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 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.
Nvidia has announced plans to produce its own hand-held video-games console, Project Shield.
Nvidia Project Shield is Android-based and marries a 5 in (12.7 cm) touch-screen with joysticks, buttons and other controls, in a clam-shell design.
It is also designed to link to PCs offering access to more powerful games such as those on the Steam library.
The announcement was a surprise, as the US company has previously focused on selling chips and graphics cards to other manufacturers.
Intel, another chip manufacturer, is also reportedly working on its own device – a television set-top box.
Nvidia’s announcement came at the first major press conference of 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
The company’s chief executive, Jen-Hsun Huang, did not reveal a release date or price for the device, but he did show off a working prototype and outline its specifications.
The console is bigger than an Xbox controller but smaller than the Wii U’s game-pad.
Its screen resolution is 720p, but the machine is capable of playing out games and video in the 4k standard – which offers eight times the detail – on compatible TVs via an HDMI cable.
At its heart is the firm’s new quad-core Tegra 4 chip – which Jen-Hsun Huang described as the fastest mobile processor on the market.
As well as keys representing the standard Android commands, the console also sports a “shield” button that takes users to a curated games store featuring titles selected from the Google Play marketplace. However, it can also be used to run other types of apps – Jen-Hsun Huang gave music players and Facebook as two examples.
Nvidia Project Shield is Android-based and marries a 5 in touch-screen with joysticks, buttons and other controls, in a clam-shell design
Using Wi-Fi it can also be paired with a computer containing one of Nvidia’s GeForce video cards to run PC games. In this case the desktop computer’s processors power the software, offering higher quality graphics than could be rendered by the mobile processor.
Jen-Hsun Huang boasted that “latency was so short it was as if you are connected to the PC” – playing down potential concerns that this kind of set-up might involve a delay between a user pressing a button on the console and the connected PC registering the command.
A demonstration involving titles from Valve’s Steam PC platform appeared to bear this out.
However, to avoid such latency issues, users will only be able to connect the console to a PC on the same home network – although Jen-Hsun Huang said it was an ambition to allow them to go “beyond the house” with future devices.
Nvidia’s move takes advantage of the growing number of games being released for the Android and Windows operating systems without it having to develop its own ecosystem – as is the case with the PlayStation, Wii and Xbox families.
However, it will have to convince consumers that they need a dedicated portable gaming console in addition to their other computing devices.
Earlier this year Sony had to cut sales forecasts for its PlayStation Vita hand-held – analysts linked the news to the growth of gaming on smartphones and tablets.
In addition, one industry watcher suggested Nvidia’s move would prove controversial with hardware makers that currently use its chips.
“It is a bit of a reach for Nvidia as it does not typically involve itself much with the end-user,” said Josh Walrath from the PC Perspective tech site.
“They normally have partners in between. So by doing such a thing you do have to wonder if they’re going to alienate any of their really close partners, and if they have the ability to get consumers to buy into it.”
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
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.