If You’re a Technology Sceptic, You’re a Saboteur
I’m hoping that title caught your attention, so allow me to elaborate.
Consumption is the facilitator of progression… and failure is essential to refinement…
Remember Google Glass? For whatever reason, they never really took off — and the proprietary tech hasn’t seen much in the way of an investment of faith as a result. Of course, this is Google we’re talking about and they’ve bounced back stronger than ever with several of their many side projects, including Google Home and Google Lens.
But what can happen if a business releases a promising product, but the public don’t go for it… and they don’t have the investment to save it?
I’m going to hazard a guess that you haven’t heard of VPL Research…
In 1984, Jaron Lanier formed VPL Research and set out to sell software and hardware for virtual reality. Ultimately, the idea was there…but the technology wasn’t. In 1990, VPL Research filed for bankruptcy, but all of their patents were bought by Sun Microsystems — who, in 2010 were acquired by Oracle Corporation, who we know as one of the world’s largest software companies. Clearly, the product was worthy of serious corporate interest.
In 2017, we now understand that Virtual Reality could be one of the most significant technological advancements of moderns times, paving the way for monumental medical discoveries and entertainment applications.
Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear, Microsoft Hololens (technically augmented reality) and Google Daydream simply wouldn’t be possible without the failure of previous models, not just within the industry — but within individual product ranges. Apple for instance, continue to build on the shortcomings and successes of previous iPhone models with the revenue generated from those very same products.
Technological advancements don’t come out of thin air. Not only do developers glean insight into potential software and hardware improvements with the data of previous models, but gain crucial feedback from customers on user experience, wearability and product design. Oculus developers are planning serious improvements on the DK1 & DK2 releases with thanks to the data gained from the initial release.
While it could be argued that no amount of uptake in VR products could have saved VPL Research, it certainly wouldn’t have hurt — even if the technology of the time was insufficient. It has taken thirty years to see another virtual reality product to hit the shelves…that’s how essential consumption is to technological progression.
To further demonstrate my point, and to use another more recent example, one would not need to look any further than the smartwatch. The first iterations of smartwatches were far from glamourous, and hardly functional either. Early models suffered heavily from poor battery life & lacking features. But, the initial spike in sales was enough to carry product development through to the second generation, and we’re seeing the fruits of that investment on shop shelves today.
The second generation of smartwatches are so impressive that people are even investing in boxes for smart watches, to help safely store their wrist pieces, and who can blame them? That’s because the second generation of smart watches is undoubtedly, what the first should have been. Call functionality, significantly improved battery life and stunning designs are common place across the latest range. Consumption has given businesses the financial freedom, and feedback — essential to developing their technology to a stage that isn’t just a novelty, but a necessity for users.