IFA International 2019 Review Edition

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BROUGHT

TO YOU BY

NEWS

PANASONIC PARTNERS WITH INDIE

STARTUPS TO DRIVE INNOVATION

After 100 years in the consumer tech business, Panasonic is going back

to its roots through coinnovations with startups who maintain creative

independence

“How are we evolving further for the next 100 hundred

years?” asks Anne Guennewig, General Manager Corporate

Communications at Panasonic, as the Japanese technology

pioneer celebrates a century of signature CE innovation.

“Coinnovation and cooperation are so important for

our business,” she adds, referring to a new policy of

“creating innovation potential” through partnerships with

independent Japanese startups.

One example of what Guennewig

calls a “speedboat startup” who in

recent years have received funding

from Panasonic but who continue to

develop their own distinct brand, is

Tokyo-based Shiftall.

One of the 20 startups invited

to showcase their wares at the

Japan Pavilion at IFA Next, Shiftall

epitomises the possibilities of

coinnovation with, among other

products, its DrinkShift IoT fridge

that never runs out of beer.

As Takuma Iwasa, Shiftall founder

and CEO, told IFA International,

the company is “infusing the latest

IoT technology with Japan’s wellrecognised

product design heritage.”

This fusion of latest software

capability and cool styling is

evidenced by the stylish DrinkShift

bar fridge customised for your

lounge and which restocks itself

via IoT tech - and a cloud fulfilment

service - that tracks your drinking

habits.

Such a quirky innovation is unlikely

to have got off the ground had Iwasa

stayed in his former job with the

Panasonic Group. While the legacy

brand was still focused on a lagging

TV market that it once dominated,

the Shifthall founder went out on

his own to pursue possibilities in the

burgeoning new world of IoT.

A couple of years ago, Iwasa

approached Panasonic CTO

Yoshiyuki Miyabi about a potential

collaboration. The technology giant

was just beginning its push into

startup coinnovation, and decided to

acquire half of its former employee’s

company. Nonetheless, Shiftall

maintains complete entrepreneurial

independence.

In an effort to also self-fund

innovations and promote the

product among the targeted

demographic, Shiftall crowd-funded

its Wear Space device that was also

on display at the Japan Pavilion. A

wearable device designed to aid

concentration by limiting sight and

hearing senses via noise-cancelling

technology and a partition that

controls your field of view, Wear

Space already won a Red Dot design

award when it was being developed

in 2017. Designed in coordination

with the Future Life Factory, Wear

Space typifies the human-machine

interfaces being created by socalled

J-Startups for a world where

cyberspace and physical space is

becoming highly integrated.

Panasonic followed a similar route

at IFA through its presentation of

products for “lifestyles of the near

future” that employ sensing and data

analysis technologies to monitor and

respond to our daily life routines. At

the Panasonic booth, for example,

the Future Area showcased a variety

of next-generation, wellbeingenhancing

care products such as

the Grow head care device that

identifies the condition of hair, and

improves the blood flow on the scalp

using infrared rays.

Like the Wear Space designed for

digital nomads working in open

or co-working offices, or workers

finding it ever more important to

create personal space where

they can focus, these devices are

ultimately designed to improve

daily lives through their seamless

simplicity

Takuma Iwasa

Shiftall founder and CEO

INFUSING THE

LATEST IOT TECHNOLOGY

WITH JAPAN’S WELL-

RECOGNISED PRODUCT

DESIGN HERITAGE

www.ifa-international.org IFA International • Monday 23 September 2019

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