I love this recent quote from sci-fi novelist William Gibson, “I’m more interested in people reacting to new technology than I am in new technology.” Gibson famous for novels such as Neuromancer, in which he coined the word ‘cyberspace’, has hit upon something here.
History is littered with great inventions which just have not connected with an audience. And equally, technology that was not critically acclaimed upon its initial release yet has instead gone on to achieve huge sales.
I recall the criticism that was thrown at the humble iPad upon its launch. Many were sceptical that it wouldn’t succeed, under the belief that Apple had lost their minds. Of course, the naysayers were wrong. Nowadays there are not many of us who haven’t fallen under the spell of an Apple iPad or some form of a tablet. People certainly reacted to the tablet, it’s a staple part of many a daily diet.
By rights, we should all be driving around in Sinclair C5’s. However, the launch of Sir Clive Sinclair’s brainchild in 1985 was met with ridicule. Problems with cold weather shortening the battery life and the open design leaving drivers exposed in inclement weather conspired and the battery-assisted tricycle failed to sell in the desired numbers. Undetected Sir Clive is working on a new prototype.
A social networking site looking to expand from the confines of an American University. No chance? Don’t you bet on it. The Facebook is now Facebook, THE biggest social networking site in the world.
The Phone-Card-Phone – In 1999 the world’s first disposable mobile phone was launched, unfortunately despite the best efforts of inventor Randice-Lisa Atschul three years later not a single phone was sold.
So where does this leave one of the latest inventions – the Google Glass? How will people react to wearing a computer on their head? Many fear an invasion of their privacy, with bars in the US already banning the Glass. Putting aside these issues the Glass certainly sounds like a far-fetched invention from the mind of Gibson, a pair of voice-activated glasses able to connect to the internet and take photos or videos without needing you to use your hands. Fictional has now become factual. With a launch set for next year, only time will tell if the Google Glass is cast aside by buyers but I might be donning them and partaking in a little play!