Maybe someday, you will understand, that something for nothing is everybody’s plan.– Bob Dylan
This week, while surfing the Internet desperately looking for some interesting editorial fodder, I came across several new inventions that are guaranteed to shake up technophiles in some part of the world or other.
Man-months of Research and Development had obviously been poured into all of these creations. The application of technology that someone, somewhere, had undoubtedly felt would fill a huge gap in a huge marketplace.
So what were they? Well, first up comes the Gizmondo. This $229 handheld unit targets those folks that like to play games while on the go. And yes, it does look an awful lot like similar products from Sony, Nintendo and Nokia, doesn’t it? The difference is that it’s also GPS-enabled. That in itself probably isn’t enough to differentiate it from the competition. And that’s important. A successful product must be significantly different from its competitors. Or it won’t sell.
And while we are on the subject of insignificant differences, meet the Toyota i-swing. If you’ve seen the Segway People Transporter, you’ll know what I’m on about here, because frankly it looks pretty similar. Only difference is that for a high speed ride, it can switch into a three-wheeler mode. The folks at Toyota say that they’ve slapped in some AI so that the thing can ‘learn’ the driving habits of the user. But they are obviously not referring to people like me that won’t be riding one in the first place.
In third place comes a Television Set. Yes, I know. This is hardly new technology is it? But instead of a spinning disk and a neon lamp which provides a blurry picture about the size of a business card, this new Sony Vaio TV sports a huge 20 inch flat-panel display and has a PC bolted onto it. So it’s not just a TV, but a PC too! That’s right – a TV with PC functionality! You can use it as a PC, but also as a TV! Golly gosh! Whatever will they think of next?
Well, try Wi-Fi Bedouin for size. According to the web site http://www.techkwondo.com, this is a wearable, mobile 802.11b node disconnected from the global Internet. It forms a WiFi “island Internet” challenging conventional assumptions about WiFi and suggesting new architectures for digital networks that are based on physical proximity rather than solely connectivity. In reality, it’s a backpack stuffed with a computer and some communications equipment.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a guy that loves technology. Especially technology that can perform some benefit for mankind. But this stuff is just a complete waste of space, isn’t it? What good is any of it? And, more importantly, why have so many people spent so much time building it?
Perhaps I should apply to those folks that fund technology developments in the EU to see if they could provide me with a small grant of 175,000 Euros to write a definitive ten page white paper analysing the development of useless items. This thesis could then be disseminated to businesses throughout the UK to prevent them from making the same terrible mistakes.