Gizmodo Australia Goes Inside Sony's Secretive Tokyo Product Centre

Sony's Tokyo HQ houses a floor that's just for product demos. Very cool product demos. For their own strange reasons, Sony's happy for me to write about it — but wouldn't let me take photos, or even tell you what they name it.

Sony's Tokyo headquarters is where all the serious Sony work gets done, but what do you do once you've done the serious work, built the products and need somewhere to demonstrate them? You build a custom floor purely for demonstrating your cool new technology.

When you're Sony, that also includes music, video, security applications and movies. Yesterday, the veil was lifted, and I got a guided tour through Sony's best and brightest. I'd love to show you it. But I can't. Sony insisted no cameras could be brought along. None at all. In fact, the veil of secrecy goes as far as this; I can mention that the floor exists. I can talk about what's on it. But I can't tell you the name that Sony gives it internally, even though they've given me a group photo with the name logo heavily embossed upon it. The official reason is that it's not open to the public at all, and they don't want folks turning up requesting a tour. I think it's safe for me to say that they've spent a lot of money on branding this area that almost nobody will ever see. Truly weird.

So what did I see with my eyes that I can't take photos or video of? As I walk in, I'm pretty much assaulted by a 19m-long display screen — technically four panels together — that houses a rear projection 4K display. That's image quality that more or less tears your eyes off. It's blindingly good. It makes me weep that I'll never be able to afford to replace the walls of my house with such a thing.

Sony showed off 4K 3D projectors — including the trailer for The Amazing Spiderman, which looks OK, although 3D in this case still makes me want to toss my sushi up — in a custom-built cinema space. There's demos of Sony's contactless FeliCa system — used in this robot and this remote control for access to a virtual sports stadium and security room. A demonstration of filming 3D sports, which marks the very first time that 3D hasn't made my head spin — although the camera was fixed with no panning, which may well have made a significant difference.

Not everything is brand new; I also got to see Owen Hoogvliet of the Sony (X) Australia fan group demolish a virtual ping-pong opponent in PS3 Move Sports Champions. The exploded, clear body Playstation 3 just nearby was nice to look at. As was the room filled to the brim with props from the Spider-Man movies. Can you say you've touched one of the Daily Bugle front pages from Spider-Man 2? I can.

It's frustrating and odd; Sony's got a lot of good technology to display, and it's damn annoying that I can't really illustrate it for you.

second image: SMJPP Alex Kidman travelled to Tokyo as a guest of Sony


Comments

    19m long display, really? 1.9m more like

      You think they would only have a 1.9m long rear projection screen (made up of four panels no less) in their demo area!?!

      19m, more like. I was there, it was frigging massive.

      19m long, whatever that is high, four seamless screens side by side with 4k projected onto the rear of it.

      Also, that chick didn't a chance in ping-pong.

    19m long video wall using four screen is probably more likely than 1.9m

    At the start of 2010, 152 inches was the largest panel they could make - http://au.ign.com/videos/2010/01/08/ces-2010-worlds-biggest-flat-screen-152 - that's nearly 4 metres. What's so impressive about 1.9 metres this year then? You're probably right, but I'd probably lean towards 19 metres myself for something to assault my senses. It's would be in the league of Jumbotron or a projection system for concerts etc. At 19 metres each pixel would be just under 5mm, the size of a standard LED.

    did you happen to notice the 4k resolution he mentioned so the pixels would be much smaller than 5mm and i have seen a 15m tv in 3 panels damn huge although it didnt have the 4k resolution

      Yes I did. 19 metres wide divided up into 4096 parts = 0.0046 metres each = 4.6 mm (I rounded it up). I'm not saying 19 metres couldn't exist, especially with a rear projector, just that I wouldn't be particularly impressed by a 1.9m unit. I already have that size with a projector in my lounge. You would have to sit a fair way back from a 19m screen anyway, so the pixel size is relative.

        Idiot! 4K is the vertical resolution, the horizontal resolution is more like 7680 pixels so you can effectively say that each pixel would be about 2mm wide (rounded down). It's also likely that you would be much further away from it that you would in your average lounge

          Really? I'm the idiot? You may want to do a bit of research first before putting your mouth into gear. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4K_resolution In case you're too lazy to click on the link -
          "4K is an emerging standard for resolution in digital film and computer graphics. The name comes from its approximately 4,000 pixels of horizontal resolution. The fact that it describes the horizontal resolution is contrary to the standard resolutions 720p and 1080p, which represent the number of vertical pixels."

          And there are a number of "4k" resolutions, e.g.
          Full Aperture 4K 4096 × 3112
          Academy 4K 3656 × 2664
          Digital cinema 4K 4096 × 1714 Digital cinema 4K 3996 × 2160

          And the name calling really isn't necessary.

          They change these conventions all the time, in the "analogue" days, screen sizes were measured diagonally corner-to-corner, in the digital era we described the resolution based on it's vertical size (actually based on the number of vertical lines and denoted with a p or i, indicating whether those lines are interlaced or progressively displayed), now for no apparent reason they changed it to horizontal (note that it is not 4Kp or 4Ki).

          For what it's worth, the largest screen in the world is currently 61 metres x 24 metres. http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/05/10/6620526-charlotte-motor-speedway-installs-worlds-largest-hdtv

          It's not only the size of these screens which is impressive, it's a feat "just" getting 4k onto a massive screen (let alone 7680), as evidenced by these other large display resolutions - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_video_screens

          I've already said the pixel size is relative and you would need to sit a fair way back. There are diminishing returns though, too far back and the higher resolution is imperceptible from a lower one - http://hd.engadget.com/2006/12/09/1080p-charted-viewing-distance-to-screen-size/. Too close and you would be able to make out the individual pixels to the point of distraction (we actually want to be in that golden zone where we CAN make out the individual pixels for detail). A good rule of thumb is to view from 1.5 times the display screen's diagonal measurement (= 32 degree viewing angle). In Sony's screen, I'd imagine they aren't using square pixels (giving 4:3 ratio) and I assume it is more widescreen, closer to 4k x 2k. That's 21m diagonal, so the optimum viewing distance is about 30 metres. Is your eyesight that good that you would be offended by a 5mm pixel at 30 metres? I think not. It's relatively the same as sitting at arms length from your laptop screen.

            Yes, Drew. No need for name calling. I encourage debate, but I want comments to be constructive please. TO ALL: Please note, KEEP IT CONSTRUCTIVE or don't comment. /end rant, As you were.

            P.S. The Charlotte Speedway screen has
            "...720P high-definition visuals illuminated by more than nine million light emitting diode, or LED, lamps." http://www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/media/news/579168.html

            The aspect ratio looks wrong for 720p though, more like 2.5:1 (200ft x 80ft). I reckon they use a 1080p camera and letterbox or crop it to 720 vertical lines (1920x720 is approx 2.6:1). That makes it nearly 1.4 megapixels. That means about 7 LEDs per pixel (keep in mind the LEDs in the pixels are probably discrete red/green/blue, and more of some colour than others due to the eye's sensitivity). I don't think you'd be making them out individually in a hurry, although I think I see a dead pixel/cluster directly below the third plane's starboard engine at the bottom of the cloud patch :)
            http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/05/10/6620526-charlotte-motor-speedway-installs-worlds-largest-hdtv

            Using Google Earth, go to 35°21'0.88"N 80°40'50.07"W. Based on the photos I measure 80 metres from the screen to the service road where they are set up. That's within the 1 - 1.5x diagonal for optimal viewing distance.

        Also not terribly clear, single 4K projector across all the screens or a 4K projector per screen?

    Is this the one we are talking about?
    http://www.happyjappy.com/tokyo/ginza/the_sony_building_ginza.html
    pretty cool last time I went

      That's their public "showcase" building - this is a floor inside their main Tokyo HQ.

    I thought it was a 19m wall, with 4 panels, with a 4K projector projecting on them?

    It's called 'Sony Square'. There are a couple across the world but it is exceptionally rare that media or public can enter them.

    And it is 19m of screen. Left to right. All of it 4K.

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