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Panasonic and IoT: Existing technologies and beyond

Posted: 27 Mar 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Panasonic? IoT? AllSeen Alliance? open-source? IP?

Panasonic has revealed during the recent Embedded Linux Conference that it will offer royalty-free access to the software and patents the company owns to help speed the growth of Internet of Things (IoT) software and services. As a member of the AllSeen Alliance, Panasonic also said it would increase its IP contributions to the open-source consortium.

The announcement begs a few questions. Panasonic, for example, describes itself as "an IoT leader in connected business-to-business (B2B) solutions and client applications." But in which IoT segment is Panasonic a leader? Further, which specific IPs has Panasonic not yet shared with the AllSeen Alliance?

Most of all, when any company in the IoT space invokes "open" or "open-source," the prudent response is a healthy dose of scepticism. After all, it isn't just the Qualcomm-led AllSeen Alliance that's gunning for the open IoT initiative. A rival group, the Intel-led Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), is also operating under the open-source Linux Foundation. Both groups appear to be talking the talk, but whether they're walking the walk remains to be determined.

Panasonic to increase its IP contributions to AllSeen

Panasonic, a member of the AllSeen Alliance, also added that it would increase its IP contributions to the Alliance, a cross-industry non-profit open-source consortium.

Getting back to Panasonic, here's what we know and what we don't know: (1) Panasonic is a household name. Its technology prowess in consumer electronics is well known. In recent years, however, the Japanese giant has shifted its focus to the industrial market, such as solar panels and automotive products; and (2) this shift, along with the company's drastic restructuring, including the termination of unprofitable product lines in smartphones, plasma TVs and semiconductors, helped Panasonic increase operating profit and return to a net positive last fall for the first time in five years.

What we don't know (and this is less visible to the public) is Panasonic's technical expertise and specific business experience in industrial applications.

EE Times caught up with Panasonic Corp. of North American CTO Todd Rytting. We asked him to explain the company's latest IOT patents and software.

Forgive my ignorance, but we didn't know Panasonic was in the B2B IoT market. Can you explain what you do there?

Todd Rytting

Todd Rytting

Todd Rytting: Actually, we've been in the business of connected devices, and servicing those devices from the cloud, for a couple of decades in the U.S.

For Panasonic, the 747 [airplane] is a connected device. In-flight entertainment is delivered to every seat. We service its connected systems from a control centre in California. Solar panel projects are another segment. We serve several hundreds of solar panel farms, which by the way all use different protocols and communication methods. We collect data, do analysis, and manage them from the cloud.

What's the underlying software technology for that? Where did it come from?

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