Panasonic Corp announced new products of its "smart home appliances," which can be connected to a cloud service, etc via a smartphone.
This time, Panasonic unveiled six appliances, which are an air conditioner, refrigerator, drum-type washing/drying machine, body composition meter, activity meter and blood-pressure meter. The company released an oven-microwave combo and rice steamer as smart home appliances in June 2012.
The new appliances support NFC (near field communication) except for the air conditioner. By using a smartphone equipped with an NFC reader/writer, it is possible to control and customize the appliances as well as to visualize their data.
For example, the drum-type washing/drying machine can be used in the following way. First, a smartphone is used to access Panasonic's server and select a detergent and softener. When the phone touches the washing/drying machine, several parameters for the selected detergent and softener are transmitted from the phone to the machine.
Then, the appropriate amounts of the detergent and softener calculated from the amount of laundry are displayed on the screen of the machine. Finally, the user drops detergent, etc in the machine, seeing the amounts displayed on the screen.
In the case of the refrigerator, various data can be displayed on a smartphone. Specifically, it is possible to check the percentage of the use of the "Eco Navi Operation," which reduces power consumption, in a day and the number of times that the door of the refrigerator is opened or closed. The collected data is sent to the server, which can store one year of data.
The three healthcare products (body composition meter, activity meter and blood-pressure meter) enable to send data collected by them to the server via a smartphone so that the user can manage or view the data. Also, with a function called "Friend Link," measured data can be shared among registered users.
The air conditioner can be controlled with a smartphone even when the user is away from home. A specified low power radio station is used for controlling the air conditioner. To connect Panasonic's server and the air conditioner, it is necessary to set up a "wireless gateway unit," which connects the specified low power radio station to a wireless LAN.
For the cloud service, Panasonic Smart Application needs to be downloaded to a smartphone. To use the software, it is necessary to become a member of the "Club Panasonic."
Panasonic plans to release the refrigerator in September 2012 and the other five appliances in October 2012 or later. The company intends to increase the number of its smart home appliances, aiming at a sales of 2.6 million units (¥200 billion) in fiscal 2014 in the Japanese market.