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Sony launches Future Lab Program to get customer input on upcoming products

Traditionally, research and development is a closely guarded process, with companies doing everything they can to prevent details on possible upcoming products to being leaked to the public or, even worse, other companies. Until now, this has been as true for Sony as any other company, but it looks like that is going to be changing.

Today, Sony announced a new research and development initiative it calls Future Lab, which will see a much more open product development process than has been the case so far. A large part of this new program will be showing products to users while they’re still early on in development and asking them for their feedback in order to improve future revisions.

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If the product shown in the video released to accompany the announcement is any indication, it doesn’t seem like Sony is thinking small with the Future Lab Program. The product shown, simply referred to as “N,” looks to be an audio-focused wearable meant to replace traditional in-ear headphones. Sony calls it a “concept prototype featuring a hands-free user interface that creates a new way of experiencing audio such as music and sound, allowing the user to receive audio information without having to insert any object into his or her ear.”

The video is almost indecipherably vague, but it seems that we might have seen something similar already in development, albeit far less futuristic-looking. The Music Wrap, which just finished its Kickstarter campaign, is a wearable that uses highly directed sound to create what it calls a “personal sound space.” Judging by the video, it seems that “N” might be something similar.

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Fortunately, we won’t have to wait very long to find out. This first product from the Future Lab Program will be shown at the SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas starting Saturday, March 12.

For more info, and to sign up to be involved in future projects, see the Future Lab website.