I open Brunch magazine and I see it in big bold letters – The Vir Sanghvi Awards. I open HT City a few days later and I find myself gaping at half a page on one side dedicated to The Vir Sanghvi Awards for The HT City Crystals 2012. Damn! This was big, a whole set of fantastic food awards with a fantastic name to them. How come no one had ever asked for my name to be associated with any Tech Awards? Feeling extremely left out and decidedly insecure, I made a few calls. Nope – no one was interested in setting up a set of awards with my name blazing on the top. Well, if there were no takers for such a brilliant idea – then there was just one option left. For me to initiate my own Awards under my own name. Here they are, The Rajiv Makhni Awards. Appropriately and fitting in rather well with the name – they are for the Worst Tech Products of the Year.
Having taken on the task and sitting down with the jury of one, I suddenly realised just how tough this was going to be. While there are many obvious ones like the very disturbing Apple Maps (leads you off target by hundreds of kilometres) or Aakash 2 (nice tablet but no student has ever seen one yet), what I was looking for were the true turkeys of technology, the real crapfest of gadgetry, ideas and devices so bad that they make all else look God-like. Let’s get started with scraping the bottom of the tech barrel.
The Every Bone in Your Body Award – The Inventist Solowheel
A very large number of people have broken their bones riding a Segway. That includes my good friend Vikram Chandra who was found perched on top of a hedge in a garden after taking a spectacular 360-degree spin in the air, with his hand broken in the most magical of ways. Having realised that the Segway wasn’t dangerous enough, the Inventist Solowheel was invented.
It’s a single wheel electric unicycle where you basically perch yourself on top of its two footboards, balance yourself by straddling the wheel from the top and then lean forward to make it go. Turning is also controlled by the same principle, leaning in the direction you want to turn towards – all of this with your hands flailing in the air. Technology wise it’s quite amazing, but mastering how not to break every bone in your body takes quite a bit of practice. This is why even the person in the photo seems to prefer walking with the Solowheel in his hand rather than riding it.
The I didn’t know I could do that Award – Blokket Phone Cover Bag
This is by far the most fascinating of them all. It uses some fantastic technology to achieve what we all need from our phones. Just slip your phone into the Blokket Signal Blocking Phone Cover and its silver and nylon RFID-blocking sleeve blocks out up to 99 per cent of incoming radio wavelengths, thus effectively turning your phone off without actually having to turn it off. This is of course for all of you who don’t know that your phone comes with a silent mode, a power-off button or even a flight mode. Thank you Blokket, you just saved the world!
The World may Explode Award - Behringer iNuke Boom
The world of music has sadly taken a turn for the worse. There was time when listening to real music needed huge speakers and audiophile level equipment – and the music sounded heavenly.
Today everyone just invests in a little rinky-dinky dock, plonks their iPod on top and seems very satisfied by that tiny music that wallows out of them. Well, ladies and gentlemen, no more. Enter the baap of all docks – The iNuke Boom. It measures about 8x4 feet, it weighs in at about 350 kgs, can pound out 10,000 watts of sound and is very well-priced at $29,999. When I saw this for the first time at CES, I was truly mesmerised – at the idiocy of the product. That big, that large and at that price – talk about an overkill of epic proportions!
The Contort your body and bend down Award – Adidas Social Media Barricade Shoe
What’s not to like? A top-of-the-line shoe company comes up with a shoe that’s aware of all your social media needs.
All your friends and relatives can send Twitter messages straight to your shoe. It not only keeps your feet perfectly cushioned, but also keeps your brain up to date with all your Twitter and other social feeds. So what if the only way to read your Twitter messages is to bend down and read it off the side of the shoe?
So what if the shoe has a two-line blurry LCD screen at the side? And so what if Adidas called it the ‘future of athlete connectivity’ with a straight face and without batting an eyelid or breaking into convulsions of laughter?
Everything you never wanted award – Google Nexus Q
Google did very well this year. It broke every rule in the world of gadgets, rewrote the price line of multiple categories of products including smartphones and tablets, and it took Android to new heights. It also brought out the Nexus Q.
This is also a device that rewrites many rules, unfortunately all of them for the worse. This is a media streaming device that costs about four times what the competition offers, has a rather strange spherical design that looks completely out of place with your other equipment, plays mostly and only Google Play content, has issues with many different video formats and doesn’t throw in any new killer feature. This one also wins the over before it even got started award.
Now that the Rajiv Makhni awards are out, in case anyone wants to convert this into a long and never-ending awards evening with some nice Bollywood dances, do get in touch with me on my Twitter account. I’m wearing my Adidas social media shoe and will get your Twitter messages right away.
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at twitter.com/RajivMakhni
From HT Brunch, December 23
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