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INTERVIEW: How Panasonic's Bicycle Lamp Inspired Tech Innovation


CTA Staff
We had a chance to speak with Dan Unger, Panasonic’s Manager of Public Relations, about Panasonic's beginnings and what they have planned for the future.

To have true staying power in the tech industry, you have to evolve with the along with the it. That's exactly what Panasonic has done for decades. We had a chance to speak with Dan Unger, Panasonic’s Manager of Public Relations, about Panasonic's beginnings and what they have planned for the future.

When was Panasonic first founded? What type of technology did Panasonic focus on when it began?

The company that was to become Panasonic was started on March 7, 1918, when Konosuke Matsushita moved from his tiny dwelling in Osaka, Japan, to a larger two-story house and set up Matsushita Electric Housewares Manufacturing Works. The staff consisted of three people.  They converted the three rooms on the ground floor into a workshop and installed two hand-operated presses for molding insulation. Although production started with fan insulator plates, Matsushita was convinced that there was a huge untapped market for convenient, high-quality household electrical fixtures. He stayed up late at night refining his designs, ultimately choosing to manufacture two new products: an attachment plug and a two-way socket. They proved popular as they were of higher quality than other products on the market, and by the end of 1918, the company employed 20 people.

 

Image provided by Panasonic

Konosuke Matsushita had such enthusiasm for developing new products that he kept a pencil and paper at his bedside to write down ideas that came to him while asleep. His company became famous for one such creation: a bullet-shaped bicycle lamp. Candle lamps and oil lamps were commonly used for bicycles at the time. Although battery-powered lamps were also available, they were unreliable and their batteries ran down in two or three hours. Matsushita was frustrated with his own bicycle's candle-powered lamp, which frequently went out when he rode at night, and came up with a design for a battery-powered lamp.

 

Image provided by Panasonic

This type of innovation has continued with the development of products such as radios, electric motors, washing machines, TVs, refrigerators, radios, rice cookers, tape recorders, air conditioners, microwaves, color TV, fax machines, cassette recorders, resistors, direct drive turntables, VCR, batteries, CD players, AV and lighting, camcorders, PCs, cell phones, lighting, DVD players, displays, auto navigation, professional video, solar panels, cameras and beauty products to name only a fraction of the consumer products that we have marketed!

How has the company evolved alongside the ever-changing technology industry?

Panasonic’s global efforts to increase value to customers include research and development in the areas of consumer electronics, housing, automotive, B-to-B solutions and devices. Today the company is also a major player in the B2B arena and active in avionics, automotive and industrial devices, to name a few.  Most recently Panasonic has been erecting smart cities globally. Panasonic defines its smart city as a place in which people can enjoy smart and ecofriendly lifestyles underpinned by optimal and stable use of renewable energy sources.  The aim of achieving maximum energy efficiency through state-of-the-art smart houses is designed to promote self-generation and self-consumption of energy.

 

Image provided by Panasonic

How has Panasonic benefitted from Consumer Technology Association membership throughout the past few decades?

The opportunity to reach thousands of members of the trade and press annually at CES has been a major part of Panasonic’s marketing effort for more than 40 years.  This venue is where Panasonic annually debuts its latest product innovations and often presents keynote presentations during the show.  In addition, Panasonic participates in various industry boards and committees to benefit the industry as a whole through promotional efforts or industry standards, to name a few.

What is next in the future for Panasonic?

Panasonic will continue to innovate in many of its current businesses, such as consumer, avionics, automotive, industrial devices and system communications. Our future is tied to the founder of Panasonic, Konosuke Matsushita, and his seven principles:

  • Contribution to Society
  • Fairness and Honesty
  • Cooperation and Team Spirit
  • Untiring Effort for Improvement
  • Courtesy and Humility
  • Adaptability
  • Gratitude

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