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Sony buys $644m share of Olympus in pursuit of 4K endoscopes and better camera technology

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Sony has announced plans to invest ¥50 billion ($644 million) in struggling camera maker Olympus as part of a new joint venture in medical imaging. The partnership, which will see Sony take an 11 percent stake in the company as a whole, will allow the two firms to combine Olympus's dominance in the niche area — according to the Financial Times, the company currently controls roughly 70 percent of the global endoscope market — with new technology being researched and developed at Sony. The two firms also plan to collaborate in their consumer camera businesses, with Sony providing sensors and Olympus offering new lenses and mirror cell technology in return.

The investment, which has been rumored since June, comes after months of turmoil at Olympus following an accounting scandal which emerged late last year. While Olympus has not yet announced the agreement, Sony has provided a detailed overview of the medical joint venture, in which it will take a 51 percent stake, appointing four of the seven directors. One of the possible product areas that could emerge from the venture is listed as "new surgical endoscopes with 4k (or higher) resolution or 3D function," with the announcement also mentioning fully-integrated imaging systems for operating theaters.