10 bizarre startups of 2016: useless or resourceful?

30 December 2016

Startups have been around long enough for the ideas to become bolder with both companies and individuals trying to get ahead of their game. Although some of them might be just too audacious, they prove that imagination can be unlimited. Every so often the creators can get out of touch with reality. The startups we are going to look at today can be called unusual at the very least. Here is our list:


Having been initiated by the Prime Minister of India, the Aadhaar payment system is supposed to lead the citizens to a new, cashless world. The app is equipped with a biometric reader that allows consumers to pay to the operators after registration, free of usual bank charges. It can be used on Android mobile devices, and it was launched in 2016. As promising as it may have sounded, the process didn’t go without a hitch.

The most significant problem, however, is that a big part of India is unbanked, and they can’t use this program whatsoever. And that process is time consuming, that’s why it is hard to speak about its success. And the use of biometrics as the only security feature can be unsatisfying which calls for further development. Maybe in 5 years or more actual banks are going to be everywhere, which will help the Aadhaar payment system show its full potential and grow nationally.

Okto’s smart rings

Having got used to a smart watch, people are now offered a compatible product, a ring. It can give you a 4-hour talk time, and then it can be recharged in half an hour. The idea might be appealing to those who prefer to keep their hands free while on the go. Nevertheless, to actually talk you will have to cup your hand over your ear, which can be really inconvenient. The smart ring is too big and it can’t be used without a smart watch.

Additionally, the ring needs to be comfortable to wear it all day without getting tired of it. And the purpose of the new technologies is to simplify your life, not to complicate it, and when you need three devices instead of one, it can’t be simple. Besides, just a smart watch may be enough to enjoy the same functions. And why would you use your hand, when hands-free has already been invented?


Lately the world of ATMs has been expanding, and now there is a new kind, using which people can sell gold for cash. It’s provided with a biometric protection, a camera and an ID scanner. The developers of the product see their ATMs being placed in every possible kind of a store in the future, but its popularity hasn’t been really high with only 87 Facebook followers.

In addition, they can easily be confused with another Gold Cube product, that helps people to look for gold and it is more popular. The machine is expected to give you the highest price for your gold and silver, but can it be as attentive as a shop assistant? The other concern is whether their computer analysis of metals can be trustworthy enough or not. It may lead to fraud and the attempts to sell cheap jewelry at a higher price. Only future can tell us whether people prefer traditional way to purchase and sell their jewelry, or they are open to new ideas.


App Jasmine

It’s not unusual for people to use Uber these days, and, having its popularity in mind, the creators of App Jasmine came up with the idea to “uberize” everything, literally. It was created for those who desire to launch any on-demand service they can come up with. And by “any service” they mean just that: from doctors to barely legal entertainment. But with such a high variety of services their quality tends to be questionable.

The range of users might also be just too wide, since the target audience isn’t clear enough, and some people wouldn’t want to associate with others, even though this Indian app promises easy payments “without breaking a bank”. The prospect is quite intriguing, but it can be scary as well, considering how many unchecked specialists use this program. For the creators to develop it further, the sctructure should be more transparent. In that case less is definitely more.

Virgin America First Class Shoe

Many people love keeping up with the latest fashions, although some of them can be pretty strange. The Virgin America First Class Shoes are equipped with a WiFi connection and little TV screens, with a mobile charger inside, and the three-hour lasting battery. But the idea of watching TV on your shoes can lead to high blood pressure, at the very least.

They are exclusive, because there’s only one pair, and their price is $5000, which can be too much when you come to think of it. They can hardly be useful in a real life, considering their white color and the price combined, but they were designed to raise some money for charity. However, it wouldn’t work for any other purpose, since the screen is placed uncomfortably, which makes TV useless, and to pay that amount of money for something that can’t be useful sounds like a waste.


OpenBazaar is an addition to a peer to peer (P2P) market, and it was developed to compete with other mediators. The creators want to fight Amazon and eBay for the piece of the action. But its safety is a doubtful term, considering how many illegal things can be seen on there without actually looking too closely, and anonymity leads to a higher level of illegitimate actions.

There is an extra complication: you can use this system only on your computer, and it will have an access to your personal data, leaving you unprotected as well. Users also have to stay online to be able to sell their products, and many people nowadays can’t just stay near computer screens, because mobility is important.  The interface of OpenBazaar is far more sopisticated than the one of its analogues. So, why should people put themselves in a dangerous and uncomfortable situation when they have safe and trusted applications like Amazon to use?

DigitSole SmartShoes

Not only can people pay their bills using mobile devices, they can keep their feet warm. The SmartShoes use Bluetooth and can work as a heating machine or a pedometer, so you can track your calories as well. The shoes can tighten or loosen based on a person’s preferences, which promises a new kind of experience.

DigitSole SmartShoes

But the price ($450) is one of the main disadvantages, considering a person can just buy a pair of shoes with laces, or one-dollar insoles, and a fitness tracker to be just as warm and to be able to watch their workout progress. The idea isn’t new, either, since the prototypes of such shoes were created years ago. It can be fun, but is it fun enough to make a business out of it?


Biorhythms are not a myth, and that is why this product was created, apparently. Melomind is a headset with a brain-scanner, which is expected to give its users a peaceful sleep through a special mobile app. It has a special headset to control the sleeping patterns of a person. It promises to choose a particular kind of music to let the users fall asleep.

Nevertheless, the French company hasn’t posted their scientific data anywhere, which leaves some doubts about the quality of the product. And in that case $400 can be too much for a headset. There are smart gadgets or even smart phone apps, which can track your sleep patterns and put you to bed.  The music preferences can be a difficult thing to satisfy as well. And there is no way for people to be trained to fall asleep if they don’t want to do that.


Every now and then to develop something new you need to take something tried and old and put it together. The new Sup? app promises to help the users control their Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and telephone messages all at once. It sounds like a little bit too much, though and it may be too space consuming, considering many people would rather just use Facebook, or they might want a different combination of the chatting apps, which makes Sup? not as appealing as it may first sound.

The idea is interesting, however, the name is a bit strange and it’s not the first time somebody came up with it, and the other application is better-known, which is why the creators of Sup? should have chosen a less popular name for advertising. And such mixes work better on PCs and laptops, where every family member can find an application based on their preferences. Maybe, they should have come up with an idea to put just messengers or just social networks together for a more convenient use.

Ghost radar classic

The creators of the ghost radar classic app claim, that using their product you can prank your friends, showing them they are surrounded by some kind of unusual or paranormal activity. It looks just like a plane radar that starts showing you big green dots, making beeping noises. Its design could be more up-to-date and it could be based on augmented reality, which, in turn, could leave something for imagination.

The problem is, the majority of people doesn’t believe in ghosts, so the idea to create an app that can save you from ghosts doesn’t sound that great, prank or not. And those who have already had the chance to try the app claimed they didn’t enjoy it much. And if it actually had a scientific base, it would be worth using. So, what’s the point in creating a product that doesn’t do anything, really?

The world of technology is a fast-developing environment. Nevertheless, the creators shouldn’t forget about their target audience along with advertising. Having a positive attitude, however, is always an advantage. It is worth noticing that a vast majority of successful products were created by accident, and if some of the creators keep that in mind they will be able to go big. And, without a doubt, there is always a space for improvement and growth.

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