Creating Invisible Experiences with Seven Air Elements
Reboot Space

Design center
Ippei Oda
Solution Development Division
development research
Mikio Iwakawa
Panasonic Ecology Systems Co.,Ltd
Strategy Management
Hiroo Ikeda

The design philosophy of Reboot Space is to create a concept of air quality to provide optimum solutions for spaces in offices, hotels, schools, hospitals, and elsewhere. Air has seven characteristics: temperature, humidity, flow, purity, disinfection, deodorization, and fragrance. How best to incorporate these technologies in a myriad of ways into spatial design, to build spaces where users can sense the experiential value? This project integrated design, technology, and business to pursue this question.

Visualizing and sharing well-being

Simply pursuing the individual technologies of heating, cooling, humidifying, or disinfection won’t create value to make users happy. How is it possible then to create spaces where users can feel emotionally enriched from the air? This mission would form the foundation of a new business, which is why it had to integrate business, technology, and design. What roles did the designer have to play in doing this?

All of us understood the importance of this mission, to create new value with air. However, from a practical perspective, we couldn’t see how to get the ball rolling. Designers are good at visualizing ideas that have yet to take shape. I came up with the concept of Reboot Space as somewhere to provide well-being that would be comfortable and emotionally enriching. However, how we feel the value of air is different for each person and each situation. Reboot Space had to be a shared space where we find value together with users, rather than a complete product in itself.
Up to now, the general concept of the value of air has been to use devices to cover for negative feelings toward the environment; we turn the heater on when it’s cold, or purify the air when we can’t open the windows. Reboot Space as envisioned by Oda creates new value beyond comfort. As an engineer, I wanted to incorporate the results of my research into sensory values in spaces to use in Reboot Space.
If we can spread the concept of Reboot Space, we can increase the value of spaces in several ways, such as relieving stress through the quality of air, making work and learning more efficient, and heightening the immersiveness of entertainment. Panasonic has powerful technologies for the seven characteristics of air: temperature, humidity, flow, purity, disinfection, deodorization, and fragrance. I felt the potential of being able to provide society with a solution to integrate all of these.

Spatial design free of the presence of technology

How to visualize the value of invisible air? The answer obtained through design and technology was to ensure that all technological elements were absorbed into the space. For example, just like when we shut our eyes and the other senses become honed to provide new sensations, experiences can be created for people engaging their five senses by removing the presence of technology from the space.

By combining the spatial concepts of a sense of nature, concentration enhancement, and a reassuring sense of cleanliness, we combined technology with design. So for example, to create a genuine sensation of being in nature, as if you were outdoors even while being inside, air outlets with narrow slits blow a gentle breeze that envelops your entire body. Our aim is to combine construction materials with technology in this way. Reboot Space has new value beyond space staging in the way it creates spaces while examining evidence for senses and experiences.
Oda, originally a designer, belonged to the R&D division as an engineer. His design sketches weren’t in any way impractical to achieve, and we were able to communicate at a deep level. However, given the invisible nature of air, we could only verify the effects of what seemed possible theoretically by actually building test spaces. We created an experimental space in the factory, called in people from different divisions like technology, design, and marketing, to share experiences and find the value of Reboot Space itself.
Reboot Space was incubated with free ideas from design and technology. When the seeds look ready to sprout buds, that’s when we need to speed up development from a business perspective. When Reboot Space blossoms like a great flower, it will become a well-being platform combining not just the seven characteristics of air but also a variety of technologies for audio, video, and more. We should invite stakeholders to the Reboot Space exhibition site completed in Panasonic’s Kasugai Factory to give them a hands-on feel for its future potential, as a means to encourage backing for design and technology. We still have several issues to resolve toward commercialization, such as in engineering, distribution channels, and building ties with customers; however, I believe that we’re definitely on track to creating something new as a team.

The roles required of designers as the starting point of the project

With Reboot Space, the designer’s concept became the starting point of the project. What are the roles expected of designers to identify and create never-before-seen experiences and values?

In my experience of having worked extensively with designers, I now want them to visualize future business models through their sensibility for lifestyles and ideas for new ways of living instead of merely expecting forms and colors. Personally, by working on projects with people involved in design and technology, I’ve grown a lot by learning design concepts and developing an eye for technology, which I didn’t have before.
When I describe Reboot Space to students who are aiming to become engineers, they all become interested in the project. Rather than being technically bothersome, the concept of creating experiences and a scheme for broadening ideas by combining design and technology seems to stimulate their spirit of inquiry. I don’t think design should take precedence in every project, but there will be increasingly more areas requiring the flexible thinking of designers, such as when coming up with concepts from the unknown.
Designers are good at visualizing the images that appear in our minds. In projects with people from different fields working together, I try to act as a hub to translate the ideas and images they see and deepen the dialog. With Reboot Space, I also felt that one of the functions of a designer is to identify problems with solutions based on images actually experienced by users, and connect these to new ideas.

How can technology help to enrich us emotionally? This is an issue facing society overall, and at the same time a field that creates new businesses. In projects starting from mindfulness, the role of a designer able to visualize ideas is crucial. What we need now is a development structure combining design, technology, and business mechanisms and services together, to bring emotional enrichment to society.

Share the Project