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Panasonic North America CEO: ‘We’ve really reinvented ourselves’

Daniel Howley
·Technology Editor
·4 min read

Panasonic is virtually rolling into CES 2021 with a slew of announcements detailing everything from the company’s efforts in the automotive space to in-home audio technologies and televisions.

And while the coronavirus pandemic means there are no big in-person reveals, the firm is still making some impressive news during the all-virtual version of American’s preeminent annual consumer technology showcase.

“We've really reinvented ourselves as it relates to, you know, CES,” Panasonic North America CEO Michael Moskowitz told Yahoo Finance Live. “We have some really awesome things that we're going to be announcing.”

Panasonic hits the road

Part of those announcements have to do with Panasonic’s continued work in the automotive industry. This year, the company has announced three new products and initiatives including a futuristic heads-up display, a new in-car charging platform, and an audio collaboration with Klipsch to bring Dolby Atmos sound to vehicles.

The heads-up display, known as Augmented Reality HUD, provides drivers with a host of information via an augmented reality overlay directly in their line of sight. For instance, the system can alert drivers to pedestrians or bicyclists, speed limits, bridge heights, upcoming turns, and driving directions.

“We've developed...new heads up displays that really provide more intuitive information gathering experience, in terms of how you look at things,” Moskowitz said.

Panasonic's new in-car heads-up display provides information including directions and road hazards in real time at the driver's eye level. (Image: Panasonic)
Panasonic's new in-car heads-up display provides information including directions and road hazards in real time at the driver's eye level. (Image: Panasonic)

The system ensures visuals are always in the driver’s sight line using eye-tracking technology, and the augmented reality markers stay on the appropriate real-world objects without bouncing around due to vehicle vibrations thanks to Panasonic’s camera image stability algorithm.

Heads-up displays like the Augmented Reality HUD have been in vehicles for years, but it's the addition of up-to-the-second data that helps set Panasonic’s solution apart.

The company’s wireless charging solution, meanwhile, features a new moving coil setup in which the charging coil you place your smartphone on freely moves inside of the charger to ensure it has the best alignment with your device. What’s more, both the moving coil and a separate static coil setup promise some of the fastest wireless charging around, capable of rivaling even tethered in-car chargers.

Then there’s the company’s audio announcement, which is a proof-of-concept marrying Klipsch speakers to a vehicle to enable Dolby Atmos immersive audio capabilities in future cars. In other words, rather than just hearing music from the right and left speakers as with standard stereo, you’d hear audio in your car coming from all directions.

Panasonic in the home

Outside of Panasonic’s automotive announcements, the company also debuted its new SoundSlayer gaming soundbar.

“The gaming community is really accelerating, right? To support that, we are launching a new sound speaker for gaming called SoundSlayer. And that supports the work that we're doing with Square Enix, and the ‘Final Fantasy XIV’ online game,” Moskowitz explained.

The Panasonic SoundSlayer is a soundbar built specifically for gamers. (Image: Panasonic)
The Panasonic SoundSlayer is a soundbar built specifically for gamers. (Image: Panasonic)

Priced at $293, the slim speaker is designed for gamers with three sound modes: Role-playing Game mode, designed to boost general sound quality; First-person Shooter mode, for providing audio location; and Voice mode, for playing games that are heavy on dialogue.

Finally, Panasonic announced that it’s rolling out its new JZ2000 OLED TV in 55-inch and 65-inch models. The TV, which doesn’t have a price for the North American market yet, includes a host of top-of-the-line features including a variable refresh rate, high frame rate, and HDMI 2.1.

The TV’s on-board chip can also detect what you’re watching and automatically adjust the display to produce the best image.

Panasonic’s pandemic work

Outside of CES, Moskowitz said the company has been working with a slew of industries throughout the pandemic to ensure they can continue operating, whether that’s restaurants or with medical device manufacturers.

“During this COVID journey we've supported many major medical equipment manufacturers with our battery technology, as production started to ramp we ramped with that to support them,” he said.

“We've developed...new contact lists, types of technologies around quick service restaurants, whether it be kiosks or drive throughs or contactless payments, and the most recent, which is food lockers,” he added.

Panasonic’s work with batteries has also come into play, Moskowitz explained, saying that the company’s technologies have been used in battery backups in data centers to support industries like ecommerce.

“I think that a lot of that comes back to our culture, and our focus on our customers is really some of the things that is carrying us through this pandemic and driving new solutions for our customers across the board,” Moskowitz added.

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