Ah, technology. Thanks to a constant barrage of new gadgets, life just seems to be getting better and better. But some gadgets are, well... confusing and weird. They are, in a word, misfires.
Overall, 2016 was a great year for tech, but among the successes were some serious failures. And we're not even talking about phones that burst unexpectedly into flames. We're talking about products that seem misguided from the start.
We will never understand how certain gadgets ever saw the light of day. But they did, and we're here to tell you how incredibly useless they are.
10. Samsung Smart Suit
Introduced at CES 2016, the Samsung Smart Suit is definitely smart, but also ridiculous. The suit has an NFC tag sewn into the wrist. Waving your phone in front of the button allows you to do things like unlock your phone, silence your notifications or exchange business cards digitally. You can also set different modes on your phone, like Office Mode and Drive Mode.
At first, the concept seems impressive, but after a moment's reflection, you quickly wonder who really wants to wear, much less purchase, special clothing dedicated to doing things your fingers can easily and quickly do?
AromaCare is a "connected" air freshener that allows you to control the scent and strength of essential oils using an app on your smartphone. Sure, we all want our homes and offices to smell delightful, but there are so many other air fresheners that will do the same job for a fraction of the cost.
A crowfunding project on KissKissBankBank, the campaign ended in November, and there's still no word on the exact pricing or when and if the product will be available for purchase. But it's expected that each device will go for around $100. When you can buy a Glade air freshener for $5, spending $95 more than that for the same result seems like a waste of money.
Pause is a "simple yet innovative lifestyle designer box that blocks all cell and Wi-Fi signals." When you want to step away from your phone, whether it's during a meeting, at the dinner table or anywhere, set your phone in the metal box to be "phone free."
The "device" is currently available for backing on Indiegogo and will retail for $40. But let's be clear--it's just a box. So, like, why not just set your phone to silent and order a couple of pizzas instead?
7. Quitbit Lighter
Quitbit is a lighter that helps you quit smoking by tracking the time you've gone without a cigarette. Some of the features seem helpful, like counting the number of cigarettes you smoke or the time since your last smoke break.
But carrying around a lighter that by its very design helps you do the exact thing you're trying to stop doing seems counter intuitive. We totally get that quitting smoking can be difficult, but spending $129 on a lighter might not be the best solution to the problem.
6. Drowse Buster-E
Starting at $31, the Drowse Buster-E is a Kickstarter campaign that pledges to "keep you awake for long-haul driving, attending meeting, studying and other situations." So coffee, but more expensive?
The device connects to your earlobes and combines traditional Chinese acupuncture theory with modern technology. It uses impulses on the acupoints on your earlobe to maintain your brain's proper frequencies and waves. The promotional video compares the Drowse Buster-E to the ice bucket challenge—because you're more awake after you dump a bucket of ice water on your head.
We have so many issues with this we don't know where to start. Oh, wait, we can start with the fact that acupuncture isn't science, it's metaphysics. In study after study after study, acupuncture has been found to be no more effective at anything than placebo, so dressing it up in a gadget you sell on Kickstarter and throwing in nonsense phrases like "swing the user's brainwave and amplitude back" is unlikely to do anything more than drain your bank acount and your IQ.
Back to the Future introduced the world to Marty McFly's self-lacing sneakers, and Belty is trying to do the same, but with belts. Belty is a fitness tracker within a belt and "keeps you on track and sends good vibes your way," according to the website. It offers many features like increasing your walking pace through rhythm and challenging you to climb more stairs, drink more water and stand up straight. So it's basically your mom, but in belt form.
Since most smartphones already offer fitness trackers, and since belts aren't that hard to adjust on your own, Belty seems like a waste of space, and CNET agrees.
“Products like Belty, while desired by possibly zero mainstream consumers, turn heads because they seem to be more representative of a parody of where tech is heading rather than a shining example of where it should go,” according to Nick Statt, a reporter for CNET.
An electrical weed remover, Heatweed gets rid of weeds by burning them at their roots using a flameless heat source. In 10-15 seconds, the weed will begin to die. You know, as opposed to the three seconds it takes to pull it by hand.
According to the Kickstarter campaign, if you use the Heatweed for one hour once a month, it'll last between eight and 10 years. We're not weed sceintists, but we do know that weeds grow much more frequently than once a month.
3. Logbar’s Ring Zero
Definitely not the first of its kind, Logbar's Ring Zero uses gesture controls to control the lights in your home, your TV and other remote control devices. What's the difference between the Ring Zero and other devices like Amazon Echo or Google Home? It's literally a ring you wear on your finger.
Fair enough. The problem is that, according to reviews, the Ring Zero only works half the time. For $150, you'd think it would work all the time. And wouldn't be a ring.
The Ring Zero started as a successful Kickstarter in 2014, and amidst a bevy of terrible reviews, has since launched into a full-blown company.
Using an e-ink display, the Eyecatcher by Looksee Labs is a wearable bracelet that fuses art, fashion and technology by showing patterns, photos and notifications on displays that never turns off.
There are no buttons on the bracelet. You control everything by using an app on your phone. It's similar to a smartwatch, but it's more of an art show on your wrist.
It's a cool idea, and maybe it'll become a thing, but it just seems like one more thing you don't need to wear. Then again, combine this with Ring Zero and Belty, and you might be starting to make a fashion statement.
1. Rubato Clock
Another Kickstarter campaign, the Rubato Clock alters your perception of time, which the company claims influences you to be more productive or creative. Activate the "productive mode," and algorithms accelerate the rate of the clock's hand movements. You're then left to feel like you're running out of time, so you'll work harder and faster to complete your task. The clock then sets itself back to the actual time.
But you guys, unless someone buys you the clock without your knowledge, your brain will know the trick and it likely won't work. At least the clocks look super cool—we'll give them that.