Some inventions have the potential to be world-changing. Others, not so much.
Whether they're poorly designed or just a plain bad idea, the following seven so-called innovations from 2018 left a lot to be desired. If there's one lesson to be gleaned, it's this: Just because you can make something, it doesn't mean that you should.
1. Robotic bartender
Are you over having to interact with a human to order a drink? Or, if you're a restaurant owner, are you tired of having to shell out $5 an hour to pay a bartender? Then the Yanu robotic bartender is for you. Freshly stocked with $1 million in seed funding, the Estonia-based company is building a robot that takes verbal orders, handles payments, and prepares drinks--maybe even cracking a joke or two in the process. The bot, which the company says will be showing up in airports soon, comes in three color options, including the definitely-named-by-a-man Virgin White. So if the bar is where you like to go to lament the changing ways of the world, you'll soon be out of luck. At least you won't have to tip.
2. Very hackable child trackers
While the idea of being able to track your young children certainly makes sense, the execution is pretty important. In November, researchers at security firm Pen Test Partners found that MiSafes Kid's Watcher Plus, an $80 children's watch that can accept phone calls and has a built-in GPS, could be hacked with ease. Data wasn't encrypted, so someone with moderate tech skills could track a wearer's past and current location, eavesdrop on them, and make phone calls to the device that appear to come from their parents. "It's probably the simplest hack we have ever seen," one of the experts told the BBC. Not great for any product, but especially one meant for kids.
3. Smart toilet
There are smart lamps, smart fridges, and smart ovens, so it was only a matter of time until the internet of things elbowed its way into the bathroom. Kohler's Numi toilet connects to Amazon Alexa and will lift its lid or flush at your command. Just say the words, and your $8,000 toilet will play your special bathroom playlist or heat up your seat--which sounds nice, but do you really need A.I. for that? When it comes to technology in 2018, nothing is sacred.
4. Go-kart suitcase
Look, riding around on a motorized suitcase is a ton of fun. The $1,500 go-kart-esque Modobag holds a duffel bag's worth of clothing and let you zoom around on it at 8 mph. But airport terminals are chaotic enough as it is. Imagine for a second that these actually caught on? The idea of racing to your gate while trying to avoid real-life versions of Mario, Toad, and Princess Peach is sort of terrifying.
5. Laundry-folding wardrobe
Dropping your clean clothes into a drawer at the bottom of your armoire and having them automatically folded, sorted, and placed onto the shelves would be glorious, right? We're not there yet. The Laundroid turned heads when it demoed at CES in January, with the concept creating just as much splash as the $16,000 price tag. When the company behind it, Seven Dreamers, gave Inc. a test run, the clothes needed to be taken out, delicately unclumped, and placed back in to allow the robotic arms and machine vision to worker properly. That pretty much defeats the purpose. Also: It takes 15 minutes to fold each item.
6. Smart underwear
Skiin underwear from Myant has sensors built in, allowing it to track things like your heart rate, breathing, and sleep cycles. The company is working on third-party integrations that would let your undies hit "play" on a Spotify playlist on the basis of your mood or adjust your smart thermostat on the basis of your body temperature. Monitoring vitals is a worthy cause, but how about putting the sensors somewhere else? Like, anywhere else?
What if your wall was actually ... a TV? Or if your TV was actually a wall? Whatever. If you need (and can afford) a 146-inch television screen, lean into it. Don't go trying to camouflage it as a stone façade with bookshelves or a fireplace when it's not in use, which is what Samsung's The Wall can do. The company chose the 12-foot-plus diagonal because it's the size of an average wall in a residential home. Pricing for the TV (or wall?) hasn't been revealed yet, though the company says it won't cost as much as people expect. Hopefully, that's true--CNet predicts it will run you $100,000.