Technology always keeps evolving, be it in the field of software or hardware. Here we list five cool gadgets that were developed but never really came out.
Five Cool Gadgets That Never Came Out
Technological advancements have presented us with numerous remarkable devices in recent years, some of which have completely changed the world as we know it. To put this into perspective, it’s not that long ago when pulling a smartphone out of your pocket would have probably generated some quizzical stares. Now, those little computers have become the primary tool for everything, from communication to entertainment.
That said, although every year comes with the promise of many great gadgets, not all make it to stores. The tech industry is riddled with “vaporware” – a clever term for those products that garner hype but never actually come out. Sometimes it’s the developers that get a little ahead of themselves and fail to deliver, or maybe it’s the investors, who lose faith and withdraw their support. The bottom line is, bringing a product to market is never as easy as it may seem.
Below is a look at some gadgets that would’ve likely revolutionized our relationship with technology, but became vaporware instead.
Despite their many strengths, the sophisticated smartphones of today have one stinging weakness. While most laptops and desktop computers can be easily upgraded by replacing their components with better ones, the best you can do to improve a smartphone is to pop in a microSD card.
Google’s Project Ara was meant to introduce a new series of upgradable phones, which supported the replacement of pieces in as simple a fashion as yanking the keyboard off a Microsoft Surface. The concept re-imagined the smartphone as a series of small, LEGO-styled bricks, which could be attached, swapped out and rearranged in seconds.
Even more awe-inspiring was the set price tag. For $50, buyers would have been able to add and remove camera modules, sensors, internal memory chips and even the processor, whenever they needed upgrading.
Unfortunately, Google dropped Project Ara last year, long before the first bunch was expected to ship. According to hardware chief Rick Osterloh, the move was geared towards streamlining the company’s seemingly disorganized product lineup.
While Google’s decision was disappointing, the modular dream appears to be living on in Motorola’s Moto Z, which supports backplates for additions like a battery pack, a projector, and an external speaker. It may not be anywhere near the customization of the Ara, but it’s something.
Before its ill-fated relationship with Microsoft, Nokia was one of several major tech companies working on a smartwatch. Officially dubbed “Moonraker,” the watch was on display at Mobile World Congress in 2014, and according to Nokia, it was meant to accompany the then-upcoming Lumia 930 flagship smartphone.
The Moonraker borrowed from Window’s Metro interface, and added several simple apps like messaging and email, and Facebook and MixRadio integration, alongside customizable watch faces and straps.
Having acquired Nokia’s phone business, Microsoft canceled the Moonraker, primarily because it was working on its own wearable, the Microsoft Band, which had more functionality. Although some Lumia fans remained hopeful, the Moonraker concept was finally put to rest when Nokia and Microsoft parted ways last year.
Nevertheless, Nokia, now under Taiwanese firm Foxconn, is looking to reignite the smartwatch flame later this year, with the upcoming launch of its new range of fitness-based watches.
Bendable smartphones have been a hot topic for years, but no company dared to accept the challenge. That surprisingly changed in 2016, when Lenovo came out with one. At its Tech World conference in San Francisco, the company debuted a working model of a fully functional smartphone that could snap around the wrist like an old-school bracelet.
YouTube celebrity Meghan McCarthy demonstrated the CPlus prototype at the conference, wrapping a seemingly active phone onto her wrist, much to the delight of the audience. Lenovo’s CTO Peter Horstensius, however, went ahead to do a quick walk-through of the technology, ultimately calling it “just an innovative idea, that’s not yet fully functional.”
While the CPlus is an admirable concept, it may take a few years for anything like it comes to the market.
Razer wowed everyone at CES 2014 when it unveiled the world’s first modular gaming PC, as a bold attempt to open up the full power of computer hardware, even to those with little or no technical knowledge.
Project Christine featured a CPU, GPU, RAM, hard drive and other components that plugged into a central backbone, syncing automatically through the magic of PCI-Express (the bus that discrete graphics currently use). In the announcement, Razer explained the ease of upgrading graphics processing power and storage as “simply swapping out the existing drives or adding more modules – no screws involved.” Moreover, modules could be added in any order or combination to ensure maximum flexibility.
The concept gathered instant hype among diehard gamers, who saw it as the beginning of a new era in PC assembling. Razer claimed it wanted to get other companies on board to commercialize the system, but no one bought into it.
Although the firm hasn’t officially canceled Project Christine, nothing seems to suggest any future release. Gamers will have to remain content with other current top-range rigs, at least for now.
In the list of the five cool gadgets, is Saygus V2 (2015). With acclaimed gadgets like the Apple iPhone 6S, the LG G4 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge all hitting the shelves in 2015, you’d be forgiven if you forgot, or never even heard about the Saygus V2.
Amidst all the big names at CES 2015 was little-known Salt Lake City-based Saygus, which was demoing its first smartphone, the V2 (V-squared). The phone’s specs sheet was as striking as its edge-to-edge display, featuring several bits of neat-sounding technology we hadn’t seen before, notably a 1080p ‘ArcticLink III’ sunlight-readable screen, two microSDXC slots, a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, wireless charging and water resistance.
It also included some battery-boosting jiggery-pokery, which Saygus claimed could make the 3100mAh battery perform like a 4600mAh cell. And, to satisfy the software savvy folk, the V2 could interestingly boot other operating systems besides the packaged Android 4.4.4, such as Sailfish and Linux.
While the Saygus V2 tickled the nerd-nerves of many enthusiasts, it never got to stores. As recently as spring this year, the company was still promising to ship the V2 in the near future. But, unless it issues an update, customers will be getting a handset whose once trend-setting features are now commonplace on flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the LG G6.
As new technology continues to shape the future, it pays to reflect on what could have been but didn’t. The gadgets above present significant lessons for developers, who often face hurdles in their quest to bring new products to the market. And for the fans that often get swept away by “coming soon” news, only to end up disappointed when releases don’t go as planned.