Every now and then, the media get excited by a new piece of technology. They eat up the claims from manufacturers and spit them back out in flashy news reports that promise revolutionary new ways of living.
This excitement rubs off on the public, with some even forking out the premium price to be an early adopter.
Sometimes, these technologies become overnight successes that create huge new markets. This happened with devices like smartphones and tablets, particularly after Apple launched its iPhone and iPad devices.
More often than not though, they fail to convince the masses that they’re anything more than a gimmick and quickly get forgotten about, never living up to their hype.
Here are some examples of technology that hasn’t quite lived up to the hype yet.
Virtual reality has been a concept that humans have been theorising about for over a century. Early VR devices were impractical and sometimes as big as an entire room. Even as late as 1995, companies were trying to produce commercially viable VR products like Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, but they all failed spectacularly.
In the 2010s, the landscape of VR changed as technology finally caught up with the concept. Companies like Oculus, Samsung and HTC began releasing headsets, and Sony and Valve have both incorporated VR gaming into their product offering.
Sony’s PlayStation has a limited number of VR games and some additional VR support for other games, but the response from gamers has been lukewarm so far. The upcoming PlayStation 5 is expected to expand on the VR offering though, since the console will have more processing power. It remains to be seen what the reaction will be to this from customers.
Valve’s Steam platform also carries plenty of VR content including iRacing, Microsoft Flight Simulator X, and a VR game from PokerStars. These titles have proven that there is still interest in the technology, and that we haven’t even scratched the surface yet in regards to the potential scope of it.
While the jury is still out on VR, so far it hasn’t proved to be the “future” like it was touted to be in the early 2010s.
Every couple of decades a Hollywood studio releases a new film in 3D. Audiences love it, and other filmmakers jump on the bandwagon by creating their films in 3D. It happened in the 1950s when the film Bwana Devil was released, then again in the 1980s when Comin’ at Ya! arrived in cinemas, and most recently in 2009 it happened with Avatar.
In 2009, TV manufacturers thought 3D may finally be here to stay and began producing 3D screens for people to have in their living rooms. Except, like every other time 3D became popular, interest died off very quickly and by 2017, no new models were manufactured.
Ultimately, a technology that gives people headaches and makes them wear silly glasses while they try to relax is never going to catch on. Yet, we still haven’t seen the back of 3D films.
When was the last time you scanned a QR code? Unless you’re a big fan of them, the answer is almost certainly a long time ago. QR codes became a popular concept in the late 2000s and early 2010s as people began buying smartphones.
The idea is that a QR code can be read by a smartphone and take a user to a particular URL, download an app, or open some other sort of content.
In reality, QR codes are fiddly, frustrating, and often implemented poorly. They were originally designed to track cars as they moved along a production line but were quickly adopted by marketers to encourage consumers to interact with them.
Except most consumers don’t like them and assume they will direct them to poor quality content, and therefore they choose to ignore them.
There are some exceptions though. QR codes work great for loyalty cards, payment apps, and Snapchat’s Snapcode. Outside of this though, QR codes definitely haven’t lived up to their hype.
Google’s attempt at making a new type of wearable tech failed before it was even launched. Google Glass was a set of spectacles that came fitted with a small projector in the top corner of one lens.
It promised a new hands-free way of interacting with our devices but was discontinued two years after being launched. Consumers didn’t want to pay $1,500, felt the device made them look silly, and were concerned about privacy due to the device’s camera that could be used to record video and photos without people knowing.
Many questions around the practicalities of cleaning glasses with a $1,000 computer inside and how people that need prescription glasses could use them also presented major hurdles for the project.
Google Glass lives on, but as an enterprise product that helps make factories and warehouses more efficient.