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Panasonic Bets on Video Meets at Consumer Electronics Show

The nearly worldwide business recession gave a shot in the arm to video conferencing in lieu of travel, as corporations cut down on travel expenses.

Panasonic (PC), which introduced its new Panasonic HD Visual Communications System at the Consumer Electronics Show this week, is betting that the converse is not necessarily true.

That is, demand for video conferencing will continue to grow, even when corporations can afford to travel again, said Bill Taylor, president of Panasonic Networks Company of the Americas.

"It's not necessarily all about travel costs," Taylor said in an interview here today at the Panasonic booth at the Consumer Electronics Show. As a demonstration, Taylor conducted the interview via the new system from another location across town.

Taylor said the newest state of the art is so good that "visual communications" today is a much bigger field than simply setting up a business meeting where talking heads can speak to each other from two different locations.

"We are saying video conferencing, but really it's 'visual communications' where the market will continue to grow," he said.

For instance, additional uses include viewing computer files without losing sight of the people on the other end; potential remote-education opportunities; long-distance "virtual help desks" for retailers; trouble-shooting problems on a factory floor from other locations where designers or engineers are based; medical applications, where doctors need a detailed view of a patient or an image.

The new Panasonic system also has an advantage because its high-definition images are "scalable," Taylor said. That means the images can be magnified to a huge size without losing clarity. On the other hand, they can also be shown on smaller screens, which could save users money, he said.

To demonstrate, Panasonic showed a sharp image of an ordinary $5 bill, which was tremendously magnified on the screen. "We are more flexible, we are more scalable," Taylor said.

Photo: Panasonic

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