Last week I visited Sony’s head office in Tokyo, with the Sony Middle East & Africa team. You would have already seen some of my posts on social media. This just a round up blog post of the two days I spent with Sony in Japan. We were not allowed to take photos and videos at various places so these will do.
We stayed at a hotel nearby to Sony’s HQ in Minato so it was a quick ride in the morning without having to worry about traffic. First impressions of Tokyo – people on the streets are always walking in an orderly fashion, in a straight line most evident just outside the Sony offices.
As you can see the Jumanji promotional stuff at the foyer.. for those who are not aware, the company has various divisions like Sony Mobile, Sony Pictures, Sony Music, etc. We got to see really cool movie related props inside but alas no photos.
When it comes to technology, entertainment, audio etc, the company says they create products that never existed before, like the Walkman, CD Player, MiniDisc, PlayStation, Aibo (the original robotic dog from 1999), and Bluray recorder. Others that come to mind regarding “firsts” are the waterproof smartphone (Xperia Z); and 960fps slo-mo in full HD, and 4K HDR recording, both of which can be found on the Xperia XZ2.
Sony has various zones for testing products at its offices, such as a haptics room where features found on the XZ2 were tested, like the Dynamic Vibration System that enhances certain features like in music and video; or on the DualShock controllers for the PS4.
It’s not something just anyone can try, well if you have a heart condition, you could not participate. We had a jacket strapped with sensors put on to experience the effects but not for extended periods of time. Honestly, I doubt I would have managed for anything longer than I tried. However, it was pretty cool to experience it this way, and to get a better understanding of what tests Sony does when they put features like this into their products.
For those who have the XZ2, you can enable the Dynamic Vibration System if you’d like to get a feel for it; not on the scale as above obviously. I have not used this feature as I don’t think I’m the target market, or I’m just old. In general, my device vibrations are set to the minimum.
Another section we go to experience was the “warp room” that is equipped with short throw projectors for other tests. Some of the stuff that gets tested in here don’t make it to production. It’s also a place corporates can use to try products.
We were told Sony co-creates solutions for businesses here and there isn’t always a final product. It’s for games, simulation, or real world solutions for companies. For example, 5G testing was done here using Google Maps to test for speed. As you can see above, we also played around on Google Maps street view of various attractions. It was projected on all four walls, side by side.
The last experience zone we got to try was AR hockey that mixes reality with augmented reality using a 1000fps high-speed vision sensor. It collects data, tracks speed, points etc and at one point, I couldn’t determine if I was hitting the actual game piece or the AR one, when it was sped up. The heat map is created by all the players and points tallied at the end.
There were loads of products on display, sort of like a museum of Sony’s products filled with robotic dogs, headphones, TVs, cameras, projectors, phones, speakers etc. It was a lot to take in. We tried the new Sony Alpha 9 camera very briefly; the mirrorless camera that captures 20 frames per second. My favourite two products I saw here was a glass speaker and a 4K HDR projector that didn’t even look like a projector.
Other stuff that we got to see were behind the scenes video recorders on a football pitch, Sony audio systems in a car, a TV that projects sound from itself, i.e. no additional sound bar – amazing, and gaming related stuff. Although some of the stuff isn’t new, like Remote Play, but it was the first time I tried it successfully (I tried it at home – unsuccessfully).
Our tour ended at Sony Music. Here we got a peek into the studios were albums are recorded, going two floors down into the basement where there is not even cellphone reception, lol! As expected, sound quality in here was top notch, where music was played from an Xperia XZ2 handset. Imagine, there’s a whole world of tech out there that I know nothing about. It felt a bit intimidating being surrounded by all this amazing tech but not quite knowing how it all works, for a change.
Our tour included bits of Tokyo, such as the popular Shibuya Crossing. There’s like five different points to cross from and it’s really busy here when the traffic lights change. Quite the experience.
We were also taken to Harajuku to experience Japanese culture…
— Nafisa Akabor 👩🏻💻 (@nafisa1) April 25, 2018
Sony also equipped us with the brand new Xperia Ear Duo wireless earpieces. It pairs on both Android and iOS, which is rather cool. We used them on our tour on day 2, including a tour of Happo-en gardens in the evening. It was used to create an ambience in the gardens, providing sounds of birds etc but also allowed us to hear our tour guide. They look futuristic but I found it a bit difficult to put on without a mirror/selfie cam.
Thank you for showing me your home town, Sony!
A time lapse of Electric Town Akihabara in Tokyo:
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 15 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org