Design critique feat. “Weirdest Products We Touched @ SXSW”

Original article published by Alejandro Tauber on Thenextweb

A hilarious yet concise article summarizing some of the funkiest gadgets seen at 2017 South by Southwest in Austin, TX. The following is my spin off of a designer critique — based on feasibility, viability, and desirability — on these products. Ready. Set. Go!

“If you looked past the VR overload, there were a ton of completely outlandish products being featured on the floor at SXSW. So many, that we decided to make a roundup of the weirdest, craziest shit we could find for y’all to enjoy. So enjoy.”

1. BelliesWave

To be fair, the lady standing next to these amputated frog necks told me this was just an art installation, but she was certain it would be “the display of the future.” “Normal displays don’t offer touch, they don’t offer haptic feedback or lots of other information,” she told me. When I asked her what it could be used for in the future, she said “walls” and left it at that. Now, I’d love to have a ballooning frog neck wall in my home, but I somehow doubt the practical use of it, except as something to talk about with boring guests.

“Poached-Egg Installation”

Feasibility: 4/5 | Viability: 4.5/5 | Desirability: 0.5/5

2. +move

“What if things in your daily life are moving? Your everyday life should become a more special one.” Thus opens the description of one of the more exotic products at SXSW — which somehow seem to originate exclusively from Japan. The +move are clothes hangers with a built in motor, that “just keeps away when something approaches without touching. … We believe it gives a new value to clothing experience.” An annoying experience, though. Imagine having to chase your clothes around the closet with a hangover.

“Hogwarts’s wardrobe coat hangers”

Feasibility: 4.5/5| Viability: 5/5| Desirability: 2/5

3. fairy720

“flying Alexa”

This product actually does make sense, it just looks a bit silly. The fairy720 works like those flying cameras in stadiums; it’s attached to wires from the corners of a room and follows you around. Because it’s hanging around near your face, you can do “a whisper-talk, a bee dance, and knocking face for alarm.” I’ll translate that for you: it’s basically an Echo or Assistant type product you can talk to without having to yell because it’s nearby. The only drawback is that you’ll have wires hanging around in your house.

“A real-life dream-catcher that makes dreams come true”

Feasibility: 3/5 | Viability: 3.5/5 | Desirability: 2.5/5

4. Shiseido Telebeauty

Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido have come up with the perfect solution for women in early morning meetings: a Skype-based app that paints digital make-up on a woman’s face so she doesn’t have to bother. It feels vaguely presumptuous, implying that a women with the sort of job that requires early morning business calls is also the sort who needs to be made up to take those calls. That being said, if you do prefer to be seen when you look polished and made-up before you accept a video call, then the Telebeauty app will apply “makeup” which matches your skin tone, on a spectrum from natural to trendy (red lips and thick mascara).

“Skype’s makeup edition of snapchat filter”

Feasibility: 4.5/5| Viability: 5/5| Desirability: 4/5

5. Bevi

The Bevi is a smart water cooler. You can get your beverages still or sparkling (bubbly), with a variety of (if I’m being honest) gross-sounding flavors like “unsweetened lime mint.” The Bevi spokespeople talked about having it in an office setting, which sounds like a quick way to breed dissent amongst your employees. It’s a cool device, but it looks and behaves almost exactly like those touchscreen drink dispensers you can find in many fast food restaurants.

“My water cooler is MORE INTELLIGENT than yours!”

Feasibility: 5/5| Viability: 5/5| Desirability: 2.5/5

6. Neko Electro

Do you suffer from bad posture? Have hours sitting on the computer curved your spine forward? Neko Electro is a headband designed to help correct bad posture by vibrating on your head when your spine bends too much. This would be interesting enough, but the headband looks like a pair of fluffy cat ears. Why does it look like cat ears? Who cares?! I would happily volunteer to be the most upright cat in the world.

“Halloween costume that cures back pain”

Feasibility: 5/5| Viability: 5/5| Desirability: 1/5

7. Fujitsu Connected Shoes

It’s the same old story, we hype a product to the point of mass appeal, and then try to spread that mass appeal to everything else. Case in point, refrigerators you can tweet from. Do we need this? Of course not.

These shoes do have application, but its mostly in labs to test new shoes, or perhaps in very specific subsets of people — like those running the Boston Marathon. In general though, I don’t know that most of us need sensors that measure humidity and tilt angle, or Bluetooth — especially without a badass speaker built in. Or, maybe Fujitsu should just skip the lab entirely, add some flashing LEDs, and say “fuck it” while letting the chips fall where they may.

“What if Michael Jordan wore these?”

Feasibility: 4.5/5| Viability: 4/5| Desirability: 1.5/5

8. Oliso Pro Smart Iron

I don’t even know how to talk about this thing; it’s a fucking smart iron. Seriously. Smart irons are a thing now. Your ironing boards? Still dumb, but you have a smart iron now so quit complaining. I’d assume this thing irons the wrinkles out of your SpongeBob pyjama pants in a way that’s far superior to non-connected irons and costs about three-times as much. It’s a beast of a domestic tool that applies steam automatically, and raises and lowers itself off your clothing to make you feel like a real baller when you demo this thing to your friends.

You can grab one for $100-$140 depending on settings, but seriously, why would you? And can we stop attaching “smart” to everything and assuming it’s better? Please?

“Smartiron selfies for dayzzz”

Feasibility: 4.5/5| Viability: 4.5/5| Desirability: 0.5/5

This article was written by Bryan Clark, Rachel Kaser and Alejandro Tauber.

Design critiqued by yours truly. 😉

Design critique feat. “Weirdest Products We Touched @ SXSW” was originally published in Austin Startups on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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