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You could never watch a movie in virtual reality with friends, despite the Facebook content Mark Zuckerberg suggested Five years ago. With the computerized currency Bitcoin, you may never buy anything. You could never drive around in a robot-powered car.

These technologies hold people’s imagination and show promise – but they may never be as widespread as their proponents hoped. And that’s probably fine.

Not all technology has to be in the hands of billions of people to make a difference. Finding a comfortable niche can be good enough.

Recently my colleague Kevin Roose confessed his love for buckling up virtual reality glasses for workouts that made him sweaty, sore and smiling. We have to take Kevin’s word that it’s fun to pounce on virtual flying triangles on his patio, but it’s noteworthy because VR was mostly a disappointment.

Not long ago it was predicted that VR would be a very big deal, but instead, most of us happily ignore it. Same goes for a similar technology called augmented reality that mixes virtual images with the real world and allows people to figure out how a Pairs of shoes could match her outfit or play the Pokémon Go smartphone game in the park.

Sales of some VR systems like Facebook’s Oculus have spiked during the pandemic, and it’s possible VR and Augmented Reality will still make it big as Apple, Facebook, and other companies keep working on the technologies. For years, however, they have remained well outside the mainstream.

As Kevin’s column pointed out, this does not mean that these technologies are destined for the trash can of failure. It shows the big middle ground between a flop and a technology used by billions.

Like Kevin, I can imagine putting on VR glasses to go on a bike tour in a fascinating virtual Sicilian landscape. And some of the most compelling uses I’ve seen for augmented reality weren’t for sneakers and games, but for settings like Factories and field service where workers could Repair elevators during consultation virtual repair manuals.

I wrote about before our affinity to cool Technology about more advances in pedestrians and how that fixation can lead to overheated predictions that the latest in eye-catching technology is about to take over the world. Our interest wanes when something turns out to be not that bad.

This pattern of hope for a cool new technology, followed by disappointment and a possible second act, is so common that the Gartner industrial research group gave it a name: the Hype cycle, with a low point (the “trough of disillusionment”) about where VR has been.

After the rock bottom comes the slope of enlightenment when people retool to find out where a technology could be used more effectively. (You either love these metaphors or you hate them.) The outcome may not be as meaningful or world-changing as originally hoped, but that doesn’t make a technology pointless.

Like VR driverless cars can never take to the streets in large numbers – or they could! – However, there are potential uses for short-haul vans or fixed routes in office parks. Bitcoin seems pointless so far speculative toysSimilar financial technologies, however, could find a purpose in enabling collective ownership of community projects such as internet networks or local news organizations.

These niches don’t match the breathless predictions that anyone in the world could be using virtual currency or buckling up VR glasses, but that’s not a terrible thing. Sometimes we have to lower the bar to be successful.


Monday’s newsletter had predictions from several of my colleagues technology-related developments that could be huge in 2021. A health and science reporter for the New York Times, Katherine J. WuShe believes coronavirus testing at home will be widespread in 2021 and vaccines to fight Covid-19 could pave the way to fight more diseases.

This may not be “technology” like software and apps, but coronavirus defense initiatives are the greatest human innovation in years. More from Katherine:

The Food and Drug Administration in November and December gave the first emergency clearances for coronavirus home tests – products that people can use to determine if they are infected with the virus in minutes.

These tests, conducted by Lucira, Ellume, and Abbott, are not that accurate as those who pass human samples through laboratories. But they’re faster, more convenient, and should be rolling out en masse this year.

They cost $ 25 and up, some require a prescription, and it’s not clear how the insurance will work. But with a long time Conventional laboratory testing delays In many parts of the United States, many experts see home testing as a welcome tool in combating pandemics.

And when it comes to vaccines, there are two that are supposed to protect people from Covid-19 based on a molecule called messenger RNAor mRNA. It’s a milestone. No other mRNA-based vaccines have made it to this stage to date.

The mRNA it contains is packaged in fatty bubbles that protect the material when it is released into cells. Once inside, the mRNA instructs the production of a so-called spike protein, which can teach the immune system to recognize and fight off the coronavirus.

Compared to the ingredients in other types of vaccines, mRNA is very easy to manufacture in large quantities in the laboratory. Scientists believe this will pave the way for many more mRNA vaccines against many types of diseases in the future – not just Covid-19.


  • This could be big in Southeast Asia: Two of Indonesia’s leading young tech companies, Gojek and Tokopedia, discuss the possibility of a merger, Bloomberg News reported. In this case, the combined company Uber, Amazon, DoorDash and PayPal would be under one roof – in a region where internet usage is growing rapidly.

  • What Georgia Voters See On Facebook: When Facebook ended a temporary ban on political advertising ahead of the Georgia Senate runoff on Tuesday, the material on citizens’ Facebook feeds appeared to shift dramatically. Partisan campaign reports began pulling out election-related material from traditional news organizations, one said analysis through the markup of dozens of Facebook users in Georgia.

  • Is Jeff’s Beard Board the Nicest Place on the Internet? An online forum on facial hair is a place for advice and “unreserved positivity,” Bianca Giaever wrote at the time. Under the 23 Beard Forum Rules: No Harassment and No Rogaine Recommendation to Promote Growth.

One woman found a cat in her Christmas tree at 4:15 am (unless it was NOT a cat). What followed was Chaos, rummaging around with a broom, a whining dog and a fight over a lamp. (In this case, we recommend that you consult the experts.)


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