You can’t always guess what the future will hold. But you can bet your bottom dollar on one thing—there’s bound to be a whole bunch of tech breakthroughs that seemed incredibly important at the time only to have been left by the wayside.
Our team here at Bored Panda has spelunked into the darkest corners of the net to find you some of these tech innovations that seemed so amazing just a handful of years ago but which sound bizarre, hilarious, or even useless now. Check them out below and, as you scroll down, upvote the pics that you liked the most. Got a strong sense of nostalgia? We’d love to hear all about the tech you remember the most fondly, so be sure to write us a comment or two with your thoughts.
Bored Panda chatted about the future of technology and work with Aaron Genest, an expert on labor in the tech and innovation industry. Aaron, who is an Applications Engineering Manager for Siemens Software and the President of SaskTech, said that making accurate predictions about what tech and devices will be long-lived and stand the test of time is a very difficult thing to do. Difficult... but not impossible.
"I'd argue that most people underestimate the timelines necessary to produce the technological goods on which we rely and the investment made to allow them to exist. By looking 'upstream' in that investment space, we can have a pretty good idea of what whole industries are betting on," he said. "For instance, it takes almost two years to develop and produce a computer chip and get it to market for a phone, and five years to get something into a new kind of car. So if we want to have a sense for what, for instance, the gadgets in our cars will look like in 2026, we just need to look at what the car manufacturers are asking their suppliers to design today."
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Aaron, a manager with Siemens Software, noted that if the industry is investing billions and billions of dollars into certain kinds of chips of technologies, like 5G, the odds are that they'll be around long enough for the companies to recoup their investments. The tech and innovation expert said that prognosticators and 'futurists' make bets based on these upstream industry trends, rather than "on some crystal ball they hide in their robes."
What's more, Aaron shared with Bored Panda how the Covid-19 pandemic has been shaping the job industry and what the future of work might look like. "Many companies, including mine, started a conversation about the future of work as the result of Covid. Siemens has a new and permanent policy where workers can work from home for a few days a week where their job permits. My entire site will adopt this, allowing us two days a week at home and three in the office. I'm sure we're not alone," he shared how Siemens is approaching the situation in a flexible way.
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Meanwhile, plenty of companies are open to having 'permanently remote' positions. "This was starting pre-Covid, but is now gaining steam and I'm aware of several people in my 'remote' community of Saskatoon who have accepted permanent positions, working from here, with teams based in other provinces or countries," the expert shared.
Aaron believes that this trend of working remotely full-time is here to stay, even if the pandemic is brought under control. "There are huge advantages in tech to having access to a global workforce without having to provide a global infrastructure. This is very different from offshoring, by the way, but will have (in my opinion) as profound an impact on the way we do business and the way our labor force is constructed."
There's a practical aspect to wanting to work from home (at least part-time) in the future, too. Lots of employees have invested sizable sums of money into creating good working environments for themselves at home. That includes purchasing electronics and furniture to make working remotely as comfortable and efficient as possible. Naturally, those who have made these investments want to continue using those spaces.
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Nobody can deny that the pace at which technology changes is incredibly fast. So much so that some of us (e.g. me) get left behind, clinging to what’s familiar, safe, and doesn’t require us to feel like we’re already pensioners. (No shade on pensioners, though—most of the ones I know are better at adapting to new tech than I am!)
Ramona Pringle, the Director of the Creative Innovation Studio and Associate Professor at the RTA School of Media at Ryerson University, told me all about the changes in tech during a previous interview with Bored Panda.
“We don’t know what the future holds, and anyone who says that they do is selling snake oil. But, there are certain things we can count on: we love stories, and we love to be part of something biggest than ourselves. Be it oral storytelling, books, blogs, movies, or video games, we’ve never lost our love of narrative,” Pringle told Bored Panda earlier.
“Equally true, even when we can’t go into a concert hall or colosseum, we look for ways to be together, connected, and part of a communal experience. The tech might change, but these will continue to be the drivers of our entertainment experiences,” she said that entertainment and connectivity will most likely continue to drive changes in technology in the future.
According to Pringle, over the next decade, we should see big changes occurring in the entertainment tech industry. “Immersion and interactivity have long been goals for creators and media makers when it comes to how technology can influence entertainment,” she said.
“For the last decade, we’ve leaned into virtual reality because of how it enables both of these. We can step inside a world and have influence over it, and the story or experience that unfolds. I think one of the things we can expect moving forward is, in a sense, the opposite of virtual reality. Instead, more of an enhanced reality or fictional reality, wherein the entertainment isn’t in a headset, but instead, all around us,” Pringle highlighted what we might see start popping up with more frequency over the next few years.
“A decade ago, we didn’t talk to robots. Today, many of us do. Siri and Alexa are some of the more common bots, but we already interface with non-human characters regularly. As technology advances, including augmented reality and mixed reality, I think we can expect that entertainment will be something we can engage with off of the screen, but out in the world, with characters and stories we can engage with throughout the day, or throughout our houses,” the researcher said.
How we engage with one another will also have a large impact on entertainment, according to Pringle. One example of this is the unexpected rise of e-sports. “Whoever would have thought that people would pay money to watch other people play games? Media that engages us and gives us something to gather around, be it together, or virtually, is something that will always appeal to us,” she said.
We’re also likely to see “the ebb and flow” of experiences that focus on bringing people together offline, on-screen, and online. “In the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of interactive and immersive venues like the museum of ice cream or the Dr. Seuss experience,” Pringle told Bored Panda about how the divide between what we consider to be tech and not might get blurry. Especially in the field of entertainment.
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“These are places we can go, with friends and family, and have a shared experience. It feeds back into our online experiences because we can share photos or memories and these environments are designed to foster that. Certainly, as we find ourselves in a time of social distancing, we’re seeing new creative ways of “being together” even when we’re apart. So I think we can expect to see entertainment that helps us connect, be it online or off, and immerses us in an experience, story, or community.”