CES - Panasonic wants to add life to walls

Panasonic official Toshihiro Sakamoto provides a glimpse into the company's future, which includes developing interactive walls.

Panasonic on Monday announced it was dabbling with technology that makes walls interactive, adding "larger-than-life technology" to home interiors.

The company is looking to use screens and cameras to create virtual environments on walls. Users will be able to customize wall space on the fly, said Toshihiro Sakamoto, president of Panasonic AVC Networks, a division of Panasonic, during a keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

In a demonstration, facial recognition technology on the wall automatically recognized a human passing by and started a TV program on a flat-screen TV.

But for now, Panasonic seems to be focusing more on improving the interactive experience with a TV.

During the keynote, Sakamoto announced alliances with Comcast and YouTube that will allow TV users to get better access to multimedia via the Web and cable service.

Panasonic's alliance with YouTube will provide users with one-click access to browse, find and view YouTube videos on TVs, said YouTube co-founder and chief technology officer Steve Chen. YouTube is working with Panasonic to deliver a better interface, Chen said.

Panasonic also announced a tie-up with Picasa for users to view pictures from the Picasa digital imaging site on a television.

Access to Internet-based multimedia services will be enabled by Panasonic's Viera Cast wireless networking features incorporated in Panasonic's Viera line of high-definition TVs, Sakamoto said.

Panasonic and cable company Comcast worked together to develop Tru2way technology, which improves access to Comcast's cable service. Users will get direct access to live broadcast feeds, video-on-demand and high-definition sports content. The Tru2way technology will be built into Panasonic TVs or be available as cable boxes, said Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast.

A portable digital video recorder, Anyplay P-DVR Model TZ-LC100, jointly developed by Panasonic for Comcast, will be among the first to incorporate Tru2way technology. Combining DVR (digital video recorder) functionality in a portable DVD player, the system has a folding 8.5-inch LCD (liquid crystal display) screen that can be used to watch recorded movies and programs. When placed on a docking station, the system becomes a DVR and records up to 60 hours of programs that can be viewed on the Panasonic TV. Panasonic officials couldn't provide pricing information, but said the product will ship in 2009.

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service

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