Earphones, but without the ears bit: say hello to Sony’s latest crazy concept

An AI-powered assistant and your favourite tunes, piped right into your skull - without blocking the outside world

So it makes sound, but doesn’t go in your ears - that’s just a speaker, right?

Don’t panic - the Xperia Ear open-style concept won’t blast out your tunes for the world to hear. Your secret love of One Direction can stay a secret.

These bizarre-looking buds look set to use bone induction instead, vibrating the outer bits of your ear to make music but leaving your lug holes otherwise unobstructed. Only you can hear it, but you’ll still be able to listen to the outside world as well.

That means you’ll be able to hear traffic coming, and cross the road safely instead of ending up in the back of an ambulance. Or at least that's what we're guessing it'll do - Sony doesn't want to talk specifics just yet.

Not exactly new, though, is it?

Nope, this kind of audio tech has been around for a while. Sony could be one of the first to stick it in a pair of wireless buds that aren’t tethered to each other, though. That should make ‘em comfy enough to wear all the time, even if doing so will make you look like a serious hipster try-hard.

The real reason you’ll want to keep one locked around your ear, though? It’s also packing an AI assistant that’ll help keep your life on track.

Like J.A.R.V.I.S. from Iron Man? Tell me more.

Slow down, Tony Stark - this isn’t going to be quite that clever, and certainly won’t have you forming a superhero supergroup any time soon. Unless the PRs have lied to us.

It’ll basically do the same job as Sony’s Xperia Ear, letting you know when you’ve got appointments or meetings, what the weather will be like before you leave the house, pipe in with directions when you’re walking somewhere, or recording reminders when you don’t have a pen handy.

Sony is being seriously light on detail right now, so we’re not sure if it’ll do anything more exciting. Things like battery life are a mystery too, although the tiny charging pins on the bottom mean we can at least rule out needing an endless supply of AA batteries to keep both buds powered up.

Are these things actually going to get made, then?

Hmm, tough one. Sony’s put a few of its other concepts into production recently, including the Xperia Touch smart projector, so isn’t afraid to put something a bit wacky on sale.

These earphones should borrow a lot of underlying hardware from the Xperia Ear, too - so it wouldn’t be too tricky to start churning them out on a grand scale. Still, we’ve only seen a mockup so far - not a working model.

If there’s enough interest, we could well be seeing them graduate to “real thing you can actually buy” - but there’s no clue when it might happen.