Somehow I missed the Xperia Ear Open-Style CONCEPT (why are we yelling?) being unveiled at MWC 2017. As the name loudly suggests, it’s still a concept product but it’s meant to be another iteration of the Xperia Ear, which is already in production and was met with less than stellar reviews. Here’s Billy Steele from Engadget with a general overview:
This new version of Xperia Ear uses “open-ear” audio tech Sony developed inside it’s Future Lab incubator program. Essentially, the wireless earbuds let noise from the outside world in while you’re wearing them. This probably sounds like a bad idea to most, but the feature will help keep you safe on a run or allow you to hear colleagues while listening to music and receiving app notifications in the office.
Details are scarce on the internals for now, but we do know that the combination of two spacial acoustic conductors and driver units beam sound directly in your ear canal. The earbud’s speaker is circular with an open center to allow those environmental sounds to come through. It will be interesting to see how well this new design stays in place as the controls components are housed in a casing that wraps under your ear and sits behind it. Like the previous version, this Open-style Concept will feature Sony’s Agent virtual assistant that’s capable of recognizing both voice cues and head gestures to lend a hand with activities.
Sony, for its part, describes it as
The best of both worlds
Enjoy the music you love without missing out on what matters. With its fresh, seamless design, Xperia Ear Open-style CONCEPT combines classic Xperia Ear assistance with a breakthrough new listening style. So however loud you like your music, you’ll be able to hear exactly what’s going on around you.
In general, the product comes off as interesting from a technical standpoint but a gigantic hearing-aid that needs to be worn on both ears? Yea, that’s not going to fly, especially with a younger audience who are more likely to make purchases like this. Unless Sony can further refine the design and shrink the product down to an earbud, no one is ever going to buy this, especially at a price point that’s sure to be north of $250, seeing how the Xperia Ear, which is much simpler in form and functionality, is priced at $189. Luckily for us, this product is still a concept as the name suggests.
Let’s just hope that the concept part is Sony simply testing future technologies and not an indication of a product that’s near completion. I applaud Sony for trying new product ideas and designs but there has to be a better and cheaper way for them to gauge consumer interest and test their technologies than these highly visible R&D projects that are coming out of Future Lab program, right? After all, isn’t that what internal labs are for?