arc!'. The camera can open up on demand and take photos when needed.
Credit - Engadget

Pricing / Availability 
As the Sony Concept N is purely a concept, there's no news as yet on when this futuristic product will launch. It certainly looks fantastic and banks on the top technology available today. Let's give it a year and see if it goes to mass production.

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