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ces 2013

Sony has unveiled Xperia Z, a new smartphone that can be used in the shower or bath without the risk of damage.

This water-resistant feature is relatively common in Japan, but has not been included in many top-end smartphones released elsewhere.

The Xperia Z can also record HDR (high dynamic range) video, a facility borrowed from its camera division.

One analyst said it was evidence of Sony Mobile making progress but added “it still had a mountain to climb”.

The Japanese company announced it was taking control of the smartphone unit – which had previously been a joint venture with Ericsson – in October 2011.

Sony posted a full-year loss of 56.7 billion yen ($5.7 billion) in May and has continued to lose money over subsequent quarters.

Android-powered Xperia Z was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Sony has unveiled bath-friendly Xperia Z at 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

Sony has unveiled bath-friendly Xperia Z at 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

Sony says the handset, which has a 5 in (12.7 cm) screen, is capable of being submerged in water of up to one metre (3.3 ft) in depth for 30 minutes.

“If you want to want to sit in the bath and watch an HD movie this is the device for you,” said Steve Walker, Sony Mobile executive.

“You can take it in the shower if you want, or more usefully if you get it dirty you can wash it under the tap.”

He added that about one in 10 people had dropped their phone down a toilet at some point, something this would protect against.

The trade-off is that handset’s various ports, including the one for its headphones, all feature protective plastic covers that must be unclipped before they can be accessed.

Other features on the 7.9 mm-thick (0.3 in) device include 4G LTE connectivity, a Micro SD slot, a 13 megapixel camera and a 1080p x 1920p high-definition screen that borrows technology from the firm’s Bravia TV division to enhance video playback.

In addition a NFC (near field communication) chip is used to start streaming content to Sony’s latest televisions by tapping the handset against their remote controls.

The firm also boasts that the device includes its proprietary Exmor RS image sensor technology, allowing it to record HDR video.

This allows it to combine exposure readings to tackle problematic situations such when a person is standing against a bright background; Sony says that without HDR either the person’s face looks too dark or the background too light.

Nvidia’s latest Tegra chip can also do this but has not been built into a handset yet.

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Toyota has given a taste of self-drive car safety technology ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on January 8-11, 2013.

Toyota revealed a video clip of a Lexus fitted with safety features designed to minimize car crashes.

The technology includes on-board radar and video cameras to monitor the road, the surroundings, and the driver.

The car can also communicate with other vehicles, according to a Toyota spokesman.

“We’re looking at a car that would eliminate crashes,” said the spokesman.

“Zero-collisions is our ultimate aim.”

The video shows a prototype Lexus LS fitted with what Toyota’s described as an “Intelligent Transport Systems” (ITS) technology.

Toyota has given a taste of self-drive car safety technology ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show 2013 in Las Vegas

Toyota has given a taste of self-drive car safety technology ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show 2013 in Las Vegas

The “advanced active safety research vehicle” prototype uses ITS and existing Toyota technology to monitor whether the driver is awake, to keep the car on the road, and to stop at traffic signals. The technology is designed to be used in conjunction with a driver, but the car can control itself, said the spokesman.

“Not the Jetsons yet, but our advanced active safety research car is leading the industry into a new automated era,” Toyota said in a Tweet on Thursday.

Toyota has also developed technology that lets a car communicate with a driver’s smartphone to offer augmented reality features. This would let the car know about places by the road letting it, for example. recommend an upcoming restaurant, said the spokesman.

Toyota is one of several heavy-weight car manufacturers and technology companies researching autonomous vehicles.

Audi is due to demonstrate a self-parking car at CES, the Wall Street Journal said on Friday.

Google was awarded an autonomous car patent in 2011, and secured a Nevada driving licence for its self-drive car in May 2012. In the same month Volvo tested a self-drive convoy on a Spanish motorway.

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