Sharp branching into robovacs, grow lights, ewhiteboards to offset slow panel sales

Remember the Cocorobo robotic vaccum that could send you pics of your newly-cleaned carpet? Sharp is going to be doing a lot more of that kind of thing soon, if a recent demo at its research center in Nara, Japan is any indication. Since the company has been losing gobs of money on its tepid LCD-panel business, it'll soon be using some of that tech in completely different industries: for instance, converting powerful LED lighting from TV backlights to grow lamps, and touchscreen TV panels to interactive whiteboards. Sharp admitted to PC World that it needed to branch into other businesses since "rivals have been able to catch up from behind" to its LCD TV and mobile phone businesses -- and judging by the drastic actions the company's taken to stave off disaster lately, it'll need to hustle those products to market, stat. Check the video after the jump to see some of the prototypes in action.

[Image credit: PC World]

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Sharp branching into robo-vacs, grow lights, e-whiteboards to offset slow LCD sales (video)