The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos and kairos. The former refers to it as a measured phenomenon – the passage of the years, seasons and days. The latter denotes the sense of the moment – the individual’s experience here and now. Chronos is heavy and predictable, while kairos is immediate, personal and very valuable. When someone talks about ‘seizing the moment’, kairos is the moment they’re talking about. Panasonic’s history has long been one of top developers and engineers working in the company’s Japan-based labs. But a few years ago, the company began to expand its R&D processes beyond Japan. Europe became a base for product development, and the teams in this new European lab were mandated to develop their own solutions to add to the Panasonic portfolio.
It was no secret that software was replacing hardware in most industries worldwide. Though the media industry was slow to change, companies would adopt products boasting a flexible software approach, rather than investing in hardware with increasingly shorter lifespans. “In the video world, we’ve been witnessing what happened 20 years ago in the audio world,” says Panasonic head of new business and market development, Guilhem Krier. “Audio processing used to be done by sophisticated hardware, but we came to a point where you could do most of it with a CPU instead. With video, you have much more data to process, so it took more time to get CPUs up to speed – now we can do that.” As a result, Panasonic moved video processing to software-based platforms. They stopped developing FPGA hardware-based products for high-end switchers, and established an R&D centre near Frankfurt, Germany, bringing together broadcast and IP specialists. Out of this facility came new ways for Panasonic to think about video processing in software – the Kairos platform was born.
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