INTELLIGENT gadgets that predict what you’d like to do next, complete tasks for you, play with your pets, and project useful information onto walls and tables is on the cards as companies look beyond the smartphone to next-generation accessories.
The concepts were on show at the opening of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today, with Sony showing off three concept devices it says will bring an added level of intelligence to mobile technology, and LG introducing a series of unusual mobile phone accessories.
Sony Mobile president Hiroki Totoki said the company planned to add more intelligence, rather than just more features, to future devices, including the Xperia Ear that aspires “to become your personal assistant”.
“This is not just a Bluetooth headset — it combines sensors and intelligence into an earpiece comfortable enough to wear all day,” he said.
The Xperia Ear is a small, wireless earpiece that connects to smartphones and proactively provides information to wearers, including details of upcoming appointments, weather forecasts and news stories.
It can read SMS, Twitter or Facebook messages, responds to voice commands, can be customised, and can whisper navigational instructions into your ear so you no longer need to look at a phone screen while walking or driving.
While Mr Totoki said the Xperia Ear would be launched in other countries this winter, an Australian launch is yet to be confirmed.
But the Xperia Ear will be joined by three even more futuristic but conceptual devices from Sony: the Xperia Eye, Xperia Projector, and Xperia Agent.
The Xperia Eye is a wide-angle wearable camera designed to be worn around the neck and capture important moments using facial recognition and voice detection.
Arguably more useful, the Xperia Projector will be able to beam important information onto flat surfaces, such as tables and walls, and let users interact with it. The Xperia Agent is Sony’s take on a personal digital assistant. The robot-shaped device can show users news stories, calendars, traffic alerts and messages by projecting them, and also features a microphone and speaker for making calls and following voice commands.
Sony Mobile Communications Oceania market head John Featherstone said the company would continue to make smartphones but was also focused on creating “personalised and intelligent products and services that empower you to do more and live more creatively”.
LG also shifted its focus to delivering a larger ecosystem of intelligent accessories at Mobile World Congress this year, showing off its “Friends” system, including a ball-shaped robot that can monitor your house and play with your pets.
The LG Rolling Bot features an 8-megapixel camera in its spine and two spheres that spin to move it around a home, beaming footage back to a smartphone.
It also features a laser light and speaker and can be used to play with pets remotely.
LG president and chief executive Juno Cho said the Rolling Bot, along with accessories like the 360 VR headset and 360 Cam, were designed to extend the life of smartphones.
“When smartphones were first introduced we were so excited, fascinated, and downloaded five to six applications every day,” he said.
“However these days we don’t see much excitement any more even when a new smartphone is released. Has our appetite for fun disappeared? Of course not.”
Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson travelled to Barcelona as a guest of Samsung.