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  1. The Panasonic TOUGHBOOK S1 is a 7-inch Android tablet you can beat the heck out of Today, Panasonic is announcing the TOUGHBOOK S1, its latest fully-rugged Android tablet. Fully rugged means that it can take a beating, with IP65/67 dust and water resistance, MIL-STD-810H certification, and the ability to withstand a five-foot drop onto concrete. It can also withstand extreme temperatures from -20 to 50 degrees Celsius. “The TOUGHBOOK S1 is purpose-built for mobile workers in the most challenging environments and conditions, especially in transportation and logistics, manufacturing and field services where efficiency and reliability are essential for getting the job done,” said Craig Jackowski, GM of Product Management, Panasonic System Solutions Company of North America. “Building on the TOUGHBOOK legacy of productivity and ruggedness, the TOUGHBOOK S1 comes at a time when our customers demand reliable technology solutions to support digital and mobile operations.” As you’d expect from a TOUGHBOOK, it pulls out all of the stops. The 500-nit 1,280×800 screen has a variety of modes that can be used in different kinds of conditions. There’s the glove touch mode for if you’re working in a field that requires gloves, and there’s rain sensing mode. Indeed, this tablet’s screen can sense whether it’s water touching the screen or your finger. The battery is warm-swappable. As opposed to hot-swapping, which requires to batteries, this has a removable battery and a small internal battery. That means that you can pull out the battery and you’ve got about 30 seconds to get a new one in there before the device shuts down. It’s a TOUGHBOOK, which means that the removable battery comes in different sizes. If warm swapping isn’t best for your use case, you can also just get a higher capacity battery. Naturally, the Panasonic TOUGHBOOK S1 also comes with 4G LTE support, including Band 14 FirstNet. If you’re not familiar with FirstNet, that’s the dedicated band for first responders. Indeed, that’s the type of market that this is geared toward, along with other types of workers that are out in possibly harsh conditions. Other notable specs include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chipset, which is one of the company’s SoCs with long-term support, and it has 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage. It ships with Android 10, which is no surprise since businesses aren’t as focused on feature updates as consumers are. These types of devices are more made to run specialized software. Panasonic did confirm that it will update the software to a newer version of Android at some point. As always, if you want to get your hands on a TOUGHBOOK S1, you can contact your Panasonic sales representative. Source: The Panasonic TOUGHBOOK S1 is a 7-inch Android tablet you can beat the heck out of
  2. Panasonic aims to increase Tesla battery capacity by 20% In an exclusive with Reuters, Panasonic has said that it aims to increase the energy density of its '2170' battery cells by 20% in five years. The 2170 battery cells are the type that it supplies to Tesla meaning that those vehicles are set to be able to travel further on a single charge. In addition to having a longer charge, Panasonic is aiming to put a cobalt-free version of the battery on the market between 2022 and 2024. According to Reuters, cutting out cobalt from batteries could cut costs which could have a knock-on effect on the overall cost of Tesla vehicles which would be good for customers looking to buy them. Panasonic’s 2170 lithium-ion battery cells were first produced for the Tesla Model 3 in 2017. The current iteration uses a nickel-cobalt-aluminium (NCA) cathode chemistry and according to researchers, cited by Reuters, has the highest energy density above 700 watt-hours per litre. The energy density boost that Panasonic is planning will put it even further out in front. Another benefit of a higher energy density battery is that the battery itself can be made more compact. This will allow Tesla to make the vehicle more spacious on the interior. Panasonic aims to increase Tesla battery capacity by 20%
  3. Panasonic breaks out of VR’s “headset” bubble with fresh “eyeglasses” design "Reference design" has the potential to revolutionize virtual reality comfort. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. At this point, it's clear there are a number of persistent issues holding virtual reality back from the world-changing potential many industry watchers saw just a few years ago. VR technology as a whole is still plagued by problems like relatively high costs, limited resolutions/field of view, awkward natural motion controls, and a general lack of "killer app" software. But despite slow progress on many of the remaining problems with VR, one area of the technology hasn't seen much significant progress: comfort and form factor. Nearly four years after the launch of the Oculus Rift, the market is still married to that unit's same bulky, ski-goggle-style headset design, which blocks almost the entire top half of your face with a large display rectangle held in place via headstraps or over-the-skull supports. At CES this week, Panasonic seems set to become the first company making a serious effort at progress on this important VR front. The company's new virtual reality concept product isn't a "headset" in the standard VR mold but instead "boasts a comfortable fit that makes users feel as if they were wearing eyeglasses." Does it work? Details are pretty light on Panasonic's "reference product," but a press release says the eyeglasses sport micro OLED panels that eliminate the "screen door effect" at UHD resolution (usually 3840x2160, though it's unclear if this covers one or both eyes). Those panels are also the first in the VR space to sport HDR colors, which could help make virtual worlds more vivid if they ever make it to an actual consumer product. But those specifics are less important at this point than the "compact and lightweight body enabling the device to be worn in comfort without the need for a headband," as Panasonic puts it. Panasonic credits a collaboration with 3M and Massachusetts-based Kopin Corporation for creating a new "optical module" that "allows the display of natural and distortion-free images in super single focus" despite the eyeglass-like shape. Can these eyeglasses actually provide a passable VR experience in such a form factor? A hands-on report from The Verge mentions that the micro OLED panels create a smaller, squarer image that has a smaller viewing angle than existing VR headsets. The eyeglass-style arms that hold Panasonic's device over the ears also had some trouble keeping the "front-heavy" design in place when the head was tilted forward, according to The Verge. For the moment, though, we're less concerned with these specific limitations than we are excited about the potential of this completely new design direction for VR devices as a whole. Remember, it was just over seven years ago that Oculus' "state of the art" VR prototype was an 800x640 resolution (per eye) box held together with duct tape and held to your face with an elastic strap. If that prototype could lead to the excellent Oculus Quest in just a few short years, imagine where Panasonic's "eyeglasses" design could lead with more time and dedicated development. Putting virtual reality into a comfortable, easy-to-wear eyeglass-style form factor won't solve all of the myriad problems holding the technology back. But Panasonic's efforts could be the first step in breaking down the major walls of comfort and form factor that are still preventing mass adoption of VR. Source: Panasonic breaks out of VR’s “headset” bubble with fresh “eyeglasses” design (Ars Technica) (To view the article's image gallery, please visit the above link)
  4. Report: Tesla working on battery-cell R&D to loosen ties with Panasonic On batteries and solar cells, Tesla-Panasonic partnership has been a little fraught. Enlarge / A Tesla Motors Inc. Model S electric automobile sits connected to a charger inside a Tesla store in Munich, Germany, on Monday, March 30, 2015. Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images According to a report today from CNBC, Tesla is working on research and development of battery cells in a lab near its manufacturing facility in Fremont, California. Five anonymous current and former employees said the R&D is focused on "designing and prototyping advanced lithium-ion battery cells," as well as systems that could help the company produce cells at high volume. Currently, Tesla has a partnership with Panasonic to make the battery cells it uses in its cars and stationary batteries. That relationship extends out to Tesla's Buffalo, New York-based solar panel factory, which Tesla also co-owns with Panasonic. But recently, the fraternity between the two companies seems to be wearing thin. In September of last year, a Panasonic executive said that the bottleneck for Model 3 production had been the speed at which Panasonic could manufacture battery cells. In October 2018, Panasonic reported that it lost $65 million to the part of its business that makes battery cells for Tesla's vehicles. In April 2019, the Nikkei Asian Review reported that Panasonic would not make additional investments into Tesla's Gigafactory beyond what it had already committed to. Tesla's recent purchase of Maxwell Technologies, which makes automotive- and utility-grade battery components, may also have driven a wedge between the companies. Ars contacted Tesla for comment, but we have not received a response. Tesla is currently building out a factory in Shanghai, and it has not partnered with Panasonic exclusively to supply battery cells to that location, though Panasonic or another major manufacturer of battery cells will, in all likelihood, supply the Shanghai factory in the near term. At a recent shareholders' meeting, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said investors ought to look out for two things in the coming year: battery availability and advancements in full self-driving. JB Straubel, Tesla's CTO, commented at the meeting, "It's more obvious now than I think it ever was, we need a large-scale solution to cell production." Musk said investors would be invited to a battery and powertrain day hosted by the company before the end of 2019. Source: Report: Tesla working on battery-cell R&D to loosen ties with Panasonic (Ars Technica)
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