Sony prototypes directional sound headphones at SXSW

Sony Concept NThe big brands are getting into the act with futuristic headphones. At SXSW, Sony’s new Future Lab division unveiled a prototype of directional headphones, a new approach to personal listening that eliminates over-ear and in-ear sound. The Concept N headphones have a bar worn around the neck with multidirectional speakers that allows the wearer to hear background noises or have a conversation while the music plays. It does come with optional earpieces that connect to the neck band, but the sound doesn’t pump directly into the ear.

The Verge’s test run of the product in Austin was positive, with the reviewer noting a good balance between audio clarity from the directional sound while letting the white noise of the event filter through. However, they did run into trouble using the N’s voice controls at the crowded conference.

Although the Sony device was just a prototype, we’re been seeing ideas in the same vein emerging out of Kickstarter projects. LG also had a similar directional sound Bluetooth headset on display at CES earlier this year. Especially with the trends toward mobile listening, smarter and better headphone innovations are likely to continue.

Anna Washenko