Manish Misra, chief innovation officer at Panasonic India, is currently spearheading the company’s Innovation Centre based in Bengaluru. In his current role, he is responsible for driving innovation to shape future products and solutions for Panasonic in India and for markets beyond. He is also driving a technology-enabled strategy of the company with a specific focus on emerging trends, such as IoT, analytics, blockchain, the cloud and mobile. In a conversation with Potshangbam July, Misra discusses Panasonic’s latest product launch, the potential of 5G technology, and a lot more.
EB: What is the IoT and AI enabled platform ‘Miraie’ all about? Can you give us more details?
Panasonic has a longstanding commitment towards creating ‘A Better Life, A Better World’. In line with this vision, we have forayed into the ‘connected living solutions’ space with the launch of our IoT and AI-enabled platform – Miraie. The literal meaning of Miraie is ‘future home’ in Japanese, so the platform is aimed at empowering the everyday lives of our consumers with comfort, convenience and seamless connectivity across all Panasonic appliances. The platform presently hosts India’s largest range of connected ACs, smart doorbells, and smart plugs and switches, and there are plans to further expand the connected products portfolio by the end of this year.
Conceptualised and developed at Panasonic’s India Innovation Centre, Miraie features the following:
- Inbuilt intelligent diagnostics that detect issues in advance, maximising performance and
the operational life span of products.
- Leverages Google’s Voice Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa technology to offer seamless
and hands-free operation, and controls devices with voice commands.
- Offers an e-warranty, wherein all warranty services and annual maintenance contracts are stored digitally for all products so consumers get notified if there is any change in status.
- Advance recommendations based on our AI technology, and customised sleep profiles.
EB: What are the benefits that consumers can derive from connected appliances?
Technology has become an integral part of designing a dream house, taking into account the vital lifestyle aspects of it. Today, consumers have the option to make their home smart. This involves the use of devices and appliances that talk to each other, and are intelligent enough to pre-empt your next move as they learn more about your habits and daily routine. Newer technologies like artificial intelligence and IoT enable the better management of devices and offer complete control over connected appliances, whilst keeping a check on energy consumption. Consumers are now looking towards IoT and AI enabled solutions to enhance their quality of life through connected ecosystems. As per our research, over 75 per cent of people surveyed are looking for specific requirements related to ease of use, safety, monitoring misuse, service reminders and personalised usage patterns.
For instance, Panasonic’s connected ACs based on the Miraie platform can:
- Set up customised sleep profiles for uninterrupted sleep, intuitively managing several
products in collaboration with each other, thus providing a comfortable solution.
- Switch on your AC in advance, at your preferred temperature setting. In case you forget, Miraie sends you a reminder when you are about to reachhome, on the basis of Google map synchronisation.
The intuitive Miraie platform can recognise usage patterns and suggests optimal modes of using connected devices, thus extending the best comfort for consumers. As mentioned earlier, it also offers features such as an e-warranty and AMC management, a onetouch service request, proactive maintenance notifications, etc.
EB: So, are there any new launches of connected products on the horizon?
We recently unveiled the first range of IoT products in the Indian market—connected air conditioners, smart door bells, and plugs and switches. In the near future, we plan to expand the connected range of products to include refrigerators, washing machines, televisions, fans, geysers, etc, giving consumers a full range of connected living solutions for a futuristic home.
EB: There is so much buzz around 5G. Does it play a significant role in the IoT?
We firmly believe that IoT is one of the areas that 5G technology has the potential to affect in a big way. With more and more companies adopting emerging technologies like AI/ML and IoT to enhance the experience of their consumers, 5G opens up a new world. 5G is expected to be almost ten times faster than current LTE networks, allowing IoT devices to communicate and share data faster than ever. This will give the necessary impetus to the smart home devices segment, thereby leading to increased adoption amongst users and presenting a significant business opportunity for enterprises.
EB: Do you feel that Indian consumers are now more open to the idea of IoT enabled products?
Now, more than ever before, Indian consumers are very open to the idea of engaging with IoT enabled devices. Based on a recent survey done by Panasonic, over 98 per cent of consumers in India are aware of what IoT is and are looking for ways to make their lives easier, more comfortable and convenient with the use of technology. Interestingly, we’ve also noticed that the consumers are ready to spend extra for luxury, which makes it a huge opportunity for businesses to tap into and continue to invest in newer technologies like IoT, AI and ML.
The fast evolving demand for technologically advanced products mirrors the fact that Indian consumers are indeed welcoming IoT powered devices to make their lives easier.
EB: What are the steps being taken to drive your product sales?
We understand that there is a growing need for brands to create awareness among consumers about the use of newer technologies like AI and IoT. Given the nature of our announcement, we have introduced holistic marketing and promotional campaigns using both digital and traditional media, to improve the understanding around connected living, amongst aspirational Indian consumers. Besides digital films and influencer outreach across social platforms, we have organised national dealer meets to reach out to our consumers directly. Specific to the connected ACs, we have launched a digital campaign— #MeetTheFuture—that comprises a series of videos based on simple yet important consumer insights, to bring alive the sense of ease and fun that is possible in life through connected technology. Apart from this, we are also engaged with key influencers such as Rajiv Makhni and Harsha Bhogle to promote our new AC range.
To enhance the shop floor experience, unique product displays and demo zones are being set up to drive awareness about the Miraie range. This will be enhanced with strong service support provided by the Panasonic operations team.
EB: How do you see the market evolving for IoT and AI enabled products in India?
According to an industry report by NASSCOM, India is expected to be a front runner in IoT adoption in the APAC region. With an expected CAGR of 62 per cent, the Indian IoT market is set to reach US$ 9 billion by 2020. Touted as the ‘next big thing’ for businesses, AI has the potential to add US$ 957 billion, or 15 per cent of India’s current gross value added (GVA) in 2035. Looking at the immense opportunity, we have forayed into the connected living solutions space through Miraie.
EB: Privacy vulnerabilities are very high in the connected ecosystem; so how do you tackle such issues without losing the trust of your customers?
We take the safety, security and privacy of our consumers very seriously. At Panasonic, we follow privacy by design and security by design, wherein we follow a standard procedure and mechanism such as anonymisation, deep encryption, multi-factor authentication, etc, to safeguard customers’ data or PII (personal identifiable information).
With an aim to build trust among our users, we ensure complete transparency and provide consumers with full control of their personal data.
EB: Do you think the Indian government is doing enough to bolster the IoT market?
I believe that initiatives like Digital India by the government of India have been welcoming businesses to capitalise on the lucrative opportunities that technologies like AI and IoT present. In fact, this year’s Budget is also a testament of how the government is aiming to boost the incomes of people and enhance their purchasing power in the backdrop of emerging technologies such as AI, IoT and ML.