Remember our The Future is Now: Touch-free Touchscreens Coming Soon post, which described the touch-free touchscreen technology developed by French company Noalia? Well, you can now say that the future described in the post is already old news, because the first touch-free smartphone is not only real, but is also just weeks away from being available in stores. Who’s the culprit? Sony!
At an event in London today, Sony announced the newest member of its Xperia lineup, the Sony Xperia sola (yes, not capitalized), a 3.7-inch Android 2.3 device that resembles the Xperia S, with dumbed-down specs and sans the translucent bottom insertion.
However, the sola (codenamed Pepper in Sony’s leaked 2012 roadmap) comes with a twist, a touch of magic, as Sony would put it – the floating touch™ (yes, not capitalized) technology.
So, what’s all the fuss about this touchless touch devilry? Floating touch is a technology that lets you control your smartphone’s screen without actually having to touch it. How would that be useful? Well, the applications can be numerous. For one, touchless control would solve one of the biggest issues with smartphone UIs – the fact that you can’t hover over an element. With Sony’s floating touch that might change, although we’re not sure how deep is the technology integrated with Android. At least in theory, you can use the floating touch to highlight elements, to get information (think tooltips) on various elements, and in a variety of other ways.
For now, we don’t have any clues about how the sola works its magic. Previous efforts in touchless interfaces involved cameras, but this doesn’t seem to be happening with the sola, as the distance between the user’s finger and the display is too small for a camera to discern. Another possibility would be the sola uses an electrostatic sensor, just like Noalia’s technology works. If that’s the case, the sola is probably fitted with sensors beneath the display, which detect the static electricity that floats around your body. Apple is also said to be working on something similar, but it seems that Sony has beaten Cupertino to the punch.
Without doubt, the floating touch thingy is the only aspect that makes the Sony Xperia sola stands out, unless, of course, you’re a Sony-maniac or a sucker for the Xperia S industrial design.
Under the red, black, or white case, the sola hides specs that are, at best, unimpressive:
So, nothing to write home about, except the floating touch. We wonder why Sony choose the sola to showcase this new tech, instead the higher-end (and more visible) Xperia S, U, or P? Anyway, we’re very curious about touchless controls and we can’t wait for a sola hands-on, to see whether Sony managed to implement it in a compelling way or it’s just another short-lived gimmick.
The Sony Xperia sola will be available globally in the second quarter of 2012, and will be known as the Sony Xperia sole in Italy and Sony Xperia MT27i in China. No word on the pricing yet, but from the looks of it, we would bet on a relatively affordable price tag.
We’ll let you know more about the Sony Xperia sola as soon as we learn more. Meanwhile, tell us: would you like to have touch-free technology on your device?
13 March 2012
13 March, London, United Kingdom – Sony Mobile Communications today announced Xperia™ sola* as the latest addition to its portfolio of Android powered Xperia smartphones. Complete with Sony technology, premium entertainment and innovative floating touchTM navigation, the NFC enabled Xperia sola comes equipped with Xperia SmartTags, allowing consumers to change their smartphone’s settings and applications to fit their lifestyle in an instant. Xperia sola will be available to consumers globally in black, white and red in the second quarter.
A floating touch of magic
Making its smartphone debut exclusively on Xperia sola, Sony’s unique floating touch lets consumers navigate the web by hovering their finger above the screen so it acts like a moving curser, without actually having to touch the screen. Once the desired link is found it can be highlighted and a simple tap will load the page. Floating touch will evolve with new user functionality and applications through software updates and engagement with developers.
Calum MacDougall, Head of Xperia Marketing for Sony Mobile Communications, commented; “Xperia sola comes with the power of Sony and a sense of magic with floating touch, giving consumers a fun new way to browse the web and latest technology to show off. With Xperia SmartTags out of the box and access to the latest content through Sony Entertainment Network, Xperia sola is perfect for consumers looking for ease of use and the best in entertainment in a smart and innovative smartphone.”
Simplify the everyday with SmartTags
Xperia sola is NFC enabled and comes with two NFC Xperia SmartTags in the box as standard to simplify consumers’ everyday smartphone experiences. By touching an NFC Android smartphone on a SmartTag, a pre-configured profile in the smartphone will launch. The two SmartTags included with Xperia sola can be personalized with up to 10 commands. Out of the box one is ready for the living room to turn on Wi-Fi™ and launch Google™ news and weather apps, and the other one for the bedroom, which turns on the alarm and switches to silent mode. Xperia sola supports NFC pairing, allowing consumers to enjoy great connectivity with other NFC smartphones, applications and services by tapping their smartphones together.
Powerful entertainment anytime, anywhere
Xperia sola boasts razor sharp clarity with Reality Display powered by Mobile BRAVIA® Engine, xLOUD™ and 3D surround sound audio technology delivering crisp and loud sound, and a 1GHz dual-core processor for super fast performance. Xperia sola also comes with fast capture to take the camera from sleep to snap in a little over a second with a single key press.
Consumers can also access premium entertainment experiences with Sony Entertainment Network**, where they can watch the latest Hollywood blockbusters on Video Unlimited or listen to millions of songs*** through Music Unlimited.
Key features for Xperia sola
* Xperia sola will be bought into the Italian market under the name “Sony Xperia™ sole” and in China P.R. under the name “Sony Xperia™ MT27i”
**Sony Entertainment Network services are subject to availability by region, please seewww.sonyentertainmentnetwork.com for more details.
*** The number of available songs varies by region.
Xperia sola specifications
All services mentioned in this leaflet may not be available in every market.
All services mentioned in this leaflet may not be available in every market.
*Values are according to GSM Association Battery Life Measurement Technique. Battery performance may vary depending on network conditions and configurations, and phone usage.
In the kit
“Sony” and “Sony Entertainment Network” are registered trademarks or trademarks of Sony Corporation. All other trademarks or registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
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for me uninteresting.
1.sony handy are not as cheap as the new upper-end chinese handys
2. don’t know if the technic has come to maturity
3. no LTE
4.nothing special than touch-free control, what not even really attract me
finally i’ve got a question: despite of touchfree control, can i use the touchscreen (by touching it) ?
greetings from germany (i’m sorry for grammar mistakes :) )
I think the market will agree with you. Yes, the touchscreen still works.
1. NO LTE
2. 512 RAM
3. NO Front cam
4. Insufficient Battery 1320 mAh
5. confused which GPU( ST-Ericsson NovaThor U8500 or Mali 400)