Back in March, Sony announced a mysterious Future Lab Program, meant to be a playground where they can share ideas, concepts, and barely-fleshed-out products with users to get feedback and figure out what changes to make and what projects to nix. When Sony announced the launch of the program, they also teased a neck-worn wearable called N. Although Sony's N concept wearable does not feature an ear-worn component, the device was shown taking commands by voice and serving up music. On Thursday, Sony announced that the first pilot of the Future Lab Program, featuring the in-development N wearable, will be landing in sunny San Francisco soon.
Although the N unit is still in its earliest stages of development, Sony will begin accepting applications to be part of the Future Lab Program N on September 1st. Applicants will be given a survey about how they use technology in their daily lives, along with a few opinion questions, and basic qualifiers. Should a user pass muster, they will be invited to an event (the dates of which have not yet been announced) where they can try out N in its prototype form. From there, if they wish, they can shell out $100 for a prototype N unit, which they will be required to use on a daily basis for a variety of tasks, while adhering to the terms and conditions for the program.
Participants in the program will be required to pair up N with a qualifying smartphone, have a Facebook account, and have a PC at home with USB 2.0 or better on board. During the trial period, Sony will periodically reach out to the user for comments and answers to questions about the product. Users will also be invited to special meetups in San Francisco where they will be able to chat with other users and Sony employees about the product, sharing experiences and suggestions. The rule list for participants is a bit on the strict side; you cannot sue Sony for any reason, and if a prototype is lost or stolen, another will not be provided. On top of that, participants will not get to keep the prototypes, and Sony has not announced anything along the lines of participants getting a price break or free unit upon commercial launch, if one does happen. For now, you will have to live locally to participate and must go to the meetups to share your opinion, though Sony's website for the Program states that they will accept remote feedback at a future date. Once it begins, the Future Lab Program N will run until August of 2017.