Sony is known for pushing camera technology to the limit with models such as the A7R V and A7S III. However, the company’s latest release does not highlight the capabilities of its latest sensor or autofocus system. Instead, it’s a device designed to make photography accessible to those who previously couldn’t partake in the hobby.
The DSC-HX99 RNV, which was announced today, is a camera kit designed for people with visual impairments. The system is divided into two components: a Sony point-and-shoot camera and a viewfinder with a retinal laser projection system. The camera in question is a Cybershot DSC-HX99. The HX99, which was released in 2018, has an 18-megapixel backside illuminated sensor with built-in image stabilization and a 24-720mm zoom lens.
It directs a digital image from the camera to the user’s retina. Sony acknowledges that the technology will not work for everyone, but for those who do, the viewfinder will allow them to use the HX99 to see faces, read signs, and take photos and videos. “The laser retinal projection of the Retissa Neoviewer is a completely new technology that has been put to practical use for the first time in the world,” Dr. Mitsuru Sugawara, president and CEO of QD Laser, said.
When it is released this summer, the HX99RNV kit will cost $600. That means it won’t be more expensive than a DSC-HX99 on its own. Sony says it will bear “the majority” of the cost of producing the device as a show of support for the low-vision community. However, the kit will only be available directly from Sony, and purchases will be limited to one per person. Sony also intends to collaborate with American and Japanese schools to provide the device to people with low vision.