Earlier this week Sony launched its own crowd funding platform. First Flight is intended to feature only internal Sony projects and give (Japanese) consumers a chance to back projects that Sony's management doesn't find worthwhile, and it's already had its' first success.
The Huis is a programmable remote control built around a small E-ink screen. It was developed by one of Sony's consumer electronics teams, and the name itself is an acronym for Home User InterfaceS. The Huis is designed to be a universal remote and work with any standard receiver or with any Bluetooth-equipped device, so the developers plan to give users the option of creating and switching between custom interfaces.
In many ways, this is a lot like the remote control apps for your smartphone or tablet, only with an E-ink screen, in a smaller package, and with a less certain future.
The Huis went up for crowd-funding on Wednesday with a goal of 5 million yen. As of this morning backers have pledged over 9.2 million yen, or about $75,000. So it is going to go into development, but does that mean it's going to actually be produced and sold?
I can't say. A crowd-funded hardware project is a crap shoot at the best of times, and this one is being developed inside Sony. Not only will the Huis have to overcome technical issues, it will also have to battle internal Sony politics.
No one quite knows what's going to happen next. Is First Flight going to be a precursor for Sony's new market research for novel ideas, or does this mean that Sony is so short of funds that they've already cleaned out the sofa cushions and sold all of the unwanted real estate?
We'll have to wait and see.