Why Business Can't Risk Ignoring Crazy Technologies

Revolutionary technology is often introduced doing something so frivolous we overlook its potential.

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By Duane Forrester

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Recently I met the creators of a new wearable technology called DrumPants. Yes, you read that right: pants that are drums and, apparently, a host of other musical instruments. Instead of slapping your thigh and making that oh-so-boring slapping sound, DrumPants turns said slapping into a snare drum.

Related: Get Ready: Wearable Tech Is About to Explode

How? The product uses sensor strips that affix to your normal pants (duh) and fit into your shoes. These communicate to a small control box that fits in your pocket. In that little box is a speaker, a headphone jack and more than 100 different sound choices from piano to guitar to flute and, yes, drums.

So, Burt from Mary Poppins! It looks like your rig is the buggy whip in waiting.

To many people, and especially small business owners who aren't operating in the tech frontier, this might sound like yet another niche, hipster Kickstarter. It could be kind of cool in clever ways, but ultimately there doesn't seem to be much practical application.

Except there is. DrumPants Pro will let you control any mobile app that accepts MIDI or OSC signals. Not so pointless now, eh?

Technologies like DrumPants are worth paying attention to, not for their preliminary, primary use but for their potential. For businesses seeking every sort of competitive differentiation, a seemingly oddball technology could have massive potential application.

What if a doctor could tap his or her foot to begin recording a medical history (assuming full HIPAA compliance)? What if a retailer could push out a coupon based on real-time store traffic? Take it further and put DrumPants-like sensors in a car steering wheel. Could they notify the driver when they're gripping the wheel too hard and perhaps minimize road rage?

Related: 10 Thoughts on Tech, Trends and Innovation at CES 2014

We see a pattern when wearables are introduced. Geeks rave, the general public cries "Silly!"

But in a few years, we will all know what happened. I mean, it happened with the mobile phone! Few people looked at the Zach Morris phone and thought, "Hmmm… I bet I'll be able to do my banking on that device one day!" But some did. And they're probably doing just fine.

The key to understanding the value of newer, quirky technologies is thinking through to the potential applications. So instead of dismissing something like DrumPants as being hipster chic and vaguely useless, take the time to learn about it and dream up ways it might help you better your bottom line.

Related: Customers Are Still Slow to Adopt Innovative New Tech. Why the Lag?

Duane Forrester

Senior Product Manager at Bing

Duane Forrester is a Senior Product Manager at Bing. He has no affiliation with DrumPants, but hopes one day to have rhythm. Say hey on Twitter: @duaneforrester.

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