Technology Failures

The world of technology is full of bright new ideas that promise to change the way we live; however, for every success there are numerous failures. Some technologies genuinely surprise us when they fall by the wayside, but others we realise were doomed to failure from the very beginning:

Doomsday Project – The BBC Doomsday Project was a partnership between Acorn Computers, Philips, Logica and the BBC and was designed to mark the 900th anniversary of the original doomsday book. It was compiled over a period of three years and was published in 1986 after having over one million people contribute to the project. The material included maps, colour photos, statistical data, videos, virtual reality tours of major landmarks and the entire 1981census.

This information was stored on specially adapted laserdiscs with the intention that future generations could then look back on the material in years to come, however the laserdisc standard never lasted and, as such, it is close to impossible to find a machine nowadays capable of reading the code. Eventually a project was started to emulate the old system and publish the information to the Internet however the gentleman who was reverse engineering the project suffered an untimely death and as a result the Doomsday Project website remains offline.

The Internet Connected Fridge – Although it is too early to say that such an invention will never take off, the Internet Fridge has spent ten years in the making and doesn’t show any real promise of becoming mainstream. Personally I’ve never liked the idea of my fridge managing my kitchen inventory and then automatically buying my weekly shopping online.

I’d like to think that even in this modern day society individuals would want to go out and select their own weekly produce based on what’s freshest at the time rather than having their fridge do it for them. It’s also a little surreal when a machine decides that because you had strawberries and cream after tea this evening that you would necessarily want the same thing delivered to your doorstep the following morning.

The Paperless Office – For years there has been talk of the paperless office; a world where everything is digital and printers are verging on redundancy. Fortunately for our business (however somewhat unfortunate for the environment) the real world situation is that the modern day office is far from paperless. I’m not sure what it is but there is something a little reassuring about paper; if faced with a fifty page report it is bizarrely easier to read it off sheets of bleached bark than off a state of the art liquid crystal display.

Video Phones– The longest video phone conversation that I have ever had lasted two seconds, and that was simply to test that my mobile phone SIM card supported 3G. There have been real attempts to push video calling on to the general public and it is one of the main sales pitches of the mobile operators when touting their new high speed networks however the service still struggles to find an audience. There are now no real technological barriers preventing all of us from video calling, however the simple truth of the matter is that people don’t want to see who they’re calling.


About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.