For Panasonic, product localization means more than providing an instruction manual in 12 languages. Going beyond language localization, the company develops whole new products designed to reflect the unique customs, priorities and lifestyles of individual countries and cultures.

As one example, in many European countries there is strong awareness of the need to protect the environment and combat climate change. Consumers there regularly consider the environmental credentials of the companies they purchase from and the environmental impact of the products they buy. European governments have embraced ambitious carbon-reduction targets and are promoting the use of more efficient home heating systems that make less use of fossil fuels.

It is therefore in Europe that Panasonic is currently focusing the deployment of its latest heating and cooling technologies, leveraging decades of experience to develop more environmentally-friendly solutions that will help countries there reach their targets. These include a range of heat pumps, which use natural heat found in the air as their main source of energy.

Panasonic initially developed heat pump solutions to produce hot running water for homes in Japan. In Europe, however, hot water has long been used to heat homes as well, with radiators or underfloor heating installed in most dwellings. The company accordingly adapted its heat pump solutions to additionally provide domestic heating, resulting in the release of its range of new Aquarea heat pumps in countries across Europe.

The refrigerant used in the Aquarea range can absorb heat with outdoor temperatures as low as -28°C, meaning that they are able to work in the colder climates of Northern Europe and Scandinavia.

The efficiency of Panasonic's heat pump technology combined with the company's advanced U-Vacua insulation--the latter up to 19 times more efficient than polyurethane foam--means that Aquarea installations are able to produce up to five times more heat per unit of energy consumed than systems using traditional boilers.

They can additionally be configured to provide cooling during warmer months and integrated with solar panels generating electricity, boosting their efficiency and further reducing their environmental footprint.

Users can control Aquarea settings using their smartphones, tablets or PCs, even when away from the home, and systems are remotely monitored 24x7 by dedicated service staff.

In all, a long way from traditional heating systems that burn fossil fuels!

Elsewhere in the world, Panasonic is helping to provide China's citizens with medical services in the home, aiming to reduce the need for hospital visits, especially among the elderly. Citizens can monitor and protect their health in the comfort and convenience of their own home.

In addition, there is widespread acceptance and usage of smartphones and IoT technology in China, even among the elderly. Panasonic therefore decided to leverage these traits and develop the toilet as a healthcare tool there. This has resulted in the production of the IoT toilet, which the company developed in collaboration with a Chinese manufacturer of health monitoring devices.

Using sensors embedded in the seat and in special armrests--which double as supports for the elderly and the physically challenged--the IoT toilet measures and reports on a number of bodily health indicators. 14 different readings, including protein, uric acid and glucose levels, can be taken from urine samples using a special probe.

Photo: Panasonic's IoT toilet

Panasonic's IoT toilet

Electrodes in the armrests measure heart rate, body fat and bone mass and supply ECG readings. A finger clip measures blood oxygen levels. All results can be read on the user's smartphone or viewed on a special bathroom mirror. This allows routine health monitoring to be carried out without a trip to a busy hospital, and frees hospitals up to concentrate on treating conditions where the patient needs to be physically present.

Panasonic has additionally teamed up with Yada International Holdings Ltd, a provider of healthcare and other services for the elderly, in a venture that is creating a smart town where the elderly can live confidently and healthily, in Yixing, China. This features houses equipped with healthcare-related home appliances, including the IoT toilet, and a range of nursing care devices. A Panasonic showroom will open at the site--Wellness Smart Town Square--in mid-July, and the IoT toilet will be exhibited there.

Wellness Smart Town Square Yixing

Wellness Smart Town Square Yixing

In many other regions of the world, everyday clothing often reflects specific cultural or religious affiliations. One example is the abaya, a loose over-garment, essentially a robe-like dress, worn by some women in parts of the Muslim world including North Africa and the Middle East.

(Video provided by Panasonic Marketing Middle East & Africa)

Abayas are often adorned with delicate sequins, beads and handcrafted embroidery, which makes them challenging to wash. While washing by hand is the norm, the uneven pressure applied by human hands often results in damage to the delicate fabrics and adornments.

To make it easier to maintain and clean the abaya, Panasonic has developed a range of washing machines with a creative drum design and gentle wash techniques which it is marketing in a number of Gulf countries.

Operation of the Abaya Wash

Operation of the Abaya Wash

A special protective net placed over the pulsator gently holds the clothes and ensures that they do not come in direct contact with the fins of the pulsator, avoiding potential damage to the fabrics. Additionally, water flow from the top of the drum creates a level of pressure resembling that created during hand washing.

A special half-tub rotation, much like the rocking of a cradle, ensures gentle cleaning action. A 7-jet shower head and active foam generator delivers powerful cleansing action without damaging delicate fabrics or causing shrinkage.

The Abaya Wash range comprises seven models--five fully automatic front loaders and two top loaders. In tests comparing their performance with the "delicates" wash cycle of other leading models and with washing by hand, the Panasonic machine achieved superior cleaning results every time with virtually no impact on the fabrics or their adornments.

Panasonic will continue to develop products attuned to the specific needs of individual countries, regions and cultures. Products which reflect a range of different local priorities. Concern for the environment, looking after aging populations, and taking care of delicate clothing are just some of these. It's a broad and fascinating mix.

In a global world, Panasonic is committed to thinking and acting 'local'.

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