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Everyone assumes that smart devices are going to be big.

They are undoubtedly fascinating. But nobody seems sure of exactly which consumer facing sectors are the ripest for, yes, you've guessed it, disruption.

There are many products in the market right now that may have a big impact. But here I present you with four products that show we're still a long way from understanding human need.

Quite simply, we don't know what we want until we're presented with it. That makes it very hard to design products that will change the world.

I might be wrong here. Please chide me in the comments.

Vessyl

Vessyl is a smart cup that will cost $199. It logs what you've drunk - calories, volume etc.

It raises many questions. 

  • I have to remember to charge my cup?
  • Will I dare use Vessyl at a friend's dinner party? Even 'manually' through the app?
  • How much of a difference can hydration really make to the average person's life?
  • Isn't nutrition from food more important?

As David Moth said to me, "the design is brilliant but it's utterly pointless."

If you check out the video below and the website, it's hard to find something that doesn't grate, from the available colours to the talk of 'pryme hydration'.

You may think I'm being snarky but I'm pretty sure the whole thing is an attention-grabbing exercise for the no-doubt incredibly talented designers on the project.

Mark One will likely produce other great products - maybe this was just a way to stand out?

Pavlok

In short, Fitbit with added electric shocks.

Okay, the name is very catchy. But the website is a little misjudged - lots of images of obese people in its explainer video might be designed to scare the intended market, but I found it distasteful.

Lots of people have medical conditions that explain their weight. It's not always about will power. 

The premise is flawed, too. We are not dogs. The notion that an electric shock will destroy my laziness is stupid because if I'm lazy I'll simply take the band off and strap it to my actual dog (I'm not encouraging cruelty here, I'm sure my hypothetical dog would meet exercise targets).

This band will undoubtedly appeal to some but the idea of wearables making us skinny whilst I can order pizza in a second on my Android Wear watch is absurd (although uses in medicine could really offer a breakthrough).

Again I'm being snarky because the Pavlok actually has some cool features and the design is certainly smart (looks like a cross of Kill Bill and Harry Potter). Is this another example of attention-grabbing from good engineers?

pavlok

Kolibree

A connected toothbrush is next up.

This project is taken from Kickstarter. It potentially has less use then Vessyl. The question 'how do you brush?' is a strange one. Surely the only metric is time spent brushing? Why would one want this on a mobile app?

The thing about brushing teeth is that brushing quickly has an effect on dental hygiene (in fact it can be immediate), which means that unlike exercise, we're not really in the dark about if we've done enough. In fact, brushing for too long can be a problem - why pseudo gamify it?

Of course, the caveat to my snarkiness, the electric toothbrush market is massive, so this could simply be an effort to get much needed PR.

Again, perhaps this will presage more products from Kolibree.

Eff yeah internet fridge

An honourable mention here to the internet fridge and this tumblrI mention it a lot.

The problems are myriad - everything in the fridge would have to be chipped up. Even then, how to tell if a yoghurt has really gone off, or is a just a day out?

Why would anyone want ordering to happen involuntarily - similarly how often have you bought a duplicate item and actually cared? I do it with salad dressing, which usually keeps anyway.

I bow to you, internet fridge.

internet fridge

Ben Davis

Published 31 July, 2014 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (2)

Daniel Phillips

Daniel Phillips, E-Commerce Manager at HJ Hall

Rhod Gilbert has a great rant about over-engineered (and over-priced) toothbrushes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQ4W7yB9Mow

:)

almost 2 years ago

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Calum McGowan, Delivery Lead - Native Apps at Auto Trader Limited 2

These products are indeed all a complete waste of time and money. It's nice to read up on people wasting their efforts on things people will never buy. What's the value?

almost 2 years ago

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