The worst designed products of 2019

 

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 Don’t add any of these to your holiday wish list.

It’s never a good sign when the masses wonder whether your latest product is really an April Fool’s Joke. (Looking at you, Creme Egg Mayo.)

Heinz and Cadbury weren’t the only ones to launch a highly mockable product. For your reading pleasure, we’ve rounded up a shortlist of this year’s worst design fails. In no particular order, here are the products that most invite the question, why?

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‘Freeze… and marry me!’ – Russians who propose at gunpoint

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Anastasia is expecting her boyfriend Sergei to be waiting for her when her flight arrives at St Petersburg airport.

But as she lands he texts to say that, due to unforeseen work commitments, a friend will be picking her up instead.

So far, so normal.

Later, as Anastasia is approaching her apartment building in the friend’s car, a minibus with blacked-out windows screeches into their path. Armed men in masks jump out and take her driver friend away.

Anastasia is led to the back of the car she was travelling in. The men begin rifling through her things in the boot and discover a small packet full of white powder.

Surrounded by men clad in black special ops uniforms, a female plain-clothes detective turns to her: “You’re suspected of supplying banned substances.”

The colour in Anastasia’s face swiftly drains away.

“You must be mistaken. That’s not mine,” she says, smiling nervously.

“Then whose is it? Enough of the games!” a man barks.

The questions continue, until the man opens the packet to reveal a small pink box.

“And what’s this?” he asks.

“No idea!” she replies, her voice breaking.

Suddenly the man gets down on one knee, rips off his mask and shouts: “Marry me!”

It’s Sergei, and it turns out he’s the only one here who actually works in law enforcement. The others work for an “extreme proposal” service – part of an industry established in Russia in recent years.

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Watch two ‘Jetmen’ fly alongside an A380 superjumbo

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We’ve seen Swiss daredevil Yves Rossy (aka Jetman) fly his carbon fiber jet wing over Rio, and above Dubai with his protege Jetman Vince Reffet. The latest video from the fearless aviators sees Rossy and Reffet share the skies with something a little bigger — an Emirates A380 airliner. Once again, the flight takes place over the Palm Jumeirah and Dubai skylines. We can only imagine the duo gives the A380 pilot constant heart palpitations as they deftly maneuver around the plane (y’know, with its jet intakes and all that).

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French inventor successfully soars over English Channel on hoverboard

 

How a French inventor crossed the English Channel with one short refuel and in 22 minutes on a hoverboard.

The French inventor of the jet-powered hoverboard soared over the English Channel despite wind gusts Sunday, becoming the first to cross the channel in such a futuristic way after failing in his first attempt last month.

Franky Zapata reached speeds of 110 mph to complete the 22-mile journey on his flyboard that began in Sangatte – in France’s Pas de Calais region – and ended in St. Margaret’s Bay, beyond the white cliffs of Dover, in southeast England.

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Worlds’s first AI universe simulator knows things it shouldn’t

 

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Great Mystery

 “It’s like teaching image recognition software with lots of pictures of cats and dogs, but then it’s able to recognize elephants.”

Since we can’t travel billions of years back in time — not yet, anyways — one of the best ways to understand how our universe evolved is to create computer simulations of the process using what we do know about it.

Most of those simulations fall into one of two categories: slow and more accurate, or fast and less accurate. But now, an international team of researchers has built an AI that can quickly generate highly-accurate, three-dimensional simulations of the universe — even when they tweak parameters the system wasn’t trained on.

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Flat Earthers now plan to “shut this debate down” by getting to the “outer edges of Earth

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Mm-kay

After their last experiment went pear-shaped, Flat Earth supporters have announced an expedition to the “outer edges of flat earth” in order to “shut this debate down” once and for all.

An extremely in-depth report in Forbes saw journalist Jim Dobson speak to “dozens” of believers, one of whom – Jay Decasby – is in talks to develop his own reality TV series about his theory.

Decasby is also throwing his weight behind plan to sail to Antarctica to prove flat earth.

“All we have to do is shut this debate down once and for all is to get the distance of the coast of Antarctica,” he told Forbes.

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Physicists reverse time using quantum computer

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Researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology teamed up with colleagues from the U.S. and Switzerland and returned the state of a quantum computer a fraction of a second into the past. They also calculated the probability that an electron in empty interstellar space will spontaneously travel back into its recent past. The study comes out March 13 in Scientific Reports.

“This is one in a series of papers on the possibility of violating the second law of thermodynamics. That law is closely related to the notion of the arrow of time that posits the one-way direction of time: from the past to the future,” commented the study’s lead author Gordey Lesovik, who heads the Laboratory of the Physics of Quantum Information Technology at MIPT.

“We began by describing a so-called local perpetual motion machine of the second kind. Then, in December, we published a paper that discusses the violation of the second law via a device called a Maxwell’s demon,” Lesovik said. “The most recent paper approaches the same problem from a third angle: We have artificially created a state that evolves in a direction opposite to that of the thermodynamic arrow of time.”

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Lipstick in kindergarten? South Korea’s K-beauty industry now targets those barely able to read.

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PriPara Kids Cafe is one of the many beauty parlors in South Korea that cater to young girls. (Jean Chung/For The Washington Post)

Last year in kindergarten, Yang Hye-ji developed her morning routine. Uniform? Check. Homework? Check.

Makeup? Definitely.

“Makeup makes me look pretty,” the 7-year-old said on her second visit to the ShuShu & Sassy beauty spa in Seoul.

She was wrapped in a child-size pink robe and wearing a bunny hairband. Her face was gently touched up with a puff. Her lips got a swipe of pink gloss.

South Korea’s cosmetics industry, known as K-beauty, has become an Asian powerhouse and global phenomenon for its rigorous step-by-step regimens.

But exacting beauty norms also put enormous pressure on South Korean women, making the country one of the world’s centers for plastic surgery. And increasingly, the beauty industry is looking at younger and younger girls.

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The ten most ridiculous things “on the blockchain”

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Oranges, babies, democracy, frozen people. We take a whirlwind tour of all things on the blockchain that probably shouldn’t be.

When you put a thing “on the blockchain,” you’re not actually putting it “on the blockchain.” Nothing is “on the blockchain.” The “blockchain” doesn’t exist. Instead, what you’re really doing is “notarizing information about a thing using a database distributed across a network of nodes, which is sometimes called a blockchain.” Or perhaps you’re “fragmenting data about a thing into non-fungible digital assets that can be traded, via a distributed network called a blockchain, for ERC20 tokens.” But those are far less catchy, so everybody just says “on the blockchain” instead.

So here we go—”The Ten Most Ridiculous Things On the Blockchain.”

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Weird CES: The bizarre things we didn’t expect to see

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The Consumer Electronics Show is one of the biggest technology events of the year where brand new devices and products are shown off to the world, sometimes for the very first time. As such, you’ll see some of the coolest and most exciting things at CES.

However, at CES 2019 we saw some things that were a little…strange. Some of them were cool, some of them were useful, and some of them could even make the world a better, safer place. But they were all a little weird and inevitably caused many CES 2019 attendees pause and scratch their heads.

We know not everyone can attend CES, so we’ve rounded up some of the weirdest things we saw as we wandered the show floor. Check out our strange CES 2019 roundup below.

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Japan’s latest home robot isn’t useful — it’s designed to be loved

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A pair of Lovot robots at their unveiling this week. Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

It’s not been a great year for home robots, with two high-profile projects — Jibo and Kuri — shuttering operations. But a new competitor from Japan is entering the market with a different approach. Lovot, created by Kaname Hayashi, a former developer of the humanoid robot Pepper, is a furry, foot-and-a-half-high creation that’s designed only to be loved.

“This robot won’t do any of your work. In fact, it might just get in the way,” Hayashi told Bloomberg. “Everything about this robot is designed to create attachment.”

Lovot looks a lot like an upgraded Furby. It has minimal motor function (it can’t fetch you a beer or hoover your kitchen) but interacts with users with a pair of lively eyes and wordless chirping noises. It has a trio of wheels for scooting around your home, and a pair of flippers that it can use to show surprise, affection, or even beg to be picked up.

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Inside the ‘World Cup of E-sports’

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The League of Legends World Championship Finals in Incheon, South Korea, on Nov. 3.

Two squads battled it out at a 50,000-seat stadium in the South Korean city of Incheon. Photography by Jean Chung

This weekend, legends were created in South Korea, the birthplace of esports.

Watched by tens of millions of people each year, the world championship finals of League of Legends this year featured two squads battling it out at a 50,000-seat stadium in the South Korean city of Incheon.

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