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P Panasonic looks to hair


restorer for growth


Behind closed doors at I FA, Panasonic threw a spotlight on future strategies and oddball products. Steve May reports


anasonic may not have staged its usual IFA


press conference, but it did hold a business briefing to cast a spotlight on strategic initiatives and new product areas, some with hair-raising potential. For the Japanese technology company (which celebrated its centennial last year), the Berlin Messe is very much home turf. And while the brand operates in multiple categories, Yosuke Matsunaga, Managing Director, Panasonic Appliances Europe, revealed that TV remains the biggest contributor to its two billion Euro turnover, followed by digital imaging and heating and cooling solutions. “These three categories accounted for 70 per cent of our turnover for 2018/19,” he said. So where is the brand looking next? Mr Matsunaga said it has imaging, kitchen and beauty sectors in its sights, rather than consumer electronics, with residential energy-saving equipment a left-field gambit.


“By 2025, our vision is to realise growth of 20 per cent,” declared Mr Matsunaga.


When it comes to health and wellbeing, Panasonic


is treading new ground. On its booth, it offered a Future Zone with some intriguing conceptual products, including a scalp ‘cap’, which uses infra- red rays to facilitate hair growth by improving blood flow. We suspect many consumers will be eager to try this out. There was also an ingenious skin care treatment, for use when snoozing. Fine steam and infra-red rays generated from a headboard cover the face and penetrate the skin of the sleeper. Apparently sensors adjust the treatment when the subject rolls over. Quite what their partner will make of this is as yet unknown.


Panasonic also used its Future Zone to promote nutrition-based care, Dubbed Shot, a smart appliance assesses the user’s physical condition based on their daily activity, and formulates drinks with appropriate nutrients. The biggest growth potential, suggested Mr Matsunaga, is with digital mirrorless cameras. Panasonic was the first company to introduce


mirrorless, back in 2008. “Now it represents half the camera market, thanks to its professional user benefits and lightweight form factor,” he said.


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With all this, consumer electronics did not get short shrift during the briefing. Mr Matsunaga was quick to highlight the latest Technics analogue turntables, and a surprise new addition to Technics Hi-Fi line-up.


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Panasonic also continues to pursue smart city infrastructure products. Dovetailing into this activity is a new growth strand – residential energy products, and that business is starting to gain traction, in mainland Europe at least, said the MD. “We see lots of future potential to contribute to energy saving in our society...” Only last year, Panasonic started Air-to-Water heat pump production in the Czech Republic. “Alongside


our residential market, we have


started to build up our industrial and commercial business in Europe.” A new Air-to-Water heat pump promises to save energy and reduce CO2 emissions. “This contributes to the decarbonisation of society,” explained Mr Matsunaga.


Bringing audiophile sensibilities to the in-ear headphone market, the EAH-TZ700 features a newly developed 10-mm driver that incorporates advanced magnetic fluid technology. This maximises the movement of driver, reducing friction and producing a smoother sound. I gave the new headphones a spin for ERT and I can confirm that they sound outstanding. Yet they could pose a problem at retail, and not just because of their £1,000 asking price.


They actually fly in the face of headphone trends.


Wired rather than wireless (the EAH-TZ700 comes with balanced and unbalanced cables), there’s no Bluetooth or sound isolation. Effectively they are a replacement for traditional at-home Hi-Fi headphones. Will a music lover really be willing to trade their comfy over-ears for in-ear buds? For this reason, Panasonic UK is currently mulling over a possible introduction. More of a banker are Technics EAH-DJ1200 DJ on-ear headphones, and DJ-style EAH-DJ1200 turntable. The new cans feature a new driver with 40mm- diameter voice coil, able to compete with high- volume surroundings. They also feature a cute swing-arm mechanism which can be locked in place, allowing a DJ to monitor with one ear.


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