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Fit-nowhere technologies

Discussion in 'Computers, Science & Technology' started by Myrtonos, Jun 4, 2020.

  1. Myrtonos

    Myrtonos Well-Known Member

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    Does anyone here know of any technology that was too expensive for some niches and too limited for others, or any that was first too ahead of its time and outdated right after that?
     
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  2. unperson

    unperson Well-Known Member

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    Sony mini-discs and player.
     
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  3. Rabscuttle

    Rabscuttle Member

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    Force feedback computer peripherals. A new branch of technology that could've brought a third sense into human machine interaction, but never got a chance to be more than a novelty before IP finagling and market shifts took it down. The Novint Falcon was supposed to be a great revolution that overcame all that and far exceeded the old joysticks, but the effort collapsed. Now instead of actual immersion, we've got so-called "virtual reality" systems that consist of nothing more than what you'd get by tying your monitor to your forehead (though admittedly, there's probably a lot less neck strain). For someone who remembers the promises of the 80's and 90's, it's galling.
     
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  4. Misery

    Misery Photo-Negative V.I.P Member

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    On the note of VR...

    I used to think exactly that about it. Seemed like a silly gimmick. And then I put one on the first time.

    I'll put it this way: my opinion of it changed instantly. "Force feedback" was neat and all, but the immersion of that is next to nothing compared to what real VR can do. There's a reason why there are so many videos and such of people doing things like trying to sit on non-existent chairs or sprinting into a doorway that was not actually there (and thus sprinting into a wall instead). This is also why the things can make you sick, because your brain has trouble distinguishing it from reality.

    The problem is that it's utterly impossible to understand what VR is really like without jumping all the way in yourself. People like to show videos on Youtube, but you cant convey what happens in VR on a 2D screen. You cant. You seriously just cant. I learned that after about 60 seconds of having that headset on the first time. You may as well be trying to show someone what it's like to drive a car by handing them a photo of one and saying "CAR" real loud.

    What was promised in the 80s and 90s, in terms of VR, absolutely is here. The difficult part is that you need a machine capable of doing it right (because if done wrong, it can cause physical side-effects) and a machine that can do so is usually very expensive.

    I say all of this as someone who had an incredibly powerful PC built for this very reason, and I've been using this tech for over a year now.


    Now that all being said: It still fits the topic to some degree. It's an expensive technology, requiring not only a pricey headset but also an even more pricey PC. And, some people genuinely cannot use it because the side effects on them are too strong (most people can get over it with time, but some simply cannot). Also for most programs/games, you need alot of space, because you're actually physically walking around and such (depends on the program). I had to move my entire computer setup into the basement just to do that since my room is already full of stuff. Dedicated VR fans often have an entire room specifically meant for it, and that's why. But that's just not an option for many people.


    Now, you want a "VR" that really is more like just taping a TV to your face? Go try out Nintendo's Virtual Boy. I used to have one of those. Let's just say, it's not even remotely the type of tech it says it is.
     
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  5. Raggamuffin

    Raggamuffin Well-Known Member It's My Birthday!

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    Sega Nomad
    Sega Mega CD
    Sega 32x
    Sega Channel
    Sega Saturn
    Sega Dreamcast

    Not to knock Sega - as they really pushed the boat out with experimentation and ingenuity. But they had a string of commercial failures leading to their innevitable exit from the console market when Playstation 2 wiped the floor with them in the sixth generation of consoles: 9 million Dreamcasts sold vs 155 million Playstation 2's

    Ouch.

    Ed
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2020
  6. Jumpback

    Jumpback Well-Known Member

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    Speaking of game systems, I don’t know specifics, but since the Atari 2600 lasted such a long time, there must have also been superior video game systems that emerged during this time that failed for various reasons, especially due to the number of game titles available. Then Nintendo came along with the NES and floundering superior technology from a couple years earlier probably didn’t matter anymore.

    Probably other game systems later.

    Nintendo seems to have mastered, with the exception of the Wii U, the thing that kept the 2600 around for so long: having inferior technology, but games that people want to play.
     
  7. Misery

    Misery Photo-Negative V.I.P Member

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    Well, the entire gaming industry experienced a massive crash right around... 1984, I think it was? As in, it totally collapsed. It wasnt a matter of superior systems appearing while the 2600 was out: it was a matter of lots of craptastic knockoffs, but also publishers putting out lots of garbage for the system, and overloading it with crap. Look at games such as Firefly for an idea as to how bad some of them were. There were also direct rip-off games, like Spiderdroid, which is a literal copy of Amidar, just with sprites changed. The means for developers/publishers to protect themselves from that really werent in place. Not to mention that Atari itself tried to put out things like the 5200, which had basically the worst controller ever (as in, it's almost unplayable). The arcade side of the industry also collapsed.

    Nintendo is widely credited with coming along and sort of saving/reviving the industry, though they had alot of hurdles. Like, retailers around the time were super reluctant to carry videogames after all after the crash, thinking that they wouldnt sell whatsoever. This is why ROB exists: a gaming peripheral designed to look like a traditional toy robot, so the whole thing wouldnt look like just a video game system. Once the NES was accepted, the western market was revived. I'm not sure what hurdles they may have faced on the Japanese side of things with the Famicom.

    As for why the 2600 managed to stick around so long even when the NES had come into play, part of it was that the tech improved, and the games improved alot (and it wasnt an overload of garbage coming in at that point). And one way or another it was a console many people had, loved, and understood. I mean the thing is legendary at this point and much of it's library still holds up to this day.


    One reason was that Sega sort of... devolved. During the Genesis era they put out lots of amazing stuff. But then their quality control fell off a cliff. Instead of just making good games for good consoles, they went after bad gimmicks that would look flashy to consumers. The 32x for example... a bewildering array of parts and cables that was nigh-impossible to set up properly, AND the games actually werent really any better. Sega just got worse and worse over the years. The Sonic franchise being the best example. At this point, the devs behind those games are a special level of awful (to the point where frankly they all should be fired) but Sega itself couldnt care less. The name alone still sells and that's all they want.

    And even when they did have good ideas (like the Dreamcast) they would do things like market it terribly, and they didnt entice nearly enough developers to make games for it (and chances are, there were internal issues making it harder to develop for). The thing was doomed from the start, with them at the helm.
     
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  8. Rabscuttle

    Rabscuttle Member

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    Logically, of course, you can't know until you try it, but I'd be lying if I said that doesn't feel like a dodge. So humor me: what does a headset give you that you couldn't get with a borderless multimonitor TrackIR setup?
     
  9. Misery

    Misery Photo-Negative V.I.P Member

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    Absolute immersion, and full movement control. Well, I'm not sure what the proper term is for that second part.

    It's like this: Think of a game like Half-Life 2, right? It was one of the earlier games that let you pick up objects and fling them or whatever. You'd do this with the mouse, of course. No matter how it's implemented, it's always a bit awkward when a game does that... that's just how it is with a mouse. The awkwardness doubles when a controller is used. It also makes it tough to throw things accurately.

    VR doesnt work that way. If I were to do something like throw a baseball in VR, I'd actually make *exactly* the movements that I would in real life. Standing up, rearing back, launching my arm forward, in exactly the proper movements for throwing.

    One of my favorite examples of this in action is a program I use called New Retro Arcade: Neon. It replicates an entire 80s golden age arcade, full of arcade cabinets, and you set it up how you want by inserting roms of whatever games you want in there. Darned neat program.

    Well, there's a couple of unique aspects to it that would be ultra-awkward and probably not fun with a mouse, but that absolutely work in VR. Skee-ball is the big one... remember that? If you've never seen a Skee-ball machine, look it up.... it's a classic arcade staple. A test of dexterity and precision in a way that's almost similar to bowling, sort of. On a traditional 2D screen, it'd be... yeah, awkward at best. You'd have some weird aiming with the mouse, something like a "power meter" for how hard you "roll" it, and things like that. There's a reason why that sort of thing just isnt done much in traditional games.

    But in VR, you dont need any of that nonsense. Grab the ball yourself, roll the freaking ball yourself. The physics are very well-done and it all works exactly like it seems it should. But it's not just skee-ball. There's an entire bowling alley, and things like air hockey.

    Or the BIG one: Light gun games. Absolutely impossible to replicate on a 2D screen now. Light gun games worked on CRT screens. They do not work whatsoever on modern flatscreens. But in VR, you bet they work. That means classics like Duck Hunt, for instance. Nigh-unplayable outside of VR. Unless you wanted to have the mouse act AS a gun, but that's bloody stupid. Misses the entire point of the light gun experience.

    Lastly, I'll show this:



    Skip to the 5 minute mark, the program called Chroma Lab.

    Notice how incredibly easy it is for me to grab and control all of the stuff that's happening in there. Again, I'm standing up and using my arms for this... I'm not sitting at a desk with a keyboard. Also understand, all that colorful chaos is ALL AROUND YOU when you're inside the program. It's not this flat thing in front of your face. Those orbs, they're around and behind and above you. That program alone absolutely blew my freaking mind the first time I used it. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING in all of my years of gaming prepared me for THAT. And I say this as someone using an ultra-rig of a computer (as in, about as powerful as it's possible for a home PC to get). This thing I'm using is capable of producing the absolute maximum of what video game graphics can do... and that's not even close to what VR can do. (also yes, I realize there's a point around 7:30 when the view goes "flat" for a moment... it happens when the program is loading a new simulation for... some reason. It looks like that on the screen, but inside the headset it's... warped, in the 3D space. I find it's best not to look at it as it's a near-instant headache).

    And just to give an idea of how strong the immersion effect of all this is, when I am introducing someone to the thing the first time, I place alot of restrictions on it. Rule #1 is that the very INSTANT they start to feel weird, they take the headset off and tell me about it, and then sit down for a few minutes. If they dont like that rule, they dont get to use it. Period. No exceptions. It's actually very literally dangerous otherwise. If you want to get really, REALLY sick.... ignore that rule.

    On top of that, I start them off slow. REAL slow. The only program a new user is allowed to use is Google Earth, and the safety features, which I normally have disabled, are all turned on for them. They're also not allowed to walk around... standing only. Even that alone though still blows everyone's mind when they experience it the first time (Google Earth is actually really good).

    That may sound a bit silly, but when I say it's dangerous, I'm dead serious. It's possible to get either seriously injured, or become extremely sick by trying to go too far with VR early on. I know someone that DID try to go too far, on his own headset, when he first got it. His description of the results was something like "I was sick for 3 days afterwards... it was hell". He learned the lesson the hard way.

    THAT is how strong the immersion is.

    Again, like you, there's no way in heck I would have believed that before using the headset myself. No way. But again, that's because it's literally impossible to convey what VR is like, without jamming that headset on. It simply cannot be done.


    Again though the problem is the cost, or physical restrictions. That Chroma Lab program for instance would bring most PCs... even high-end ones... to their knees (as such, it's an extremely niche program). To a degree, that's true of most VR things, but Chroma is a bit of a more extreme example. But also... yeah, the physical issues and side effects can be a problem for some users.

    Me, I have no issues... I got my "VR legs", so to speak. But I had a close call early on. I wanted to be able to have "full" movement in there. Being able to use the control gizmo (you hold two of them at all times, obviously) to "slide" forwards (which is how you move around a space larger than what you can walk around). I knew full well that this was a bit of a risk. Basic locomotion is often teleportation... it prevents side effects. But actual FULL motion? Your inner ear doesnt like that. I started slow... I stood at one end of a hallway in that arcade program, and just started sliding forward with the controls. Just figured "I'll go until I either reach the end, or start to feel weird". Well I reached the end all right.... and nearly fell over. It would have been a bad fall, too, but I caught myself somehow. VR can do that to you... that's why I put restrictions on new users, and that's why I'm incredibly strict about it.

    Nowadays I can zoom and fly all over the place inside the simulation if I want... I get no side effects anymore. But it took about a month or two of slow baby steps to reach that point. THAT is how immersive it actually is.


    Anyway, rambling here a bit too much (I think tech like this is fascinating, so I get rambly), but I just wanted to give an idea of what it's like.... well, to the best of my ability anyway. Nothing I've said here comes close to showing what it's truly like, but that's as much as I can explain with text. Or show with a video... the recording program can only capture a super basic rendition of what's going on (because again, a 2D screen cant do it, period). Hopefully it helps with understanding a bit though.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2020
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  10. Jumpback

    Jumpback Well-Known Member

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    Might not completely fit, but maybe laserdisc players?

    Laserdiscs were so far superior in image quality to vhs but they were so much more expensive and you couldn't record on them
     
  11. Misery

    Misery Photo-Negative V.I.P Member

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    Hah, I remember those things. Well, sorta foggy, but I do remember them.

    I seem to recall they didnt last very long. For exactly those reasons.

    Also everything was always lasers back then.
     
  12. WildCat

    WildCat V.I.P Member

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    Zip drive and the Zip disk it was made for. I can remember using these back in middle school but no surprise that they didn't too well. Storage has come a long way - today, you can buy a high capacity flash drive the size of a nickel.

    Zip drive - Wikipedia
     
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  13. FreeDiver

    FreeDiver How long can you hold your breath? V.I.P Member

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    "Digital Audio Tape" or DAT for short. When these things first hit the market in 1987. They sold for over $1500. Although it found it way into the professional world. It didn't last very long in the consumer world. It is believed that the record industry(Out of fear of piracy.) had sabotaged the consumer market for DAT machines from the beginning. Another possibility is that they could not directly compete with HIFI stereo VCR's at the time. Although HIFI Stereo VCR's still recorded the audio in analog. The sound quality was on par with that of CD digital. And for the cost of a blank VHS tape. You could record over 6 hours of CD quality music on to a single tape in EP speed and still have room for some low quality video to go along with it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2020
  14. Jumpback

    Jumpback Well-Known Member

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    Zip drives were actually a big deal for a few years because holding 100mb was a huge improvement over 1.44mb floppies. But then recordable CD players became reasonably priced and they disappeared very quickly. I mean I guess they fit, but maybe they deserve a whole separate category like "technologies which were very useful and popular for about 5 years, then immediately disappeared". Maybe something else that could fit in this category is plasma Tvs.
     
  15. Rasputin

    Rasputin ASD / Aspie V.I.P Member

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    Kaypro computers which ran on the CP/M operating system. I owned one in the early 1980s, and thought it was great. Then the home PC market exploded, and that was the end of Kaypro and CP/M.

    A Short History of CP/M

    Kaypro - Wikipedia
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2020
  16. Jumpback

    Jumpback Well-Known Member

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    It’s a lot easier to think of short lived technologies that were popular and then they were gone. Like tin type photographs and at home pong games or NES duck hunt gun
     
  17. Jumpback

    Jumpback Well-Known Member

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    Have you ever watched the angry video game nerd on YouTube?
    Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN) - YouTube

    It does seem like there were still a lot of junk video games on the nes

    In a way it’s like the minute a new technology comes out, people try very hard and come up with great solutions. Like very quickly space invaders or angry birds or duck hunt emerges and then people jumping on the bandwagon for profit join in and confuse everything.
     
  18. Misery

    Misery Photo-Negative V.I.P Member

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    Yeah, that's how it always is. It was that way back then, and it's that way these days.

    One reason is the way that the bigger corporations approach it. They could not give less of a crap about creativity, nor do they care if the game is even good. Their reasoning is often something like this: "Wow, X game over there prints money.... WAIT A MINUTE YOU GUYS, I'VE GOT IT!!!! If we just copy that game... WE'LL ALL HAVE INFINITE MONEY TOO!!!!" and then they do this. It's why when Dota 2 hit it big, suddenly the "moba" genre was freaking everywhere (almost all of which failed, it was frankly hilarious from my point of view). These days, all the Big Guys want to have their own Fortnite. And of course they're going to be as shady and nasty about it as possible.

    Back in the day it was harder to be shady and nasty, but bandwagoning and publishing of cheap money-grabbing junk sure still happened. Same dumb, different time period.
     
  19. FreeDiver

    FreeDiver How long can you hold your breath? V.I.P Member

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    FUN FACT: (About Nintendo). Did you ever wonder why the original NES had that seemingly way overbuild and quite unnecessary front slot loading mechanism for it's game cartridges? Did you ever wonder why Nintendo made Rob the gyro robot? It turn out that Nintendo was trying to make there gaming console look less like the game consoles of the time and make it feel more like a VCR. They wanted to make loading the game cartridges feel the same way you loaded a videocassette into a VCR. We all know that Rob the gyro robot was a epic failure. But did you know that Nintendo never intended for Rob to be a success in the first place. Rob was just use as a gimmick to help Nintendo get their foot in the door of the video game market shortly after the video game crash of 1984.
     
  20. Jumpback

    Jumpback Well-Known Member

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    I wondered why the NES has such a stupid system which bends the the metal pins that make a connection to the game every time you push the game down. Getting old NES systems working is all about unbending things or buying unbent replacements. The Atari system was so much less complicated and worked so much better.