Many athletes in extreme sports use GoPro cameras to document their sessions, so it should come as little surprise that GoPro is also seeking to enter the surging drone market. Its brand recognition could give it an edge in a fast-paced market where industries of all sorts are seeking to make a profit off of using drones. GoPro quietly made moves in 2015 to enter the drone market by purchasing Kolor, a French company that produced 360-degree video software. It is currently developing a platform to stitch together multiple 360-degree videos from different GoPro units, and is also entering the enterprise space by having a division specifically for 360-degree spherical applications.
While there are other 360-degree camera players on the market, GoPro’s advantage is that it can natively integrate the camera on the drone for increased image quality and stabilization. Those who currently own drones have encountered issues of catching stabilized high-quality images on three axes, and GoPro seeks to solve that issue.
Another key acquisition for GoPro was Skybotix in September 2015. Skybotix, a company of engineers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland, has five years of experience in the autonomous drone tech space, and several other drone companies have also spawned from ETH as well (the most notable being senseFly, which is now part of drone mapping company Parrot). Skybotix is now a GoPro product division that specializes in advanced simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) applications. SLAM allows 3D representation of the environment for collision avoidance, improved user interaction and flight planning and orientation. This will become especially important because of the stringent FAA rules regarding drones.
Hardware companies are also preparing for the surging drone market. Chip makers such as Qualcomm and Intel will develop chipsets specifically for drones. Airware have already raised $40 million for drone software, while Linux has already started an open-source project for drone software in efforts to become the leader in drone software. With GoPro being one of the biggest, most recognizable names to enter the drone industry, the company is inspiring others to hop aboard the drone bandwagon. Look for GoPro to not only stake a huge claim in the business to consumer (B2C) market, but in the business to business (B2B) market as well.