10/23/2012 04:25 pm ET Updated Dec 23, 2012

What Is White Elephant Technology?

What is white elephant technology? The answer is simple. Any unusual invention (past or present) that fails to find a wider market acceptance despite its innovative nature qualifies as white elephant technology. Examples include: aquatic jet packs, wave-powered boats, flying aircraft carriers, an asteroid deflection program, pedal-powered submarines, aerial rowboats, and personal submersibles to name just a few. Importantly, all the technologies we will write about here have been built and field tested -- none are speculative.

The SILOE Research Institute specializes in reporting on these under appreciated technologies because we believe heroic investment in white elephant technology is the purest expression of the human condition. And though nobody has yet built a time machine out of a DeLorean, we promise if they do, you'll be the first to know it.

As a result, our twice weekly column will report on inventions most people have never heard of. And how do we feel about their inventors? We love them. We celebrate their passion, their talent, and their incredible gift for out of the box thinking. Though their inventions may not have succeeded commercially (or at least not yet), they are a testament to their creativity and the incredible determination of the human spirit. They are our dreamers and we salute them.

Finally, we encourage readers to send us their own examples of white elephant technology. Though we can't promise every technology submitted will appear in this column, we promise to investigate all the ones you send us. Because once you start looking, you'll be surprised by just how many white elephants are out there.