• Charlotte Maumus

5 All-the-Rage Tech Inventions That Busted

All that Glitters isn’t Gold. Sometimes it’s Just Crappy Tech.

Photo: Martin E. Klimek, USA TODAY

Remember Theranos, the blood-testing company that was based on a cool idea, but not a working product? And remember how the company raised a shit ton of money and defrauded numerous huge companies and big names in tech?

If you don’t, how’s the rock you’re living under? Get up to speed by reading this or watching the documentary. But this isn’t an ad for the defunct Theranos company.

What I’m getting at it is that people – smart people – can be so taken with the sparkly and shiny that they overlook the actual function of technology.

There’s a principle of “form follows function” that started with the architecture world, but it’s a key concept for most inventions and products, including tech…or, let’s be real, it should be. What does this principle mean, exactly? Well, “the credo was taken to imply that decorative elements, which architects call ‘ornament’, were superfluous in modern buildings.” (Thanks, Wikipedia – don’t judge me!) Essentially, don’t get bogged down in the flash because if it doesn’t have good structure, or actually work, the flash means nothing.

That brings me to those razzle-dazzle tech products that fooled us all...for a hot sec. They all failed because inventors/brands/companies tried to use splashy form to get you to buy vs. thinking through and providing useful functionality.

So without further ado...remember these epic duds?

#1 The Smoking Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Credit: Shawn L. Minter / AP

Smoking hot looking and actually super hot when it CATCHES ON FIRE. Of course, we’re starting with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. Yay quick charge, yay long battery life, iris scanning, waterproofing. Wow, this sounds great…until it literally bursts into flames.

To provide a battery that offered maximum power and a lightning-fast charge without the clunkiness of a Phablet (see below), Samsung skimped on some battery insulation and protection, resulting in short-circuiting and, in some cases, fire. Did they also skimp on testing?

#2 The Non-Phabulous Phablet

Credit: phys.org

Enter the phablet…silly word, problematic concept. Yes, it offers bigger screens for a portable device. Maybe a few times a year, you can use it instead of toting your tablet or computer around. But, it doesn’t fit into the parameters of real life. Jeans, purses, small hands.

You might think we’re being dramatic, but a product designed for convenience needs to be convenient.

When the phablet first came out, it put the fashion world in a tailspin. Lee Jeans, Banana Republic, Dockers, and more considered (or acted on) a revamp of pocket sizes to hold the new giant phones ‘cause even they were into the “cool” Phablet concept. While that might seem like, “What’s the big deal?” The big deal is that you’re now on the hook for buying new clothes if you don’t want to carry your phone in your hand all day.

Personally, we’d rather spend our money on something better than cargo pants. Not to mention, people had issues holding the phablets with one hand, making it much harder to use on the go…and isn’t that the point of a mobile device? Onto the next!

#3: The Dysfunctional DeLorean

Credit: motortrend.com

Oh, the DeLorean. We remember it fondly from “Back to the Future.” But, before Michael P. Keaton time traveled in it, the DeLorean didn’t even get off the ground (wahaha) in the real world. It looked so cool. But, to make it look that cool and sleek, designers didn’t leave enough space for a super-fast, swanky engine. Instead, it had a dinky engine reserved for more sensible cars.

That means it looked like a badass, but drove like a minivan.

Thanks to that small fact, which likely pissed off some bigwig celeb and British government investors, (and some legal troubles for John DeLorean), it was only produced for a few years. Maybe if it actually had a flux capacitor – or at least space for a decent engine – it would have been a hit.

#4 The Glaringly Problematic Google Glass

Credit: Digital Trends

We thought it was weird when a-holes screamed to themselves on the street, in the store...anywhere in public...thanks to Bluetooth earpieces. But that was nothing compared to how ridiculous people looked talking (and maybe secretly filming) from their Google Glasses.

Google Glass was hyped as a game-changer for capturing images and accessing the Internet on-the-go, but the public didn’t buy it. Despite the hype, all it did was freak people out about privacy and piracy, from password theft to secret face recognition software.

One early adopter declared that, “The UI was terrible, the connection unreliable and the info it delivered had little use to me. It was the worst $1,500 I have ever spent in my life.” Google Glass was so maligned that its users now have their own entry on UrbanDictionary.com.

Google Glass has since been re-released for engineers, surgeons and factory staff, with the idea that they can look at checklists and send quality control videos in real-time. At least now, they’ve figured out a purpose...which they should have done in the first place.

#5 No Specs Appeal for Snap Spectacles

Credit: wccftech

You’d think companies would have learned from the Google Glass debacle, and to be fair, we think they did...a little bit. Positively, Snap Spectacles do complement Snap, Inc.’s Snapchat platform. They capture some pretty amazing vistas and candid or “candid” influencer videos with a quick button push. On the other hand, both versions of the specs ran into a few big problems that directly pitted form against function.

Sure they’re a tiny bit subtler than Google Glass, but they’re far from cool, meaning the exact places you’d want to capture snap-worthy clips – concerts, festivals, an impromptu yoga sesh in Central Park – is the exact place you’d feel like an idiot for wearing them.

Snapchat is a selfie Mecca, but you can’t take selfies with Snapchat Spectacles. You have to jump through hoops to post the images anywhere but Snapchat. While we get not wanting to help competitors, Snap only hurt itself with this one. For the people who wanted to post or save images elsewhere, the glasses were more trouble than they were worth.

Alas, the flash of something new blinded Snap to the problems of real-world application.


So, you get the point. These “technologies” tried to make something shiny and new at the expense of convenience, safety, ease of use...or overall functionality. Essentially form as a way of overcoming function.

But you know what can solve function even better? Better function.

Which leads us to memwris.

Why do all the new mobile UI trends have new colors, fonts, themes, emojis, or decorative imagery? Why does the screen have to get bigger to seem better? Sure the Samsung Galaxy Fold seems super cool, but the launch has already been pushed back due to screen issues. (Maybe they should read this post for a little history lesson.)

We hate all this “find more space on something small” crap. Wouldn’t it be better if we just increased the function of mobile UI?
  • Better use of the screen space

  • Small gestures for the touchscreen

  • More intuitive typing

  • NOT a regurgitation of how you interact with your laptop...because mobile isn’t a laptop…

So let the mobile UI revolution begin.

Learn more.

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