Imagine a world where there is a washing machine to fold your clothes, a voice-responsive mobile fridge and a smart sake cooler that recommends meal pairings for your chosen bottles.
This world is a reality, this is a Panasonic world, as these were among the concepts showcased by Panasonic at consumer electronics fair IFA in Berlin.
In a section of its stand called Better Living Tomorrow, the Japanese technology company is demonstrating a number of prototype concepts that might one day become common household devices – but more likely won’t.
The imagined products are based around new developments in the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, allowing them to connect to the internet and perform complicated tasks autonomously.
These technologies “support a variety of aspects of our lives, making the time spent with family and friends more delightful,” according to Panasonic.
The washing machine of dreams
The largest of the inventions on display is the Sustainable Maintainer, a washing machine that launders items individually and ends by delicately folding them onto a shelf.
The whole machine is hidden behind a wall and activated by pressing on one of its glossy white tiles.
At this point, the hamper drawer opens and the user tosses in their dirty clothes.
A robotic arm then picks up the item, which has its label scanned for composition and washing instructions.
The machine also analyses how dirty the item is, and implements the best laundering process accordingly. At the end of the wash and dry, another robotic arm picks up the item, folds it and places it onto a shelf within the unit.
A second invention shown off by Panasonic is a fridge that makes it easier than ever for users to access their food – by bringing it directly to them.
Mobile and voice-controlled, the Movable Fridge has sensors that constantly scan the room its in, keeping track of any moving objects like people and pets, and navigating around them.
Panasonic is displaying the Movable Fridge within its kitchen wall, and activated by a simple voice command.
Also in its futuristic kitchen is the Sake Cooler – a smart cooler that uses its WiFi connection to check bottle labels against an online database of information.
This means that as well as chilling foods, it can inform users about their sake and recommend foods that would match well with its flavours.
IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) took place in Berlin from 1st to 6th September.
The event sees new product launches from major electronics companies like Panasonic, Samsung and Sony, as well as presentations from start-ups and smaller companies.
Panasonic used the event to unveil its Google Assistant-powered smart speaker, while Fitbit launched a new smartwatch and Loewe showcased a statement TV in a golden frame.