4 Incredible Modern Technologies That Have Lost Their Luster


I try to never lose sight of how far we've come in our development of technology. When I was a kid, I had a small TV that was so heavy, if it were placed on one of today's glass TV stands, all it would need was the weight of a channel to send it smashing to the floor. I never want to stop being amazed at the incredible advancements we've made; it's just that sometimes the things that were amazing a couple of years ago can lose their luster almost immediately. It can be like watching a close friend gradually give in to alcohol, but that friend is an iPhone.

The technologies listed here haven't been around for too long, and they're still incredible -- but it's happening. The groundwork for their fall from grace is being laid now, before our eyes. Maybe you've noticed ...

HDTVs With No HD Signal

4 Incredible Modern Technologies That Have Lost Their Luster
Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images

Once Upon a Time ...

If you're not jaded by the rapid pace of technological innovation, you should still be amazed by the vivid imagery produced by HDTVs. Everything you watch -- newscasts, Game of Thrones, even the TV's menus -- is delivered to you with a degree of gorgeousness so intense that it nearly renders the grand sights of the real world mute.

4 Incredible Modern Technologies That Have Lost Their Luster
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Today, the HDTV luster is fading. As happens with all technology, HDTVs eventually became so affordable that any place with a waiting room bought them up for cheap and slapped them onto walls.

It's Just Too Bad That ...

Almost none of those waiting room HDTVs actually have an HD signal running through them. An HDTV without an HD signal is like a pair of glasses without lenses. Yeah, you can probably still see stuff, but who wants to see through a smear of peanut butter over their eyes when there are better options readily available? People would rather use HD screens as decorative accents. They're status symbols. They're the new version of an animal's stuffed head mounted on a wall. Without the HD signal, it's less the head of a prize buck and more like a child's sack race participation ribbon. They would get a clearer picture if they hollowed out the TV, crammed some kids behind it, and made them re-enact discussions from The View.

Michael Blann/Photodisc/Getty Images

"Vaginal dryness -- amiright, ladies?"

I realize this could be an unfair assessment of the situation, so I'll add one caveat: Maybe they can't get an HD signal in their location. If that's the case, why even bother with the TV in the first place? Is a half-assed attempt at a status symbol any better than no attempt at all? If the TV wasn't there, I wouldn't think these businesses were all owned and operated by my grandparents. I already have to suffer through the indignity of daytime television in the waiting room, so why must I also endure a new episode of Family Feud that looks like it's being broadcast from 1977?

4 Incredible Modern Technologies That Have Lost Their Luster

Possibly Steve Harvey. I can't tell. Too much peanut butter on the screen.

If you're going to torture me, do it with panache. Show that you care. Put some effort into making me hate your waiting room by not pissing away technology so you can give the illusion of success.

Cameras Are Indiscriminately Placed on Everything

4 Incredible Modern Technologies That Have Lost Their Luster
trekandshoot/iStock/Getty Images

Once Upon a Time ...

Cameras have generally the same purpose today as they've had for decades: to entertain and inform. In recent years, they've spread out with pretty good results. Now we're all able to create, entertain, and inform, and the world is slowly becoming a better place for it.

It's Just Too Bad That ...

Someone at the camera factory overestimated the demand and made way too many, and he has since been trying to cram cameras up every other thing's ass. My dirt cheap, recently leased car has a rearview camera, so every time I back up, I have a reality show about what's happening on my car's ass livestreamed on the front of my car when I should be looking at the back of my car.

David Clark/iStock/Getty Images

"I'm being safe and completely distracted!"

And they're going to be mandatory in the U.S. soon, even though my car manual tells me not to rely on the rearview camera because the camera kind of sucks. It's there to prevent me from running over children as I back up, but even the bloodsucker who sold me the car said, "Get it if you think the number of kids you run over is too high." Zero was too high a number for me, so I got the camera. It has a nice, well-meaning purpose, but it's mostly there for the sake of having a camera. Your smartphone has a camera, and modern cars are just one big smartphone at this point. So, fuck it -- put a camera on it. Give me the option to take a picture with it and I'll back up into people so I can make a Tumblr page of hysterical pre-hit-and-run reaction shots.

Most laptops have built-in cameras that can be used to video chat with people all over the world, but will mostly be used by assholes like me to make myself look like this:


Cities slap them on every corner, because now that our years are "20XX," we're officially in the future, and law enforcement is a box with a lens on a pole.

Even some of the most advanced camera tech out there can't catch a break. Consider the plight of ...

4 Incredible Modern Technologies That Have Lost Their Luster

The Bullet Time Camera Technology from The Matrix Has Done Nothing With Its Life

Warner Bros.

Once Upon a Time ...

I sat in a theater with two of my middle school buddies as we had our minds blown by a crazy movie about martial arts and people living in computers and Keanu Reeves always looking like he forgot his lines and, most impressively, crazy-ass 360 camera spins that captured every detail of one moment in time from every possible angle. The Matrix was incredible, and Bullet Time camera technology was set to revolutionize cinematic photography.

It's Just Too Bad That ...

Bullet Time technology has been reduced to working the red carpet for E! during award shows like a washed-up celebrity with nowhere else to turn.


I never fully appreciated the kid from Modern Family until I saw him stuck within a time bubble.

Bullet Time, it turns out, was a one-hit wonder. A technology that once captivated audiences as it starred in one of the most influential Hollywood blockbusters of all time, a technology that won its creators Oscars, is now only a slightly more synthetic version of Joan Rivers.

I can list off all of the terrible movies it was used in during its post-Matrix explosion, but I'd rather cut to the last line of the Wikipedia entry for Bullet Time, because it best expresses the sorry state it's in today:

"Bullet Time was used for the first time in a live music environment in October 2009 for Creed's live DVD, Creed Live."

Bullet Time's last known whereabouts was a Creed concert. Right now Bullet Time is probably in a backwoods church in the Florida panhandle filming a pastor dancing with snakes.

Tablets and Smartphones Are the New Pacifiers

4 Incredible Modern Technologies That Have Lost Their Luster
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Once Upon a Time ...

When they first hit the market, smartphones and tablets were a clear sign we were living in the crazy sci-fi future we had seen in movies, and that human-alien hybrids and androids were just around the corner.

4 Incredible Modern Technologies That Have Lost Their Luster
Sergey Nivens/iStock/Getty Images


Computers more powerful than the ones used to put people on the moon can now fit in your pocket and make your testicles toasty warm. You can watch movies and play games on them, but they also let you carry your office with you wherever you go. Tablets have some impressive educational uses, too. Yes, smartphones and tablets are tools of the bright, shiny vision of progress futurists once dreamed of.

It's Just Too Bad That ...

From the moment a family sits down to eat at a restaurant, parents will take this incredible supercomputer and reduce it to a pacifier by practically cramming it in their kid's mouth, telling him not to speak because his chattering teeth will scratch the screen.

Of the many dozens of times I've seen this, there was one particularly strange instance that I couldn't tear my eyes away from. While at a restaurant, a family with a kid was escorted to a nearby table. The kid was calm. He had his shit together. So, as everyone sat down, the mom handed the kid an iPad. "Here," she said, as if when she woke up that morning she actively decided to pretend her kid wasn't a thing. "Play."

4 Incredible Modern Technologies That Have Lost Their Luster
wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

"They're playing that game with the birds. Think we can get in a quick fingerblast, honey?"

The kid turned into a frantic asshole. He refused to sit down, playing the iPad game with all the exaggerated gestures people in movies do when they play video games. He stumbled back and knocked over his chair, triggering my Spider Sense. I caught the chair before it hit the ground. The kid said he was sorry. The mom and the two other adults didn't even break their conversational stride. When it was time to eat, he ate. He was calm. It was like he wasn't even there.

And they're not just pacifiers; they're playgrounds -- things children go apeshit on while the parents sit on the sidelines and wait for the kids' batteries to run out so they can scoop up their exhausted bodies and put them to bed. Then the parents mask the sound of their lovemaking by turning up the volume of their non-HD HDTVs and take old-timey pictures of their junk while a Bullet Time camera rig pleasures itself from outside their window.

Warner Bros.

Poor, pathetic Bullet Time.

Luis Prada is still recovering from having watched VCR technology leap off a building and splatter on the pavement below. Send your condolences to him via Twitter and Tumblr.

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