Why GoPro needs Karma to take flight

Aerial photography is having a moment.

This Monday, GoPro, a maker of cameras and accessories that allow people to capture themselves surfing, biking, climbing, driving or participating in all sorts of activities (just Google it), will unveil the company’s first drone.

According to the company, the device, named Karma, can maneuver in spaces as tight as the stacks at a library. Karma reportedly can sync with a clip that users attach to their bodies, allowing the drone to follow along without someone needing to operate a controller, which I imagine can be hard to do if you’re descending through the backcountry on a bike.

It’s also a moment for GoPro. The company, which said in May it has sold about 20 million cameras since it began in 2002, has seen the price of its shares slide from a high of $87 two years ago to about $15 lately as investors question whether GoPro can broaden sales of its gear beyond enthusiasts. As Mike Murphy wrote in Quartz last December, “it’s starting to feel as if everyone who wants to record themselves hurtling down mountains, out of planes, and off cliffs already has a GoPro.”

The company agrees. “Our growth historically has largely been fueled by the adoption of our products by people looking to self-capture images of themselves participating in exciting physical activities,” it wrote in its latest annual report. “We believe that our future growth depends not only on continuing to reach and expand this core demographic, but also broadening our user base to include a more diverse group of consumers seeking to capture their daily lives.”

So GoPro needs the drone to succeed. Whatever happens, we should be in for some terrific videos.

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