TOKYO Aug 6 Robot porters and wearable
translation devices are just some of the innovations Panasonic
Corp would like to launch for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,
an event it hopes will earn it at least $1.5 billion.
As one of the top sponsors of the Games since 1988,
Panasonic has mainly supplied TV screens to host venues.
But with the event coming home, Panasonic sees the
Olympics-related technology and infrastructure contracts up for
grabs as an opportunity to expand its other businesses as it
seeks to reduce its reliance on the highly competitive consumer
"The Olympics will without a doubt spur the development of
new businesses," Masahiro Ido, the director of Panasonic's
Olympic Enterprise Division, told Reuters in a recent interview.
"Panasonic is not just a home appliance maker, we have all
kinds of technologies, including ones related to social
infrastructure," he added.
Panasonic renewed its sponsorship contract with the
International Olympics Committee in February, even as most of
its divisions were cutting spending amid a company-wide
restructuring drive to recover from net losses of 1.5 trillion
yen ($14.6 billion) over the two years to March 2013.
The company said it expects to earn at least 150 billion
yen, or $1.5 billion, from contracts related to the Games. The
total potential revenue, including earnings from new ventures
following on from the Olympics, is seven times that amount, it
COOL SPOTS, SOLAR POWER
Some of the ideas Ido's division is proposing include a
payment card to be used in trains, shops and restaurants across
Tokyo, eliminating the need to carry cash, and systems to
prevent traffic jams or control self-driving vehicles.
Panasonic would also like to invest in charging stations at
convenience stores for environmentally friendly cars, Ido said.
Iwatani Corp opened Japan's first commercial hydrogen
fuel cell charging station last month.
Many of the projects Panasonic is proposing, like its plan
to create 'cool spots' around town with solar-powered fans and
mist-spraying jets, would utilise existing technology, Ido said.
The government has made cooling Tokyo a priority during the
Olympics, which will be held at the hottest and most humid time
of the year.
Panasonic is also hoping its local connections will help it
win Olympics business in Tokyo beyond the contracts for TV
screens and surveillance cameras it got in the London and
Ido said Panasonic could leverage ties with Japanese
construction firms if it won the contract to supply appliances
for the Athlete's Village in Tokyo Bay. The company is also
banking on selling existing products like lighting,
air-conditioning systems and TVs.
"There are 87,000 hotel rooms within 10 kilometres of the
Olympics centre, and several thousand just for the International
Olympics Committee," Ido said. "The TVs in their rooms can't be
made by Samsung, of course."
($1 = 102.5600 Japanese yen)
(Editing by Edmund Klamann and Miral Fahmy)