What If? Failed Technology That Could Have Been Huge

by Modis on May 30, 2017

In the last few decades, the world has changed tremendously. The first electric cars and self-driving cars are making their way to the road. Non-electric cars are taking on secondary functions as credit cards. Household TVs are becoming tools for video conferencing.

What’s happening with the world? What’s even more fascinating than this question is what the world could have been in an alternate timeline. What if pieces of failed technology that could-have-been but never were went mainstream?

Imagine if this failed technology was part of your everyday life.

1. The SoloTrek

Meet one of the world’s first personal flying vehicles, circa early 2000s, developed by Millennium Jet Inc, a private company run by Michael Moshier. It could climb 5,000 feet above sea level and received $5M in funding from DARPA. The SoloTrek, as cool as the idea was (you can see a video of a similar concept here) didn’t go anywhere.

Just imagine the data science that would be necessary to operate it. It’s 2017, and machine learning tech is nowhere near the level of sophistication necessary to sustain the technology. If cars are getting hacked, what would happen if a security breach were to happen to these?

Today, the SoloTrek sits in a San Francisco Bay Area based aviation museum. Perhaps it will become inspiration for future technology.

2. The Lost Solid Metallic Hydrogen

In early 2017, Harvard physicists made the impossible, a discovery that has perplexed scientists for more than 80 years, happen: they synthesized the first-ever sample of solid metallic hydrogen.

This technology would have indicated the possibility of a new-type of super conductor, which could have an impact on the efficiency of energy systems around the world.

It goes without saying that Harvard was excited about this technology. But then, it disappeared suddenly.

The realization? Scientists have a long way to go, and they need to validate their study. But here’s the silver lining of the loss: perhaps more efficient energy grids are in the world’s future, after all. Imagine what the data science and engineering intelligence that will be needed for the construction and optimization of these systems.

3. The Twitter Peek

Remember the device that was a dedicated tool for sending and receiving tweets? If you don’t, don’t worry—you’re not alone. The Twitter Peek entered the market in 2009. And when it did, media critics railed across the device as “pointless.”

The criticism? Why would anyone want a device that’s dedicated to Twitter, only.

But what if you imagine an alternate reality—think of a place where war-torn or natural disasters are taking place. People need to communicate with local governments, hospitals, and their family quickly. Access to typical mobile network operators may not be a possibility.

What if Twitter evolved into a major telecom provider with its own device?

Don’t laugh. It could still happen…

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