Top Ten Strange Tech Inventions

Posted by Diana Antão

While CRITICAL has been in business, the world has seen some odd inventions. Here are our picks of the strangest!

Technological evolution does not always result in great technology. Sometimes progress brings weird and wonderful ideas that are ahead of their time and can’t be applied yet or, just not quite right and need more development. And some that are just plain creepy!

We looked into the inventions of the last twenty years that fit this description. Don’t be surprised if you end up asking yourself why some of this tech was created!

Forget vacuum robots


Vacuum shoes by Denso

Don’t waste money on a Roomba, try vacuum shoes! A motor sucks dirt into the receptacle on your shoes with every step you take. No need for batteries as this tech works with simple suction as you move. Of course, it’ll take a lot of walking to clean a room!

Straight from Bane’s closet

Hushme Voice Mask

Voice mask by Hushme

We all have that one colleague who takes phone calls at their desk and distracts the whole office with their loud voice. To solve this common problem, a company invented a ‘voice mask’ that allows said colleague to take a call without making background noise. However, it does cause the wearer to look a bit like Bane (the villain from Batman) and, if they’re anything like this big, bad villain, suggesting they wear this might be a dangerous endeavor!

A blast from the past: Hit Clips

If you don’t remember Hit Clips, they were tiny audio devices that had little keychain cassettes that played one-minute excerpts of pop songs. Not only did they cut out before the song had finished, but the audio quality was terrible. Nonetheless they were a hit, the question is… why?

A helmet to grow hair


Hair Growth System by iGrow

It sounds like something from a bad 80s movie, but this invention was recently presented at CES, the most popular exhibition for consumer technologies. The iGrow Hair Growth System is a helmet that attempts, as the name suggests, to stimulate hair growth. It blasts your head with red lasers and LEDs to energise hair-growing cells. Does it really work? We have no idea, but hair-growth tech products rarely deliver on their promises.

The next level of advertisement: whisperers


Audio Spotlight System by Holosonics

Have you heard about the Audio Spotlight System, by Holosonics? It uses super small speakers to send sound in a very specific direction, so you have to be in a specific location to hear them. Next time you go to a store and start hearing voices, you might not be crazy! Check if some tiny speakers are pointed in your direction.

Dreams do come true

laundry robot

Seven Dreamers by Laundroid

The world has been anxiously waiting for two inventions: one that automatically makes our beds and one that folds our laundry. Well, perhaps not the world, but those of us suffering with ‘first-world problems’. We’re still waiting on the bed-making invention, but the laundry has been taken care of. Have you heard of ‘Laundroid’s drawer’? You put your clothes inside, only 30-40 items at a time, and a robot arm will do the rest. You may need to wait five minutes per item, but that’s how long it takes most of us to fold a fitted sheet correctly anyhow.

Prepare to be bullied by your belt


SMART BELT by Harmattan Leather Design

Next up in the wearable category… the SMART BELT! Whenever you eat too much then sit down or stand up, the belt self-adjusts. However, it will also notify you when this happens and encourage you to move when you have been sedentary for too long. It’s a bit like wearing a personal trainer for the day.

Ever wondered why Comic Sans exists?

Remember Clippy, the Microsoft Word paper-clip assistant? Did you know that Microsoft created an entire Windows interface based on that idea? We’re delighted to introduce you to Microsoft Bob: he was made to live in your computer. Bob was going to reside in a living room filled with clickable objects and have a great group of cartoon sidekicks (like Clippy) that would help you navigate your computer. What’s Bob got to do with Comic Sans? This font was created exclusively for Bob and is the only part of him that remains from this Microsoft experiment.

Smart watches… 90s style

There have been a number of attempts to create smart watches, even during the 90s. One of them was the Timex Data Link Watch.  You could download data (like appointments, some phone numbers) to the watch by holding it in front of your CRT monitor while the monitor displayed a pattern of flashing black-and-white stripes. It was a bit strange and probably not as cool or quick as Apple’s modern version.

A Google bathroom

It might soon become a thing! Google want to add sensors to bathrooms. A mat with pressure and electrical-sensing can measure blood pressure. A pressure sensing toilet seat could monitor your bowel movements and an ultrasonic bathtub could generate high-frequency sound waves to investigate your internal body structure. If you’re thinking this might sound a bit creepy, there’s more. Through the mirror, Google would record your skin colour variations and finally, with a radar, they could measure skin temperature, heart rate, and skeletal movement by reflecting radiation from human tissue. How are you feeling today? Just visit your Google bathroom and find out!

The line between genius and creepy, and sometimes useless, when it comes to inventions is thin. A top-ten list isn’t enough to cover all the strange inventions we came across in the last twenty years but we thought these were worth talking about.

What about you, have you come across any strange inventions lately? Be sure to let us know!