Right from Project Ara to Super Friendly Robots, there are gadgets that we never got to try. As much as we love a new iPhone, iPad, Smartwatch, and other hits, there is a huge sample size of gadgets which never took off after creating an initial hype. Here are seven of the most notable ones you should know of.
1. Project Ara
Companies made several attempts to come up with a pure modular smartphone which can swap in pieces in and out as our needs as users began to evolve with their smartphones. And Motorola made the first big attempt at it with a project called “Ara” which was put forth by Google’s experimental ATAP group under former chief Regina Dugan. But things began to crumble when Regina left Google for Facebook.
Back in 2013, Ara team started working on this “Modular” phone concept which made the phone look like a puzzle brick where you could swap the pieces in and out in seconds. When Ara was announced in October 2013, it was announced that ATAP would release Project Ara’s Module Developer’s Kit (MDK) early the next year.
The idea came to place from the high-end PC’s in the market, where the processors, chips and other parts could be removed. And to be upgraded every couple of years as tech got better. But in 2016, Google dropped the project claiming it would be “too ambitious and costly to make modular phones a reality”.
As it stands, Moto Mods is the only project which comes close to Project Ara with it’s mods. Ranging from additional battery, projector, gamepad, speakers and other mods. Which is nowhere near the functionalities which Ara concept promised.
But it’s still not out of the equation as of now. We could see a similar show up as a licensed product or in any piece of hardware.
2. Mattel Aristotle
Mattel had to cancel their Aristotle child monitor due to some privacy concerns.
Last year, Mattel hired a new CTO, Sven Gerjets and he did an in-depth review of the product before going public with the product. He claimed, “did not fully align with Mattel’s new technology strategy” and would therefore not be brought to market.
Aristotle was meant to be the Google Home or Amazon Echo for the kids. It was meant to work as a baby monitor with a camera along with it. With it’s night light and white noise emitter and would react to their cries with calm soothing music to their ears.
It was also meant to grow along with the kids as they get older. Aristotle would answer their questions and purportedly even answer their questions until they fell asleep.
According to a Washington Post, the Mattel’s Aristotle got the attention of at least some politicians, concerned about the privacy issue and about just how much information it would collect from children from day 1.
The project was shut down eventually.
3. Palm Foleo
On September 4, 2007, Palm’s CEO, Ed Colligan, wrote on their official blog: “I have decided to cancel the Foleo mobile companion product […] Our own evaluation and early market feedback were telling us that we still have a number of improvements to make Foleo a world-class product, and we can not afford to make those improvements.”
Here are some facts about Palm Foleo:
- Weight: 2.5 pounds (1.1 kg)
- Thickness: 1 inch (2.4 cm)
- Size: 11×6 inches (28×15 cm)
At that time it was considered to be huge, dense and fat for something like “a companion for phone”. You could have got a laptop instead which could effectively run all softwares and even outperform your phone. Remember, it was a decade back.
Palm seemed ashamed of its own specs since they are nowhere to be found on the product pages during those time. It was a deliberate decision to hide their specs on the site.
4. Microsoft Courier
There have been stories regarding folding phones that open and close like your textbook with facing touchscreens years back. Microsoft unveiled a similar design in 2008 with a device called Microsoft Courier.
It had a pair of facing 7-inch screens, as well as wireless connectivity, and a camera. Microsoft stopped working on the project in 2010, but there are rumours that a new device with a similar design could be making their way down to the market soon. Quoting the Windows Central website,
According to our sources, the Andromeda device is prototype hardware; a foldable dual-screened tablet that runs Windows 10 built with Windows Core OS, along with CShell to take advantage of its foldable form factor.
But will it be the same idea they had back in 2008? Time will tell.
5. Poloroid Lady Gaga Camera Glasses
Back in 2010, Polaroid signed a multi-year deal with Lady Gaga, as the brand attempted to to fill into the little gap left by camera makers when it was the rise of digital photos in the world. The arrangement with Lady Gaga led to product launches such as camera glasses.
In 2014, both teams parted ways with no particular reason why the project got derailed.
Kuri, a home robot which was designed to play with kids, respond to voice commands and walk around with them while filming videos and taking photos and also features like,
- Face recognition to help it “capture unexpected moments” around the home.
- Mapping sensors to prevent it bumping into objects or falling down stairs.
- Touch detection to allow it to respond to its owner in cute ways, such as looking up and chirping if its head was tapped.
Kuri’s control app was released in July ahead of its anticipated launch, but now Kuri’s parent company Bosch had decided it was “not a business fit”. So Bosch has given up the idea of going to the market with Kuri.
“We are crushed to let you know that effective today, Mayfield Robotics will pause operations as we evaluate the company’s path forward,” Bosch’s subsidiary said in a blog.
“Sadly, our Kuri manufacturing will cease and the Kuri robots that have been made will not ship to customers.”
But it’s safe to say it’s only Bosch who have decided to discontinue their project. Other massive production teams are still working on many home robots which would eventually reach out to the households in the coming years.
7. Pebble Smartwatch
Before the rise of Apple and Samsung smartwatches, there was once a brand called “Pebble”. It was regarded as the most-funded Kickstarter product of all time. It raised more than $10 million in 2012. And the company had a really keen set of followers, with hundreds of third-party apps and watch faces available for the gadget.
But it never took off for Pebble in the market as it was too small for them to survive. Especially with the awakening of Apple and Samsung devices sweeping the market. In December 2016, Pebble announced it would sell its tech and other assets to Fitbit. Still, we could see bits of Pebble in the smartwatches being used today – the best bits.