Laurent Abadie, CEO & Chairman of Panasonic Europe talks about “making life better”
While Panasonic’s outward image at IFA is that of the Hollywood-tuned OLED TVs and a return to vinyl in audio, the underlying drivers of the Japanese mega-manufacturer go much deeper than that, harking back to the roots of Konosuke Matsushita himself. We asked Laurent Abadie to tell us more.
The main driver of the company over the past hundred years has been how we can contribute towards making a better life for people and a better world, and we are carefully watching how society is changing. There are a few drivers, not just in Europe, but they are the same around the world. One is the huge pressure on the environment: reduction of CO2 emissions, pollution and contribution for keeping global warming under control. It’s about the electrification of society.
There are a lot of changes around this – in the mobility sector there is a clear, fast shift from diesel to EV, and the next ten years in the automotive industry will show more changes than in the last hundred years – with EV (Electro Voltaic), autonomous cars, car sharing, and other new concepts.
It’s the same in the home environment and energy consumption: producing energy, storing energy and reusing this energy, through utilising the equipment in the home in a different way. It will be more connected, autonomous and interactive in the mid-term. We are quite unique as a company in terms of scope of technologies. So electrification of society is a major theme. Another big theme is the aging of society, and how, through technology, we can support aged people to stay longer at home. As people lose their autonomy and their physical strength this is a key issue. These are drivers within the company, knowing that on the top of this, we have a lot of technologies, so we have to cross societal issues with what technology can bring.
What is Panasonic developing for the elderly?
It’s a combination of developments around robotics – how to support people with robots, and how to offer new services. Imagine your mother is very old, and she cannot go out for shopping, so maybe the fridge can send daily orders to the local grocery store, who then deliver what she needs.
There are a lot of issues surrounding healthcare, with sensors checking blood pressure, temperature and so one, and if something is wrong, the system sends a message to a doctor. These are all remote robotics that the company is working on in Japan.
At the Panasonic Centre in Tokyo, there is a bedroom with sensors in the ceiling that can measure blood pressure and so on while a person is sleeping and create an alert if there is a problem. Then there’s a mirror that is also able check vital signs. All these are advanced prototypes that can be introduced soon.
WE ARE CAREFULLY WATCHING HOW SOCIETY IS CHANGING.
Here at IFA, the return and revival of analogue technology is a big theme. Can you tell us more about this?
We had decided to stop Technics, and we had regular, regular requests from consumers to bring the brand back. There was even an online petition that gathered together 18,000 signatures. Three years ago, we called back some engineers, who still kept their schedule and know-how. And when we announced the brand was coming back, some people were almost crying, and there was a standing ovation. Today, it’s amazing how many young customers are interested in vinyl – something no-one could expect. And interest in sound quality is back, too.
Photo: Laurent Abadie. CEO & Chairman, Panasonic Europe.