9 product design nightmares

Join us on a journey into the useless, the disturbing, and the downright wrong

At Stuff we're dedicated to probing the darkest crevaces of invention to bring you innovative things, impressive things, delightful things, but the process of bringing them to you isn't always as pretty as the end result.

In fact, more often than we like to admit, our search leads us to uncover ideas originating from the shallow end of the gene pool. Somehow, through mechanisms mystical or unknown, these ideas have become real-life-actual products.

Fortunately, sifting silt from precious stone has given the Stuff collective mind a great eye for what not to do when making awesome things. Cue list of things coupled with terrifying examples. This isn't stuff, this is anti-stuff, and boy is it scary.

1) Those things shouldn't mix

There's nothing worse than a product with an appended feature that simply doesn't belong. Swiss army knives might benefit from functionality kleptomania, but they're definitely the exception rather than the rule.

Our first entry is an abomination that brings together two things that should, by nature's sacred laws, be kept forever separate: iPads and poop. 

Meet the iPotty (£29.99), the most effective tool for allowing your toddler to play Candy Crush and defecate at the same time. Issue of hygeine aside, we're simply unconvinced that a potty should do anything more than let Bam Bam go boo boo.

Though try telling that to Sega, who in 2012 also flushed simplicty down the pan [tired joke - ed] with the Toylet, an interative urinal which allows the subject to play a series of games using their pee. No joke. 

No wonder the games publisher is experiencing such giddy financial success. *Ahem*.

2) Pointless wheels

Mobility is a must for most modern tech: offices are now reconfigurable (see the Valve Employee Handbook), word processors fit in our pockets and we can work from anywhere we see fit. 

Almost none of this, can we add, is thanks to the addition of wheels to our word processors, wheels to our networking equipment, or wheels to our office chairs. OK, maybe the last one, but most equipment doesn't need wheels to be mobile.

Now meet the Double Robotic Telepresence Robot (RobotShop US$2,499), a teleconferencing system which takes one of the most mobile device classes, the tablet, and allows it to 'go anywhere' with wheels.

Who needs the versatility of a lightweight, portable screen when you can attach it to a wheel-laden stand and make it uber portable?

3) Attack of the Uncanny Valley

Non-physical products are equally guilty of making mis-steps. As films and videogames continue their stride toward photorealism, we're seeing more and more of them slide, unintentionally, into the alienating trench of the uncanny valley.

Fancy hair physics, stunning skin textures and pixel shaders on your pixel shaders will do nothing to save your protagonist from audience alienation if they look like a talking wax-sculpture. 

You probably don't remember the rather unexceptional Medal of Honor: Warfighter (£3.67) - it was universally panned by critics. One of its many, many flaws included CGI characters guaranteed to give every person young and older than its PEGI rating nightmares. THE HORROR! THE HORROR!

Of course, the world of creepy is by no means limited to visual media; robitics has created more than its fair share of nightmare fuel. More often than not it's jerky facial expressions and lifeless eyes that give us the creeps, but as this headless humanoid robot by robotics company Boston Dynamics displays perfectly, even the way a machine moves can bring you Sarah Connor levels of technophobia. It's an incredibly impressive machine, but we're keeping minimum safe distance for the moment for the sake of our mental health.

If that wasn't creepy enough for you, try watching the Petman robot strut its stuff in a gas mask and overalls for an added layer of terror.


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