We’ve all seen the garish single-ear Bluetooth devices that had their heyday in the early 2000’s, best epitomized by the guy in the supermarket line talking to himself while an annoying blue beacon flashes ceaselessly. But here at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Sony is hoping to rewrite that story with a slick new device called simply the Xperia Ear.
The Ear isn’t your father’s Bluetooth earpiece. While the unit may not be as small as you’d expect for a 2016 iteration, it’s loaded with heaps of modern tech, including a proximity sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, and NFC for simple tap-and-go pairing to your Android phone.
The Ear is designed to work with either an Xperia device with a dedicated app, or with any other Android phone via Google Talk. And thanks to all that embedded tech, there are some cool ways to use the Ear that should make life more convenient for those on a predictable daily routine. Since the device knows when you put it in, it can be set to automatically source info from the app, including news, weather, and other information, and pipe it into your ear.
You can also tap the side of the earpiece for voice-assisted commands to help keep your hands on the wheel, and your eyes off your phone. The unit comes with multiple sizes of silicone tips, as well as a rubber guard at the top in small, medium, and large sizes to better fit your ear. Sony loves its secrets, however, and the company won’t tell us what the accelerometer or gyroscope will be used for, only saying the company has applications in the works that will take advantage of the technology.
You can, of course, also play music through the Xperia Ear, but even the Sony rep was quick to admit that the mono experience won’t be much of a thrill for music fans. Podcasts, on the other hand, could be a good fit for the Ear.
Talk time for the earpiece is estimated at 3.5 hours, with as much as 80 hours of standby. And the nifty little carrying case also auto-charges the unit up to three times. The top of the case is designed to snap open with just a flick of your thumb like a lighter so you only need one hand, but don’t try to pry it open from the front like we did — it’s a bit flimsy and liable to break if you do.
Sony hasn’t provided a price yet for the Xperia Ear, but it’s expected to launch sometime this summer, so stay tuned for more info in the next few months.