Does a company with nearly £42 billion in revenue in its last fiscal year really need to have any part in a crowdfunding campaign? That’s not our call to make, but it certainly is a surprise from Sony.
The iconic Japanese manufacturer is rebuilding itself for modern times by scaling down its bulging TV and smartphone lineups, putting more focus on the soaring PlayStation brand, and trying its hand at newer businesses and business models. Like smart locks and crowdfunding, for example.
After trying a similar tactic with an e-paper smartwatch last month (that initially wasn't attributed to the company), Sony is now one of the principal firms behind the Qrio Smart Lock, which allows users to control the door lock via smartphone and from a distance.
The unit itself is rather small and sits atop the deadbolt lock knob on the inside of your door, and looks to physically turn the knob when activated. You can do so yourself on your own device, or share access with a friend via the app for when visitors are due.
It’s currently listed on Japanese crowdfunding site Makuake, and has already blown past its goal of 1,500,000 yen (just £8,000). Sony tells the Wall Street Journal that it’s more interested in gauging consumer demand than raising money - obviously - before it goes ahead with manufacturing. The Qrio will be officially launched later this month, with the retail price expected to be 15,000 yen (£80).
And as Engadget points out, this isn’t Sony’s first dalliance with something called Qrio. The company planned a humanoid robot with the same name about a decade back, as a successor to the Aibo robot dog, but it was canceled before release. We’re guessing the new Qrio will prove a lot more useful than the old one would have. Just a hunch.