As the economy seems to falling back into decline and markets all over the world severely suffering, there is one sector which is lucky enough to have been given a recession-free pass. The technology industry is growing at a fast rate especially in parts of Asia and one brand, Panasonic has taken this opportunity to expand its “techi savvy” product range and sprinkle the UK with a bit of Japanese living star dust.
Based at the bustling Pinewood Studios in London, the Panasonic Experience Studio was set up 8 weeks ago to give businesses and people the chance to sample their latest range of retail screens, 3D televisions, interactive plasma’s and 2012 Olympics range.
The National Design Academy tutor team, Directors, NDA Private Clients Manager and of course myself (not wanting to miss out on anything exciting) made the trip to Panasonic’s studio to see first hand what all the fuss was about and how this latest technology would be stitched into the Interior Design industry.
As we made our way up to the studio, my camera was out and ready to get snappy happy and the group were becoming extremely excited to see what was in store. As soon as we stepped into the hallway before entering the studio, gasps and oooo’s were exhaled and a rush of bodies proceeded to the corner.
A brilliant sales tool on Panasonic’s part, they had cleverly placed a tall interactive screen in the corner of the room (above) that allowed a person to manoeuvre and manipulate what showed on screen – it reminded me of something from CSI Miami! In fact, this screen is similar to those which will be distributed around London during the 2012 Olympic games as information guides. Everyone was hooked by this point.
We were then ushered into the main studio which was nearly pitch black, except for spots of bright flickering screens lining the edges of the room. I was rather impressed with the trio of towering screens lacing the back wall, with what appeared to be the angels from the Lynx adverts trying to smash their way out of the screens.
The group were shown an rather impressive 103 inch plasma screen, fully interactive and used by Sky Sports presenters in the studio. This big boy has up to 6 points of contact, can use live feeds and uses infrared technology to follow contact, which means you don’t even have to touch the screen to use it! For roughly £50,000 smackers you could have one of these all to yourself!
Prying themselves away from drawing squiggles on the interactive golf course , the group moved on to a three screen display, which are more commonly used by large retailers. Towering over our head and displaying a range of crisp moving images, I can see why companies would be scrambling to bag a few. I believe each screen costs roughly £50,000 but I could be mistaken, there was a lot running through my brain at this point. The display works by three boxes connected up to each screen, which uploads a visual and splits it between the three.
Whatever followed on from this would have to be pretty special to top the Lynx girls…and it was! The sales representative showed the group Panasonic’s practically indestructible weather proof television, the IP66. It’s shock proof, waterproof, dust proof and basically life proof. Many footballers and rich businessmen have had a whole wad of these installed at the bottom of their pools – great if you want to catch up with Eastenders whilst enjoying a dip! The Japanese being how they are, have the IP66 installed in car washes to keep customers fully entertained – wow!
We then moved to the Technoframe which was a winner with everyone, especially the NDA’s Director of Studies, Anthony Rayworth. The Technoframe is a desk with what is essentially a 42 inch LCD television strapped underneath and shows through a large hole in the middle. The screen works in the same way as interactive plasma mentioned earlier, but allows the user to upload images, graphics, plans and more. It’s a great tool for showing clients designs and helping them to visualise a design scheme.
Now, my favourite gadget of the day, created by Grand Visual for Panasonic, this is a fully interactive vertical screen, which uses a camera to capture whoever stands in front and display them on the screen. Then, if you put you hand out, a car magically forms in your palm and from here, can be manipulated in a variety of ways!
This screen was previously used by Lynx for a men’s aftershave campaign and was extremely successful. Three screens were set up, one in front and the other two left and right to make a box shape, and placed in a London underground station for members of the public to test drive. The screen displayed a message saying “stand on this circle” and when activated, Lynx angels would fall down the screen, as if from the sky and surround the person stood in the middle. The text would then change to “The Lynx effect”. This genius device had to be removed from the station because it was causing havoc with commuters missing trains – brilliant!
After consuming a mammoth amount of technological info, I thought we’d come to the end of our tour – oh no! There was a four screen horizontal display waiting to be discovered on the back wall. When a person triggers the infrared camera, the screens display images or text, that follow your movements across the four televisions.
Finally, we got to try out the advanced 3D home cinema software and look pretty spiffing doing so in our black 3D shades. The glasses are light-years ahead of what is used in the cinema at the moment. The lenses flicker at extremely fast like the shutter speed on a camera to show a more detailed picture. I tell you, I had to refrain from putting my hands out to touch the train it looked that real!
The experience was certainly thought provoking especially relevant to the NDA’s new Retail Degree, seeing how new age technology is pushing the boundaries of advertising and blurring the lines between reality and the virtual world. It only feels like yesterday that 3D broke through on to the scene, and now there’s screens which are fully interactive, used at the bottom of swimming pools, installed in car washes. Give it ten years and we’ll have the first hover craft car!