Sony Launches Future Lab Program To Get User Input on New Products

Consumers who like doing a little armchair R&D will soon get their chance, thanks to a new initiative from Sony. The electronics giant has established what it?EU?s calling the Future Lab Program to help the company employ user feedback to refine and improve new products.

The newfangled research and development effort has the goal of releasing concept prototypes that will eventually evolve in an open, creative environment -- and with help from open communication with the public.

The goal of the initiative is apparently to remove R&D from the corporate shadows and gain consumer input on products while they?EU?re still being refined. According to a Web site set up by Sony, Future Lab "aims to co-create new lifestyles and user value in the future [and] 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."

To the Letter

Among the initial ideas being run through Future Lab is a necklace-type audio device, named simply N, that lets users hear audio without headphones. Sony refers to N as a "concept prototype featuring a hands-free user interface that [allows] the user to receive audio information without having to insert any object into his or her ear."

As with the N wearable, each new prototype from Future Lab will be known by a single letter. The company is using a stylized F and L as the program's concept logo.

A video on the Future Lab Web site didn?EU?t provide much detail about how N works, but some reports indicate that it?EU?s similar to The Music Wrap, a wearable that uses highly directed sound to create what its manufacturer calls a personal sound space. Music Wrap recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to get its product to market.

User Help Wanted

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