The new smart home hub's humane design, open platform, and compassionate AI, will unite physical and digital worlds, says head of Panasonic's Silicon Valley innovation team.
Families may soon welcome a new digital family member into their homes. At the Cross-Innovation Forum 2018 organized by Panasonic, Wataru Baba, CEO of Panasonic β, an innovation center based in Silicon Valley with a mission to realize a better life in homes, mobility and energy, unveiled details of HomeX, a smart home hub designed to transform the home experience and update people's lifestyles. Baba touched on how the future of homes will be shaped by the digital and smart technologies of HomeX.
Baba aims to transform the shape of the home appliance landscape. "The phone and automotive businesses have transformed with more intuitive user interfaces, automation, and artificial intelligence," he said. "They are bringing new value to users. In the same way, the home and residential space should evolve to bring better experiences to residents."
Baba believes that HomeX's "humane" or human-centric design can be the answer. He illustrated it with an example of how the hub can help people wake up in the morning. Instead of using the alarm clock function in our smartphones, he proposes that HomeX can play people's favorite songs, adjust the room lighting, and tailor the airflow and temperature to make waking up more pleasant.
For these experiences to manifest, Baba believes that technology must enable three benefits. "HomeX is here to make home life simple, fast, and easy. Through our 'one software, one design policy' approach, HomeX will offer a unified home experience," he said. The aim is to simplify the number of controls people need. For instance, a single HomeX panel will control multiple devices, such as air conditioners, microwaves, and washing machines. By incorporating simple design features such as landscape aspect ratios into its display panels, users can also view the information at a glance.
Additionally, HomeX will eliminate unnecessary hassle, such as getting up and turning on an appliance. The system will offer insights users need to more easily perform chores and take care of other daily responsibilities. "HomeX can remind people to watch their favorite shows, offer recipes to cook leftover meals, and suggest the best laundry detergent to use," Baba said.
These features will soon be made available to the public. Baba announced that HomeX systems will be implemented at CASART URBAN, a concept developed by real estate developer Panasonic Homes, and ready for orders beginning November. "These homes will be powered by the hub, and residents can enjoy perks such as automated air conditioning management and smart refrigerators," he said.
To update the home experience with such wide-ranging functionality, Baba stated that Panasonic will tap the expertise of other companies through "cross-value innovation," an original Panasonic concept to help drive a culture of innovation through a spirit of collaboration across disciplines and regions to deliver 'innovative integrated solutions' for customers. "We do not insist that our customers only use our products. The HomeX platform will be opened to other brands and ensure their compatibility," Baba said.
Baba revealed that the HomeX project involves more than 30 partners with different specializations. It also provides about 200 home experience APIs that enhance the flexibility and potential of software applications and use cases. In addition, the HomeX platform will be aligned with the industry standards of organizations such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), making it easier to connect with other devices.
"When it comes to using other devices, it is not just a question of connectivity," Baba explained, in reference to the reasoning behind such collaborations. "Rather, we should ask whether devices are properly enabled to enhance the lives of people at home. Therefore, we need to make sure that integration is built into the design from the ground up." At present Baba and his team are exploring how to use voice-assisted technology to improve home user convenience with technology giants like Amazon and Google. Panasonic β's proximity to their facilities in Silicon Valley makes collaboration easier.
Baba believes that the days of 'updated lifestyles' are just beginning. He talked about the HomeX blueprint and how it will bring the smart home hub into the future. "Companies like Proctor & Gamble started off by dominating physical retail shelves," he explained. "In the cyber realm, Google now owns search capabilities. HomeX will break the boundaries between these two worlds and offer serendipity."
He went on to explain that HomeX will be powered by a "compassionate AI core" that will surprise and delight users. "It will be an AI that can empathize with human issues--sometimes even before the person is aware there is a problem," he said. The core will provide richer home experiences through a framework that involves identifying issues, inventing possible solutions, rolling out a prototype, and incorporating feedback to make improvements. "HomeX can not only innovate continuously, but do so at scale," Baba said.
HomeX's AI will not only make daily chores and household tasks easier, but also result in "IA," or intelligence amplification. "Through the HomeX ecosystem, users can have a constant dialogue with the AI, which will help them find smarter ways of approaching tasks," he said.
[Business Session] HomeX - Standard of living in the future
Date and Time
November 2, 2:15 p.m. -3:15 p.m. JST
Mr. Wataru Baba, Director of Business Innovation Division, Panasonic Corporation
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