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CEATEC '08 - Making Your Telly More...

Making Your Telly Much More Than A Telly

Most of the big AV brands at CEATEC were keen to push the idea of the humble TV as less mere goggle box, more interactive window on the world and control centre for your entire home.

Making the biggest noise by far in this area was Panasonic. The CEATEC show is being used by Panasonic to celebrate both its 90th birthday and its global rebranding as, um, Panasonic (ditching the Matsushita and National brands it also goes by in Japan). And as part of these celebrations the brand’s stand really pushed the boat out in terms of putting on fancy shows of futuristic, ‘visionary’ products and scenarios, most of which centred around the TV as the hub of a digital home.

In one exhibit designed as a swanky-looking modern flat, for instance, a big Panasonic plasma TV was being used as the portal through which an expansion of Panny’s Viera Link functionality allowed a chic Japanese couple to do everything from adjusting the light and heating levels in the house, through accessing news and weather from around the world, to switching the microwave oven on.

In the bedroom part of this display, meanwhile, another huge TV built into a full-length mirror offered up a touch-screen interface through which you could access a camera-based system for judging your bodyshape, with different exercise routines then being played on the TV to help you sort out your flabby bits. Just as well I didn’t get the chance to stand before this interactive personal trainer TV myself, as it would probably have blown a fuse.

It’s worth adding here that the ‘TV in the bedroom mirror’ idea reflects a belief explicitly discussed by our Panasonic stand guide that in the future we’ll have TVs absolutely everywhere; walls, ceilings, mirrors, cupboards, floors, microwaves, picture frames and so on. And this idea was backed up almost word for word by Toshiyuki Kita, the award-winning design talent behind Sharp’s AQUOS LCD TVs.

Anyway, getting back to the matter at hand, Panasonic’s dreams of making the TV the centrepiece of your entire existence stepped up to a whole other level with another ‘high concept’ exhibit: the Life Wall. Here an entire wall of a house had been turned into a gargantuan TV through which you could enjoy such interactive delights as engaging in life-sized video conferences with your friends and family, trying on ‘virtual’ versions of clothes you were thinking of buying from an online store, and taking violin lessons.

Panasonic optimistically suggested that this sort of video wall concept might be feasible as early as 2015. But even if it is, it will be many years more than that before anyone but the super-rich will find they have the home design or bank balance wherewithal to get ‘Life Walled up’.

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