Panasonic to Demonstrate Guidance Service for Priority Elevators in Cooperation with Marui Department Store in Tokyo

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The FINANCIAL — Panasonic Corporation and Panasonic System Solutions Japan Co., Ltd. (collectively, “Panasonic”), will demonstrate a guidance service for priority elevators in cooperation with Marui, one of Japan’s major department stores, from December 22, 2020 to mid-March of 2021. The demonstration will take place on the first and seventh floors of Marui’s Kinshicho store in Tokyo. Eligible users frequently have trouble using priority elevators. To solve this problem, the service will use an AI-based system that recognizes eligible users by image recognition and makes an announcement encouraging other users to cooperate.

According to Panasonic officials, the Marui Kinshicho store has been working to improve both the store environment and customer service, aiming to create an inclusive store where all customers can enjoy shopping with peace of mind, regardless of age or gender, such as senior citizens, people with disabilities, foreigners, and LGBT people. In 2018, Panasonic trialed its AI-based image and object detection technology at two Marui stores, one in Kitasenju, Tokyo, and another in Kyushu, southern Japan to grasp the number as well as entrance and exit of customers with disabilities. As a result, the object recognition technology was found highly effective in recognizing their entry and exit. A similar image recognition technology will be used for the demonstration at the Kinshicho store as well.

As part of this demonstration, the service will utilize image and object detection technology, and make an automatic announcement asking those waiting for elevators to cooperate and give preference to eligible users. The demonstration will also examine changes in the priority elevator usage environment through this mutual cooperation. Panasonic’s security cameras and speakers will be installed in the elevator halls at the Marui Kinshicho store–one set of security camera and speaker at the first-floor entrance and another set on the seventh floor with restaurants. When the cameras recognize wheelchairs, white canes, or baby carriages, the speakers will make an automatic announcement asking those waiting to give way to priority users.

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In automating announcements asking users to cooperate for use of priority elevators, it will no longer be necessary to station security personnel nearby. Further, by changing the announcements to encourage use of escalators during congested periods, the service is expected to eliminate waiting queues, reduce congestion inside elevators, and thereby prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In anticipation of a society that accepts diversity, Panasonic will continue to use the latest technologies and solutions to create accessible stores that all customers can use in comfort.

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