Inside Sony Square NYC
Whether it's Apple, Microsoft or even Razer, it seems like every big tech firm has a retail store these days. Each and everyone one of them is all about one-upping the other and selling as many wares as possible. I mean they're stores after all.
However, Sony is trying to buck the trend with its own space in the heart of New York. Christened the Sony Square NYC, it's less of a store and more of a showroom space designed to take you into the future as prescribed by Sony.
We were invited to for a preview tour of the Sony Square before it officially opens to the public on August 4, so come with us as we take you through the space and everything on display from the experimental prototypes to Sony's cutting edge cameras and virtual reality headset.
Technology meets art deco
Located at the base of one of NY's many art deco towers on the corner of 25th street and Madison Avenue, it looks like any of the other indoor public spaces around the city. But, instead of simply being full of café tables and some nice greenery, this square is decorated with some of Sony's latest devices and even some that aren't on the market yet.
Meet the Google Glass of headphones
In fact, the first thing you'll see when you walk through it Sony's latest experiment, Project N from its Future Lab division. First unveiled at SXSW 2016 earlier this March, these are the first pair of headphones that you don't wear on your ears.
Instead, they rest on the base of your neck like a pair of Bluetooth headphones where they create a bubble of sound around your head. If you want a more personal listening experience, Sony has also made a special pair of headphones designed to channel sound waves through your skin.
Aside from the funky design and smart engineering, N is also equipped with voice controls and a camera, making it pretty much the Google Glass of headphones.
The future of wearables
Project N wasn't the only experimental wearable on the scene. Sony's Fashion Entertainment program also showcased its FES Watch. This concept timepiece is made completely out of e-paper from the watch face to the band, which allows it to take on 24 different designs that involve different shades of gray to completely different patterns altogether.
While the current generation prototype looks a bit too plasticky for our liking, Sony had a few second generation concepts that integrated color. Sony is also looking into implementing the same tech into other fashionable accessories, such as necklaces and handbags.
Learn to program the easy way
The Sony Square NYC space wasn't just full of the in-house technology either. A few steps away, the Japanese electronics firm had Mesh, a DIY Internet of Things platform, on display. Designed to let anyone create their own smart-connected home setup, users can tie a button switch to anything from a light to an electronic home gardening setup.
There are also handful of other sensors to detect inputs like motion, orientation, brightness and even ambient conditions, like the temperature and humidity.
Sights and sounds
Now, we're getting into the gadgets you can actually buy, starting with an uncommon entertainment setup.
Instead of having a giant TV, Sony is showing off one of its smallest projectors. Though the Portable Ultra Short Throw Projector (LSPX-P1) is no bigger than a portable Bluetooth speaker, this teeny little thing can throw an 80-inch screen.
On the audio front, Sony slipped in a few of its hybrid speaker LED lights. It might sound complex, but these noisy bulbs actually screw into any old-fashioned fixture with an E26 socket. From there, you could connect your smartphone or other devices to it through Bluetooth to control what it's playing, how it sounds and all the multi-colored lighting fun you expect from a LED light.
Last but not least, we were impressed by Sony's Glass Sound Speaker, which looks like a fancy lantern but in reality is a 360-degree speaker that actually creates crystal clear sound. It's an impressive feat of engineering in that it actually uses the glass tube as a tweeter, while lows come out of the small metal cap on top and there's a two-inch subwoofer located near the base.
Gaming is practically Sony's biggest moneymaker right now, and it's no surprise to see to see a couple of PS4 stations set up along the wall.
Sony has also setup a PlayStation VR station, letting you try out Sony's take on virtual space. It's one of the few places you can actually give PSVR a test drive since it has only recently started popping up at BestBuy and GameStop locations.
And, in case you fancy yourself as a photography buff, Sony is also showing off its latest line of cameras from the smallest RX100 Mark IV to the top dog A7R Mark II. Along the back wall, you'll also find a set of Sony's lenses which you can gawk, touch, use and even rent out for the day.
Don't forget to admire the all the artwork by professional photographers shooting with Sony gear that's been hung on the walls while you're at it.
The show goes on
As we mentioned before, the Sony Square NYC space will officially open to the public on August 4, so head on down to 25 Madison in Manhattan if you get the chance. This also won't be the permanent showcase for long, either.
Steven Fuld, Senior Vice President of Sony Corporate Marketing explained that they plan on changing up the space every four to six weeks with a whole new theme, layout and different products.
- Unfortunately, Sony's latest flagship smartphone isn't as impressive