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Panasonic R&D 'House of the Future' To Open 64

Posted by Zonk
from the sign-me-up-for-a-stint dept.
Tomo Hiratsuka writes "On January 4 Panasonic opens its new R&D showcase in Tokyo, featuring the usual raft of environmentally friendly products and a take on how to make gadgets more usable for the graying societies of the future. Examples are thin on the ground at the minute but the company's Universal Design (UD) concept could be just the kind of simplification everybody's grandparents have been whining for over the holidays when faced with the space-age remotes on new-fangled DVD players and the like." Details can be found via CBS, and an official release.
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Panasonic R&D 'House of the Future' To Open

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  • seriously (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mix_master_mike (540678) on Saturday December 31, 2005 @05:38PM (#14371873) Homepage
    "Dinner still has to be cooked. OK, it's very easy because this system automatically sends the cooking data to the network microwave oven. " Don't we see this shit every decade or so? That sounds like a commercial from the 70s for those new fangled robots... When I can afford this junk I'll be interested.
    • by Radish03 (248960) on Saturday December 31, 2005 @06:10PM (#14372016)
      In other news, a new worm, targetting networked microwaves, was released today. Victims have reported many burnt dinners. Norton Internet Security: Microwave Edition has been released to combat this virus.
      • And in yet more news, Sony has also built a House of the Future to showcase their products. It promises to be an exciting glimpse into their new developments, but sadly no-one can see what's in it, because we can't find the $sys$door.
      • In a surprising twist, it turns out an unchecked buffer in the software actually makes the microwaves more vulnerable than those without the software...
    • Don't we see this shit every decade or so? That sounds like a commercial from the 70s for those new fangled robots... When I can afford this junk I'll be interested.

      My dad once consulted for a client who wanted to bring such a system to market in the early 80s. They just had all their priorities so wrong. Kind of like a cross between an Asimov "boy and his robot dog" story and "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine. Crap like rotating, talking clothes hangers in wardrobes, and automated robotic laundry system

  • they old people-proofed it.

    The House is designed to accommodate diversity in age and abilities. The corridors are wide enough to allow wheelchair access and handrails are installed to aid walking and prevent accidents. Furniture and fixtures in the House have rounded edges and are set at a height the users can access comfortably from sitting in a chair.

  • Building Maintenance forcasted to skyrocket as technology invades houses!

    So where in this house is the IT expert going to stay?

  • Sounds intriuging. I doubt that it'll be as big as the USB innovation, but if it even comes CLOSE it'll be amazing.

    OTOH, it could just end up being an overpriced, dysfunctional way of just making things even more complicated.

    We'll have to see...
  • well.. totally off-topic, but I followed an ad from that site to http://www.dynamism.com/ [dynamism.com] , and from there to http://www.dynamism.com/gp2x/ [dynamism.com]

    Sounds like a potentially cute device.. already runs linux, the developers have a wiki, they embrace open source and tinkering.. hmm(!)
  • Hover Cars (Score:2, Funny)

    by bad jerkface (930612)
    This is all fine and good, but don't you think we should have hover cars by now? I want my hover car!
    • The thought of hover cars scares the hell out of me. Your average Joe Sixpack has trouble controlling his vehicle in 2-dimensions. Adding a 3rd would just screw him allllll up.
  • Disturbing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lead Butthead (321013) on Saturday December 31, 2005 @06:15PM (#14372041) Journal
    I recall US based companies used to do this too (in the 50's?) Somewhere along the line they just stopped. In a way I think it's sad because to me it mean State side companies decided at some point dream of what future could hold isn't important anymore. Now it's always about near term profit, stock valuation, what will get the executives the fattest bonuses...
    • The question is, are elderly people acutally demanding these products? It's all well and good to invent all sorts of neat gadgets, but if people don't actually want/need the gadgets, what good have you really done? Time will tell whether or not this is a good idea or an expensive series of flops.
    • I just got back from Tokyo where we visited Toyota's "Mega Web [megaweb.gr.jp]" building that is a cross betwen an auto dealership and a "world of tomorrow" exhibit. One entire section is devoted to the models and modifications of their cars that assist the handicapped and elderly.

      They also had the outragous concept cars and transport devices such as the i-unit [toyota.co.jp].
  • (With apologies to The Barenaked Ladies)

    It seems like every few years, some tech company does a "home of the future." AOL's version was the "Home of the 21st Century" http://www.h21c.seas.gwu.edu/ [gwu.edu] done in conjunction with The George Washington University http://www.gwu.edu/ [gwu.edu] at the Virginia Campus. The technologies on display are always either *very* nice and high-end, or kludged together from off-the-shelf stuff. I'll be interested to see what the cool-factor on this is, though.
    • And you didn't mention what came to my mind upon reading this story: the two classic Warner Bros. cartoon shorts with the "house of the future," the out of control droids, the record changer that throws records around, etc. etc.

      Cue Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse"...
  • ...
    we'll do your homework every night
    it's really hard
    that's why we got that stephen hawking
    my god this house is freaking sweet

    Family Guy [lyricallegend.co.uk]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In other news, Samsung responded by opening 'Housewife of the Future' showcase, featuring the usual raft of environmentally friendly products and a take on how to make women more usable for the graying societies of the future. Japanese noted, that actually they were the first ones [bbc.co.uk].

    As the race to future tightens, there has been rumours about Samsung R&D on next generation wives cloned from female college students, but this far prototypes haven't succeed [bbc.co.uk]...
  • by pomo monster (873962) on Saturday December 31, 2005 @06:37PM (#14372108)
    As a Japanese (by ancestry) American (by birth), perhaps it's navel-gazing that piques my interest in this article from The Economist regarding [economist.com] the importance of cultural differences between Japan and the West in driving not only technological adoption, but innovation and development, too. Even if so, I bet plenty of people reading this Slashdot comment would find the article just as fascinating. The author's perspective, basically, is that people brought up in Japan's "culture of shame" are more comfortable interacting with machines than with people, while the Western "culture of guilt" (n.b. these terms are from elsewhere, and don't actually appear in the article), in which social fuckups aren't quite so stigmatized, doesn't need or even want technology to insulate individuals from one another. The first paragraph, which would probably be moderated flamebait in any other context:

    HER name is MARIE, and her impressive set of skills comes in handy in a nursing home. MARIE can walk around under her own power. She can distinguish among similar-looking objects, such as different bottles of medicine, and has a delicate enough touch to work with frail patients. MARIE can interpret a range of facial expressions and gestures, and respond in ways that suggest compassion. Although her language skills are not ideal, she can recognise speech and respond clearly. Above all, she is inexpensive. Unfortunately for MARIE, however, she has one glaring trait that makes it hard for Japanese patients to accept her: she is a flesh-and-blood human being from the Philippines. If only she were a robot instead.

    Like I say, an interesting take on things. If only the Economist Troll were to stop by to make it available to non-subscribers.
    • MARIE can interpret a range of facial expressions and gestures, and respond in ways that suggest compassion. Although her language skills are not ideal, she can recognise speech and respond clearly. Above all, she is inexpensive. Unfortunately for MARIE, however, she has one glaring trait that makes it hard for Japanese patients to accept her: she is a flesh-and-blood human being from the Philippines. If only she were a robot instead.

      Your post is reasonable but it carries a message that has poped up on /.

      • Huh, you seem to be reading things into people's postings that aren't really there. The main points made in favor of domestics isn't the excellent social interaction and the chance to make new friends, but that they're cheaper and better than robots could ever hope to be - suggesting that Japan's robot-care program is an unnecessary expense driven by xenophobia. Maybe you could argue that domestic help is actually very problematic, but "liberal guilt"??? That's way too convoluted, clearly you're on some
  • ...house contents address environmental impact, through the company's mysterious "Factor X," and usability, via intelligent design of device controls...


    Intelligent design of device controls? I knew it! All along the purveyors of intelligent design have been in cahoots with Matsushita over Japanese control of the US school system.
    • Re:AHA! (Score:2, Funny)

      by ratnerstar (609443)
      Many people don't know this, but ID theory actually proposes that all life on Earth was created by the Japanese.
    • The funny thing about the Intelligent Design controvery, is that it has probably scuttled some company's marketing plan. I bet some marketing-droid out there had "Intel: Intelligent Design" ready to sell as the new slogan. but if they actually used it, it would provoke laughter and derision, as "intelligent design" is now associated in the public's mind with anything but intelligence.
  • Someday (Score:2, Insightful)

    Someday my furnace, washer, dryer, water heater and security system will get an IP from my router. I'll be able to see off the router's homepage the status of my laundry, change the water heater's temp., etc. All this stuff could be in place by now, there's just no demand for it. Every one of these "homes of the future" events brings us a bit closer.
    • It would be pretty cool to have all the appliances connected via, IP, but it would definetly have it's downfalls. Everytime something happens to confuse the router (which is quite frequent in my house, what with the power and cable modem going down for no reason), my oven would stop working!
  • by OnanTheBarbarian (245959) on Saturday December 31, 2005 @07:07PM (#14372213)
    It's a tough call - do developments like this merely improve life for already isolated old people, or do they make it easier (particularly on the conscience) to dump old people in isolated apartments with less and less social contact?

    I'm torn between these two arguments. It's not like everyone treated old people warmly and integrated them into normal social life and then technology came along and messed it all up.

    Finally, I'm dubious about how 'eco' all of these clean redesigns are. Visiting California, I'm always amused to hear about people with their new 'eco-mega-mansions' - big houses built really far from anywhere, at great expense, with lots of 'energy saving' features. They may save energy in the steady state - but the massive expenditure of energy and capital required to build them is significant. In a part of the world that isn't really experiencing much population growth, gadget-packed new developments (almost guaranteed to be obsolete and difficult in 10 or 20 years) probably aren't a very eco-friendly way to go (even if their theoretical characteristics in the 'steady state' look good).
  • That every electronics manufacturer agrees to NEVER EVER make wall-wart power supplies ever again. Is it that much to include a standard plug a few inches long from the transformer? I don't want to have to buy bigger and bigger power strips to accomidate a flawed design. 3 years ago I bought an HP printer that had this implemented. Just a few months ago, I bought another HP printer that went back to the wall wart design.

    And while we are at it, is it that hard to label the peripheral that goes to said wall-w
  • I've been seeing the house of the future my whole life. And you know what? The houses of today aren't that much different than houses built 100 years ago. Insulation is a little better, but it's marginal. Appliances are more efficient but not a lot different. If anything the lumber used a 100 years ago is a lot better...at least it's thicker. Air conditioning is better, windows are better but they don't look much different.

    If you built the house of the future today with a high thermal mass material l

  • This is exciting news. Perhaps Panasonic's US R&D division employees can use their Christmas bonuses [cbs46.com] to go visit the new facility.
  • Malvina Reynolds

    1. Little boxes on the hillside,
    Little boxes made of ticky-tacky,
    Little boxes, little boxes,
    Little boxes, all the same.
    There's a green one and a pink one
    And a blue one and a yellow one
    And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
    And they all look just the same.

    2. And the people in the houses
    All go to the university,
    And they all get put in boxes,
    Little boxes, all the same.
    And there's doctors and there's lawyers
    And business executives,
    And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
    And they all look just the
  • by zooo (905313)
    A large number of American houses of the future will look a lot like the trailor parks of today but with more expensive services. Urban living will probably be in high rise condos ala Hong Kong and a very small elite group will live in walled communities and or condos enjoying fabulous wealth and access to the latest technologies. They will pay dearly for security protection, clean water and reliable power. Mexico City would probably be a good indicator of where the average large American city is headed ove
  • Last Christmas, I was shopping for a cordless phone suited to my (old) parents, one was dedicated to older people, but it cost twice as much as other phones with less functionnality.
    The only real improvement for older people was that it had less functionnality and had bigger buttons.

    Somehow I wasn't ready to pay twice as much for bigger buttons.

    My feeling is that the company doing it was way too greedy and treats older people as 'cash cow', barf.
  • everybody's grandparents have been whining for over the holidays

    I'll believe it when I see it. After watching the development of PCs, VCRs, etc. etc. etc. over the past twenty years I've come to the conclusion that tech companies are *incapable* of developing technology that's grandma-friendly. They fail to do granny-testing, and when grannies complain that they can't work X,Y,Z manufacturers blame the end-users. Not their products.

Whoever dies with the most toys wins.

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