Panasonic eyes smart cities, data center optical storage at CES 2016

Panasonic outlined plans to be more of a business technology company with moves into optical data center storage for Facebook to smart cities and the Internet of things.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Panasonic is betting that it can become a major smart cities, data center cold storage, smart home and Internet of things platform player as the consumer electronics giant takes a business-to-business turn.

At CES 2016, Panasonic executives delivered a few consumer goodies (like a turntable for audiophiles), but focused most of their efforts outlining what the company can do to integrate technologies for various industries.

Yasu Enokido, head of Panasonic's B2B unit worldwide, outlined a series of high-profile clients with the biggest customer reference being Facebook.

Enokido outlined how Facebook was looking to preserve user images and videos efficiently in a way that protects them as well as save energy and costs. Panasonic used optical-drive storage technology called Freeze-Ray that served as a way to manage the content. This so-called cold storage is typically reserved for tape, but Panasonic sees Blu-ray optical disks as an attractive option for backup.

Freeze-Ray "should be attractive to the data center industry," said Enokido.

The optical disk storage effort illustrates how Panasonic is looking to leverage its digital imaging, display, optical disk and battery technologies for business use.

Here's a look at some key areas where Panasonic is looking to become a business technology player.

  • Smart cities. Joseph Taylor, Panasonic CEO, outlined CityNow, which is the company's smart city planning and integration services unit. Panasonic cited Denver as a city that is running pilots for various smart city technologies. The effort will focus on energy use, telehealth, security, smart buildings and transportation.
  • Software. Panasonic also outlined software platforms for autos as well as the smart home. A platform called Ora is designed to manage the smart home as well as the average of 100 end points that can be hooked up to the Internet. Panasonic also announced partnerships with Xcel Energy as well as Honeywell.
  • Internet of things. Enokido noted that Panasonic will expand into the space with strategic mergers and acquisitions. "We're focused on public sector services, entertainment and retail services," said Enokido.
  • Customer experiences at stadiums, theaters and malls. Panasonic outlined monitoring services and signage at the new stadium for the Atlanta Braves as well as retail technologies. Panasonic plans to get into everything from refrigerated supply systems to point-of-sale terminals and customer flow analytics.


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