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Sony launches ‘Airpeak’ drone division

Hints at fun to come in 2021, for photographers and industry alike

Sony has announced a drone division called “Airpeak”.

The company has said very little about what it plans to send down the runway at the division’s formal launch in (northern) Spring 2021.

Airpeak is billed as operating "in the field of AI robotics" and Sony has said its “imaging and sensing technology as well as 3R technologies (Reality, Real-time and Remote)" will be part of its products.

Sony also teased an intention to “support the creativity of video creators to the fullest extent possible”. The company also plans “to contribute to the further development of the entertainment industry as well as to improved efficiency and savings in various industries.”

A DJI Phantom 4 with camera detail. Pic: Shutterstock

Drone firm DJI promises 'local data mode' to fend off US government's mooted ban


There’s no word on which industries Sony hopes to assist with its drones or whether its offers for video creators will address the professional market, aim at consumers, or have a crack at both.

The company certainly has strengths in professional video production that make it a feasible target market. Sony also remains a consumer electronics giant and in the early 2000s blasted into the DSLR and wider camera market and quickly became a strong competitor.

Whatever Sony plans, it is chasing a market that analyst firm IDC estimated as $16.3bn in 2020 sales. The firm's pre-pandemic prediction also suggested 33.3 percent compound annual growth rate for the sector in the next five years.

The Japanese company will have to contend with current market-leader DJI. But DJI has troubles of its own: the company’s Chinese roots have seen the US government forbid its agencies from buying its products on security grounds. Familiar and safe Sony, already a presence in hundreds of millions of lounge rooms, could soar.

And that’s without even considering what innovations Sony might offer the “various” industries its launch blurb mentions. ®

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