At South by Southwest 2013, Google created a buzz with its latest wearable tech idea: a shoe that talks to motivate more activity. While Google isn't planning to sell the shoe, it will soon sell its other wearable tech that everyone (except shoes) is talking about: Google Glass. <br><br> But while we go gaga over most of Google's ideas, remember that not all of the tech giant's products work well in reality. Let's review some of Google's less successful — and sometimes just plain silly — concepts.
Google attempted to rethink email with Google Wave, which integrated the best of email, chat, social networking and any other communication tool you can think of. You start a conversation and invite people to join instead of sending a discrete email. The conversations updated in real time. New people could replay the conversation to get up to speed. <br><br> That may sound like a good idea. But email seems to be a hard habit to shake, and few people adopted the product. Google stopped developing it in 2010, a year after it launched. The idea lives on in open-source projects Walkround and Apache Wave, and, you'll find some of the elements in Google+.
With Lively, Google's foray into virtual worlds, users created avatars and spaces where they could chat with others. Sounds a lot like "<a href="http://www.technewsdaily.com/15372-can-a-fit-video-game-avatar-make-you-healthier.html">Second Life</a>," except there were fewer people. The virtual world only worked in Windows through Internet Explorer and Firefox, which didn't help to spread it as widely as possible. Google turned off the lights about four months after Lively launched.
In 2010, Google bought Aardvark, a search service that allowed you to submit a question and then get matched with members who might know the answer. Aardvark was particularly popular with mobile users at the time. But the service was killed a year later, another seeming victim of Google's focus on its social platform, Google+.
A precursor to Foursquare, Dodgeball allowed you to check in to a location by sending a text (this was before most phones had Internet and GPS). The service alerted friends within a 10-block radius where you were. Google bought Dodgeball in 2005 and kept it going through 2009, when it was replaced by Google Latitude. <br><br> One the creators of Dodgeball, Dennis Crowley, left Google to start Foursquare, which has been much more successful. [See also: <a href="http://www.technewsdaily.com/4016-smartphone-social-privacy-settings.html">How to Set Your Smartphone's Social Privacy Settings</a>]
Buzz, created in 2010, integrated into Gmail and combined aspects of Twitter and blogging. You could share your status with the world or directly with others, and the updates appeared within Gmail. [See also: <a href=" http://www.technewsdaily.com/16990-gmail-security-boost.html">Tougher Gmail Security Reduces Break-ins 99 Percent</a>]<br><br> But it ran afoul of privacy advocates: All Gmail users were automatically opted into the service, and by default, Buzz shared your contacts with others. Buzz lasted for about a year before it was shuttered in late 2011.
Ever wanted to say something on a website that didn't have a comment feature? That was the idea behind Sidewiki. After you downloaded a browser plug-in, you could post information about a Web page, and other Sidewiki users would see it when they visited the page. But it turned out that few people felt the need to add extra content to websites. Google turned off Sidewiki in late 2011, after about two years.
Wikipedia stands as one of the greatest testaments to the potential of the Internet. Google tried to compete with it through Knol, a wiki-style site. Anyone could create a page on any topic, and many people did — by 2009, more than 100,000 "knols" had been created. But the product didn't garner enough use (or attention) to satisfy Google, so it was shut down. All the material was transferred to Annotum.org, an open-source scholarly site that was founded in 2011. [See also: <a href="http://www.technewsdaily.com/16749-asteroid-named-wikipedia.html">Asteroid Re-Named 'Wikipedia'</a>]
Fast Flip tried to bridge the gap between the print and online reading experience by making browsing online articles more visual. But it turns out that reading on the Web isn't the same as in a newspaper or magazine, and Google gave up in 2011. The idea might have worked better in today's tablet-centric world.
When Google bought photo site Picasa, it got Hello as part of the package. Hello functioned like a digital image instant messenger, in which you could easily share your pictures with select friends and chat about them. Since Google had its own instant messaging tool in Google Talk, Hello didn't have much of a place and was closed in 2008. [See also: <a href="http://www.technewsdaily.com/4430-cheap-calls-smartphone.html">How Can I Make Cheap Calls on a Smartphone?</a>]
Indexing images can be tough for a search engine. So Google created an online game to get people to tag photos for them. Image Labeler paired you with another player and showed you both an image. Each player entered words to describe the image and you earned points for descriptions that matched. The game had a long run — from 2006 to 2011 — but as image recognition technology improved, the need for players dwindled. <em>Follow Michael Gowan @zebgowan. Follow us @TechNewsDaily, on Facebook or on Google+.</em>