Skip to main content

Panasonic Connect Co. Ltd. CEO Yasuyuki Higuchi Discusses Industry Trends, NAB Show

Panasonic
(Image credit: Panasonic)

The 2022 NAB Show, April 24-27 in Las Vegas represents the largest gathering of the M&E tech industry since 2019. Among the premiere exhibitors at the show is Panasonic, which is returning with a slate of new products covering a wide range of markets from A/V to professional broadcast and cinema. 

TV Tech Editor in Chief Tom Butts recently had a chance to talk with Yasuyuki Higuchi, CEO of Panasonic Connect Co., Ltd., about how the technology and Panasonic has evolved since the last time the industry gathered in Las Vegas. 

TV Tech: I think I speak for a lot of people in our industry about how excited we are that the M&E tech industry is finally gathering in person at the NAB Show next week. Can you tell us how Panasonic has weathered the effects of the pandemic over the past two years in terms of customer relations, new products designed for remote production and supply chain issues?
Yasuyuki Higuchi: In the entertainment field, the impact of the pandemic was enormous, especially with a significant reduction in the number and size of real events. On the other hand, demand for remote production grew suddenly, and distribution of video content to the internet and other media has expanded. We have introduced new products such as remote camera systems that respond to these changes, and thankfully, we have been able to continually support many customers. 

On the other hand, in September last year, we acquired Blue Yonder, the world's top supply chain software company. Blue Yonder is a company with a stable profit structure with a recurring revenue ratio of about 70% and more than 3,000 large enterprise customers world wide. This integration has made it possible for us to serve a wide range of supply chain related customers. We would like to contribute to the realization of a better society and a sustainable future by providing hardware, software and solutions that support our customers' core operations.

TVT: Can you elaborate on the Blue Yonder acquisition and how it will impact Panasonic’s pro customer base?
YH: We are now able to provide Blue Yonder's cloud-based software that enables end-to-end control of the supply chain across manufacturing, logistics, and retail. By combining this with our industrial engineering expertise that incorporates the knowledge and know-how that Panasonic has cultivated in the manufacturing industry for over 100 years, we will provide more integrated and advanced solutions based on AI and machine learning. In addition, it is possible to grasp changes in demand and supply that require complexity and speed in real time, and make business decisions more accurately and quickly.

TVT: Does Panasonic have a sustainability initiative in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint both in terms of consumer and professional products?
YH: Yes, under what we call the Panasonic GREEN IMPACT, the Panasonic Group as a whole aims to reduce current global CO2 emissions by about 1% (approx. 300 million tons)* by 2050. Under this plan, Panasonic Connect will help our enterprise customers reduce their own CO2 emissions through the solutions and services we provide.

* 2019 Energy-derived CO2 emissions 33.6 billion tons (Source: IEA) 300 million tons is calculated based on the 2020 emissions 

TVT: How much of an impact has the pandemic had on Pansonic’s ability to supply media production equipment worldwide?
YH: Due to the global supply shortage of semiconductors, our production capacity was affected. On the other hand, due to the rapid increase in demand for remote production, sales are particularly good for the PTZ category. Moreover, we have launched and are receiving orders for our "KAIROS" IT/IP based remote production platform. Recently, the studio camera market is also on a recovery path so now we have a lot of back-orders.

TVT: Can you highlight some of the new advances in KAIROS and how it is being impacted by the industry’s move to the cloud?
YH: The ”KAIROS” IT/IP Platform will newly develop cloud support for the U.S. market. With these, we will further accelerate remote video production. This enables optimal operation for customers by hybrid operation of on-premises and cloud. In addition, as a new product, we have developed a compact control panel, strengthened the lineup of peripheral devices, updated the software (v1.2), and enhanced the Agile I/O function and audio function that can support the expansion of the number of inputs and outputs. 

TVT: What advances in AI/ML does Panasonic see will have the biggest impact on media production?
YH: With the evolution of AI/ML, we expect that both shooting and editing processes will be automated. Video content production will be easy and hassle-free, and it will bring an environment where anyone can easily produce, distribute, and share. We believe this will not only improve the efficiency of workflows, but also broaden media production. We also want to push the evolution of the camera—which is an IOT device—into a device that senses the shooting environment in combination with AI.

TVT: Panasonic has increased its focus on the PTZ market in recent years. Can you explain the reasoning behind this and the role PTZ cameras have in pro media production?
YH: Video content has continued to increase due to the diversification of viewer needs and viewing devices. In anticipation of these trends, centered on PTZ cameras, we have been working on improving both image quality and shooting operational efficiency.

With the pandemic, remote production from shooting to distribution and shooting operation avoiding crowds and enclosed spaces are accelerating. In the future, we will continue to improve the performance of PTZ cameras and with its PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) function improvements, aim to further expand their applications and realize video content production that is not restricted by location or time, through the evolution of networking.

TVT: Can you highlight some of the new camera/imaging technologies that will be shown at NAB?
YH: In 2022, we renewed five entry-level PTZ cameras from the middle model to strengthen our lineup. Most models are compatible with 4K and have a wide viewing angle. We are also strengthening the lineup that supports IP such as NDI Native and SRT, and Free D. We will also meet the various operational needs of our customers by providing auto-tracking software and peripheral devices including third parties.

TVT: What do you see as the future of high resolution, 4K and 8K?
YH: Until now, higher resolution has always meant high image quality, but we believe that further high resolution will continue to be very effective for displaying images on large screens and other devices.

On the other hand, we believe that higher resolution has the potential to create a new way of video production, such as video content production based on cut-out editing, production of multi-view images by synchronizing multiple cameras, and application to XR.

TVT: Lastly, what do you enjoy the most as you’re making changes at Panasonic?
YH: Since returning to Panasonic in the Connected Solutions Company, [the predecessor of Panasonic Connect], in 2017 as CEO, I've been leading the push to modernize and transform the traditional, slow, and cumbersome Japanese company culture. 

First, we aimed to transform the mindset of our employees, changed our solutions portfolio, and changed our business models. The process was not always enjoyable, but the company as a whole has become more vibrant, customers themselves have told us that we have changed for the better, and I can rejoice in these results together with our employees. That is what I enjoy.

Panasonic will be in Booth C3607 in the Central Hall of the LVCC. 

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.