BARCELONAâ€”Not every device at Mobile World Congress is a phone or tabletâ€”Sony is launching the “Xperia Touch” a portable short-throw laser projectorÂ thatÂ turns any surface into a touchable Android device. Sony hasÂ shown off the device at various tech conferences as a “concept,” but in Barcelona, SonyÂ is announcing the device as a real product, albeitÂ for the eye-popping price ofÂ â‚¬1,499 ($1,588).
The device is a 134mm Ã— 143mm Ã— 69 mm (5.3 Ã— 5.6 Ã— 2.7 inches) metal box with all the usual smartphone parts, but instead of a screen, it has a laser LCoSÂ laser projector with auto focus. As the name implies, the Xperia TouchÂ also supports touch controls, through a combination of an IR array and a 60fps camera,
There are a fewÂ setup configurations for the Xperia Touchâ€”projecting on theÂ table or wall the device is in contact with and projecting on a far-away wall. The device has auto focus, auto rotation, and auto keystoning, so basically you just orient it however you want and it will automatically configure itself to the surfaceâ€”there are never any manual controls to mess with.
When the device is in contact with the surface it’s projecting on, you’ll get a 23-inch display size and 10 point multitouch handled by the IR array. The touch controls work perfectly in this mode, and things like aiming a painting app atÂ a wall or table and “drawing” withÂ just your finger feels really cool.
Multitouch works great in this mode, and combined with the 23-inch projection, allows you to do some things that wouldn’t work so well on the usual 10-inch tablet. Â I challenged a few other MWC attendees to a game of virtual airÂ hockey. On the other table three people were playing a fastest-finger math game where the first person toÂ “buzz in” by tapping on the right answer won.
You can alsoÂ aim the Xperia TouchÂ at a faraway wall, like a traditional projector. InÂ this mode Sony says the automatic calibration can handle an 80-inch projection.Â The 1366Ã—768 resolution and 100-lumen brightness means it won’t beÂ the clearest or brightest picture on Earth,Â though. In fact, the picture was always washed out under the lights of the convention center hostingÂ the MWC.
The plan is for touch toÂ work at a distance too. “Touching” a faraway projection (and thereby blocking the projection) doesn’t make much sense, and theÂ IR array wouldn’t work anyway. So for this Sony has a front-mounted 60fps camera and a plan to implement gesture controls. It will work kind of like a Playstation Eyetoy or a simple version of an Xbox Kinectâ€”the camera will be used to track your handÂ movements and translate that into touch controls.
In the demo, standing at distance away from the projector and holding a finger up would make a circle cursor appear on the screen. It basically worked like a mouse, where you could move the cursor around by moving your finger, and a pinch gesture would “click” on whatever you were hovering over. Sony says the gesture controls won’t be ready at launch, and they definitely felt unfinished during my demo.Â Finger tracking works but was finicky, and I could never get a click to work.
Presumably the “80-inch” projector mode in the specs is meant to use a sideways orientation, while gesture controls depend on the camera facing you, which requires an upright position. Nothing much seems to be finalized about the gesture system though, so it’s unclear what the max range or display size for gesture controls is.
The Xperia Touch alsoÂ has a proximity sensor, so you can set the device to turn on whenever someone walks by. It has a 13MP camera for video calls and two-way stereo speakers. For ports, there areÂ USB-C and HDMI Type-Dâ€”the tiny “micro” connector. There’s also NFC and Bluetooth, which will be great for hooking upÂ a better speakerâ€”I could barely hear the built-in version at MWC.
Inside the projector you’ll find a mid-range Android device. It has a 1.6GHz Snapdragon 650 SoC, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. The Xperia Touch isÂ “portable” so it has some kind ofÂ battery, but even Sony is only promising “one hour in continuous video playback mode.” You’ll want to bring the power cord.
The Xperia Touch is a neat idea, and wasÂ really fun to play with, even with the chronically washed-out image. It’s hard to imagine Sony willÂ sell too many for $1,500, though.
from Ars Technica http://ift.tt/2lSiRO5