In a move that not a single soul in the world saw coming, electronics and video game conglomerate Sony took the stage at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show and unveiled not another video game console (it did that earlier), but instead, a full-fledged concept car packed to the gills with its latest battery-electric and connected-car technology. Wowza.
Nearing the end of its on-stage event at CES, CEO Kenichiro Yoshida spoke about the company’s involvement in the automotive market. Specifically, he talked about the imaging and sensing technologies that Sony has developed and could one day be used by vehicle manufacturers for their upcoming high-tech rides. Shortly thereafter, Yoshida announced that Sony would be “accelerating” its efforts toward technology developed for the automotive market and brought out the hard, physical proof: a concept car it dubbed “Vision-S”.
Yoshida claimed that Sony developed the concept to “deepen [its] understanding of cars”; a technology which he claims is a “new entertainment space”. And the Vision-S concept is definitely a suitable space for entertainment, if a car could be called that.
Immediately noticeable is a dashboard clad with a large panoramic screen, similar to the 49-inch display found in Byton’s vehicles. Sony claims that this will be the center of the vehicle’s entertainment, and a collection of multimedia is shown in the center and in front of the passenger. The presentation also talks about Sony’s “360 Reality Audio”, something which claims to place passengers into an immersive audio experience while in the comfort of their car—we will be the judges of that.
Not much else is mentioned about the concept, though there are a few things that caught our eyes. First are the camera-driven side mirrors, something which undoubtedly is used to showcase a few of Sony’s CMOS imaging sensors. The images appear to be broadcasted to small screens on either side of the massive dashboard display. On the exterior of the vehicle, a single beam of light accents the front grille and flows neatly across a very Porsche Taycan/Tesla Model S/VW ID.3-inspired front bumper. Lastly, a beautiful panoramic glass roof seals the deal, creating a modern piece of art.
Yoshida specifically gives special thanks to Magna Steyr for its engineering help on designing the concept. Magna is the same Austrian engineering firm that currently manufacturers the Toyota Supra, BMW Z4, Jaguar I-Pace, Mercedes-Benz G-Class, and several other luxury vehicles. The Drive reached out to Magna with questions on its role in the development of the concept and will report back if and when we hear from the company.
A screen from the presentation also reveals other partners who helped in the vehicle development, including Bosch, Continental, and Nvidia.
We’re not sure if Sony plans to actually market this vehicle in any way, though it’s doubtful considering the CEO’s commentary on the concept being designed to further the company’s understanding of the automotive supplier market. Perhaps as we move closer to a more connected-car future, where your home, car, and cell-phone all talk to one another harmoniously, as well as car-to-car communication, the electronics giant is instead looking to break into a market not yet capitalized on, though we certainly have a long way to go before that becomes reality.
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