Sony has figured out what to do with its old compact cameras

Japanese companies Sony and QD Laser announced a new camera kit for the visually impaired on Monday, March 13. Combining an old 30x zoom compact model with an electronic viewfinder equipped with the latest generation lasers, the DSC-HX99 RNV projects the image directly onto the user’s retina. A first on the market.

Sony’s old Cybershot DSC-HX99 is given a second life thanks to QD Laser’s electronic viewfinder with retina projection. // Source: Sony and QD Laser

Sony is committed to helping the blind and visually impaired. On Monday, March 13, the Japanese manufacturer made the DSC-HX99 NVR, a new compact camera… or almost. However, this new product is not intended to replace the brand’s very popular RX100: this duo, consisting of an old camera from 2018 and a state-of-the-art electronic laser viewfinder, should enable people with vision problems to take pictures.

This device was developed as part of the project ” With my eyes” by Sony, founded in 2020 in partnership with the Japanese laser semiconductor brand QD Laser, recalls the information site engaged.

Project the image directly onto the retina

As a reminder, the visually impaired differs from blindness: people who suffer from it see, but to a limited extent. This therefore implies daily difficulties in reading or writing, in orienting in space or in moving around. The most common cases are related to errors in light refraction or cataracts.

It is therefore to avoid these problems that the DSC-HX99 NVR is developed. Although this product has just been released, half of the components are 5 years old. This kit first consists of a Sony Cybershot DSC-HX99 released in 2018. This device has a 1/2.3″ photo sensor with 18 megapixel definition, integrated image stabilization and a lens whose focal length varies from 24 mm to 720 mm (x28). According to the specialized media, one of the smallest compact travel zoom models in the world at the time of release Review digital photography .

The novelty is rather in the electronic viewfinder that equips the product: the Retissa Neoviewer, developed by QD Laser. This tool uses a technology called “laser projection on the retinaSpecifically, the light captured by the camera’s sensor is diffused directly onto the user’s retina via tiny lasers that cross his eye. Thisview finderthus circumvents the difficulties of the eyes of the visually impaired by doing the work for them.

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See better every day… in 720p

If this technology has been around for several years, it is the “first time in the worldthat it will be put into practice in a consumer product, said Mitsuru Sugawara, CEO of QD Laser. This new generation electronic viewfinder makes all camera functions accessible to the visually impaired, from autofocus to burst mode. In addition, the DSC-HX99 RNV enables the visually impaired to observe their surroundings on a daily basis, even without attempting to shoot. And even from afar, thanks to the HX99’s x28 zoom lens.

However, not everything is perfect. Sony recognizes that the proper functioning of the product depends on the type of visual impairment of users. Likewise, the resolution broadcast by the Retissa Neoviewer is limited to 720p and the battery, which must be charged separately from the camera, only lasts about 4 hours, according to the manufacturer’s website. A problem if you want to use the kit for your daily vision.

State-of-the-art technology that remains accessible

But Sony has the merit of bringing the DSC-HX99 RNV to the market at a price that remains accessible and absorbs most of the production costs: the kit will be released in the United States in early summer 2023 and will retail for $600, at about $500 for the HX99 alone. Good news, especially for advanced technology that is not intended to be sold on a large scale.

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