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NTT DOCOMO, Panasonic Partner on LPWA-Based Home IoT

NTT DOCOMO, INC. and Panasonic Corporation have agreed in principle to collaborate on a pilot experiment aimed at developing and verifying technologies that will realize Internet of Things (IoT)-based home appliances using Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technologies. Tests are scheduled to start this fall with a target of 1,000 units of LPWA-enabled home appliances deployed in the metropolitan cities of Tokyo, Osaka, and in Shiga Prefecture.

This will be the first trial in Japan that envisions a large number of home appliances connected to LPWA networks on a nationwide scale.

Because LPWA enables long-distance and low power communication, it is attracting a lot of attention from a wide variety of industries as the best suited wireless technology for the Internet of Things (IoT). DOCOMO is actively promoting services using LPWA technologies. Panasonic has already introduced IoT-enabled home appliances that connect to cloud services via a smartphone or the internet. At present, customers need to individually set up network connectivity to use cloud services. IoT-enabled home appliances with LPWA technologies would allow users without Internet connection at home to access cloud services through LPWA technologies by simply switching on the appliance.

Panasonic, in September 2017, started offering services using DOCOMO's natural language dialogue engine that enable users of its Blu-ray recorders and portable TVs to search and schedule programs from their smartphone. The two companies will work together to plan and examine home appliances that are more safe and secure to use equipped with LPWA, as well as devising convenient and user-friendly home appliances powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

The companies will also work on cloud services for IoT-based home appliances, eyeing the use of DOCOMO's AI Agent Service due this spring in order to respond accurately to the individual needs of each user through dialogue. Once DOCOMO and Panasonic establish a business model and technology for IoT-enabled home appliances with LPWA communication technology in the trial, they will proceed to the commercial phase.

Going forward, they aim to create new experiences and values for customers in the IoT era by connecting millions of Panasonic's LPWA-enabled IoT home appliances per year to the cloud services of DOCOMO and Panasonic via DOCOMO's nationwide wide-area communication network.