Last Gadget Standing, now in its tenth year, made crowdsourcing fashionable before it was even a buzz word. The idea was simple. People know what products are winners. Marketing has its place, the press have their place, but ultimately the product is going to rock your world or not–and the best people to decide which are the rockers are the people who buy products.
In January of 2011 at our live event at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (and online) we’ll re-live a few of the craziest moments of Last Gadget history. Crazy as fox, that is. The products that have been the winners combine the perfect blend of passion, entertainment, education and great products to nab the title.
Those of you who gather with us annually (or not) might be interested to take a walk down Last Gadget memory lane. With the exception of the gold medalist of 2003, other Last Gadget winners have survived and thrived. (OK, the 2010 winners Boxee and Microvision’s ShowWX were a little slow shipping…they’re just coming out now.)
2002: History does play some mean tricks. A little company named General Motors entered a revolutionary product called OnStar, which was voted Last Gadget Standing — and yes, it has stood the test of time. It’s GM that hasn’t aged quite as well.
2003: Either the audience blew it or the manufacturer blew it, but the Tapwave Zodiac, a hybrid gaming device/handheld PC/media center was the chosen Last Gadget Standing. It seemed very promising in its early life, but now it’s gone, relegated to CES cobweb status.
2004: One of the first consumer robots that did something more than make funny noises and bat its eyes, iRobot won for the Roomba this year. OK, so it didn’t live up to Grandma’s standard of cleanliness, but it sure made vacuuming fun, even for cats.
2005: It seems like an eternity ago, but the Dell Axim won the day, one of the first PocketPC-like devices to have graphics acceleration and VGA resolution. The folks at Dell demonstrated the Axim running a PowerPoint presentation. (Wow-wee!) This product sold strong until PDAs themselves were absorbed into cell phones. The online voters were a bit more forward-thinking. They awarded Davis CarChip, a device that monitors driving habits. The chip logs both engine and driver performance, troubleshoots problems, and keeps tabs on how and when your vehicles are being used. Employers, fleet managers, and parents everywhere were overjoyed.
2006: XM Radio was a big hit when launched, but if you liked a particular song, well, good luck. There was no way to purchase it. Online the 2006 winner went to the Pioneer Inno, a tiny handheld device which merged XM Radio with content you could purchase and download. Live, from the Convention Center in Vegas, the audience looked skywards and gave the award to the Celestron SkyScout, which uses GPS technology to help identify any visible object in the sky.
2007: When the Data Drive Tornado presentation showed a monkey transferring PCs across a single smart cable, while the engineering lab struggled with more traditional ways to upgrade to a new PC on the live stage. But the audience went ape for the product, and Data Drive emerged as the 2007 winner at the event. HP’s TouchSmart PC ushered in a new PC type that would be the central headquarters for the family, and its touch interface won the hearts of the online audience that year.
2008: What if you could turn any digicam into a wireless camera that could transmit images from camera to PC without a single cable? That describes the Eye-Fi, the winner of Last Gadget Standings 2008 edition. As a plus, the SD-format device also featured 2GB of storage for your photos.
2009: Unbelievable, for the second year in a row the crowds went for Eye-Fi. This time the Eye-Fi Share Video card. It allows you to remotely send video to your PC. This was first year we had an official online vote. The Web community crowned Heartmath’s emWave, a handheld biofeedback device that helps reduce stress. (A telling product for Information Age overload.)
2010: It was the year of Internet TV with the winner, Boxee, wowing the crowds with its ability to play just about every media you could throw at it. Boxee was a bit pokier than expected as the product is just shipping now…10 months later. The online vote went to MicroVisions ShowWX, a pocket sized pico projector, which coincidentally just shipped as well. If you were there in person you got to see Dr. Evil himself give an Oscar Award winning demo.
Most of the products are still alive and well. Those that now rest in peace were pioneers, and if you’ve ever played Oregon Trail, you know that not all the pioneers make it.
Now it’s your turn. May the best gadget be last!