Sony has opened the doors to First Flight, its own crowd-funding website, where unusual Sony projects will be pitched and potentially pushed into production. While some will question why a mega-corporation like Sony needs to crowd fund new products, instead of dipping into its own bank account, sites like Kickstarter have gradually morphed into places where pre-orders for exciting but niche products are placed. That's Sony's intention with First Flight.
In its press release, Sony says First Flight will help promote 'new business concepts,' and bring them quickly to market if they prove popular enough. It'll help the company get a feel for what early adopters want to see, and eventually buy, without having to take considerable risk by fully developing a retail-ready version in its entirety first.
Sony's known for its safe approach to new devices. Just look at its smartphone range over the past year or so. The designs are great, but all essentially the same, and the risks are few. First Flight is a chance for Sony to let its creative side have some fun.
What's in the store now? There are three different products up for sale already. The first is the very cool FES E-Ink watch that first made headlines late last year, with its funky customizable strap and minimalist design. Outside of First Flight, it's unlikely the FES watch would have ever gone on sale. It's joined by the MESH wireless tag, which can be used to automate smart home functions, as tiny remote controls, or in a variety of other creative ways.
Finally, there is is the HUIS home remote control. Equipped with an e-paper screen, it can be customized using a PC, and can be programmed to replace existing remote controls.
However, if you're about to open up your wallet for one of First Flight's products, then don't bother unless you live in Japan, as sales are limited to Sony's home country at the moment. If it proves successful, there's no reason why Sony won't open it up to international audiences soon.