Panasonic has been in India for close to 50 years now, and you would perhaps know it mostly as a consumer appliances company, with products like TVs, washing machines, and rice cookers. But actually, it’s also into smart factory solutions, industrial IoT and battery solutions, display solutions, security, surveillance and advertising solutions. “Go to any PVR theatre in India and you are probably watching the movie on a Panasonic projector,” says Manish Sharma, CEO of Panasonic India and South Asia.Armed with all this data and experience, the company set up an innovation centre in Bengaluru in 2017 with the idea of developing smart homes. And it came up with MirAIe. MirAIe is a platform that can connect a wide range of products in the home – air-conditioners, doorbell, refrigerator, washing machine, fans, plugs and switches. “We have developed a number of products in the innovation centre, but MirAIe is the flagship product. Some of the tech produced around MirAIe here has been a hit for the company worldwide,” Sharma says.

MirAIe has been built in a way that other hardware companies too can connect their devices to the platform. “We wanted MirAIe to be a one-stop-shop for all your smart home appliances – to avoid the hassle of downloading a new app for each brand every time. We’ve already collaborated with two very large companies in India and are working on bringing more companies into the fold,” Sharma says.

To build a smart home platform like MirAIe from scratch, you need software engineers who are proficient in cloud computing, data lakes, data analysis, machine learning and AI. You also need people with the ability to design, develop and integrate firmware with hardware.

For the R&D team, one of the big challenges was to provide a single open interface that can connect with a whole host of products. “It had to be agnostic of protocol and platform, be it an Amazon or Google platform. The idea was to bring down the buying cost as much as possible. We had to do a lot of value engineering and build models that were scalable. We even partnered with a bunch of startups to enable this,” Sharma says.

MirAIe-enabled ACs manufactured in Haryana are currently being exported to South Asia, the Middle East and countries in Africa. “The data being collected from users now and in the future will prove to be game changers in the industry,” Sharma says.

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