Leveraging decades of experience and the very latest lifestyle technologies in brand new community developments overseas
With life expectancy continuing to rise in many countries, there is growing recognition of the need to ensure good health and quality of life for the elderly. While this has traditionally been seen as a government responsibility, progressive companies like Panasonic are increasingly playing a proactive role providing technology and products in support of projects focusing on the needs of senior citizens.
Panasonic has a track record of delivering healthcare facilities and care solutions for the elderly, having provided nursing care products and rehabilitation expertise for more than 20 years in Japan. More recently, the company pioneered the development of a number of 'Sustainable Smart Towns' across the country, which it operates in collaboration with consortium partners, local governments and residents.
Panasonic's focus in the wellness field has recently broadened to China, a country whose population includes more than 250 million people over the age of 60--around twice Japan's total population! With its population expected to age further over the coming years, there is increasing demand in China for infrastructure and facilities that cater to the medical and social needs of the elderly and their lifestyles.
In 2019 Panasonic and Yada International--China's leading healthcare and aged-care provider and a major tourism industry player--decided to work together on a new community venture in the country. Incorporating advances pioneered in Panasonic's Sustainable Smart Town development in Japan, the venture has led to the creation of a 'Wellness Smart Town' in Yixing City, around 150 kilometers west of Shanghai, in an area of natural beauty bordering one of China's largest freshwater lakes. As its name suggests, the facility will leverage technology to promote wellness and provide an environment that supports healthy living and reflects the changing lifestyles of people in China.
In the new 4-square-kilometer complex, Yada is building a residential compound of around 300,000 square meters--equivalent in size to more than 40 soccer pitches! It contains 794 low-rise housing units and 376 detached villas incorporating Panasonic's latest generation of home appliances and heating and cooling systems. These leverage technology to provide user-friendly interfaces and AI-assisted operation, making them easy for people of all ages to use.
Recognizing that local environments play a major role in the health of residents and their quality of life, especially for the elderly, the solutions Panasonic is contributing to the development include its 6C Air Circulation System that automatically controls humidity as well as temperature in each room. Smart lighting adjusts room brightness in accordance with the time of day and a 'smart sleep' system moderates lighting and air conditioning to optimize sleeping conditions and facilitate natural waking.
Earlier this year, a Panasonic Health and Intelligent Life Center was inaugurated in the Wellness Smart Town Square facility, showcasing the company's solutions in the fields of healthcare, hygiene and enhanced value living spaces. Visitors can view and try these, and an on-screen integration system allows prospective buyers to incorporate them into the draft design of their new home.
Panasonic has additionally set up a model room in the Wellness Smart Town Square which depicts what an ideal living space might look like. In addition to traditional kitchen, bathroom, living and sleeping areas, the display showcases a variety of modular spaces that further expand the possibilities of shared living.
Hygiene and cleanliness solutions are attracting particular attention in the wake of the COVID pandemic. Panasonic's contribution to the new facility includes the company's latest range of air-conditioners featuring its proprietary nanoe™ X Technology, which helps suppress viral and bacterial activity. This is incorporated into a variety of home appliances to help sterilize, control odors, suppress allergens, and maintain moisture.
Comprehensive healthcare provision is a key feature of the Wellness Smart Town. Panasonic is contributing a health monitoring platform that sources data from various devices, such as sensors in the company's new range of IoT-enabled bathroom accessories. These provide reports and recommendations to users, encouraging residents to take more care of their own health and to adopt more healthy lifestyles. Residents can decide whether to allow anonymous use of their data to inform the provision of communal medical facilities.
Communal living is in fact a key part of the philosophy underpinning the development of the Wellness Smart Town, and the facility is designed to encourage interaction among residents as well as between residents and those living outside of the community. Interestingly, the exterior of each block in the Yada-Panasonic residential area is unique; this is aimed at aiding recognition and way-finding.
The Panasonic Healthy and Intelligent Life Center will also provide a place for residents to mingle and relax. It currently features a library with irregular bookshelves and a special design to make reading more enjoyable, as well as a unique Japanese footbath (a Panasonic product named "Bihoyu" for Japan domestic market only). A coffee corner facing a large glass wall allows visitors to enjoy a drink and take in the surrounding scenery.
Panasonic's housing complex in the Yixing Wellness Smart Town is due to be completed in 2022, with the first occupants scheduled to take up residence in around October of that year.
The company will continue to work hand-in-hand with its partners to help consumers of all ages lead more peaceful and fulfilling lives in its state-of-the-art facilities.
For Panasonic, the Wellness Smart Town project in China is an opportunity to leverage the experience and know-how of smart living projects it gained over many years in Japan to new housing developments in overseas markets. The company sees it as major learning opportunity--one that will provide valuable feedback and inform similar developments in China and other countries in the future.
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