lovehate: Wherefore Vaporware?

For those of who are unfamiliar with the "vaporware" moniker, think of some of the greatest technological rumors that you've heard as "up and coming" that have mysteriously disappeared quicker than my tolerance for Rickrolling. Whether it be hardware, software, games, platforms, portable media players or cellphones, tech media has been quick to jump on the fancy packaging and promises used to tempt venture capitalists and have end-users eyes glaze over like a Krispy Kreme confection in Coral Gables. I find that while there are plenty of lower-tier vaporware announcements these days (i.e. service packs for OSs and application updates) I'm missing the BIG pitch that's going to mess with my mind, make my jaw drop and wake up my dormant Utopian/Distopian meter.

I remember a hardware startup that preached translucent cube writable and bootable media with terrabytes of capacity that would hold your entire desktop and enable people to walk from terminal to terminal all over the world and wirelessly boot their entire home system. Kind of like meteorite computing over cloud computing. Sure, I know you can approximate some of these functions with a bootable USB drive, but it's far from elegant and certainly not without innumerable variables that could stop one cold.

Weren't there promises of seamless Voice User Interfaces by now.  Surely there must be an interest in the ability to speak to your computer in flowing sentences instead of clipped words and phrases. While we can purchase voice recognition software for certain tasks, and I realize that OSs have made some strides in allowing for next steps, was I the only one that thought we would easily be there by now as a standard and not a tenuous option?

And am I the only one who thought that after VR5, Lawnmower Man, and Harsh Realm that we were well on our way to fully-immersive Virtual Reality that smacked of something a little better than Vectrex? I'm not talking about a laboratory experimental unit costing several hundred thousand dollars, but an afforable, end-user product. I know the sci-fi geek in everyone is picturing an Enterprise holodeck right now, but I'd be satisfied with goggles and a platform. I guess until the porn or gaming industries take up the fight on VR we are screwed - or not.

And when is someone going to sell me robot that looks and acts human, obeys Asimov's three laws, and is bound and determined to take over the world for $199 with a four-year service contract? C'mon Steve Jobs, bring it on! Call it the iRobot, pay some residuals to the Asimov descendants and get Alan Parsons to remaster a jingle for you. Of course the iRobot would crash every time we tried to play Monkeyball, and once a month we'd have to restore it to default settings.

But even with all of my disappointment at the missing gadgets promised to me over the years, I would rather someone is at least dreaming and pushing the ambrosia-flavored envelope. Vaporware...


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