From a stereo you wear around your neck like a scarf to a pair of jeans with a keyboard crotch, we look at 11 crazy inventions that nobody ever needed.
11. Bone Fone
Ever wanted to wear your radio like a scarf? Then the Bone Fone is for you! Described as ‘the first major breakthrough in portable entertainment since the transistor radio’, the Bone Fone claimed that it allowed the user to feel true stereo music in every bone of their body. The marketing material even suggested that it could be worn while skiing, roller skating or just standing in a field…for some reason.
As strange as the concept seems today, the Bone Fone was the first device that made the leap from a hand-held radio to a radio that could actually be worn on you, leaving your hands free to do other things like throwing a ball, knitting a scarf or smacking your child.
In a weird way, the Bone Fone could be thought of as a predecessor to the hands free technology of today like the iPod or the smart phone but will probably be remembered instead as that thing that gave grandpa his crippling neck pain.
According to their website, The Pavlok ‘is an award winning wearable device that releases a mild electric stimulus to help you reduce cravings, break bad habits and increase your productivity’.
It is essentially a wristband that allows the wearer to shock themselves whenever they engage in a negative behavior. For example, if you want to quit smoking. Each time you reach for a cigarette, you instead press the wristband and shock yourself. The concept is based on operant conditioning. The process by which the strength of a behavior can be modified by reward or in this case, punishment.
While the concept seems sound, there is one major flaw and that is that it is up to the person wearing the wristband to self-administer the shock. If they have the will power to repeatedly shock themselves into changing their behavior, shouldn’t they be able to quit smoking without the need to zap themselves every time they reach for a cigarette?
9. Sega Activator
Released in November of 1993, the Sega Activator was an octagonal gaming controller that was placed flat on the floor. The gamer would stand inside and it was supposed to translate the player’s movements into the game.
Both Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat were adapted to support the controller but it was a commercial failure due to its horrific inaccuracy and ridiculously high price.
The only fun thousands of disappointed kids had with this thing on Christmas morning was when they threw them onto their neighbor’s roof. For an expensive gaming controller that didn’t work, it sure made a great Frisbee!
Released in 1998 by Tiger Electronics, the Furby was the ‘must have’ toy of the holiday season for that year. More than 40 million units were sold during its original production and its speaking abilities were translated into 24 different languages.
Described as a cross between an owl and a hamster, these creepy little critters were thought to be clever enough to ‘learn’ what humans were saying to them. Because of concerns that they might be able to record and repeat classified information, Furbies were actually banned from several international intelligence agencies including the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States. The NSA actually advised any staff that found a Furby on site to “contact their Staff Security Officer for guidance.”
The truth was that Furbies couldn’t learn at all. The were all pre-programmed to start out talking their own made up language known as Furbish then, overtime gradually introduce English words into their vocabulary. This lead to the misconception that these creatures could actually learn and repeat what was being said to them.
Originally retailing for around US $35, demand quickly outgrew supply and soon parents were turning to auctions, newspapers and even the internet where they would pay up to 10 times what they were worth.
If the film, Gremlins has taught us anything it’s that owning a cute little talking fur-ball might seem like a good idea at first but it will soon end in disaster. Luckily, unlike gremlins, Furbies didn’t multiply when they were exposed to water. If you got these things wet, their internal circuits would just catch fire.
7. Mood Rings
First created in 1975 the mood ring was the must have accessory of the late 1970’s. The rings contained liquid crystal that would change color at different temperatures. The concept was that the ring could tell the mood of its wearer based on the heat of their finger. Most rings came with a color chart that indicated each color and their associated mood.
However, it didn’t take long for people to discover that the rings couldn’t actually tell the mood of the wearer. This probably happened when hundreds of men were slapped in the face after approaching women whose rings said they were ‘totally into them.’
6. Metal Detecting Sandals
Ever wondered how you could make your dad look even daggier than he already does? Well, here’s the answer – metal detecting sandals! These bad boys allow you to hunt for buried treasure while strolling along the sand thanks to a copper coil built right into the sandal. The coil is powered by a battery pack, inconspicuously rapped around the wearer’s right calf. What’s that you say? No, my dad’s not Robo Cop, he’s just and idiot!
Unfortunately, these revolutionary sandals of the future are no longer for sale. It’s pretty safe to say that it was due to a lack of interest.
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