BARCELONA — At Sony’s press event, it wasn’t the new phones that got all the attention. Instead, the Sony Xperia Ear, Xperia Eye, Xperia Projector, and the Xperia Agent stole the show. All four act as high-tech personal assistants, similar to Google Now or Amazon Echo. The latter three are still in the concept stages, but I spent some time with them and they seemed to work pretty well.
Sony Xperia Ear
The Xperia Ear looks rather like a Bluetooth earpiece, and to an extent that’s what it is, but it has significant functionality baked in. The best way to think about it is as a more advanced Google Now in your ear. You can interact with it using voice commands and give it instructions to make phone calls, send messages, or provide navigation. The earpiece will also give you relevant information about weather, calender events, messages, and other notifications. Interaction with the device is intended to be completely hands-free and it will work with your smartphone through Bluetooth or NFC. Because it’s the sort of thing you will probably be wearing for long periods of time, it has soft silicone earbuds with IPX2 water-protection and all-day battery life.
Sony Xperia Eye
The Xperia Eye is still in its concept stage. In its present incarnation, it looks like one of the 360-degree cameras that Samsung and LG announced earlier. It’s a compact, wide-angle camera, with a 360-degree spherical lens. Sony envisions you wearing it around your neck, allowing the “intelligent” built-in sensing technology to capture pictures via face and voice recognition; input from you needed. It feels a little on the wrong side of dystopian to me.
Sony Xperia Projector
Xperia Projector is also conceptual. It’s a projector that lets you interact the images that are projected. It essentially makes any clear surface, including walls and tables, into a touch screen, allowing you to use the same gestures as you would on your smartphone.
Sony Xperia Agent
The Xperia Agent is the most conceptual of them all. Essentially, it is a personal assistant with the best aspects of the Ear, Eye, and Projector combined. It’s a little robot with a mobile “face” that can respond to voice commands and gestures. It provides you with notifications and relevant information by projecting onto the surface of a table, wall, or other clear surface. There are a number of built-in commands and it can be used to control home appliances, serving as a smart home hub as well. Its design is a bit reminiscent of one of the robots from Wall E, and it’s one of the most intriguing things I’ve seen at MWC.