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Initiatives

We strive for a society where everyone shares the moment, pursuing initiatives such as inclusive design that deliver new experiential value.

Realizing inclusive design

A New TV Remote Control Created Based on the Voices of a Variety of Customers

Sony has worked hard to add unique accessibility functions to its TVs, including screen reader functions, closed caption /subtitles and text magnification. We are currently placing additional emphasis on intuitive and comfortable functions that can be enjoyed by all users. In the development process, we conduct user research and testing and listen to the voices and needs of those involved. Our new remote control for TVs*1 reflects these customer needs and offers a new level of user comfort.

  • *1The remote control is being introduced to the market in stages starting in spring 2022, and availability will vary depending on the product series, country, and region.

A New Way to Experience Strolling Along the Streets that Evolved Through Co-Creation

Soundscape, an application that uses 3D audio technology to help people enjoy walking around town and navigate unfamiliar places more comfortably, and Sony's LinkBuds, truly wireless headphones that allow people to hear their surroundings without blocking their ears. We interviewed*1 Jarnail Chudge of the Microsoft Soundscape team and Hiroshi Ito of Sony's headphone product planning team about their feels and the lessons they learned through the collaboration, and their thoughts on inclusive design*2.

  • *1This article is an interview between two key men who looked back on the collaboration between LinkBuds and Soundscape released in February 2022.
  • *2Inclusive design stresses inclusivity by embracing a diversity of product users, including those with disabilities, as shared understanding is incorporated into the design process.

Making Everyone Smile via Inclusive Design

In an effort to try various approaches to realize a future where anyone can share in the excitement, the design team at the Sony Group worked together with people with visual impairments to develop, from scratch, a game called "XR Catch." What exactly is this game all about? What kind of impact did the process of creating this game have on the team? We interviewed Teruhiro Nakagawa, Takaaki Shirai, and Ippei Tambata, who is a Design Producer at Creative Center.

Sony's LinkBuds and Microsoft Soundscape empower richer experience to explore surroundings

Microsoft Soundscape is an application that uses spatial audio technology to help you get around and explore your surroundings. Sony's truly wireless headphones "LinkBuds" enables users to hear ambient sound naturally at all times. The collaboration of Sony and Microsoft provides an innovative and natural experience for audio navigation.

We have received very positive feedback from people with visual impairments who have tried the combination of LinkBuds and Soundscape, with the expectation for more enjoyable lives.

LinkBuds is Sony's truly wireless headphones. The newly-developed ring driver unit for audio transparency allows users to enjoy music or games while listening to the surroundings naturally. Compass/gyro sensors inside the headphones can detect the direction of a user's head and allow them to hear Soundscape's sound, such as audio beacons from destination and callouts of building names, from the direction where they are, so users can grasp their environment intuitively.

The collaboration of Sony's LinkBuds and Microsoft Soundscape allows users to enjoy exploring their surroundings by hearing audio navigation and natural ambient sounds at the same time, without being distracted by the screen of your smartphone.

  • *Users must continue to observer their surroundings when using Soundscape app with this product.
    Microsoft Soundscape is not designed, intended, or made available for diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of diseases and for use as a mobility aid or medical device; and is not designed or intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or judgement and should not be used to replace or as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or judgement.

Initiatives to incorporate customer feedback into products

To ensure that its products and services can be used by as many people as possible, including people with disabilities, the Sony Group conducts interviews and usability tests with people with disabilities during the planning and development process, and reflects the results in its products and services.

Hands-on experiences for people with visual impairments

Each year, the TV segment provides opportunities for people with disabilities to experience our products firsthand with a view to improving accessibility. In 2020, we held a hands-on experience event online for customers with visual impairments.

We listened to a wide range of opinions about the ease of obtaining information on accessibility, as well as the voice control and text-to-speech functions installed on TVs, and worked together with participants to consider ways to improve accessibility.

A hands-on experience session
Cooperation with Organizations of People with Disabilities

The Sony Group has established regular dialogs with organizations of people with disabilities in order to further improve the usability of Sony products and services. Sony North America and Sony Europe, in cooperation with organizations for people with visual and hearing impairments, are engaged in various activities to proactively incorporate the opinions of people with disabilities. Examples include usability tests aimed at product improvements and working with people with visual impairments on product display stand prototypes equipped with Braille and audio guides.

Inclusive Design Initiatives at SXSW

Sony took part in SXSW (South by Southwest) 2019, the world's largest creative business festival in Austin, Texas, in March 2019.
Sony showcased its new initiative on inclusive design by presenting the experiential exhibit “CAVE without a LIGHT.”

Using Technology to Overcome Disabilities: Our Challenge to Develop Prosthetic Limbs

Dr. Ken Endo of the Sony Computer Science Laboratories (Sony CSL) focuses on three main areas of research related to prosthetic limbs: 1) robotic legs that come closer to emulating human gait using motors to reproduce ankle and knee functions; 2) affordable, locally manufactured prosthetic limbs for developing countries where there are many people with lower limb disabilities, such as India, where he was posted; and 3) competition prosthetics to support athletes.
Dr. Endo dreams of seeing an athlete with a prosthetic limb running just as fast, or faster, than an athlete without a disability in sprint races. If that happens, it will completely revolutionize the future of disabled sports. This fitness prosthetic research raises the possibility of creating technology that can boost athletes' potential beyond their natural capacities, whether they have disabilities or not. In this way, technology might eliminate the line between "abled" and "disabled" almost entirely. With this vision in mind, Dr. Endo carries out his research each day.

Promotion Activities

Participation in "With My Eyes" Project Expands Support for People with Low Vision

The "With My Eyes" project aims to change "difficult to see" into "visible" for people with low vision. The number of people with low vision is estimated at 250 million*1 worldwide and 1.45 million*2 in Japan. Sony aims to support the creative motivation of all creators and deeply supports this project, which expands opportunities for people with low vision to demonstrate their creativity by utilizing imaging technology. QD Laser's "RETISSA®*3 SUPER CAPTURE" laser retina projection device can be attached to Sony cameras, allowing people with low vision to shoot video and still images with their own eyes.
In Part 3 of this project, a Paralympic swimmer with low vision traveled and enjoyed seeing the ocean with the camera, discovering the size of the ocean and the colorful world under it, and thinking about "seeing".

  • *1From GLOBAL DATA ON VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS 2010 published by the WHO (World Health Organization)
  • *2From the report of the Research Team of the Japan Ophthalmologists Association 2006-2008
  • *3RETISSA is a registered trademark or trademark of QD Laser, Inc.

Support Social Participation among People with Visual Impairments by training Eye Mate Guide Dogs

Sony Life Insurance Co., Ltd. encourages its employees to participate in social contribution activities. As one of these activities, the company has been selling Eye Mate charity goods and collecting Eye Mate donations every year since fiscal 1997, with the aim of supporting social participation among people with visual impairments.
We donate all proceeds arising from mediated sales other than the purchase price. Our fund-raising activities use a matching gift method whereby the company matches the amounts donated by employees during the year, and the donations are presented to the Eye Mate Inc.*1, an incorporated public interest foundation that fosters Eye Mates.
In fiscal 2020, donations from all employees amounted to approximately ¥7.05 million. Together with the special matching donation from the company, the total amounted to ¥14.1 million. Sony Life Insurance has donated around ¥285.88 million to the Guide Dog Training Project since it was launched. We will continue to support the training of Eye Mates to help as many people with visual impairments as possible to participate in society.

  • *1A public interest corporation that provides Eye Mate (guide dog) training and walking guidance to support independence among people with visual impairments. Based in Nerima-ku, Tokyo, it provides guidance on walking with Eye Mates for people with visual impairments throughout Japan. In aggregate, 1,408 teams have graduated. (As of May 31, 2021. The user and the Eye Mate together are considered a team)

In-company Initiatives to Improve the Accessibility Quality of Sony Products and Services

In order to achieve its purpose, which is to "Fill the world with emotion, through the power of creativity and technology," the entire Sony Group is engaged in initiatives to improve accessibility and creating a world no limitations.
A team that promotes accessibility and inclusive design across the group stands at the core of efforts involving cooperation with the people responsible for promoting accessibility in the business units. Having established a globally consistent set of standards and systems, we are using them as the basis for continuous improvements. We provide comprehensive support for the Sony Group's accessibility-related activities, including employee training, company-wide lectures, surveys and evaluation tools designed to improve accessibility, and the introduction of inclusive design.
Regular general meetings of managers in charge of promoting accessibility at business units work under the supervision of executive officers of the Sony Group Corporation to monitor the progress of activities and improvement plans.

Employee Resource Group activities relating to accessibility

Groups of employees at Sony are taking the lead in improving accessibility.
At Sony North of America and Sony Interactive Entertainment, employee networks are leading the way in supporting employees with disabilities and regularly disseminating information to raise awareness of accessibility within the company. Through these activities, these groups are contributing to improvements in the accessibility of our products and services by utilizing feedback from employees with disabilities.

Standardization Activities to Improve Accessibility

Sony is also proactively involved in standardization activities aimed at driving improvements in accessibility throughout the industry.
Ulrike Haltrich of Sony Europe chairs the SyC AAL (System Committee Active Assisted Living), a committee under the jurisdiction of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), which works to develop standards to support independent living in an increasingly ageing society. In November 2019, he also assumed the chairmanship of IEC TC100, a committee spearheading the standardization of new video, audio, and multimedia technologies, and working on standardizing the entire system.

Customers' voice

Enhancing Accessibility at General Meetings of Shareholders

The 2021 Annual General Meeting of Shareholders was accessible to shareholders both in person and via live webcast*.
As in previous years, wheelchair-accessible seating was available at the venue, and simultaneous interpretation into English and information for shareholders with visual or hearing disabilities was provided. The online relay distributed transcripts summarizing the proceedings at the venue for people with hearing impairments, and audio commentaries on the slide presentations projected on the screen for people with visual impairments.

  • *Shareholders were advised to exercise their voting rights in advance and refrain from coming to the meeting to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
On-screen image of the transcript

Sign Language/Conversation-in-Writing Service

Sony Life Insurance Co., Ltd. and Sony Assurance Inc. provide sign language and written communication services to facilitate inquiries from customers with hearing or speech disabilities. Operators use their sign language interpretation skills for sign language or written conversations with customers.

  • *This service is only available in Japan.
Processing inquiries using sign language and written communications

Five different ways to contact us for inquiries (in Japanese only)

You are free to choose the method for contacting us—by LINE (instant messaging), chat, email, support forum / community website, or telephone—according to what is most convenient for you. Text-based inquiries like LINE and chat are particularly useful since they can be made from anywhere and you will not need to take any notes.
We also offer a list of questions frequently asked by our customers and answers (FAQs) that you can check before making your inquiry.