Panasonic on Wednesday launched Seekit as its latest device to help customers keep a track of their valuables. Comes as a Bluetooth-enabled tracking hardware, the Panasonic Seekit will go on sale in the country starting December 1. It will be available in two different variants - Seekit Edge and Seekit Loop - tapping a range of use cases. A dedicated Seekit smartphone app has been built to let users keep an eye on their valuables such as a smartphone, wallet, luggage, laptop, or keys. Alongside reaching end consumers, Panasonic is planning to tie up with businesses to expand the use cases of Seekit and build a community of users that can power a crowd GPS platform. The Japanese company is initially considering automakers, insurance companies, and luggage manufacturers as the potential customers of the Seekit devices that will be available for purchase for the masses through all major online channels next month.
"The prime aim is to move in the direction of providing a connected environment to people," Panasonic India and South Asia President and CEO Manish Sharma told Gadgets 360 in a conversation on the sidelines of the Seekit launch in New Delhi. "The vision is little too large as maybe it appears that we're are starting with the small device, but the objective is to spread the awareness of making people ready for the new lifestyle."
While the Seekit Edge comes with a price tag of Rs. 1,599, the Seekit Loop is priced at Rs. 1,299. Both will be available through all major online marketplaces in the country next month.
The Seekit Edge and Seekit Loop both share almost identical hardware with Bluetooth v5.0 connectivity and an IP65-certified build. However, the Seekit Edge is designed mainly for products such as wallets, laptops, and smartphones, whereas the Loop is majorly designed for keychains. Both models have a built-in CR2016 button cell that is touted to deliver up to 18 months of battery life. Also, there is a speaker that produces up to 80db of sound to notify users when they aren't in the range of their connected valuables.
Panasonic promotes the Seekit as a convenient device that can make your valuables secure and trackable in two simple steps that are tag and connect. The Seekit app that is initially available for Android devices and is planned to reach iOS devices in the coming days expands the functionality of the Seekit device. It gives users the ability to customise notification alerts with various levels of alert such as High, Low, DND, and Pickpocket among others. Users can also customise alert tones or record their own voice to differentiate which device requires attention at a particular time. The app also lets users share their Seekit rights with other people to help them find their valuables quickly. There is also an option to use the Seekit device to capture a selfie through the connected phone. Furthermore, there is an SOS Alert feature to let users send alerts to any particular contact by thrice pressing the physical button on the devices.
The Seekit devices also include a Bi-direction Tracking feature that lets users not just to find their tagged belongings but also their phones - by double pressing the button on the tracker device. It also has a Proximity Guidance feature to provide users with guidance to find the valuables without using the phone. The feature essentially lights up and buzzes the device to remind users to find it.
The Seekit app can additionally be used to check the last seen location in case if the users aren't in the range of the tagged belongings. Since the Bluetooth connectivity is limited to 100 feet, the last seen location feature is highly useful. Panasonic is also set to build a Seekit Community to help users trace their valuables by using crowd GPS.
Sharma told Gadgets 360 that the Seekit had been "conceptualised and developed" in India. It is built by the Panasonic India team that sits in the India Innovation Centre of the company in Bengaluru. Notably, the latest device is the second finished product by the India Innovation Centre that previously brought digital platform called JanAid to enable a rural connect for healthcare services. Sharma said that the platform is also growing among rural Indian users with roughly 15,000 downloads so far.
Panasonic is targeting the Seekit devices at metro cities. "We're looking at a million devices in the first year, focusing specifically on urban markets," said Sharma. "Of course, it will be available online so anybody in the country will have access to buy. But our target customer is fundamentally into some specific cities - somewhere in urban markets. We're paying equal focus on both online retail and also on enterprise sale."
On the enterprise side, Sharma revealed that his team already reached various businesses. "We approached many different verticals of business sectors such as insurance guys, automakers - both in two wheeler and four wheeler space, luggage manufacturers, and bag makers," he stated. "So we approached a variety of people, and by understanding their needs, we developed this product."
Through the initial development, Panasonic has managed to receive more than 15 percent of purchase orders of the annual target of a million units, Sharma divulged. Some insurance partners are among the early partners, though the executive didn't reveal any particular names.
Panasonic is also set to bundle the Seekit devices with its smartphones. "Technically, we have thought-process in the range of Rs. 22,000 and Rs. 27,000 smartphones," he said.
Some Panasonic smartphone models with the Seekit device are believed to arrive in India alongside the availability of the tracker next month. Sharma told Gadgets 360 that there are also plans to reach the Middle East and Africa to widen the consumer base of the Seekit device. "Africa may not find as much potential, but in the Middle East markets, we'll see a launch happening soon. Potentially, in the next three to four months," he said.
Like with other devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) market, security could emerge as a key concern with the Seekit upon its expanded availability. Sharma highlighted that the Panasonic India folks took about more than a year to ensure a secure and safe experience through the Seekit device. "The data storage is at our certified data centres, and the application is extremely encrypted and fully secured - meets the highest of global standards," he said, adding that majority of the user data through the Seekit device is stored in India only.
Importantly, while Panasonic is bullish on the success of Seekit, companies such as Motorola already brought their Bluetooth trackers, though those didn't get much consumer focus in India. The Motorola Keylink and Power Pack Micro were the first few devices that debuted in the US back in 2014 to provide handy solutions to track valuables.