The world of electrical products is a fast-moving one and this typically means that the needs of a customer requesting the help of an electrical installer will often shift and move.
The most recent example of this is the growing demand for electric vehicle charging points, and before that the desire to have dedicated USB charging sockets to go alongside more conventional plugs.
All of these are in the service of new gadgets, appliances and products, although whilst some will live up to their life-changing promise, others do not so much provide the future but end the future of the company that makes them.
The Sharper Image was a Menkind-style electronics company that specialised in somewhat unusual products for a particular kind of customer who likes to show off the latest gadget, but one of its most popular products would also be the one that destroyed them.
The Ionic Breeze was an ionising air cleaner, which electrically charged air molecules to create negative ions that would in theory remove particles from air,
However, whilst other air ionisers had proven to be effective in hospital settings in the late 2010s, the Ionic Breeze Quadra, along with other early home ionisers, were found wanting by Consumer Reports, who went as far as to accuse The Sharper Image of misleading marketing.
This led to a bitter lawsuit where The Sharper Image claimed that the Consumers Union had used an inadequate test to measure clean-air delivery rate designed with HEPA filters in mind, and sued to try and force CR to use a more favourable test.
The case went terribly for The Sharper Image, being dismissed outright and costing the company $525,000 in legal fees.
It then got far worse when Consumer Reports then stated that the Ionic Breeze produced trace levels of ozone, which is hazardous to health. This led to a recall, a class action lawsuit and eventually bankruptcy.
uDraw GameTablet HD
In 2010, video game company THQ released the uDraw GameTablet, a graphic tablet for use with the Nintendo Wii that users could draw on to more easily draw on a screen.
It was surprisingly successful for a niche gadget, selling over a million units over Christmas that same year, leading THQ to gamble on lightning striking twice with a very different group of video game players that owned either a Sony Playstation 3 or a Microsoft Xbox 360.
The result was an abject disaster with at least 1.4m unsold units and a shortfall for the company of over $100m. Whilst THQ would hang on for another year, they declared bankruptcy in late 2012.
Proving that it is possible to see too far into the future, the late Sir Clive Sinclair’s foray into electric vehicles in the early 1980s not only utterly crushed Sinclair Vehicles but also his main
Sinclair Research company, his personal reputation and the reputation of electric vehicles for decades.
Designed as the future of personal mobility without the need for road tax or a driving license, the Sinclair C5 was an infamous passion project that may have had a chance today with better batteries.
However, an infamous launch event at Alexandra Palace showed the worst side of the machines and only 5000 were sold before the receivers got involved.
Sinclair Vehicles was wound up, Sir Clive’s computer division was bought by Alan Sugar’s Amstrad and Sinclair Research was a one-man operation from 1987 until 2021 when he passed
away at the age of 81.