03/13/2012 05:13 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Sony Xperia Sola's 'Floating Touch' Smartphone Allows Hands-Free Hover-Browsing

We're getting closer and closer to eliminating fingerprint smudges from our smartphone screens.

Sony has announced a new smartphone, the Xperia sola, whose most notable feature is something called "floating touch." The technology allows the user to highlight apps and icons by hovering their finger above where they would touch, a kind of pre-aiming mechanism to make sure you never miss your intended on-screen target.

Here's a fancy video that shows how "floating touch," which debuts on the Xperia sola, works.


So, what good is this "floating touch" technology? Aside from minimizing accidental link clickage, Sony is framing it as a kind of "look-what-my-phone-can-do" feature, consistently using the word "magical" in its press release and writing that floating touch "giv[es] consumers a fun new way to browse the web and latest technology to show off." A mixture of utility and braggadocio, in other words.

Aside from hover-browsing, the Xperia sola is an Android 2.3 Gingerbread phone (Ice Cream Sandwich coming in Summer 2012, Sony claims), with 3.7-inch Reality Display, a 1GHz Dual Core processor, and a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera capable of recording in 720p. It weighs just 107 grams (compared to 139 grams on the similar-sized iPhone 4S) and features what Sony calls 3D surround sound audio technology. Storage starts at 8GB and expands via microSD up to 32GB. A full list of tech specs are available at Sony's website.

Like HTC, Sony is currently in the midst of re-branding and simplifying its smartphone line, having announced that its handset offerings will henceforth carry the name "Xperia." The massive 4.55-inch Xperia Ion, a 4G AT&T handset that will become Sony's flagship phone in America when it debuts, and the Xperia S were both on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, and the Xperia U and Xperia P were outed at last month's Mobile World Congress.

These phones are now joined by the Xperia sola, which will bring its floating touch technology to handsets some time this spring. Though a launch is assured for the United Kingdom and China, there's no word on whether the Xperia sola will be released in the U.S. along with the flagship Xperia Ion (expected in the coming months). If it doesn't, you might be out of luck: When asked if floating touch would make it to other smartphones, a Sony spokesperson told HuffPost that the company doesn't comment on specifications of future products.

Guess you'll either have to get used to those fingerprint smudges on your screen or invest in a really nice rag, in other words.

Check out the slideshow (below) for a look at some of the other noteworthy gadgets that debuted recently at the Mobile World Congress.

HTC, Nokia and Samsung At Mobile World Congress