After months of intense rumors and speculations, GoPro has made it official. Chief executive Nick Woodman said at the Code Conference that the company was working on its own drone, which is likely to hit the stores in the first half of 2016. He said the drone will be focused on consumers. It makes sense considering drone videography using GoPro cameras has become almost essential for everything from extreme sports to weddings.
Drone is the ‘ultimate GoPro accessory’
Woodman did not reveal the pricing or details about its design. He said the drone was “in some ways the ultimate GoPro accessory.” The GoPro co-founder told Kara Swisher of Recode that the action camera maker was a “consumer-focused company,” indicating that its price may be similar to those offered by Parrot, 3D Robotics and DJI.
It will allow users to see the world from a new perspective. GoPro did that with its action cameras, and it sees a similar opportunity in the drone market. Though GoPro is developing its own hardware, it will work with other manufacturers to provide cameras and software solutions for drones. A large number of GoPro users attach their Hero cameras to drones offered by third-parties. So, it makes sense for the company to build its own quadcopters.
GoPro’s virtual reality array coming later this year
Woodman also revealed that the San Mateo-based company was working on a ball-shaped Six-Camera Spherical Array. It combines six Hero4 cameras positioned in different directions to simultaneously capture high-resolution images and videos for virtual reality. The output can be merged using the Kolor app to create a 6K spherical image.
GoPro acquired the virtual reality software firm Kolor in April, 2015. Woodman said users can view the resulting video on virtual reality headsets like Microsoft HoloLens, Google Cardboard and Oculus. Smartphone and PC users can also view videos using the Kolor app or YouTube 360.
GoPro had been experimenting with virtual reality for quite some time. But Woodman became confident that VR as a platform has a future after Facebook, Google and Microsoft started investing in the technology. Woodman said the company’s VR array will go for sale later this year.
GoPro shares rallied 4.79% to $55.83 in pre-market trading Thursday.