by Bill Snyder

The Dumbest Gadgets of 2013

Dec 20, 20133 mins
Consumer ElectronicsMobileSmall and Medium Business

The "iPotty" and a steering-wheel-attached work surface tray are two of the notably useless items the tech industry spun out in 2013.

First there was the iPod, then there was the iPhone and the iPad, all of which can enhance our lives. Now there’s the iPotty. Yes, seriously, an iPotty. Awful as that is, the iPotty is just one of the gadgets we really, really don’t need in 2014.

Tech innovation is great – when it serves a useful purpose. But the fascination with digital junk encourages bozos to toss stupid, and sometimes dangerous, products into the marketplace.

Here’s my list of gadgets and technologies that should really be ignored.

Here’s an iPotty link to an ad in Amazon that proves your toddler can learn to poop on the potty while exercising the other end of her body on your iPad. It can be yours for a mere $34.98, tablet not included. Aside from the utter stupidity of this idea (think: germs) there’s a serious point here: Why does everything in our lives have to be digital, and why can’t we just let our kids be kids?

Less gross, but still badly off the mark, is the growing collection of kid-friendly tablets. They range from the cheap and junky looking, such as the Discovery Kids techTab, about $25, to the expensive and poorly designed Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids, which will set you back more than $200. If a kid is too young to use a real tablet, why buy an underpowered pseudo tablet that will probably get broken in a hurry? Parental control software is easy to add to grown up tablets when the kids are ready. Chances are your child will get into Harvard (or not) regardless of when you buy her a tablet.  

Talk about distracted driving. Everyone with a brain knows that texting while driving is, well, insanely dangerous. Using your cell phone without a headset in the car is nearly as bad. But using your laptop while you’re at the wheel? Now you can write a memo or crunch some numbers or maybe watch a video while barreling down the Interstate. Yup, the AutoExec Wheelmate Steering Wheel Attachable Work Surface Tray can be yours for just $25.39.

There are  some really cool and useful, wearable fitness devicesand apps. But the HAPIfork isn’t one of them. “The HAPIfork, powered by Slow Control is an electronic fork that helps you monitor and track your eating habits. It also alerts you with the help of indicator lights and gentle vibrations when you are eating too fast.” Right. Hey, it only cost $99.