Panasonic sees future in connectivity, gestural controls, 3D

Tim Grey
19 May, 2011
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Gestural controls and other advanced graphical user interfaces are the way of the future – along with improved connectivity – according to consumer electronics giant Panasonic.

As the company unveiled a new line of ‘smart’ VIERA televisions sporting IPTV capabilities and DLNA connectivity, Panasonic group marketing manager Matt Pearce said simpler and more sophisticated interaction with devices will be the defining technological development in coming years.

“I think the first broad trend we’ll see in the living room is ease of use,” Pearce told Macworld Australia. “From Grandma to the kids, it’s important that the product’s easy to use. The key thing is that the graphical user interface and the way that occurs will be, I think, quite different to the traditional keyboard/mouse navigation. We’ll see more gestural control, keeping the keyboard out of the living room.”

Although Pearce couldn’t confirm specific technologies being pursued by Panasonic, he confirmed it is indeed investigating new methods for users to interact with its products.

At the same time, Panasonic consumer electronics group director Paul Reid added, the television is increasingly becoming the centre of a multimedia network.

“The television is no longer a one-way entertainment medium but is entering a new era of becoming a truly interactive lifestyle experience,” he said. “Consumers are expecting more from their TVs, demanding not only exceptional picture quality but also immediate viewing of a broader range of content via advanced features that make the TV the hub of the lounge-room.”

While popularity of IPTV and downloadable content continues to grow, Pearce believes its acceptance doesn’t necessarily cut into high-definition mediums such as Blu-ray.

“I think it’s important to understand that it’s not a zero sum game, I don’t think its win/lose. I think what this story’s about is what’s most convenient, easy and what users are happy with in the environment that they’re in,” Pearce said, commenting that while Blu-ray might be the best format for a blockbuster movie, it might not be necessary for a TV sitcom. “I think it’s about matching people’s expectations and what would be reasonable. Kerri-Anne in Blu-ray is probably not necessary.”

The company also remains optimistic about the future of 3D devices for the home, rolling out the technology across four series of televisions, despite the fact that last years’ widely-predicted 3D revolution failed to materialise.

“It’s fair to say that it’s been a challenge,” Pearce said. “For us, it’s a feature and as a long term purchase – the average person hangs onto their TV for around seven years – I guess you’d fairly make the decision about whether 3D will be bigger in three years, five years, six years than what it is today. Is it reasonable to buy this product because you’re looking to future-proof your home?”

Panasonic’s new line of VIERA TVs, which feature wireless DLNA capabilities and new codecs for DivX and MKV media, 2D to 3D up-scaling and USB and SD ports are on sale now.

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