HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Blogs
Blog

Slideshow: 15 Modern Inventions That Didnít Live Up to the Hype

NO RATINGS
View Comments: Threaded|Newest First|Oldest First
Daniyal_Ali
User Rank
Iron
Lessons to be Learned.
Daniyal_Ali   4/7/2014 8:59:23 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks for sharing this interesting list Liz. This shows how rapidly our technologies are developing and how quickly people adapt to a more user-friendly device. I was myself very disappointed about The Segway as i thought it would be very convenient for transportation and would make life easier for everyone. It was mostly the over-hype that killed Segway's impact on the market, let alone other factors.
Anyhow you compiled a very amusing list, reminded me of a lot of inventions i had forgotten.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Lessons to be Learned.
Elizabeth M   4/7/2014 9:25:37 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks, Daniyal, I had a lot of fun compiling this list and thinking about all the inventions that were supposed to be the "next big thing" but didn't quite pan out that way. There could be a lot more on this list as well, and I did ask readers for suggestions. I am still curious to see what also could've been on the list...what do people think?

Debera Harward
User Rank
Silver
Re: Lessons to be Learned.
Debera Harward   4/7/2014 10:07:36 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks Elizebeth for recalling us all these inventions great work done by you . I do remember these Digital audio tapes and they were being expected to hit the market but technology is moving ahead so fast that the moment one technology steps in the other one is also there . No doubt technology is moving at a very fast pace .

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Lessons to be Learned.
tekochip   4/7/2014 10:41:00 AM
NO RATINGS
Debra;

DAT was used heavily in the music industry until hard drive recording was ready for prime time.

Probably another dog to add to the list would be Iomega's JAZ drive.  The JAZ drive was a 1G removable SCSI drive that had a fairly high failure rate.  The JAZ drive was also used for multitrack recording, and fortunatly those musicains that caught themselves with failed JAZ drive could replace the drive with a SCSI hard drive.  Also fortunate, by the time the JAZ drive failed in a recorder SCSI hard drives were cheap enough to be used as a drop-in replacement.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Lessons to be Learned.
Elizabeth M   4/8/2014 4:53:39 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks for the comment, tekochip. I am not sure if I ever heard about JAZ but it sounds like it would fit well on this list!

78RPM
User Rank
Gold
Re: Lessons to be Learned.
78RPM   4/7/2014 12:08:33 PM
NO RATINGS
Slide 3 reminds me that tightly proprietary architectures often fail.  Wang did its best to keep non-Wang peripheral devices out of its customers shops -- and look what happened to Wang.  On the other hand, Google made Android open source and gained dominant market share.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Lessons to be Learned.
Elizabeth M   4/8/2014 4:48:05 AM
NO RATINGS
You make a very good point, 78RPM. Proprietary may have worked very early on with technology, but indeed, opening things up is the way to go now. I think Apple and Microsoft have been two companies that managed to stay proprietary, but there seem to be cracks in that strategy now for both companies.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Lessons to be Learned.
Elizabeth M   4/8/2014 4:16:39 AM
NO RATINGS
You're welcome, Debera, I enjoyed doing this slideshow. Yes, DAT was one that just was at the mercy of technology moving too fast, I agree. I remember I used DAT once when I was recording music with a band I was in, but it was obsolete so fast I never had anything to listen to the tape on later! It had to be mastered to a CD for me to have a copy.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Lessons to be Learned.
William K.   4/8/2014 9:27:06 AM
NO RATINGS
Elizabeth, the failure of DAT was, as I see it, also caused by the recording industry delaying the relaese and forcing it to be incompatrible with the CD recording mode. In fact, the DAT system would have probably been a better choice simply because it would have allowed anybody to easily make perfect recordings. but the recording industry demanded, and got, all kinds of limits put on the DAT system, which, aside from delaying it a year or more also reduced the usefulness a whole lot. So in reality DAT was murdered by the RIAA and the other groups. 

GTOlover
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Lessons to be Learned.
GTOlover   4/8/2014 10:32:33 AM
NO RATINGS
Do not forget the Kodak disc camera. I think that was supposed to be a great innovation that flopped. Can you even find film for these anymore? And to think Kodak could of cornered the market on the digital camera and passed.

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Fun Stuff
tekochip   4/7/2014 9:29:47 AM
NO RATINGS
The list could go on and on, of course, but there were some notable computers that deserve flop awards; like Lisa, Audrey, and Newton.  Hmm, all proper names, maybe that's a bad idea?

It's somewhat ironic that somebody tried to make a Ford Pinto fly.  That Pinto alternator is still used in aircraft engines today, so at least they got that part airborne.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Fun Stuff
Elizabeth M   4/8/2014 4:55:22 AM
NO RATINGS
Yes, the Newton almost made it to the list, but I thought there were maybe bigger flops than that.

And you are indeed very right about the Pinto. I actually almost included on the list the Pinto model that exploded if hit from behind, but didn't. So I think it's quite ironic that someone would use that particular car model to make a hybrid car/plane. I am sure there had to be better options out there at the time!

ScotCan
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Fun Stuff
ScotCan   6/11/2014 6:30:33 PM
NO RATINGS
It is an interesting list, but should include the V22 Tilt Rotor which still doesn't work as conceived...Its despatch reliability in Iraq was lamentable, so much so, that reliance on the Italian/British EH 101 was paramount. The EH101 with its advanced BERP rotor system still doesn't get the recognition that's meritted, probably because it made monkeys out of the German technology which adamantly claimed a maximum forward speed for conventional helicopters which the Brits promptly exceeded with a BERP fitted Lynx.

LetoAtreidesII
User Rank
Platinum
Very interesting list 1 correction though
LetoAtreidesII   4/7/2014 9:44:40 AM
NO RATINGS
I do need to correct you on #15 the EV.  You state since the mid 19th century EV's actually predated the Gasoline engine.  Back at the turn of the last century (1900 -1915) the first EV Gas war went on and EV's lost that battle.  I agree though one day EV's will finally come out on top.  It is just going to take a while and some advances in techonology that we have been promised is just around the corner since 1975.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Very interesting list 1 correction though
Elizabeth M   4/7/2014 10:16:04 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks for your comment, LetoA, I guess I am not sure on which point I was wrong? I thought for sure they were experimenting with electric cars before that, but forgive me if I was wrong. I guess I should've said "late" 19th century in retrospect.

Alan Metzel
User Rank
Iron
Re: Very interesting list 1 correction though
Alan Metzel   4/8/2014 8:39:41 AM
NO RATINGS
The first known electric car was built in 1837 by Robert Davidson of Aberdeen. It was powered by galvanic cells (batteries). Davidson later built a larger locomotive named Galvani, exhibited at the Royal Scottish Society of Arts Exhibition in 1841.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Very interesting list 1 correction though
Elizabeth M   4/9/2014 5:29:12 AM
NO RATINGS
Thank you for that information, Alan, so I suppose I wasn't exactly wrong when I said the "mid" 19th century, though not entirely accurate either. Interesting inventors have been experimenting so long with these vehicles and we are still not quite there yet in terms of adoption, although slowly getting there.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Very interesting list 1 correction though
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   4/11/2014 10:52:33 AM
NO RATINGS
Liz, very brave of you to put an EV on the last slide.  Surely the uproar will crucify you!  But your argued points are all Spot-On, and I commend your inclusion.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Very interesting list 1 correction though
Elizabeth M   4/14/2014 4:26:12 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks again, JimT! I knew adding the electric car to the list was a bit risky but come on, people have been saying for years that the electric car is the "next big thing," and the industry is still grappling over affordability, batteries and range. I think it's great that electric cars have been added to the mix and people can purchase them if they like, but they still have a way to go to be truly mainstream and adopted. So I agree with you that my inclusion was valid, if not to everyone's tastes!

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Segway
Charles Murray   4/7/2014 7:32:28 PM
NO RATINGS
Great post, Liz. I'm sure readers will have a lot of contributions, too. The standout for me was the Segway. Yes, as you point out, it has niche applications. But most of us would prefer walking to spending money on one of those things. It's a great example of developing an unncessary technology simply because it can be done.

Daniyal_Ali
User Rank
Iron
Re: Segway
Daniyal_Ali   4/8/2014 1:47:36 AM
NO RATINGS
I agree Charles. It's like we are trying to enforce technology in each and everything we do, even if it can be done more effectively without it, that too with a low-budget. But then again it could still be used by consumers who are not able to walk long distances, however then this invention becomes a matter of necessity instead of choice, which demonstrates the letdown of this invention as already mentioned by Liz.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Segway
Elizabeth M   4/8/2014 4:28:27 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks, Chuck! Yes, the Segway was the first thing that popped to mind when I was compiling this list. I used to see people on Segway tours near the Marina when I lived in SF and just thought people looked so silly. It's sort of become an invention of ridicule, with people parodying cops on Segways in movies. Yes, it has its uses, but in my opinion it was a somewhat unnecessary invention.

jhankwitz
User Rank
Platinum
Collective
jhankwitz   4/8/2014 9:01:28 AM
NO RATINGS
Great collection Liz.  Whenever I see someone walking around wearing a JawBone type headset, I think of the Star Trek Borg, a civilization that is unable to think or act on their own and a need to be connected with the Collective to function.  I feel sorry when I see someone needing to be constantly connected with their decision makers.  I think somewhat the same when I see photos of people wearing a Google Glass, but with an added fear of George Orwell.  Borg and Orwell, what a combination.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Collective
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   4/11/2014 10:55:56 AM
NO RATINGS
Laughing at your reference to Borgs and Star-Trek!  But, I'm surprised BT headsets are include in the list;  I considered them a short-lived success, altho' now clearly obsolete since BT links to Car Audio.  I remember when BT was being developed by IEEE in the late 90's and the concept of the earbud was THE killer App. (yes, readers, there was a time when all APPS were not only Software APPs....)A few years later, evolving the earbud so the CAR IS the Headset!  It was a natural advancement in hindsight;  but much harder to foresee.

garysxt
User Rank
Iron
15 Modern Inventiosn
garysxt   4/8/2014 9:18:14 AM
NO RATINGS
Interesting article. I forgot about some of them. A good follow up article would be the flip side, i.e. technologies that have been declared dead only to live on and on. Hard drives and 8 bit micros come to mind.

RW-in-DC
User Rank
Iron
Re: 15 Modern Inventions
RW-in-DC   4/8/2014 10:31:53 AM
NO RATINGS
Missing from the list was WORM (Write Once Read Many) one of the early optical drives.  Niche markets (health care) used it for medical records in the 1970's, since one of the features was the fact that information didn't degrade.  Lack of a standard also derailed the technology.

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Re: 15 Modern Inventiosn
tekochip   4/8/2014 10:54:11 AM
NO RATINGS
Great point garysxt, the death of the 8 bit micro has been predicted over and over again, but I still have customers using millions of 8051 cores.  Not too long ago I was working on a video board and I couldn't decide what micro to use for fetching images and passing them around, so I ran a benchmark with a superfast 8051 core against a comparable Arm. 

 

The 8051 was faster in that application and cheaper too.

fm
User Rank
Gold
Good list!
fm   4/8/2014 9:20:10 AM
NO RATINGS
This is a good list, but i must have slept through the hype on a few of these things! Yes, i still have a BetaMax machine, but CueCat?! What? Never heard of it; it looks hilarious, tho. I guess if you're computer has a mouse, it needs a cat! :-D

A fairly tragic invention that didn't live up to the hype was the Duckboat. This is a small military truck that you could drive out onto water, & was used a little in WWII, i think. It was the worst of both truck and boat, tho - really ponderous on land and almost stationary on water. You could swim faster, & the transition from land to water & back again was not seamless. And it was LOUD. Troops on water in these things were easy targets; it's where we got the term "sitting ducks."

Thanks for the list; brought back some memories!

ungarata
User Rank
Gold
Re: Good list!
ungarata   4/8/2014 9:36:26 AM
fm;

I've ridden one of the "Ducks" before; you can ride them in Branson, Missouri.  As to your comment about the water/land transition not being seamless, I disagree.  We stopped at the top of a boat ramp for a few seconds, then we rolled straight down into the water at a surprisingly high speed (I was sitting in the back and got soaked from the splash).  True, it wasn't that fast on the water, but it wasn't designed to be.  To exit the lake, we just drove straight up a boat ramp, paused a couple of seconds at the top (probably to disengage the prop), then drove away.  

If they would retrofit them with waterjets, I think it would make a tremendous difference in their speed on the water.

Ratsky
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Good list!
Ratsky   4/8/2014 2:31:37 PM
NO RATINGS
The "duck" is a 70+ year old design from WW2, and to my knowledge all of those still in use hail from that time.  It got its name from the military nomenclature DUK-W (some sort of acronym).  It was designed to supplant the LSTs used on D-Day by not having to dump the soldiers in the water, but get them up on the beach.  There were several later attempts to make a more useful consumer version.  I remember the Amphicar from the '50s, about the size of a modern compact or sub-compact that had pretty much the same problems as the "ducks": mediocre car, bad boat.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Never even heard of "second life".
William K.   4/8/2014 9:34:27 AM
NO RATINGS
The second life game, or whatever it was, apparently never even reached my awareness at whetever time it appeared. Who needs a completely useless way to waste time, really? 

Likewise that Nintendo offering.Who needs it? Although if it did offer a video projector function and sold for $180 that might have made the hardware worthwhile, possibly.

Why didn't the microsoft offerings ever catch on? I guess that bill gates has no concept of how many decent people despise him and everything that he is associated with. Perhaps he should seek to gain a clue, although he has done so much damage that can't be repaired that it is unlikely he would ever be accepted.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
The flying Pinto
William K.   4/8/2014 9:44:26 AM
NO RATINGS
I was amused by the flying Pinto, thanks for including it. There have been +quite a few hybrids offered over the years but it does not seem that any have been sucessful. Probably the fundamental concept is flawed, since the only similarity is that both are methods of transportation. But the fundamental requirements are so very disparate that any combination would either not fly or else not be at all roadworthy. Besides that, entirely different skill sets are required for each mode. So really this is a concept that just is not able to work.

dtalbot
User Rank
Iron
Internet food shopping
dtalbot   4/8/2014 9:46:44 AM
NO RATINGS
Strange,  but internet food shopping seems very active here in the UK with all the large supermarket chains competing.   My mother uses it all the time,  as do people in the office.

jhankwitz
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Internet food shopping
jhankwitz   4/8/2014 9:56:39 AM
NO RATINGS
True.  Almost half our 225 employees are blind, and most of them use Peapod on a regular basis.  It continues to fill an important niche in the market.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Internet food shopping
Elizabeth M   4/9/2014 5:31:20 AM
NO RATINGS
That's interesting dtalbot, so perhaps it's a cultural thing. Is this more in the cities or in the countryside?

dtalbot
User Rank
Iron
Re: Internet food shopping
dtalbot   4/9/2014 6:07:08 AM
NO RATINGS
I think it is both cities and countryside.  I couldn't find evidence,  but did find  "The UK food, grocery and drink sector is currently worth £170bn but is set to grow in value by 21% to nearly £206bn by 2018, IGD forecasts. Online sales – currently worth only £6.5bn – will more double in value (increasing by some 124%) to nearly £15bn, the latest figures reveal."

from http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/sep/12/uk-online-grocery-sales-forecast-to-double-retail-shakeup 

 

P.S. http://www.wired.com/2014/02/next-big-thing-missed-future-groceries-really-online/

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Internet food shopping
Elizabeth M   4/10/2014 8:36:48 AM
NO RATINGS
Interesting, dtalbot--thanks for the info and the links.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Internet food shopping
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   4/11/2014 10:58:18 AM
NO RATINGS
Dot-Coms! A category of flops in itself!  My favorite flop was PETS.com, with their Sock-Puppet Mascot.  Paid $2M for a SuperBowl ad in 2000, and was bankrupt later that same year.  Talk about a lesson in how to piss-away money!

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Internet food shopping
tekochip   4/11/2014 11:56:06 AM
NO RATINGS
OK, I have a Dot-Com story too.    I was a musician during the dot-com bubble and had donated a bunch of music to MP3.com.  When MP3.com became popular they decided to go public and offered all of the charter musicians a chance at the IPO.  I took all the cash I could find and bought into the IPO at $28/sh just to sell the stock at the opening bell.  The price fell out of the sky, and I sold at around $165/sh.
 
It's the only time I ever made money as a musician.


Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Internet food shopping
Elizabeth M   4/14/2014 4:07:06 AM
NO RATINGS
I enjoyed your anecdote, tekochip. I bet a lot of musicians can relate to not making very much money, but not sure if many of them made money the way you did. I imagine a lot of people cashed out during the dot.com boom but just as many lost a lot when everything went bust. Nice to hear a success story!

fdos
User Rank
Iron
Re: Internet food shopping
fdos   4/21/2014 5:15:04 AM
NO RATINGS
@Elizabeth: Do you mean to say that many lost their way during the .com revolution? I thought those who got lost are the ones who went behind the cheap domains   

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Internet food shopping
Elizabeth M   4/24/2014 6:01:42 AM
NO RATINGS
Hi, fdos, thanks for your comment. I'm not sure what you mean? I think that a lot of the dot.coms had good ideas but sometimes not good business plans, and so couldn't figure out how to stay profitable in the long term. That's why many of them went bust. Yes, some people made a lot of money, but they got their money out of companies before the game was over for them.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Internet food shopping
Elizabeth M   4/14/2014 4:10:17 AM
NO RATINGS
Indeed, JimT, dotcoms in general could've made the list for sure! Your reminder of pets.com makes me laugh! True, a lot of money was frittered away recklessly during those days.

fdos
User Rank
Iron
Re: Internet food shopping
fdos   4/21/2014 5:12:26 AM
NO RATINGS
Indeed most of the businesses made a huge profit because of the .com revolution.  

gwilki
User Rank
Iron
Blue tooth ear pieces
gwilki   4/8/2014 10:11:35 AM
NO RATINGS
It's a great list, Elizabeth. I've been around long enough to have seen all of them.


In my city in the Great White North, though, the blue tooth earpiece is still very common. It seems like very real estate agent in town has had one permanently grafted on.

jonnk
User Rank
Iron
15 Inventions discussion
jonnk   4/8/2014 10:19:52 AM
NO RATINGS
I wouldn't call these inventions.  They are products or product concepts incorporating a variety of "inventions" or "innovations".   You may view some of them as not living up to hype, but in reality some are predecessors to products that did go on to great sucess.  Looks like the Microsoft Table PC is an early version of the IPad, for example.  

There are others, I would argue are in-fact successful today.  It all depends on what you were expecting.   There is definitely a market segment of people who get their groceries delivered by a "Webvan" type service.  Its not large, but there is definitely a niche including disabled and elderly where the value is greater than the cost.  Speech recognition technology is present in many telephone answering schemes where you can either press a number or say a word.  It also appears to be making some headway into automobiles for hands free operation. 

There also needs to be a sense of history.  Electric cars are a work in progress.  It is in the category of a major step that takes decades to evolve.  Technological and market barriers need to be, and may well be eventually overcome.   The Segway is another example of that.    

You may go to "As Seen on TV" for better examples of inventions that don't live up to the hype.

 

fm
User Rank
Gold
Re: 15 Inventions discussion
fm   4/8/2014 11:34:30 AM
NO RATINGS
@jonnk, the "not living up to the hype" thing is just that, & the article's well-named. For example, look at the Segway. BEFORE it was introduced, there was this buzz that something was soon to be announced that was supposed to "revolutionize transportation," implying that this would rapidly make our cars and truck obsolete. It would have changed our entire society and refitted our cities and encouraged people to live differently -- aaaand we got a scooter. Yeah, not quite living up to the hype. Sure, we see them in places, but it hardly changed everybody's lives. Speech recognition, same story: "our computers can understand us, we won't need keyboards and displays and they can be wearable and ...." on and on. Aaaand we got robocalls and automated helplessdesks. Most of this stuff died a deserved death, some of it is still around, but none of it changed the world as promised.

Turbineman
User Rank
Gold
Re: 15 Inventions discussion
Turbineman   4/8/2014 1:27:58 PM
NO RATINGS
I just gotta weigh in here on "speech recognition".  This is a usefull function for folks who's handicap deems it necessary, and should be widely available to them.  Otherwise, I consider this just more "technology in desperate search of a use".  My 2011 Honda Pilot came with speech recognition (voice command) that will respond to over 200 commands..........If it understands what you're saying, which it doesn't most of the time.  First you have to divert your attention from the road to find the one of 10 buttons on the steering wheel that needs to be held down before you can say the command.  Usually after 2-4 tries, it finally understands you and does what you want.  I've given up trying to get it to dial a phone number for me.  It's almost, but not quite, as useless as the backup camera.  Ok, I'm off my soap box.

didymus7
User Rank
Platinum
I bought a Zune!?!
didymus7   4/8/2014 11:04:57 AM
NO RATINGS
Okay, I'll confess to buying a Zune.  At the time I just didn't want to go Apple.  Those Apple fanboys with the blank look in their eyes and the open wallets, frankly, scared me.

Zune had one major failing:  You could not access the device as an external drive.  You were forced to use the Zune software.  Even today, nobody has come up with a clean way to do that.  Zune software was one of those applications that needed to 'organize' your whole collection.  In those days, everything wanted to organize your media, we didn't need one more.

I got the Zune for the larger screen and the ability to play videos.  Since, it has been replaced (for that use) by an Amazon Kindle.

Ralphy Boy
User Rank
Platinum
Re: I bought a Zune!?!
Ralphy Boy   4/8/2014 3:58:01 PM
NO RATINGS
I also bought a Zune... As a Christmas gift for my granddaughter. Her dad had one and like it for the screen/videos like you said.

A few months after I gave it to her I asked her if she ever used it. She said 'yes', but I never saw her with it. A few years later when she got the Nook she never put it down (she's a novel reader), and now she has one pad or another and she never puts that down.

It's not always possible to tell upfront what little device will become unwanted by the time the batteries need recharging, or which one will get used every day till it wears out, but it sure would be nice. 

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Re: I bought a Zune!?!
tekochip   4/8/2014 7:40:33 PM
NO RATINGS
I don't have a Zune, but I do have three of its predecessors, the Gigabeat.  All three still run, one in the living room, one in the car and one in the plane.
 
I will admit that they are running Rockbox, though.


Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: I bought a Zune!?!
Elizabeth M   4/9/2014 6:00:35 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks for your honesty, didymus7. ;) I always wondered if there were actual Zune buyers out there; now I know! It's interesting that the player had that problem. I just think Microsoft didn't really think it through and rushed it out because they so badly wanted to compete with Apple in the music-player market. Maybe they could've done a bit better with some tweaks to the system, but I really think they were just too late to market anyway.

bpenfold
User Rank
Gold
sony memory stick
bpenfold   4/8/2014 11:58:13 AM
NO RATINGS
Very nice list!

My 10 year old Sony Memory stick died in my camera last year. So I went out to find another Sony Memory stick (remember they were the size of a stick of gum?). Nada! Luckily eBay had some micro SD adapters.

I haven't heard of CueCat but it appears to be just an extra object that I would find a hassle also. Now smartphones put all these packages into one including barcode scanning.

I wouldn't mind a Segway for entertainment with my $100 battery-powered scooter but it was too expensive.

EVs:  The simplicity of an EV will always be there. Once the battery barrier is broken, EVs will roar because of extremely low maintenance costs including a simple single speed engine that has near full torque from 0-10Krppm. An example of more technology barriers was the flat screen TV advertised in the 70's that I was waiting for; or the video phone call in the 60's.

-Barry

Ceylon0
User Rank
Silver
Some obvious... some don't belong!
Ceylon0   4/8/2014 1:55:16 PM
It should be noted that the inventer of the Segway accidentally ran one off a cliff at his multi-million dollar estate just recently.

The electric car clearly doesn't belong here. The lack of success of electric, (whose story has yet to be fully written) has nothing to do with the technology and everything to do with the corporatocracy that controls our government, as well as the minds of the majority of people out there who find it too hard to actually reason through issues and instead choose to respond with talking points they never fact-checked to begin with.

Also, by todays standards, indeed the flying car looks like a joke; however, in 20 years and with some strategic breakthroughs, I wouldn't write this off yet.

RonChownyk
User Rank
Iron
Re: Some obvious... some don't belong!
RonChownyk   4/8/2014 2:26:18 PM
NO RATINGS
The inventor of the Segway, Dean Kamen, is alive and well.  The owner of the company that manufactures them, James William "Jimi" Heselden, is the one who died of injuries after driving off of a cliff on his own product.

 

The average person drives less than 30 miles a day, making the electric car a superior choice.  It's the mindset that you can't jump in one on the spur of the moment and take a long trip that keeps them from becoming mainstream.

 

And where's my flying car!?!?  I was promised a flying car!

 

Sadly, I'm just old enough to remember that Beta was DEFINITELY better.  Now I need a way to transfer those old home movies from all of those little tapes to DVD...

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Some obvious... some don't belong!
William K.   4/8/2014 5:18:43 PM
NO RATINGS
There are a couple of big problems with that Segway, which the worst is with stopping in a hurry, which is not possible unless the rider is able to pull back a lot at the same time. And the handling of other than really small bumps is not so great, either. Of course, besides that, for the price of a segway I can buy an OK used car or a fairly good used motorcycle, and have much more useful transportation. PLUS, you can drive a car in the rain, even into puddles. You can't do that on a Segway.

 

Andmit is true that an electric car would probably be OK for a lot of people's daily commutes, but not for their weekend trips. And I would not want to spend $35K or more for a commuting only vehicle, and give up that much personal freedom besides.

CTHP
User Rank
Silver
#6 - Voice Recognition
CTHP   4/8/2014 5:42:57 PM
NO RATINGS
Generally I agree but with one notable exception IMHO. I've probably used a dozen different smart phones through recent years and while it really pains me to admit it, Windows CE had the best voice recognition I have ever experienced, hands down. Apple and Android don't even come close, but I use an Android phone today because I don't like a Windows for everything else. No matter how badly I pronounced a name and regardless of the background noise, the Windows phone always got it right, maybe 100% of the time. Go figure...

Trenth
User Rank
Silver
The winxp Lenova pen tablet was a best seller for years.
Trenth   4/8/2014 7:47:34 PM
NO RATINGS
I'm typing on one right now.  All the big company field agents used them.

Electric cars are taking off right now

just search

electric cars 2014

Pure electric cars are a limited market, but if you include plug in hybrids, they are already life cycle cheaper.

Sales of the Leaf doubled from last year.

Norway and Netherlands electrified cars are now both over 5% of total cars.

http://cleantechnica.com/2014/03/16/norway-ev-market-share-vs-france-ev-market-share-chart/

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: #6 - Voice Recognition
Elizabeth M   4/9/2014 6:08:20 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks for that information, CTHP. It is not something that I myself know because I've never used a Windows CE phone, so it's good for me to hear these things from readers. Microsoft was a champion of voice recognition for a long time, so it's interesting to know that they have some of the best out there. I am not surprised. I guess Siri just gets a bit more hype because iPhones are so popular.

GTOlover
User Rank
Platinum
Re: #6 - Voice Recognition
GTOlover   4/9/2014 9:42:06 AM
NO RATINGS
Ah yes, Siri gets the hype but is one stupid digital assistant! I have had to yell at Siri, cuss at it, and outright denegrate it in the most unpolitically correct terms. It simply responds: "I'm sorry you feel that way!" Then when I calm down and clear the spittal from my lips, it gets my request correct.

Oh well, at least Siri cannot file harrassement charges against me. And Siri can use contractions correctly! Even Data has a problem with them.

ck_02
User Rank
Iron
Re: #6 - Voice Recognition
ck_02   4/9/2014 10:33:42 AM
NO RATINGS
GTOlover, I just need to note here, you are arguing with a phone. Take a moment to get some perspective on that. Sadly, I've been there too. :)

GTOlover
User Rank
Platinum
Re: #6 - Voice Recognition
GTOlover   4/9/2014 10:37:00 AM
NO RATINGS
:-)

True enough.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: #6 - Voice Recognition
Elizabeth M   4/10/2014 5:31:36 AM
NO RATINGS
I had to laugh at your comment, GTOlover, imagining someone swearing at their iPhone or iPad! But this is the way of technology today. At least Siri eventually gets it right, but you point out the inadequacies that continue to plague voice-recognition technology.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
User Rank
Blogger
Re: #6 - Voice Recognition
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   4/11/2014 10:50:46 AM
NO RATINGS
Funniest scene I remember was Michelle Pfeiffer, in "I am Sam" trying to get her phone to do Voice Recognition.  As I recall, she threw it out the window!

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: #6 - Voice Recognition
Elizabeth M   4/14/2014 4:37:27 AM
NO RATINGS
It is for exactly those scenarios that I put voice recognition on the list, JimT!

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
User Rank
Blogger
Re: #6 - Voice Recognition
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   4/11/2014 11:01:31 AM
NO RATINGS
Another good product:  I had that exact model Flip Tablet on slide 7 and loved its capability and portability.  I'd probably still be using it today, except that one day (about 2 days after warranty) the screen went completely dead.  It was a total loss.

TRCSr
User Rank
Silver
Segway - maybe, electric car - no
TRCSr   4/8/2014 9:23:09 PM
NO RATINGS
I am not ready to write of either of these two additions. While it is true that the Segway is not "ready for prime-time" with the general public, I am not sure that it could be considered a failure. Manyof the so-called niche applications are very important and have made a lot of differences in those niches. Just the security uses of them is enough to justify them as being a success.

As far as the electric car is concerned, I am also not ready to write them off as a success. How many years did it take for the gasoline powered car to become a common item? Since the car companies have gotten serious about them the market has grown quite a bit. Given a few more years with development of better power sources (such as fuel cells powered by Hydrogen) and I think that the electric car will become a viable form of transportation. While they may not become a long distance, vacation trip item within my lifetime, I do think that they will become a commuter car/soccer mom car eventually. Also, if the fuel cell/hydrogen vehicle is developed with hydrogen fueling stations they may eventually compete with the gasoline vehicles. That would be nice since hydrogen can be produced with renewable energy sources, mainly electrolsys using solar or water power.

 

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Segway - maybe, electric car - no
Elizabeth M   4/9/2014 5:38:23 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks for your comments, TRCSr. I was hoping for some debate over my choices. Your point about the Segway is well taken, but I still think it didn't live up to its hype although it does have value and usefulness. I also did not want to write off the electric car per se, I just wanted to note that it hasn't (yet) lived up to all the hype surrounding it for so many years. I really appreciate your comments, though!

Papa
User Rank
Iron
Electric Car
Papa   4/9/2014 12:27:39 AM
NO RATINGS
The electric car could take off if more hydro, solar and nuclear power becomes available. Currently where I live there is not enough power to even run the air conditioners.   

ck_02
User Rank
Iron
Another grand failure
ck_02   4/9/2014 10:47:13 AM
NO RATINGS
Does anyone remember the Sega Dreamcast? It was highly innovative for its time and was better than most other systems IMHO, but alas, it was not to be and it aided, if not single-handedly responsible, in driving Sega's console division into the ground. *a moment of silence for the fallen*

And perhaps a couple more pieces of food...er drink for thought, New Coke and Crystal Clear Pepsi. Whoopsie-doodle.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Another grand failure
Elizabeth M   4/10/2014 5:38:52 AM
NO RATINGS
Yes, I came across the Sega Dreamcast as I was compiling this list, ck_02, but decided not to add it, as I already had a console on here. And new Coke is probably one of the all-time greatest invention flops in history, but I stuck to the theme of technology-oriented inventions to narrow the field. But if food were included, that would most definitely be on here at the top of the list.

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Another grand failure
tekochip   4/10/2014 10:19:01 AM
NO RATINGS
Ahh, the gaming industry.  There's a topic that deserves a whole new list of failures and is a great way to learn what it takes to have a successful product.  You need a good product, of course, but you also need a good price, and a hungry marketplace.  I think Vectrex was an excellent game console for its time, and it even had "Ripoff", the first game that demonstrated real artificial intelligence,  but it was released just prior to the computer crash of`83.  I couldn't find how many units were sold, but even today the machine has a strong fan base for nostalgia buffs.  It was just the wrong time to release a console. 
 
Few people remember that Apple attempted to enter the game industry with Pippin in `95, but there was no way to compete against Playstation or Nintendo and they sold 42,000 units.  I think if Apple had released a strong title like "Halo", they could have made a good entry into the marketplace, but the machine debuted with soft, entry-level titles .  Of course, having a loyal fan base doesn't guarantee success either.  Nintendo released the 64DD in 2000 and sold (get ready for it) 15,000 units worldwide.  I don't know how you would rank failures, but when you look at the numbers, that has to be the worst failure, and yet it came from a company that also had the greatest success.
 
I have a small anecdote about the gaming industry.  I was involved for a few years and would attend the conventions to see the latest from the competition as well as displaying my wares.  I passed by the Nintendo booth and saw three Japanese businessmen, complete with sharp, black suits, and impeccably tailored shirts.  The three men were each sitting behind arcade sized driving simulators to demonstrate the latest version of "Mario Kart".  The three executives exemplified the well-disciplined posture of boarding school students as they sat rigid behind their consoles, and next to them was an empty fourth console. 
 
OK, I dropped my nation sack and sat at the fourth console.  Without even a glance in my direction the three executives instantly snapped to life and quickly logged into the system with their characters.  I fumbled through the menu, logged in, and the race was on.  I was no novice to "Mario Kart" as I had a standing promise with my two boys that I would race with them every night for half an hour before bed, but these guys were good, real good.  They teamed up on me, which I should have expected, and they were really hammering me with shell after shell.  That's when I realized I wasn't just racing for myself, but I was racing for all of America.
 
I was dead last in the final lap of an unfamiliar course, but somehow I managed to catch up with my competitors and then just before the finish line I was gifted a lightning bolt.  I slipped across the finish line as the other three racers spun off the course, bringing victory to my family, and country.  Beside me the three executives collapsed, still facing forward, but now looking down, with arms hanging limp from their stooped shoulders.  The men sat slumped in their seats, no longer posing the rigid posture they had three minutes ago, but more like someone had let all the air out of them.  I gently retrieved my bag and left the men in silence; happy to have won, but sad to have shamed visitors from afar.


ck_02
User Rank
Iron
Re: Another grand failure
ck_02   4/10/2014 11:40:02 AM
NO RATINGS
That was definately an enjoyable anecdote @Tekochip. You had also mentioned a very large and successful company making a flop amidst other great successes. It kind of reminds me not only of the aforementioned Zune, but also of the OS Windows ME from Microsoft. I'm sorry to all those that had endured that OS program. Hopefully, all have relieved their systems of this poor example of an OS for something that performs better or at the very least left the old PC behind in favor of a new system and OS.

One last invention of ridicule from me. So bad was this invention, that it received the greatest recognition of it's failure on the silver screen through the cult classic movie, Wayne's World. Enter, stage right, The *chortle* revolutionary, Flowbee! TahDah!

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
User Rank
Blogger
Nice Compilation, Thanks.
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   4/11/2014 10:46:16 AM
NO RATINGS
Really enjoyed reviewing this compilation Liz; nice job.   And thanks for allowing me to contribute.

( Microsoft shipped Zune for 5 years ? I never even heard of it ! )

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Nice Compilation, Thanks.
Elizabeth M   4/14/2014 4:02:49 AM
NO RATINGS
It was my pleasure! Thank you for reading and contributing, JimT. As for the Zune, yes, it is probably a device not only you but many others either didn't know about or forgot (and that Microsoft might like to forget! :)

bdcst
User Rank
Platinum
Some did live up to their hype
bdcst   4/14/2014 3:51:16 PM
NO RATINGS
Hi Elizabeth,

Well, I differ with you about DAT tape.  In broadcasting at public radio we accepted it with open arms and had many rack mounted recorders in service to capture NPR program feeds for delayed playback.  The medium was far more compact than ten inch reel to reel tape, had better overall fidelity and could be connected into a digital audio routing network long before AoIP.  I used AES digital audio routing and switching back then alongside analog audio paths.

I personally used DAT recorders to capture location concert recordings for similar reasons.  Prior to DAT I had to lug around 80 pounds wowrth of analog reel to reel equipment.  It took many years for live to optical disc recording to become sort of practical (direct to CD) and even then you had to baby the recorder. The slightest bump could ruin a recording by making the laser skip.

Today going digital to solid state memory chips has eliminated all mechanical recording processes for audio and video.  But don't forget it wasn't too long ago that an hours worth of digitized audio created files way too long for storage on any media smaller than nine track computer tape!

I have fond memories of an early digital audio test involving a Xerox Sigma 7 mainframe computer.  A heavy reel of data tape had music digitized at Bell LAbs in Holmdell NJ.  My task was to test the Sigma 7's ability to reproduce it as music.  The IT folks had to shut down all remote multi-tasking to run one batch program from a card reader to load the single task of reading the nine track data tape, buffer it and play the data back to a six foot tall rack size laboratory D to A converter to which I had attached a Harmon Kardon Citation series audio amplifier and a pair of AR-3A speakers.  The machine room was larger than four average livingrooms.  When the air filled with the strains of the Tijuana Brass, all of the IT folks broke out in applause.  It was a first for them and a rarity to hear digital audio reproduction.

Today we take it for granted that a half an ounce of electronics buried within an iPod Nano can do the same task and much more than the many tons of hardware I had at my disposal in the early nineteen seventies.

DAT tape was a great format for the time, but like digital telephony (ISDN) its cost kept it out of the mainstream.  And today we may be seeing the same thing with 4k video.  Most folks are quite satisfied with standard definition video playback at home and refuse to see any reason to spend a lot more money for HDTV Blu-ray optical releases let alone twice that resolution.  Some of us do care, but we are in the minority.

 

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Some did live up to their hype
Elizabeth M   4/15/2014 8:35:12 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks for your comment, bdcst. You have given a good case for what DAT perhaps shouldn't be on the list, and I welcome your expert opinion. Indeed, a lot of these technologies definitely had their value, I am not saying they didn't. I just think that they didn't exactly blow up in the big way they were meant to in the end. But perhaps I was wrong about some of them, like DAT.

bobjengr
User Rank
Platinum
15 MODERN INVENTIONS
bobjengr   4/14/2014 6:14:56 PM
NO RATINGS
YES--Great list Elizabeth.  I can identify with just about every device on the list except the Sewgay, flying car and electric car.  I rented a Segway one time and damn near killed myself.  Oh well, live and learn.   I did own most of the remaining devices and along the way, discovered that Siri doesn't speak "southern"--English maybe but certainly not southern.  Some of the responses were classic and I wish I had written them down for posterity. 

I owned a Betamax recorder years ago and enjoyed, for a brief period of time, the use but soon discovered the tapes formatted using the necessary protocol were very limited in number.  I was taken on that one.  Again, great list. 

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: 15 MODERN INVENTIONS
Elizabeth M   4/15/2014 8:44:31 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks, bobjengr, as I said in a previous comment, it was a lot of fun to take this trip down tech memory lane and compile this list. I tried to put things on it that most people would remember or relate to. Your comment about Siri is funny. I think that may be one reason voice recognition has taken so long to get going--dialects!

lynnbr2
User Rank
Iron
Re: 15 MODERN INVENTIONS
lynnbr2   4/20/2014 3:47:21 PM
NO RATINGS
3D TV belongs on this list. They are still for sale, but the uptake remains small.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: 15 MODERN INVENTIONS
Elizabeth M   4/24/2014 5:50:12 AM
NO RATINGS
Yes, I considered this technology for the list as well, lynnbr2, but in the end didn't put it on. You're right that it is indeed worthy of inclusion.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Speech recognition
Charles Murray   4/23/2014 6:35:39 PM
NO RATINGS
I agree with your inclusion of speech recognition in this list, Liz. United Airlines uses a lot of speech recognition and I often find myself yelling into the phone in an effort to be understood. I used speech recognition in my office for several years in the late 1990s, before I finally gave up. Here's a link to a piece I wrote about my speech recognition experiences in 2000.

http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=215375

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Speech recognition
Elizabeth M   4/24/2014 5:54:40 AM
NO RATINGS
Yes, those are exactly the scenarios I'm thinking of with speech recognition, Chuck. This still happens far too often and this technology has been cooking for many years. You think we would've come much further by now. I'll take a look at your link, which is exactly proof of my point! :)

Partner Zone
More Blogs
A soundproofing invention called Acoustiblok recently won a television challenge to silence an air horn with only a fraction of an inch of polymer material.
Robots came into their own in the 1970s. Gone were the low-budget black-and-white B movies. Now robots roamed in full-color feature films with A-list actors.
Major global metropolitan areas are implementing a vast number of technology, energy, transportation, and Internet projects to make the metropolis a friendlier, greener, safer, and more sustainable place to be.
Hereís a look at robots depicted in movies and on TV during the 1950s and 1960s. We tried to collect the classics here, omitting the scores of forgettable B movies such as Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine. Stay tuned for slideshows of robot stars from later decades.
A scientist at the University of Pittsburgh has achieved a breakthrough in the quest to create artificial cartilage with human cells for treatment of degenerative joint disease.
Design News Webinar Series
7/23/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
7/17/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
6/25/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
5/13/2014 10:00 a.m. California / 1:00 p.m. New York / 6:00 p.m. London
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Jul 21 - 25, Design Products With Bluetooth Low Energy
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Next Class: August 12 - 14
Sponsored by igus
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service