January 6, 2016 1:56 pm
Updated: January 7, 2016 7:43 am

CES 2016: The best in home and auto technology

The 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas unveils the latest electronics and gadgets, including a fridge that tells you what’s inside. Nicole Bogart reports.

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The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) officially kicked off in Las Vegas Wednesday, with than  150,000 tech revelers in attendance. This year over 500 startups will show off gadgets at the show, up from around 375 last year.

Smart home and auto technology took centre stage during the lead up to the conference. Here’s a look at some of the highlights:

Car technology

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On Tuesday, Kia announced it will introduce a partially autonomous car by 2020; however, the car will still need a human behind the wheel. The Korean automaker, which is owned by Hyundai, also has received a license from Nevada to test an autonomous Kia Soul electric vehicle on public roads.

Kia is creating a sub-brand for autonomous technologies called Drive Wise. The company will show off technologies including highway and urban autonomous driving this week, as well as the ability to follow the vehicle in front of you. Kia also will show off a system that analyzes drivers’ faces to make sure they’re paying attention to the road. If they aren’t, the car will automatically steer to the side of the road and stop.

READ MORE: CES 2016 – Samsung’s Gear S2 smartwatch to work with iPhone, Volkswagen’s Microbus goes electric

Meanwhile, BMW showed off its i8 electric car’s mirrorless system. Images from three cameras are combined on a display that replaces the interior mirror, giving the driver larger viewing angles and eliminating blind spots.

The system analyzes the images and alerts drivers to potential hazards with yellow warning icons. The replacement mirror also has lines showing the car’s trajectory when parking. The electric car also has a roof-mounted camera replacing its mirror, giving a much wider angle of view.

On Wednesday, General Motors executives said the new Chevrolet Bolt electric car was designed to handle a future filled with cameras, sensors and supercomputers on the way toward autonomous driving.

“It is an upgradable platform for new technology,” CEO Mary Barra said Wednesday as she introduced the car’s production version, which boasts a 200-mile battery range, at the CES gadget show.

The five-passenger Bolt, priced about US$37,500 has a 10.2-inch touch screen and can be recharged to 80 per cent of its battery capacity in an hour on a 240-volt charger, she said. It will go on sale late this year as a 2017 model.

The Bolt should help GM in its alliance to provide cars and eventually self-driving vehicles to ride-sharing service Lyft. The company announced a $500 million investment in Lyft on Monday.

Smart home

People will be able to order groceries directly from Samsung’s new refrigerator. The Family Hub refrigerator will let users in the U.S. order groceries via an app on the refrigerator’s screen. The app’s made in partnership with MasterCard, though you can use any debit or credit card to pay.

A 21.5-inch screen on the fridge will let families display photos, calendars and notes for each other. And from a smartphone, you can check what’s inside, as captured by three cameras. You can tell at the supermarket whether you really need more eggs.

LG, on the other hand, has a refrigerator that opens automatically when a person steps on the projection of an image on the floor.

LG has a refrigerator that opens automatically when a person steps on the projection of an image on the floor.

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

The LG Signature fridge also lets you peek inside without opening the door, saving electricity and maybe keeping you from making a poor decision regarding a late-night snack. One side of its double doors has an opaque glass window – knocking on the window lights up the inside slightly, enough to glance at your leftovers.

And of course, it comes equipped with Wi-Fi enabled sensors so you can track the temperature inside and monitor energy use.

Smarter also showed off a mat and a camera that can remotely tell a person what’s left in their fridge.

The company showed off a sound and atmosphere sensor that Sellers says will learn the sounds and environment in a kitchen to alert someone via their smartphone when the dishes might be done or when it might be warm to enough to warrant opening up a window. Each is expected to be sold for $130 to $150 by this summer.

BMW and Ford both announced they’re working on in-car apps that let drivers control smart home devices.

BMW said its apps will allow drivers to “precondition” their homes by setting the thermostat for the right temperature by the time they arrive home. Ford, on the other hand, will offer a service with voice commands that can start a car from a home or turn off an alarm system and open the garage door as a driver gets close to home.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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