Panasonic announced a number of moves to make their TVs smarter, improve the eco-system for smart TV app developers and to offer more apps from such companies HSN, YouTube and others, at its annual CES press conference.
Panasonic's new top line Plasmas and LED TV will include voice recognition; a new My Home Screen features that allows each user in a home to personalize their home screen; the Swipe & Share 2.0 features that turns the TV into a hub for streaming and sharing photo and video content seamlessly with Smartphone and Tablet devices; Touch Pen to edit photos that have been sent to the TV screen; and the ability to have the TV set read web content.
Some of those features helped convinced judges to name Panasonic's VIERA TC-L50E60 a International CES Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Awards Best of Innovations Honoree in the new Accessible and Universal Design Technologies product category.
The fact that much of Panasonic's CES press conference this year was devoted to new smart TV features, new apps and multiscreen experiences that make it easy to move content from one device to another, highlighted the growing importance of apps and software at this year's show. This focus is a major change from only a few years ago, when set manufacturers were focusing on improved image quality and resolution.
As part of that effort, Vic Carson, VP of marketing at Panasonic Consumer Marketing Company of North America, noted that they had been working to unify the fragmented TV experience in the past, where users were forced to jump from one interface to another to access TV programming, web content and personal photos and videos.
Their new My Home Screen feature allows users to access all of the content on one screen that can be personalized for each member of the home.
The company also announced a number of new apps. Francisco Varela, head of YouTube's global platform partnerships, appeared at the conference, where he noted that the upcoming new YouTube app on Panasonic TVs would greatly simplify accessing YouTube content by using mobile devices as a remote control.
Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN also took the stage during the press conference, to announce the upcoming launch of a HSN app on Panasonic smart TVs.
The new app would combine "the best of the TV and online" experience, she noted, by allowing users to access a massive amount of content and complete purchases on their TV. The launch of the app was part of a year-long effort to create multiplatform digital applications for the home shopping network that includes the launch tomorrow of a new version of HSN.com.
As part of its efforts to expand the number of apps, Panasonic also announced that it had joined the Smart TV Alliance and would work with the organization on developing SDKs for smart TV apps.