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US-IT-CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW-CES

Samsung and Sony may grab a larger share of the CES fanfare, but don't count LG out. It has quite the annual presence in Las Vegas, too. The Korean company uses the tech industry's January soiree as the backdrop for a wide selection of product reveals -- everything from wearables to smartphones to 4K TVs -- and it has a sizable booth to house it all. It's almost a given that LG will offer up improvements to more of the same at this CES. But before we try to gauge what the company may have in store for 2015, let's first take a look at how far LG's come.

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Unmask face mask

There are myriad reasons for wearing a face mask. In China and parts of South East Asia, they're commonly used as protection against alarmingly poor air quality, while in Japan and elsewhere they help reduce the chance of catching airborne diseases such as flu. Helpful as they may be, they're not the most conducive to maintaining everyday social interactions. Designers Simone Rebaudengo and Paul Adams' Unmask is an experimental prototype that aims to change that by allowing wearers to show emotions through their masks.

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CES 2015 is shaping up to be a big event for Mercedes-Benz, which will discuss its plans for self-driving cars in a keynote speech and show off a crazy prototype. LG has now revealed that it will supply the mono and stereo camera systems that will keep the cars in their lanes, dim the headlights, brake autonomously, and spot pedestrians or cyclists. The Korean company will also supply biometric systems to monitor the driver's eye movement and alertness, along with mobile and home entertainment expertise. Mercedes, in turn, will license part of its 6D Vision self-driving tech back to LG to use with other automakers.

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Scrabble! of sorts

The holidays are here and many of us are traveling to visit families located far and wide. While it's always good to see our relatives, it's not as enjoyable to talk politics with Grandpa all day. We really need some entertaining ways to keep everyone sane. Fortunately there's a variety of games available on our tablets, phones, computers, and digital media streamers that are perfect for groups. What are your favorite standbys? Head over to the Engadget forums and share the games and gadgets you play with your family in order to keep things relaxing and fun.

[Image credit: Amit Gupta / Flickr]

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Photos of the Earth from up high make for some very stunning imagery, so astronauts aboard the ISS make it a point to capture tons of photos for our sake. Take for example, the 12,500 images astronaut Alexander Gerst took during his six-month stint on the station, which the European Space Agency has turned into a time-lapse video embedded below the fold. In it, you'll see auroras undulate in the atmosphere, thunderstorms wreak havoc and cities light up like neurons. The video's quite fluid despite being made of photos, because Gerst used to set up his camera to automatically take pictures at regular intervals while he's performing experiments. Gerst came back home in November with two fellow astronauts, but we don't think we need to worry about the lack of space photos in the future.

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How cheap is too cheap? D-Link has found the sweet spot between low-priced, but low-quality smart home systems (from the likes of Archos) and pricey security systems. It's now planning on opening up its system to many more accessories, judging by the DCH-G020 connected home hub that just passed through the FCC. The system will likely bow next month at CES 2015, but the US wireless regulator has revealed quite a bit, including manuals and photos. The hub will control Z-Wave (low-power RF) as well as WiFi devices, meaning it'll work with third-party alarms, detectors and cameras on top of existing D-Link WiFi cameras and accessories.

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Toyota reportedly working on a flagship, hydrogen-fueled Lexus limousine

Toyota's first hydrogen car hasn't even gone on sale yet here in the US, and already we're hearing rumors about a follow-up vehicle. According to the Australian website Motoring, the Japanese auto giant is planning on taking the same fuel cell system it used in its mid-range Mirai sedan, and putting it into a higher-end Lexus LS limousine. For the most part, then, the new vehicle will make use of the same technology, though Toyota will apparently have to do some retro-fitting in order to make it work inside the current Lexus LS. (Unlike the LS, the Mirai was built from scratch as a hydrogen car.) If Motoring's report is correct, the new Lexus will have a fuel cell under the front seat, with the hydrogen tanks located behind the rear seat. Also, despite the fact that the LS wasn't originally designed as a hydrogen vehicle, it will reportedly offer nearly the same range as Toyota's existing FCEV: 239 miles, versus 300 on the Mirai. No word yet on price or whether this report is even true. And we suspect it could be a while before anyone sets the record straight -- the hydrogen-fueled Lexus LS is rumored to launch "by 2017," up to two years from now.

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Kodak's finally making smartphones (sort of)

For a while there it looked like Kodak's moment had come and gone, but the past few months have seen the imaging icon fight back from the brink of irrelevance. Now the company's planning to push a Kodak-branded smartphone, and thankfully it's not going to sue everyone in the business along the way this time. To be clear, Kodak won't actually make its own devices -- instead, it's going to farm out most of the development work to an English company called Bullitt (you know, the people behind those uber-rugged Caterpillar phones). Oh, and it won't look anything like the mockup you see above... we hope.

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Tesla's Roadster update will allow it to travel 400 miles on a charge

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You know what goes really well together? Christmas and video games. This year we've noticed a bit of a trend: games giving away free stuff in light of the holiday. Weather, err, whether it's snow covering Los Santos in GTA Online, a six-hour trial of Madden or online multiplayer for Killer Instinct Classic, there's no shortage of goodies to keep your console (maybe you recently unwrapped a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One?) busy for the next few days. Let's recap, shall we? In addition to the aforementioned inclement weather southern San Andreas is experiencing, for a limited time you can don a gingerbread mask in GTA Online and start lethal snowball fights in addition to getting a few unspecified gifts for your inventory tomorrow.

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