We all get nostalgic sometimes, and in today’s world, there’s an increasing market for it. “Retro tech” is hot: Turntables, for example, have made a comeback, and the newest music is made available on vinyl. From toys to tools, there are endless possibilities when it comes to bringing back classic tech—but what old-school gadgets could really be revamped to attract today’s consumers?
We asked 11 experts from Forbes Technology Council to share the tech and gadgets they’d love to see updated and reintroduced to the market. Their choices follow.
1. Water Ring Toss Game
I would love to see a new version of the classic, handheld water game with the ring toss. The twist could be that instead of water it could have liquid graphene. This would enable the gadget to work more like a pinball machine. And of course, it would have lights everywhere. – Vidyuth Srinivasan, Entrupy
2. Nokia Phone
The very first phone by Nokia, produced in the 1990s, should be revamped! Right now it could be a much more powerful and handy device, yet with a physical keyboard, relatively big display, etc. It would be a real microcomputer to replace laptops and tablets. – Boris Kontsevoi, Intetics Inc.
3. Big Trak
Big Trak, a programmable, multipurpose all-terrain toy, was one of my favorite toys as a kid. You could program it to move forward, turn left and right, fire lasers and dump a load (with an optional add-on trailer). Updating this with today’s technology, adding sensors and a more comprehensive programming language, would be a great introduction to basic computer science for kids. – Steve Wilkes, Striim, Inc.
4. Flip Phone
I don’t like the trend toward large, bulky mobile phones. I’d like to see a modernized flip, slider or Blackberry-like phone with a physical keyboard. Mobile phones of today need easy texting, email and calendar access, as well as a good camera, but in a much smaller package than what is currently available on the market. – Richard Tracy, Telos Corporation
5. Mechanical Keyboard
Nothing is more satisfying than the clicking of a typewriter. Unlike the flimsy QWERTY keyboards of today, typewriters provide a tactile sensation that a computer word processor can’t easily replicate. A mechanical keyboard that functions like a typewriter but syncs up with the latest technology will allow a deeper connection to the language and create a perfect blend between the past and present. – Christopher Yang, Corporate Travel Management
I think toys and gadgets are not just toys and gadgets, but also the values they embody and teach. Not only is the Tamagotchi virtual pet the poster child for retro gadgets and toys, but it’s also a symbol of care and responsibility, which today’s products lack. Raising a virtual pet taught many kids responsibility and care, as well as how to cope with the loss of something you care for when it eventually dies. – James Kawas, Saily, Inc.
7. Interactive TV
There have been a few attempts at interactive television, but toys that interact with shows, like Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, haven’t been done in years. Interactive TV has devolved into following certain hashtags on social media instead of fun toys that react to the events of the show. Toys could really come to life—for example, a doll that sings along with the main character or a car that lights up when the one on TV revs its engine. – Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket
8. Palm Pilot
I really miss my old Palm Pilot. I love my smartphone, but the Palm Pilot was all business, unlike today’s smartphones, which are constantly vying for your attention. The Palm Pilot helped me stay focused on business while also allowing me to unplug for long intervals. – Reed Wilson, Palmetto Technology Group (PTG)
9. Evel Knievel Super Jet Cycle
Evel Knievel Super Jet Cycle is a favorite and classic toy. But now, you could be Evel, since the bike could be equipped with a camera, IoT sensors and remote control. With a virtual reality headset, you could be on the motorcycle as you try and jump your dog, trashcan or little brother. It’s all the fun of setting up jumps, watching your motorcycle soar and the inevitable crash without the downside of all the broken bones. – Randal Kenworthy, Cognizant
10. Speak & Spell
I’d say the Speak & Spell, which taught kids to read and write, should be revamped. Too many gadgets these days have flashing lights and music, making this very distracting. I’d update the Speak & Spell to be able to sync to books they are reading, so when kids get stuck on a word it can spell, read the word and even possibly provide the definition. – Greg Cruikshank, LabRoots
11. Polaroid Camera
I think I’m excited to see the return of the Polaroid—not the camera itself, but the printed-out photograph. Really, the Polaroid represented miniaturization of the printer. While it printed small photographs, it did it in the palm of your hand and provided instant gratification. Our camera phones provide quick access to a camera but not a physically visible photograph. Think Polaroids in 3D! – Kyle Pretsch, Lucky Brand Jeans