Sony touts AI-powered Xperia Ear and Eye, unveils new X smartphones

Along with three new X-series smartphones, Sony has lifted the lid on its latest IoT device, a wearable for the ear that can handle voice commands.

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Sony's personal assistant, the Xperia Ear, functions as a companion to an Android smartphone.

Image: Sony

Sony has taken the wraps off a new wireless earpiece that puts a voice-controlled personal assistant in the owner's ear.

Sony is hoping to move beyond smartphones and tablets with a range of new voice-controlled wearables and devices for the home. It has also announced three new X-series smartphones.

The artificial intelligence-powered Xperia Ear is Sony's latest wearable, which functions as a personal assistant companion to an Android smartphone.

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The question, as always with Bluetooth headsets, and indeed all wearables on the head, is whether people are ready to be seen chatting to one in public.

Owners can use voice commands to initiate a call, search the web, dictate a message or get directions. It's meant to offer a non-intrusive manner of interacting with a smartphone.

The silicon earpiece is paired with an Android smartphone over NFC or Bluetooth and works in conjunction with an app.

Motorola tested the same waters in 2014 with the Moto Hint Bluetooth earpiece, but its first edition suffered from a relatively short battery life. The current version offers 3.3 hours continuous talk time.

According to Sony, the Xperia Ear has an estimated battery life of 3.5 hours. But like the Moto Hint, there's an additional charging case that offers the Ear an extra 12 hours' life. The device will be available later this year.

Sony's new X series includes the Xperia X, Xperia X Performance, and Xperia XA. The headline feature is Sony's claim that Qnovo's Adaptive Charging technology and Sony's battery software will offer up to two days' battery life, despite Xperia X only having a 2,620mAh capacity battery.

The five-inch full HD display Xperia X boasts a 23-megapixel (MP) main camera and 13MP rear-shooter, a fingerprint sensor, 3GB RAM, and 32GB built-in storage.

The main difference between the Xperia X and Xperia X Performance is the Xperia X runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 650 processor while the Xperia X Performance has the higher-end Snapdragon 820 processor. Both devices will ship with Android Marshmallow.

The Xperia X and Xperia XA will be available in white, black, lime gold, and rose gold.

Sony has scaled back its smartphone business in recent years but the company has said it will not exit smartphones entirely since they're a bridge to opportunities it sees in the Internet of Things (IoT).

Along with the Xperia Ear, Sony introduced the Xperia Eye, a small camera with a 360-degree lens with a shutter that uses face- and voice-detection to take snaps.

Sony's device for the home is the Xperia Projector, a voice, touch, and gesture-controlled device that projects content onto walls or any clear surface.

Finally, Sony's device for the car is its Bluetooth RM-X7BT commander that offers wireless music-streaming and hands-free functions for the smartphone.

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The Xperia X and Xperia XA will be available in white, black, lime gold, and rose gold.

Image: Sony

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