4 Awesome Technology Ideas that Never Quite Made It

Botanicalls Kit, Photo: Sparkfun Electronics

I always get a kick out of reading about the latest innovations in technology. But nearly all of the technological ideas we read about are already successful in the marketplace. What about those interesting and innovative ideas which never quite made the grade? Here are just a few of my favorites:

1. Dance Energy. One of the oddest ideas around energy production was developed by Andrew Charalambous, owner of the Bar Surya dance club in London. He outfitted the floor with piezoelectric cells that capture some of the mechanical energy expended by dancers, convert it to electricity and store it in batteries. Charalambous claims that the cells provide about 60 percent of the club’s total energy requirements.

2. Tweeting Plants. I avoid houseplants because I’m afraid I’ll kill them. Sparkfun may have the solution with its Botanicalls Kit pot that tweets whenever it needs to be watered. The device has metal probes that indirectly determine the moisture content of the soil by measuring its resistance. A microprocessor checks the moisture level on a regular basis and when it is low fires off a tweet through an Internet connection. After you water the plant, the device tweets again to say thanks. Maybe one of these will encourage me to be more responsible.

3. Amphibious Bike. Helmond is a city in the Netherlands, known, among other things, for its lovely canals. One of the entrants in a recent Dutch design competition decided to produce a bicycle designed specially for sightseeing in this picturesque town. The Di-Cycle concept bicycle is amphibious so the rider can pedal down the road, turn into the canal and go back onto the road without making any adjustments to the bike.

4. Inkless, Paperless Printer. Sanwa Newtec has come up with an idea for an environmentally friendly printer that doesn’t use ink or paper. Instead of applying ink to paper it uses a thermal head that applies heat to a thin sheet of plastic. The plastic sheet turns black where it’s heated so it looks just like a printed sheet of paper.

When you are done with the document, you simply run it through the printer again and it will erase the old document and print the new one. The plastic sheets can be reprinted up to 1,000 times before they need to be replaced.

Apparently, the reason this device hasn’t yet made it to the mainstream is its price tag—$5,500 for the printer and $33 for each plastic sheet.

Would you be interested in buying any of these products? Have you seen any other oddball products that never made it to the mainstream?

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