For parents tired of nagging their kids about sitting too close to the television, Sony says its new 3-D television will do it for you.
A camera sensor built into the television’s bottom bezel, just below the Sony logo, detects if a child comes within one meter, or about 40 inches. After a couple of seconds, an alarm is triggered and the screen will go dark, displaying a message telling the child to back away.
How can the television tell the difference between a child and the child’s nearsighted grandfather moving closer for a better look?
A Sony spokesman says the technology behind the sensor is similar to one used in the company’s Cyber-shot digital cameras. Using an algorithm and geometrical data, the sensor is able to determine whether it’s a child or adult standing in front of the TV.
This feature, which is called the Intelligent Presence Sensor, will only be available in Sony’s upcoming 3-D televisions, and the feature works in both 2-D mode and 3-D mode. So far, Sony has announced the new 3-D television will debut in Japan on June 10 and it is expected to launch globally at nearly the same time.
It won’t come cheap. A 46-inch LCD television will sell for about 350,000 yen (nearly $3,900) although it will likely sell for cheaper in the U.S.
It’s not the first time Sony has incorporated sensors into its televisions. Previous LCD televisions have come with an energy-saving feature using an infrared sensor to automatically turn off the TV if there was no motion or body heat in the TV’s vicinity after a period of time set by the user.
Sony has taken that feature one step further with this new sensor.
The sensor detects when a viewer is not looking at the screen. If after 10 minutes (or whatever pre-set time the user decides), the person is still not looking at the screen, the television screen goes darker to save on energy.
After an additional 30 minutes of the person not looking at the screen, the TV will turn itself off. However, if at any point during this time, the person starts looking at the screen again, the TV returns to its regular illumination.
One more thing this sensor does is find out where people are sitting in relation to the television. For example, if a viewer is not sitting directly in front of the set and is off to the side, the television detects that and funnels the audio in that direction.