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Sony announces Future Lab Program alongside hands-free headset concept

Sony has launched a new research and development initiative called the Future Lab Program, which promises to place the user at the centre of its operations.

That doesn’t appear to be an empty marketing phrase, either. Under the initiative Sony will share concept prototypes with users early in development, and will then use their feedback to “refine and evolve” each project.

It’s a similar approach to the company’s First Flight crowdfunding platform, which was launched in the middle of 2015. That too made the user instrumental to the development of its more innovative projects – with the handy side effect of minimising the risk to Sony itself.

The first product from the Future Lab Program is a project simply known as “N.” This appears to be a wearable that fits around a user’s neck, and which supplies audio without going anywhere near a user’s ear. We smell bone conduction technology, like that used in the Damson Headbones – but a little more refined.

Related: Best headphones 2016

It seems this headset will be more than flashy set of headphones, but could have a personal assistant element. Sony talks of a “hands-free user interface” that will allow a user to receive “audio information.”

Sony will be showing off its N concept, alongside other Future Lab Program projects, at the SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin from March 12.

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