Yesterday evening, Sony Mobile Germany invited to its NEXT Showroom in Munich where the former Sony Ericsson division showed its current line-up of 2012 Xperia Android smartphones. Beside showing the Xperia S, Xperia P and Xperia U, which Sony announced back in February at the Mobile World Congress, the most interesting new device was the the Xperia sola, which wasn't on display in Barcelona but was announced a little bit after. The Xperia sola's highlight, which makes it yet very unique, is Sony's new "Floating Touch" display technology, which allows to navigate the web by hovering the thumb above the screen so it acts like a moving curser, without actually having to touch the screen.
Other than that, the Xperia sola is pretty much a mid-range Android phone, which features Android 2.3 and is powered by a 1 GHz dual-core CPU. The sola supports quadband GSM/GPRS/EDGE as well as quadband UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA, WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth and even NFC. The 3.7" Reality Display touchscreen is powered by Sony's Mobile BRAVIA Engine while xLOUD and 3D surround sound audio technology delivering crisp and loud sound. Furthermore it comes with fast capture to take the 5 megapixel 720p HD camera from sleep to snap in a little over a second with a single key press.
As demonstrated above, floating touch allows to navigate the web by hovering the thumb above the screen. Floating touch enables the phone to register a finger up to 20 mm above the screen. This makes it possible to detect not only the screen coordinates that the finger is pointing at, but also the finger's distance from the screen. This works quite well but it needs some training first to get used to not touch the display. Nevertheless, this is very handy feature for full size web pages where it can be hard to touch the right link but floating touch allows to select the link prior touching it. Another handy feature of floating touch is that it can be also used with gloves. There's no further need for special gloves in the winter.
At the moment, floating touch is only supported with Sony's original web browser, all other apps, including the home screen navigation, are not yet supported by floating touch. However, as Sony told me, the SDK is out an available for third party developers which might want to enhance their apps with floating touch technology.
Nevertheless, it's not yet known if floating touch will become a Xperia-wide standard for future Xperia phones or if is yet just a technology showcase.
Cheers ~ Arne