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Sony Electronics is announcing that it will create its first Future Lab Program in San Francisco, where it will share product concept prototypes with users so that it can get feedback and co-create “future lifestyles.”

Sony will take the somewhat daring step of showing prototypes that are being cooked up at Sony research and development labs. It is now recruiting participants in what it calls the Open Innovation program, targeting its first concept prototype, dubbed “N.” The prototype is a wearable device that you put around your neck.

For a fee of $100, users can participate in the program, which Sony says is based on “an open creative environment and direct lines of communication with society.”

Applicants can sign up to join after they’ve seen the prototypes, which will be available on an invite-only basis. All applicants have to agree to Future Lab Program N’s terms and conditions.

Participants will be asked to use the concept prototype throughout the program period, and their feedback will be collected from questionnaires, interviews, and meet-up events and used to further research and development.

For those who want to peer inside Sony’s R&D labs, this program could be a lot of fun. Sony said that the Concept prototype N represents a new, unencumbered way to experience audio, with a hands-free and open-ear interactive interface for accessing music and audio information. It was unveiled for the first time in March at SXSW Interactive 2016.

Concept N is a neckband-style wearable device, with open speakers. It responds to voice prompts and has no earpiece. It also delivers a personalized radio service.


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