Technology innovation continues to move rapidly. It seems that every few days that there is a major breakthrough with some type of IT or other computer-based technology that is seemingly going to change the world; or, at the very least improve humanity in some way. Sometimes, however, it just wasn’t meant to be. We’ll take a look at a few technologies that once were shoo-ins to transform society, only to have come up short in one way or another.
For the better part of a decade, manufacturers tried and tried and tried to get people excited about 3D technology. There were several problems. Content creators would not commit to 3D in capture or post production. That lack of content coupled with the fact that viewers had to have corresponding eyewear; and, the premium price tag the hardware commanded, had people leaving the 3D displays on the shelves, instead choosing high definition displays that made 2D programming look fantastic. This, of course, led the manufacturers abandoning the technology, citing lack of demand.
There have been whispers that the technology may be rejuvenated through the use of what is called Home3D. MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) recently found a way to emulate the 3D experience without glasses. Without 3D content at the ready, however, don’t expect major electronics manufacturers to commit to the creation of 3D displays any time soon, glasses or not.
Just few short years ago, most people were counting down the days until they able to get their hands on a pair of Google Glass. They kept counting and counting. Today, no one is counting, because there is no Google Glass. In fact, despite the overwhelming initial support, there are very few actual smart glasses manufacturers today. In 2012 celebrities were out front testing Google Glass, but today, there were only a couple of smart glasses manufacturers at CES. These companies, who are still searching for the answers on what consumers want from their smart glasses, have learned from the failed Google and Intel products. Less is more.
The main problem with products like Google Glass was that the invasion of privacy was all too honest. Sure, Google can track everything that you say, buy, and do online, but providing a camera on a pair of perpetually-turned-on glasses was a step too far, for everyone. There was a time when smart glasses were going to be a true replacement for the smartphone. Today, the main technologies that would run an effective pair of smart glasses haven’t been perfected. Augmented reality, although growing, hasn’t gained enough traction to become the powerful technology necessary to facilitate the need for a technology like smart glasses.
I know what you’re thinking: “virtual reality is available today”. That much is true, but people have been talking about virtual reality for the better part of the past 40 years. Most technologies that were developed, not theorized, but developed in the 1980s have come and gone by now. Think about the VHS or the audio cassette, where are they now? So while virtual reality lingers around as computing systems and image capture improves, the practical applications of VR are severely limited.
Gaming, the one application that most people believed that VR would be great for, has been a major failure. There is some value in the ability for people to share experiences online via VR, but thus far it hasn’t been a priority for developers. The main practical use for VR, which is not entertainment, but education, hasn’t seen enough of a push to be a viable solution. So, while we’re not saying to give up on VR as a technology just yet, the lack of excitement over a technology that should have (or at the very least could have) been so transformative, is a complete disappointment up until this point.
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