Coming up in 2019: Panasonic Robots, Alexa-controlled home automation

Jude Sannith

Nov. 12, 2018

Panasonic

A century after it began making home appliances, Japanese electronics and technology major, Panasonic wants to up its game. This means a few things: focusing on robotics, automation technology, smart devices, and big markets to launch these products.
Panasonic is looking to launch two of its latest assisted robotic products in India, in early 2019, said people familiar with the matter. This includes a robot modelled around a porter to help carry luggage, and an assisted-walking robot which the company wants to launch in hospitals before selling to the consumer market.
“We are first targeting hospitals before we look at B2C (business to consumer) sales,” Daizo Ito, regional head, India, South Asia, Africa and Middle East, Panasonic, told CNBC-TV18. “Nearly 80 percent of our business is in the consumer space. So, we will focus on this space in India.”
The plan is in line with Panasonic’s big PR pitch for happier customers, as elucidated by its president, Kazuhiro Tsuga, at the company’s cross-innovation forum in Tokyo. “We are looking to develop products with the assumption that they will be constantly customised and updated,” said Tsuga, speaking at length about Panasonic’s plans in the home automation space.
Home Automation On The Anvil
Tsuga’s remarks come at a crucial time for the Indian market. Panasonic is expected to launch its first home automation product in India, based on an IoT (Internet of Things) prototype, early next year.
The company is also considering joining hands with Amazon Alexa to add an edge to the yet-to-be-named product. "We may work together with Alexa, to expand our capability,” said Ito, “If we provide technology that can (only) be connected to Panasonic equipment, it would have no meaning. So, given that people already have a product, we want to try and connect it all together.”
That strategy again, finds resonance in Panasonic’s focus on its Home-Ex technology, for connected homes. “In the future, home electronics will grow to evolve with the user,” said Tsuga, “They will be able to harness a user’s mood, based on an information infrastructure.”
‘India, A Production Hub'

Making all this for Indian consumers could mean substantial manufacturing opportunities within the country, not limited to smart devices alone. The company is in the process of expanding manufacturing capabilities for batteries and solar panels for the domestic and export markets.
“What we are trying to do is create a hub in India, for manufacturing,” said Ito, “These products will be made not only for India but also Asia, Middle East and Africa.”
The company added that these manufacturing plans could be expedited if trade agreements with certain African nations fall through in the near future.

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