Chef José Andrés checking out the Sake Cooler at Panasonic's SXSW Demo. (Image Credit: Panasonic)

No sooner has the memory of Panasonic’s smart kitchen display at CES been filed away under future dreams, we come to discover a group of new food tech innovations at SXSW the Japanese company calls “Game Change Catapult.” The goal of this incubator is for Panasonic to showcase a variety of ideas in various stages of evolution.

Housed inside a popular Austin restaurant a few blocks from the convention center, the series of products filled two rooms. While some of the cool, new IoT-based offerings aid in laundry work and healthy sleep, the majority were focused on food-related use cases. The food technology concepts on display are far from finished products that are commercially available in the U.S. There were a handful that are actually works in progress with their creators/founders present to actively seek feedback and distribution partners.

The foodtech Game Changers were:

CaloRieco—A dietary management that uses infrared technology to analyze the nutritional components of any given food. The goal of the product is to calculate and log an individual’s food intake and offer recommendations and recipes for healthy eating.

DeliSofter-A pressure cooker-like appliance that softens food for those with eating disorders involving swallowing and chewing. The technology allows the device to soften food without losing its look and nutritional value.

The DeliSofter food softener (Image Credit: Panasonic)

The Ferment-A true IoT device that ferments food in a sous vide-like appliance. Along with fermentation kits offered with the device, an app is used to find ingredients and manage the fermentation process. They also intend to form a community of like-minded fermenters to share recipes.

The Ferment (Image credit: Panasonic)

Sake Cooler-The device not only cools Japanese Sake to the ideal temperature, once the bottle is inserted. It provides the consumer with details about the brewery. Suggestions for food pairings are given and a log is kept of a user’s sake-drinking habits.

The Sake Cooler (Image Credit: Panasonic)

Bento @ Your Office-A somewhat convoluted IoT-based ecosystem that facilitates easy food ordering for offices. The system includes a smart lock for the office fridge alongside an ordering and payment system. The system can log an individual’s menu history and manage dietary suggestions. The idea could have merit if it were offered to food delivery companies like GrubHub who can have their own temperature-controlled “lockers” on site at businesses for regular customers.

These five Game Changers are powerful ideations that represent Panasonic’s future view of the smart kitchen. The Ferment taps into Japanese foodies who have a growing interest in fermentation, but the founders have ambitions to bring the product to U.S. consumers wanting to ferment (or pickle) vegetables or brew kombucha.

Some of the products, such as the sake cooler, on display are closer to reaching the mass market.  Others have an initial goal of penetrating the Japanese market before going global. As with any vibrant displays of cool, new ideas, Panasonic hopes to spark interest in partners who can assist in taking their vision to the next level with new applications of their technology and broader distribution to consumers around the globe.

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Allen Weiner is an Austin-based freelance writer focusing on applications of new technology in the areas of food, media and education. In his 17-year career as a vice president and analyst with Gartner, Inc., the world’s largest IT research and advisory firm, Allen was a frequent speaker at company and industry events as well as one of the most-quoted analysts in the area of new media. With an extensive background in publishing and publishing technology, Allen is noted as the founder of The Gate (, the nation’s first daily newspaper on the web. Born in Philadelphia, Allen is a graduate of Muhlenberg College and Temple University.

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