Tech Fails of 2011: It's Never Too Soon to Admit Defeat

The year ahead of us will see technology that no one could ever have predicted in 1950, but there will also be some spectacular failures.

SLIDEFEATURED PRODUCTS
tech_fails_1-100346058-orig.jpg

This is the year 2011. Flying cars are commonplace. You can get a day's worth of nutrition from one easy-to-swallow supplement. And, oh yes, Microsoft now owns planet Earth.

Ok, so maybe this isn't exactly the future we predicted decades ago. That said, the year ahead of us will see technology that no one could ever have predicted in 1950. Smartphones that are as powerful as computers. 3D television. Touch screen tablets galore. But there will also be some spectacular failures.

tech_fails_2-100346059-orig.jpg

This is what you get when you have Lady Gaga as your creative director...

Polaroid is an American institution. Known primarily for its instant film, the Polaroid name was synonymous with genius, creativity and fun. What more perfect person for Polaroid's "creative director" than Lady Gaga. She embodies all the attributes of Polaroid past (although "genius" may be too strong a word). So what products did they conspire to deliver? How about...sunglasses that take photos! That is actually a brilliant idea. Taken from the pages of Transmetropolitan, the GL20 Camera Glasses can take or receive uploaded photos and then display them on the glasses' little LCD screens. Sounds cool, no?

No. While cool at a party or a club, how practical are these? Not to mention, they're hideous. See the video here. They look like Bono's glasses mated with Truman Capote. While the price has not yet been set, we predict it will be way too high.

Image from Polaroid

tech_fails_3-100346060-orig.jpg

Samsung's tablet with a physical keyboard

Every company on the planet is jumping on the tablet bandwagon in an attempt to grab some of the sales numbers that Apple's iPad has earned in 2010. Samsung, known for their home electronics, entered the fray with a feature not found on the others: a physical keyboard that slides out from the back of the unit. The 10" touchscreen on the Samsung Sliding PC 7 is comparable to all the others on the market and for the most part is unremarkable. The keyboard is a neat idea, but we feel that the general public will still choose to spend the $699 asking price on an iPad. Or perhaps the CES 2011 show-stealer, the Motorola Xoom.

Image from Samsung

tech_fails_4-100346061-orig.jpg

Instant custom in-ear headphones.

While extremely convenient, earbuds are, for the most part, uncomfortable. Sonomax thought of this and developed the Sonomax Soundcage. The concept behind these earbuds is having the flexible silicone buds form-fit into your ear canal. Normally, custom earbuds can take weeks to produce. The Soundcage can produce custom buds in seconds. The downside? These $200 headphones look really, really dorky.

Image from Sonomax

tech_fails_5-100346062-orig.jpg

Groom. Suck.

For the shaggy dog owner, buying a vacuum cleaner that can effectively suck up dog hair is something of a must-have. This question is for you dog owners: Have you...and be honest here...ever tried to vacuum your dog? You know, put on a brush attachment and give him a "pat" with the vacuum? I have tried that. And in the animal kingdom, there are few things scarier than a vacuum cleaner. My dog ran when she heard the vacuum...even before attempts were made to vacuum her.

Unfortunately, the engineers over at Dyson are not aware of canine behavior and have produced the "Dyson Groom". I suppose we don't need to further explain why this gadget will fail. Unless it also comes with doggie valium.

Image from Dyson

tech_fails_6-100346063-orig.jpg

This is how Skynet eventually conquered the humans.

LG announced they will be releasing appliances with "THINQ" technology. In simple terms, appliances like your washing machine will have an LCD screen that will show results of self-diagnostics and what to tell customer service if there's a problem. The appliances can also have services and upgrades sent to them via a Wi-Fi connection. All of this sounds brilliant. But will consumers be willing to shell out extra bucks to have their fridge Wi-Fi enabled? Let's hope not...or soon you'll be running from a T-1000 oven with orders to terminate you. Mark my words.

Image from LG

Slideshow: Bewildering Gadgets: Stars of SkyMall

tech_fails_7-100346064-orig.jpg

Oakley 3D glasses. Seriously.

Those 3D specs they give you in the theater are ugly. GL20 ugly. The home version of 3D glasses? UHHHGULY. What we need is a pair of 3D glasses that actually looks rockin'. Since, you know, NO ONE IS LOOKING AT YOU when you're watching a 3D movie. Oakley doesn't care. They're pretty sure you'll shell out $120 for something you'll only wear in the dark.

Image from Oakley

[ See also: Spies like us: Spy gear for your inner secret agent ]

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.