Sony launches Xperia Ear in-ear assistant (and Bluetooth earpiece)

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When we think of wearable tech we’re usually looking down at our wrists. Sony’s newly-launched-in-South-Africa Xperia Ear wants to have you thinking of your ears instead. It also wants to make you think of different ways to interact with your phone.

The Xperia Ear looks enough like an old-fashioned Bluetooth headset to make us wary about wearing one but the lightweight little unit contains so much more than a self-important conversation in the most public place possible. You can do that if you really want to but you can also control a large swathe of your phone’s functions using the built-in voice assistant.

It’s possible to make and receive calls, using nothing but your voice, but notifications from apps (like Gmail, WhatsApp, Twitter, or Hangouts) will also be read out. Even better, you can reply to these notifications using your voice. The Xperia Ear has a customisable set of startup messages, which will read out the date, time, appointments, news headlines and weather, if you want it to. It’ll also call you by name, if that’s what you’d like. Any name the digital assistant can pronounce, that is. Use this power wisely.

Stuff has had a brief live demonstration, where we saw the earpiece take voice commands, dialling the connected phone (in case you lose your phone) and replying to WhatsApp and SMS messages using nothing but voice interaction. The demo was impressive but it is still difficult to quantify what the Xperia Ear can do without actually using it. As it happens, we’ll have a review up soon so stay tuned for that.

If you’re not planning on waiting, Takealot is the sole place where you can get one of Sony’s new in-ear assistants. They went on sale today and they’re retailing for R2,499 but stocks are currently limited to just 200 units. Sony are testing the waters, so to speak, so they’re expecting first adopters and the highly tech-conscious to make up their first customers.

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