Sony Ericsson Launches Xperia Active Smartphone for Fitness, Health Care

Sony Ericsson's new Android phone, the Xperia Active, is water-resistant and ready for sweaty workouts or use by health care providers and patients.

Sony Ericsson has introduced the Xperia Active Android smartphone, a compact and water-resistant phone designed for personal fitness and for monitoring health conditions.

The Xperia Active integrates Dynastream Innovations' Ant+ technology to allow users to monitor their heart rates on screen while working out. Ant is a 2.4GHz ultralow-power wireless networking protocol for applications such as health monitoring and automation in industries and homes.

Mobile phones are set to play a huge role in allowing health care workers to monitor patients' health remotely, particularly chronic conditions such as hypertension and heart conditions.

The 3.3-inch capacitive Reality Display features "wet finger tracking," making the device immune to users manipulating the display or texting with fingers sweaty from exercise. The screen is also dust-proof and scratch-resistant.

Weighing about 4 ounces, the Xperia Active will ship with several sports apps installed, along with built-in GPS, barometer and compass, which will allow runners to map their training routes, according to Sony Ericsson.

"Xperia Active is the ultimate smartphone for an active life," Fredrik M??ænsson, global product marketing manager for Sony Ericsson, said in a statement. "Not only is it packed with all the features and applications consumers need for a worry-free mobile life, it also comes with a set of accessories that make it fun and easy for them to take it everywhere, whatever their daily plans are."

Sony Ericsson launched the Xperia Active at the CommunicAsia conference on June 22 in Singapore.

The phone runs the Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) OS, which features NFC (near-field communication) capabilities to allow users to touch or swipe a code on a poster, billboard, print ad or retail display. A NeoReader barcode scanner enables this swiping capability on the Xperia Active.

Meanwhile, Sony Ericsson's TimeScape interface can organize e-mails, text messages and social media alerts like a stacked deck of cards.

On June 22, Sony Ericsson also launched the Xperia Ray smartphone. Like the Xperia Active, the Xperia Ray features a 3.3-inch screen and Android 2.3. The Ray adds an 8.1-megapixel camera, while the Active has a 5-megapixel camera.

The rollout of the Xperia Active and Ray follows the debut of the Xperia Mini Pro and Xperia Mini last month. Those models also run Android 2.3 and feature 3-inch, scratch-resistant Sony Reality displays.

With a clear focus on active lifestyle users, the Xperia Active has the potential for selling well, according to Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technology Associates. "The feature set aims at a clear target market, which is good," Kay wrote in an email to eWEEK. "Assuming it's priced right, this phone should do well."

To date, Sony Ericsson hadn't disclosed pricing or which carriers would offer the Xperia Active. It will reportedly ship in the third quarter of 2011.