Thanks to Future Lab, Sony’s new R&D offshoot, the Tokyo-based company took some time at South by Southwest this past weekend to unveil an interesting new headphone design that may not be as crazy as it appears at first glance.
Sony calls its new pair of headphones Concept N, and it’s an interesting concept to say the least. The headphones are designed to wrap around a user’s neck, which admittedly isn’t something we haven’t seen before. But what makes Concept N unique and arguably intriguing is a specially designed speaker system that promises to direct sounds upwards towards a listener’s ears. As a result, the headphones promise to let wearers enjoy whatever they happen to be listening to without missing out on sounds from the surrounding environment.
Appreciating that such a design may not be appropriate or useful in all settings, the Concept N headphones also come with a pair of attachable earbuds that can be plugged directly into the main unit. What’s more, Concept N has a little bit of pizzazz to it, which is to say that it also comes with built-in voice controls and a dedicated camera.
There’s also motion sensors and GPS onboard the N concept, these detect whether you are walking or say, cycling with your head down towards your bike. This then tells the camera in which angle to point the lens to automatically get the right images. Clever. The behaviour tracking is also designed to deliver contextual info to the user.
The voice commands can be used to play specific songs and access information about items like sports scores and the weather.
Is this something that the masses will be running out to purchase when or if they hit store shelves? Color me skeptical. Still, it’s refreshing to see Sony, a company which was once synonymous with audio-oriented innovation – and a company that still produces awesome headphones today – showcase a little bit of outside-the-box thinking.