Big names in home appliances may soon add kitchen hydroponics units to their lineup. When the Panasonic Smart Home products array includes hydroponic kitchen gardens already programmed to function with the cloud, there will no doubt be as much excitement over this ‘new’ concept as when the first microwave ovens hit the market. Everyone had to have one.
Currently there are two models Panasonic has in the works. One is a mixed use fixture, and the other is a compact table top setup. Unlike nifty little hydroponic gadgets we’ve seen around for a few years, like the Aero Garden, these are closed system units. Chances are the price will be much greater too, but it will change many people’s concept of hydroponics in a jiffy. The day these units are available wherever Panasonic appliances are sold may not be that far off. The word on the grapevine says by 2020 the cloud-based smart home and all it’s options will be fully mainstream.
So, what’s cooking at Panasonic for indoor gardening?
About twice as big as the popular mid-size microwave oven, the small kitchen garden measures 33.4″ tall, 23.6″ wide, and 15″ deep (85cm x 38cm x 60cm). It can be a floor model complete with wheels or set up on a table or low counter for easier access. It’s case design has similarities to the ever popular nuker too.
Testing on this particular prototype was done in partnership with Chiba University, and several other organizations in the Kashiwa area. Rather than being on a cloud, the test units were connected to the servers at the university for monitoring. Notification of any plant needs that needed addressing were automatically sent to the novice gardeners via email.
Take a look inside your microwave, and envision it as an indoor garden. That’s how much room these portable kitchen gardens would have if Panasonic sticks with this design. There is currently no further news on the prototype or the results of the testing, but this doesn’t mean that something similar won’t be rolling down the assembly line in the near future.
Moving on to larger plans afoot.
A couple of years ago Panasonic announced plans for building a smart city – a residential development filled with nothing but eco-friendly houses that were fully wired and on the cloud. Known as the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town, or Fujisawa SST, the concept community aims to demonstrate Panasonic’s “entire solutions” business model in full scale. The property for this environmentally-minded city project wasn’t difficult to obtain, construction will make use of vacant land already owned by Panasonic. This is definitely a positive way to restore no longer used industrial land to enrich the community.
Here the large kitchen fixture that includes a hydroponic garden will be used. On one side it looks like the expectable kitchen counter, and the other side houses 4 independently controlled hydroponic setups that are monitored on the smart house cloud.
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Naturally, Panasonic’s vision for grow lighting is totally LEDs, but you wouldn’t be able to use much more power in such small garden spaces. Both of these units will be great for growing greens, lettuces and herbs. Like everything else along these lines, if you want fruiting crops, you need a larger indoor garden space, and more light power.
Still, when a globally known and respected brand like Panasonic moves the compact hydroponic kitchen garden into mainstream appliances, more people will no doubt get growing. These units would never replace the larger, more sophisticated hydroponic systems, but the serve a purpose and for the greater good of people everywhere. Panasonic has set their sights on making it possible for even those who have never grown anything before to raise their own food anywhere year around.
The smart garden counter fixture will hit U.S. markets in a year at a retail cost of $7,800, but there’s also an attractive payment plan already in the works. You can own one for as little as $180 a month. Lettuce farmers everywhere will be horrified at what this could mean to their prospective futures.
Images courtesy of House of Japan, and SCGH respectively.
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