Panasonic opens $127M technology showcase

Spending ¥15 billion (US$127 million), Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. has collected its most advanced technologies and products and will open a new four-storey facility in the Tokyo Bay area on Sept. 14 to show off these advances, the company announced Friday.

The 16,000 square-meter Panasonic Center will enable Matsushita's clients -- both consumers and corporate and government -- to view the company's latest products and prototypes and offer feedback, Matsushita said.

The first floor allows visitors to try electronic devices such as DVD players, audio and visual players and mobile phones. Matsushita and Nintendo Co. Ltd. are providing an area called Nintendo Game Front, which enables visitors to play the latest game software on Nintendo's Gamecube and Gameboy Advance game consoles.

On the second floor, Matsushita has created a futuristic house full of networked and advanced home appliances of the type expected to reach the market between 2005 and 2010. Prototypes exhibited there include a communication robot which can receive e-mail and inform members of a household that they have new mail messages.

Matsushita provides visitors a PDA (personal digital assistant) with a headset for use on the first floor and the third floor, where a science museum, which exhibits dinosaur fossils and excavation research, is installed. From a point in front of each showcase, wireless short-range Bluetooth communication technology will transfer content that explains the showcase to the PDA for the visitor to browse and listen to.

The fourth floor is open only to business clients. There are showcases for business presentations, and the company hopes to invite corporations and local and central governments from all over the world.

The annex consists of two high-definition broadcasting studios networked with optical fiber infrastructure, which send high-volume and high-definition content to displays throughout the center.

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