Sony Japan is dipping its feet into the crowd-funding waters, launching a new site - First Flight - to generate cash and gauge demand for devices designed by its employees.
While Sony is no stranger to crowd-funding, the art of promising to create products that don't yet exist by getting a bunch of individuals to stump up pre-orders through the promise of various added-value 'rewards,' the launch of First Flight marks a shift in the company's approach from using third-party services to bringing the whole funding system in-house - meaning it can keep a bigger chunk of the proceeds, naturally.
Based on the Kickstarter model of requiring a project to raise a certain amount of money within a limited time period or no cash changes hands, First Flight's initial campaign
is for a customisable remote control based on a low-power electrophoretic e-paper display. Similar to Logitech's existing Harmony family, the Huis offers to ability to learn codes from various remote controls - including from non-Sony products - in order to replace multiple remotes with a single unit.
Designed as part of Sony's regular entrepreneurship programme, the Huis remote needs to raise ¥5 million (around £26,000) in the next 50 days in order to reach production; with 102 backers, the campaign is already more than half-way to its goal. If successful, the Huis would join other Sony products that have been produced as a result of crowd-funding campaigns including the FES smartwatch and MESH modular electronics kit.
First Flight is available exclusively in Japan, and thus far Sony has not announced any plans to launch similar sites in other countries.