Amazon Launchpad – Mostly Stuff You Don’t Need
For a technology to be considered “disruptive”, it should create a market by displacing an existing technology (driverless cars replacing taxi and Uber drivers), or it should create an entirely new market (consumer drones). For this reason, it’s not often that you see a truly disruptive consumer product, like say the smartphone for example.
It seems like most consumer products that utilize “the latest technology advancements” are typically things you don’t really need. You know that catalog you find on some airlines that has just the most ridiculous collection of things you don’t need like portable travel irons and golf club shaped beer taps? That’s kind of how “disruptive technology” in consumer products looks like lately. We were reminded of that airline catalog when we recently came across Amazon Launchpad.
Launched in July of 2015, Amazon Launchpad is aiming to help you discover “unique and unexpected products from today’s brightest startups” and we’ll have to just warn you up front, it’s pretty bad. We sorted on the most popular items by the highest average customer review and here are the top-8 “new products from today’s brightest startups“:
- A $439 pogo stick touted as “the most advanced pogo stick ever created”. It’s still just a pogo stick though, innit?
- A $499 “Dutch style” 7-speed women’s bike. Yes, that’s it. A “stylish” women’s bike available in 3 colors.
- Chickpea pasta – $34 for 48 ounces. It’s pasta made from chickpeas.
- A $20 premium hardcover notebook in case your Moleskine isn’t working out for you.
- A $190 skateboard that’s 34 inches long called the “Man O War longboard”. It does look kind of cool though.
- $34.99 Honey Soles Insoles made out of “natural cork”, whatever that means.
- “Brew Utensils” which are a fork, knife, and spoon with a bottle opener on the handle for all you
alcoholicspeople who enjoy a cold one every now and then. These will set you back $52.33 for a set or $104.66 if you don’t want to dine alone.
We had to stop at 8 because that’s about all we could handle. Is this what consumer product innovation has come to these days? We just couldn’t believe that this is all technology has brought the consumer during the recent tech surge, so we powered on through 100s of useless items more to find 3 startups offering consumer products that are actually demonstrating some real technological innovation.
Sitting right alongside the “only playing card case that converts to a discard tray“, we found some interesting products from a company called Arduino. The Arduino “ecosystem” is an open-source suite of hardware that lets you take various pieces of hardware and sensors and build your own unique applications using the Arduino native programming language.
Remember when it used to be fun to buy all the parts for your desktop computer separately and put them together? Too young for that memory? Well, that used to be an expensive hobby but now these cheap little Arduino mini-computers will let you build things like wearables, Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, and even a 3D printer. It’s DIY electronics without the need to solder.
Not long after trying to figure out why anyone would need a “$300 glare-free OLED desk table lamp with wireless charging“, we spotted a product from a startup called Botfactory. These guys originally started on Kickstarter (like Arduino did as well), and are selling their desktop electronics printer called Squink which they claim is a world’s first.
Their successful crowdfunding campaign raised over $100,000 and resulted in Botfactory selling about 25 of these printers to start. Since then, they’ve sold 70 more and now you can buy your own desktop electronics printer for $2,999 that will let you print circuits directly onto many materials from paper to flexible plastics. Creating electronic devices has never been this easy.
As we were deciding whether or not to drop $84.99 on “the only fitted sheet that won’t pop off the bed“, we came across a very unique product from a company called Thync. Backed by $13 million from investors that include Khosla Ventures, Thync has developed the first wearable technology that “enhances calm and energy without alcohol or pills“. The discreet hardware that you wear on your head signals nerves on the head and neck to act on your brain’s adrenaline system which activates your body’s natural state of energy. You can either choose “calm” or “energized”. So before you go saying this is something we don’t need, Gizmag claims that Thync is one of the most exciting new tech products of 2015 and that the calm setting feels like just one or two hits of some mid-grade ganja. Now instead of buying weed for $40 a bag, you can just buy a pack of “Thync calm strips” for just $19.99. But first, you’ll need to buy the hardware device itself for $299.
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