The annual CES gadget show that officially kicks off Wednesday is expecting between 150,000 attendees and last year’s record 176,000, after the host organization took measures to cap attendance.
The Consumer Technology Association made getting passes tougher and charged early registration fees of $100 to $300 to people who hadn’t attended shows in the past two years. It’s an attempt to rein in the sprawling show and ensure attendees have a good experience.
But exhibitor square footage continues to grow, to over 2.4 million square feet, up from last year’s 2.23 million. That’s fueled by the growth in space devoted to autos, health and fitness wearables, virtual reality, 3-D printing and drones.
This year 500 startups will show off gadgets at the show, up from around 375 last year. Here’s a look at some of the things unveiled so far:
Home appliances get even smarter
Can you really walk away from your oven? Whirlpool hopes so with its new smart oven.
With a smartphone, you can start, stop and adjust the temperature from another room. You get alerts when pre-heating or cooking is done so you won’t have to keep checking.
And if you leave home, the app will alert you if the oven is still on – if you also have a Nest thermostat, which can detect when you’re away.
It isn’t immediately known, though, whether there are any mechanisms to prevent you from accidentally turning the oven on while away.
Manufacturers like Whirlpool are using this week’s CES gadget show in Las Vegas to showcase the latest technologies in everyday appliances. As these appliances connect to the Internet and to each other, people will be able to perform many basic functions from another room with a smartphone.
Whirlpool is also unveiling a dishwasher that can alert you when your dishes are done and estimate how much detergent you have left. It’ll even automatically order more supplies if you’ve set up re-ordering through Amazon’s Dash program.
Floor cleaning robot
A new floor-cleaning robot from LG will respond to its owner telling it: “You missed a spot.”
The South Korean company’s HOM-BOT Turbo+ makes use of cameras that record where it’s already cleaned. If it didn’t do a good job, augmented reality will come to the rescue.
Using any smartphone screen, the owner can point to a still-dusty area and the robot will go there to tidy up. And unlike a human, it probably doesn’t mind being bossed around. Pricing and availability weren’t announced.
More auto makers jump on the connected car trend
Fiat Chrysler is joining the parade of automakers incorporating Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto into their infotainment services.
The company says both smartphone systems will be available on some unspecified models worldwide starting later in 2016. They will be part of the fourth generation of Fiat Chrysler’s Uconnect touch-screen system. Fiat Chrysler says the new Uconnect system will start faster with quicker and more vivid touch screens.
Automakers have gradually been adding the Apple and Google systems to their infotainment systems, largely because customers want the screens to mimic their familiar smartphones and perform tasks the same way.
On Monday, Ford also announced plans to add the systems to its Sync infotainment centres. General Motors is rolling the systems out on select models, and others are also moving in that direction. At the same time, automakers are developing their own systems to control car functions.
Among the holdouts: Toyota says it has no plans yet to add Apple’s or Google’s system yet to its Toyota and Lexus infotainment services.
Toyota also said it will link its new vehicles to cellular networks starting with 2017 models in the U.S. Driver and passengers will have access to selected Internet data, but Toyota’s “Data Communication Module” won’t be a wireless hotspot just yet.
The feature will allow for improved navigation and get updates on vehicle health and service. They’ll be able to locate, lock, unlock and start their vehicles from a smartphone. The system will notify authorities if air bags are inflated in a crash.
HDR and 4K resolution
Smart TVs running Roku’s streaming TV software will display better pictures this spring as Roku introduces sharper, 4K resolution and an emerging technology known as HDR.
With HDR, or high-dynamic range, TVs will be able to display a greater range of colour and contrast. It’s a feature expected in many TV models to be unveiled this week at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas.
Roku said Monday that Chinese manufacturer TCL will be the first to offer 4K, HDR sets using Roku’s system. Like other Roku TVs, the new sets will not only display traditional TV channels, but also thousands of streaming services including Netflix and Hulu. It’s largely the same software used in Roku’s stand-alone streaming devices.
Intel buys a drone maker
Intel, the giant chip company, is buying a German drone maker.
The move is part of Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s broader strategy to promote the use of Intel chips for new technologies – including drones, robots and a variety of sensor-equipped devices. This comes as sales decline for makers of personal computers, which are traditionally among Intel’s biggest customers.
The German company, Ascending Technologies, already uses some Intel gear in its flying devices. At last year’s CES gadget show in Las Vegas, Krzanich showed how Ascending Technologies is using Intel’s RealSense three-dimensional optical sensors to help its drones navigate.
Intel has recently invested in several drone makers, including Ascending, China’s Yuneec and California-based Airware.
Now Intel is buying Ascending outright. Intel wouldn’t disclose the sales price, but says Ascending’s 75 or so employees will be offered jobs at Intel.
Krzanich is scheduled to give the opening keynote at CES on Tuesday evening.
© 2016 The Canadian Press