At some point during the Panasonic press conference yesterday at CES, I lost track of where I was and what was happening. At the beginning of the presentation, a jungle-like mist (yes, an actual mist, made up of water) descended upon our befuddled heads, which executive officer in charge of quality and environment Hirotoshi Uehara explained was used to cool outdoor environments as they heated up due to climate change. Then Uehara discussed Pasaonic’s use of recycled cellulose fiber to replace virgin plastics, a material that the company calls kinari, and the uptake of captured carbon dioxide on fruit and vegetable yields (if you’re interested, it ups them by about 40 percent). “If we don’t change what we’re doing, we’re going to die,” says Uehara. That is true, but our ability to act on climate change seems a little limited from this crowded ballroom in Vegas.
Thankfully, the presentation quickly turned to talk about what we were really interested in—that is to say, not this rapidly boiling rock that we all live on, but electric shavers, TVs, and AI-enabled microwaves. Panasonic’s palm-sized shaver, the PalmShaver, is an appealing little device that you move about your face and body to remove hair, like scrubbing it off with a beach stone. It uses another sustainable material called Nagori, which is made from sea minerals and gives it a ceramic-like handfeel.
The company also announced a partnership with Amazon Fire TV, which will come built-in on the new flagship OLED models (still unfortunately not sold in the United States) and have AI-tailored recommendations to sort through all the shows and movies. We also heralded “a new era in microwave ovens” with Fresco CEO Ben Harris, who showed an AI cooking assistant in the Panasonic app, to be used with the Panasonic HomeChef 4-in-1 cooking oven. To be honest, I was a little less excited about an app that could adjust recipes based on serving size than I was to see the Magic Pot, a little pan that theoretically allows you to sear or brown food in the microwave. All hail the smart microwave!