Developing the hottest new tech fad is a game of hit or miss for entrepreneurs. Some are highly successful, while others fall victim to misuse and all sorts of unintended consequences. In some ways, these pitfalls are a necessary part of innovation, a process of trial and error. Getting hacked, being a victim of an accident, and other negative outcomes often plague even the most carefully-constructed apps or devices. Here is a brief introduction to some of the tech disasters and weird innovations of the recent past, how they impacted society, and what we can learn from their legacy.
Face Changing Apps
FaceApp, the best-known face changing app, was developed by Wireless Lab in Russia and released to the public in early 2017. The country of origin is naturally suspect given all the media fanfare about the potential election tampering by the Kremlin in the 2016 presidential race. Unfortunately, the new app lived up to Russia’s reputation for flexible ethical standards when it comes to cybersecurity and privacy protection. The company has been accused by several respected watchdog groups and government agencies of selling user’s personal data.
Back to the Future firmly ensconced the public imagination of what the future might look like in the romantic imagery of a hoverboard speeding through city streets. The reality, though, at least so far, has been less sporty than what many may have hoped. More than a few hoverboards started randomly catching on fire, which led to a number of them being taken off the market. Though initially highly popular items, hoverboards suffered a major setback in sales after reports of the products malfunctioning in such a catastrophic way. Mark Cuban’s company Radical Transport was perhaps the best example, indefinitely scrapping all its products after a series of mishaps involving fire in 2018.
This lightning-fast fad happened so fast that you can’t be blamed if you missed it. For a brief period of a few months, from late 2015 to early 2016, Pokémon Go was all the rage among kids and young adults. The technology used a previously unheard of the melding of virtual reality with actual reality by superimposing the beloved animals of Pokémon Go onto real-world maps. The app caused as many as 150,000 traffic accidents in the real (not virtual) world.
We’ll likely see more strange and captivating fads come and go in the near future, particularly as artificial intelligence takes off in earnest. Just make sure to always approach new technology with caution so that mishaps like the ones mentioned above don’t happen to you.