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

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

Sony’s aging Cybershot DSC-HX99 gets a second life thanks to the QD Laser’s retinal projection electronic viewfinder. // Source: Sony and QD Laser

Sony is committed to helping the visually impaired. On Monday March 13, the Japanese manufacturer announced the DSC-HX99 RNV, a new compact camera… or almost. Ce nouveau produit ne vise pas cependant à replacer les tres populares RX100 de la marque: composé d’un vieil appareil photo de 2018 et d’un viseur électronique laser dernier cri, ce duo doit permettre aux personnes atteintes de problemes de visions de faire de the photograph.

This device was developed as part of the project “ with my eyesfrom Sony, created in 2020 in partnership with the Japanese laser semiconductor brand QD Laser, recalls the informative site Engadget.

Projects the image directly onto the retina.

As a reminder, visual impairment is different from blindness: people with it see, but in a limited way. This implies, therefore, daily difficulties in reading or writing, orienting oneself in space or moving. The most common cases are related to errors in the refraction of light or cataracts.

Therefore, to circumvent these problems, the DSC-HX99 RNV was developed. Although this product has just been released, half of its 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″ photosensor with 18-megapixel definition, built-in image stabilization, and a lens whose focal length ranges from 24mm to 720mm (x28 ). One of the smallest compact travel zoom models in the world at the time of its launch, according to the specialized media digital photography review .

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 “retinal laser projection“. Specifically, the light captured by the camera’s sensor is diffused directly onto the user’s retina through tiny lasers that pass through their eye. Thisviewfinderthus avoiding the difficulties of the eyes of the visually impaired by doing the work for them.

See every day better… in 720p

If this technology has already existed for several years, it is the “first time in the worldput into practice in a consumer product, according to QD Laser CEO Mitsuru Sugawara. Thanks to this next-generation electronic viewfinder, all the camera’s functions become accessible to the visually impaired, from autofocus to burst mode. Above all, the DSC-HX99 RNV enables people with low vision to observe their surroundings on a daily basis, even without attempting to photograph. And even from afar, thanks to the HX99’s 28x zoom.

However, not everything is perfect. Sony recognizes that the proper functioning of the product will depend on the type of visual impairment of the users. Similarly, the definition transmitted by the Retissa Neoviewer is limited to 720p and its battery, to be charged separately from the camera, only lasts approximately 4 hours according to the manufacturer’s website. A problem if you want to use the kit for your daily view.

State-of-the-art technology that remains accessible

But Sony does have the credit of marketing the DSC-HX99 RNV at a price that remains affordable, absorbing most of the production costs: the kit will launch in early summer 2023 in the United States and will sell for $600, against about 500 dollars. only for the HX99. Good news, especially for high-end technology that isn’t meant to be sold on a large scale.

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