Panasonic previews the future at IFA2014

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The future will be in extreme high definitition, and every device in our lives will be connected and smart, according to Panasonic.

ifa-berlin

Yesterday I took a brief tour around Panasonic’s booth at the IFA tech conference in Berlin, and was somewhat taken with the amount of innovation on show.

Most of that innovation could be seen in the “home of the future” display, the centrepiece of which is a kitchen with a concept induction hob that all of us would love to have in our homes right now.

The hob is similar to the induction hobs that Panasonic already makes, but this one lets you put a pan anywhere on the surface and it will just heat that area.

A neat trick is the self-stirring pan, another feature of this clever cooking surface. It uses targeted induction heating to warm different parts of the pan in a circular motion, meaning a stirring device inside the pan will rotate without you lifting a finger – perfect for taking care of that gravy, sauce or risotto.

panasonic-induction-hob

The hob can also measure weights, so it will tell you if you’re adding too much of an ingredient to a recipe, and it can recognise pots of different thickness and adjust thee heat accordingly.

Two other appliances in the kitchen – the wall oven and the dishwasher – also have a neat trick: built-in cameras. Useful for the oven – you can check how the roast is gloing on your smartphone as you watch TV in the living room, or even while you are away from home – but I can’t quite see the point of checking on how the cleaning of your dishes is going.

Moving to the bedroom, there is a wall mirror with a very cleaver feature – it uses augmented reality to guide a woman through several alternative “looks” when she is sitting there doing her make-up.

Using facial recognition technology, the mirror will assess your face and give cosmetic recommendations based on your look. It’ll then put a real-time overlay of your face onto the mirror, with eye-shadow and lipstick combinations.

The camera can also spot lines and wrinkles on your face, and adjust its application accordingly. It will also show you how the make-up will look under different lighting conditions.

technics-c700Great news for audiophiles – the Technics brand is being resurrected. Panasonic, Technics’ parent company showed us two new ranges of premium hi-fi products, which included speakers, streamers, stereo amplifiers and a single CD player.

The Technics Reference Class R1 consists of a network player with an integrated pre-amp, a power amplifier and a speaker system. It’s seriously high-end though – Panasonic says that this setup will set you back about €40,000 (£31,800).

The other system is the Technics Premium Class C700, which consists of stereo speakers, an integrated stereo amp, a network player and a CD player. This is aimed much more at the everyday user – a system comprising speakers, amp and network player will cost about €4,000 (£3,176).

Finally we were shown Panasonic’s upcoming offerings in the visual realm – TVs and cameras. And the word of the day was 4K.

The premium range of 4K televisions includes the new flagship AX902 model which comes in 55-inch and 65-inch versions alongside the super-sized 85-inch AX940 and the more budget-conscious AX630 range.

Panasonic-VIERA-65AX900Ambient light sensors will also analyse the lighting conditions of your living room, adjusting the picture dynamically to create the best possible image.

Panasonic promises that its efforts here mean the colours you see on screen are exactly the same as the filmmaker intended.

Panasonic also showed its AX630 range, in 40-inch, 48-inch and 55-inch versions. These TVs promise 4K Ultra HD panels but don’t feature any of the high contrast and colour reproduction features of the AX900 and X940 series.

What all these TVs do have in common is Panasonic’s new TV Anywhere feature, which will let you transfer recorded TV content to the cloud so that you can watch live TV shows and recorded content on your phone or tablet wherever you are in the world (as long as your TV back home is on or in standby mode).

Yes, the future looks bright, sharp and connected. bring it on.

Stuart O’Connor