Panasonic set to buy Silicon Valley Artificial Intelligence startup

Osaka-based Panasonic aims to strengthen its hand in artificial intelligence by purchasing California venture Arimo.

The company, aims to sell services for saving energy or predicting equipment breakdowns from operating data.

The Japanese electronics conglomerate is seen paying tens of millions of dollars for Arimo, based in California’s Silicon Valley region. Founded in 2013, the 16-employee startup includes alumni of Google and other tech titans, and it has leveraged these connections to hire top data scientists.

Panasonic joins a wave of compatriots, such as Toyota Motor and robot manufacturer Fanuc, tapping young AI companies for talent to develop a new growth field.

Arimo’s prowess in deep-learning analysis is well-established. Its AI technology is employed by Nasdaq to perform market analysis and by major American department stores to predict customers’ purchasing trends.

The startup is also skilled in handling dynamic data, such as in the field of connected devices said to belong to the “internet of things.” Arimo’s AI can predict when devices in factories will break down by tracking changes in their activity, for example.

Panasonic first aims to apply AI to data on business refrigerators for chains including supermarkets and convenience stores. It envisions a service reducing energy consumption for the chain overall by setting optimal operating patterns for individual stores, based on past data on refrigerators’ internal temperature and energy use.

It will also launch a maintenance service that tracks usage of industrial air conditioners to determine when parts will break down and address the problems in advance.

Future applications could include services for general consumers, such as for managing the physical health of the elderly based on data from appliances and a range of sensors.

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