6 Ways Panasonic Tried To Make Back To The Future II A Reality

Today (21 October 2015) marks the day to which Dr. Emmet Brown and Marty McFly time-travelled in the beginning of the second installment of the Back To The Future trilogy. Written between 1987 and 1989 by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, it painted a future of flying cars, self-drying clothes, flying skateboards (hoverboards) and flat panel television sets on which you could also make video calls. The writers showed us a world where the human race had focused on technology rather than globalization, as Peter Thiel would have had, in his book Zero to One.

Back to the Future Part II (1989) teaser Version 4 | Paxton Holley

We’ve failed to fulfill most of the movie’s “predictions”. There have however been some fascinating developments aimed directly at the consumer like the hoverboard and advanced video conferencing. Panasonic has also contributed their part with the main focus being businesses. Part of this development involves Panasonic branding themselves as Panasonic Business for their B2B verticals.

I had the privilege of visiting their stand on the official opening day of the GITEX 2015 Conference at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
With the theme "Be Amazed - Experience the Future of Your Business", the following 6 innovations1 were not far from painting some of the scenes in Back To The Future II.

1. Interactive Mirror

Stealing the show, the Interactive Mirror had crowds lining up to have their experience with Snow White’s Magic Mirror. The Interactive Mirror is a digital Professional Health and Beauty Advisor. It provides a remote control to navigate through different features like Skin Diagnosis, Make Up Simulations and Recommendations.

Attracting men too, it provides simulations with different beards or moustaches to suit the facial contour. I turned down the offer to try it out in public after discovering that, just from studying my skin, it could display my shameful sleeping habits.

The Interactive Mirror Being Used For Make Up Simulation

This mirror uses in-built high definition cameras to feed “face analysing” software that can point out every flaw on your face and provide suggestions to fix them. Potential industries include Retail, Beauty Therapy, Lifestyle and Film/Theatre Production. If you’re in any of these industries and have survived as a technophobe all this time, you need some jacking up.

The traditional African barber keeps a collage of Hollywood/Nollywood’s best hairstyles. When you request a pimp-my-hair session, he allows you to pick one of these unrealistic models. With a head like mine, the end result is usually an ignominious retreat home and internal cursing of both the barber and Denzel Washington. The Panasonic Interactive Mirror brings new hope to fix this relationship breakdown and soon I’ll be able to ditch my bald look.

2. Space Player

Today it’s possible to play films or, project and animate images in a brightly lit room. Taking advantage of their extensive experience in lighting and image projection, Panasonic exhibited the multi-faceted lighting solution, Space Player, to make any space appear in a completely new light. Using a laser light source with Panasonic’s Solid State illumination technology, the Space Player can run up to 20,000 hours without a lamp replacement.

The system allows you to exhibit any form of content via Wi-Fi from your laptop or handheld device. Typical use cases include:

  • restaurant enhancement (for example projecting a different visual experience of the restaurant menu),
  • museum enhancement (for example projecting a description of the artwork next to the exhibit or adding interesting effects to the exhibit) and
  • shop enhancement. An example of this can be seen in the following video.

Panasonic Space Player at GITEX 2015 from iAfrikan on Vimeo

Future Headline: Global Divorce Rate Decreases As Couples Spend More Time Shopping Together

3. Smart Downlight

Still using Panasonic’s experience in lighting and projection, Smart Downlight projects on any selected object and tracks its movement. It then projects relevant content or signage images depending on the movement of the object. Target customers include retail and hospitality players.

Panasonic Smart Downlight at GITEX 2015 from iAfrikan on Vimeo.

4. Interactive Floor System

Maybe this is Panasonic’s response to the Wild Gunman scene in Back To The Future II. Marty tries to shows off his shooting skills in a 1980s Nintendo game called Wild Gunman and the kids respond:

“You mean you have to use your hands? That’s like a baby’s toy...”

Or maybe not. It’s envisioned that the Interactive Floor System will generate more interest for visitors in shopping malls, retail stores, kids areas or theme parks. It’s said that it will draw people’s attention. I’m not too sure for how long it will keep their target’s attention considering that we’re in an era of 6.5 seconds attention span. Vine had it all figured out!

The Interactive Floor System turns an ordinary floor into an 85 inch (216 cm) display. It’s equipped with a light sensor to create an interactive environment. At the exhibition, I only managed to see simple interactive patterns/games. I'm hoping that this was for demo purposes and that more capturing interactive concepts are on the cards. I was assured that the system allows customization, however without indication of how wild can I go.

Panasonic Interactive Floor at GITEX 2015 from iAfrikan on Vimeo.

Music Credit: London Symphony

5. Light ID

Think of a use case using image reading methods like QR Codes. This time however your image sensor (camera) receives an optical ID from an LED light source. Your phone, through an app, then processes this ID to display various kinds of information downloaded from a server. This method provides easier detection and a higher transmission rate than existing methods.

Using The Light ID App to reveal more information about exhibits | GITEX 2015 Panasonic Marketing Middle East & Africa (PMMAF) Stand

Using the Light ID App to reveal more information about exhibits at a shopping mall.

You can see the speed at which this method detects and reacts to different types of sources in the following video:

Panasonic Light ID at GITEX 2015 from iAfrikan on Vimeo.

6. Pool Mapping

There’s a guy who makes loads of money every year painting dolphins and sea-horses at the bottom of hotel swimming pools. Put Panasonic's Pool Mapping beast near your swimming pool and he’ll soon be in need of a major business pivot.

The Panasonic Pool Mapping Projector

This projector uses the world’s shortest throw lens for 3-chip DLP Projectors which reduces approximately 60% of the projection distance. It allows projecting an effectively large floor image from a location near the projection plane.

Mr. Yasuo Yamasaki, Director of System Solutions and Communications Division, PMMAF, demonstrating the power and installation flexibility of Panasonic’s Pool Mapping.

We may have been delayed by 140 character limits, but there have been some considerable efforts to power the flux capacitor.

  1. Please note that I’m not saying that any of the above mentioned technologies are brand new or were launched at GITEX 2015. In fact, some of the technologies, like the Space Player, were discussed topics in the Americas as far back as last year.