High tech hot air: 10 technologies that failed to set the world on fire

The 'world-changing' products that roundly failed to change the world
High tech hot air: the tech that failed to set the world on fire

The world of tech can get a little overheated sometimes.

Manufacturers try to persuade us that they've made paradigm-shifting, world-changing, life-enhancing boxes of sheer awesomeness, but more often than not the products are nothing of the sort - and woe betide the early adopters who pay top dollar for them. Tech is littered with devices that promised amazing things and simply didn't deliver. Here are some of our favourite fails.



Having persuaded everyone to buy HDTVs, the electronics industry didn't want us to wait the usual nine or ten years before upgrading again. Their solution? 3D. Our response? Mainly "meh": most 3D-capable TVs are watched in 2D. 3D is very clever, but the lack of decent content and the mandatory glasses put many people off. The electronics industry is now turning its attention to 4K and really hoping we'll like that instead.

Microsoft Kinect


In 2009, Microsoft announced Project Natal: "we are removing the last barrier to gaming - the controller". It was proper sci-fi stuff offering voice recognition, body sensing and real immersion. Pity the reality didn't match up: Natal became Kinect, the box on our TV that ignores our commands, won't let us select on-screen buttons and boots us out of games whenever the dog wanders past.

When Leap Motion promised Kinect-style gesture control for fingertip control of our computers we got excited all over again, but so far, we're still on the keyboard and mouse. Motion tech will improve – here's hoping the Xbox One's version of Kinect delivers on its promises – but it's not there yet.

Nintendo Wii U

Nintendo Wii U

Nintendo's latest console was certainly different - its controller has a great big screen in the middle - but as our Tom Parsons reported, it wasn't for everyone: the launch titles were geared towards local multiplayer, not solo play, it was quite expensive, and the Xbox One and PS4 were looming on the horizon. Our advice was to hang on, and most people did: sales have been terrible, and that's before the next-gen consoles hit the shops. It looks like that U stands for "unwanted".


"Surf the BT Cellnet", the advertisements urged, showing a sci-fi Silver Surfer whooshing around the internet's tubes. The ads were for WAP, a precursor to today's mobile browsing, and it was absolutely awful. Do you remember Teletext? Imagine that in black and white, running at a fraction of the speed, on a screen so small you could only see a few words at a time. Even WAP's inventors admitted that it was crap. Still, there was always 3G to look forward to...