A quantitative improvement in the performance of a technology in the applied physical sciences, whether it be a solar cell with higher conversion efficiency or a detector with greater sensitivity, is an important stamp on progress which can strengthen an application. However, it is often unclear how performance improvements alone can enable real-life applications; an improvement in a particular performance metric doesn’t necessarily bring realization of that technology any closer. Conversely, new ideas that could open the door to new functionality aren’t necessarily accompanied by immediately impressive metrics. How can laboratory findings be effectively translated into technological advances that become useful in everyday life? While we support the publication of performance improvements, we also wish to encourage authors to look beyond performance metrics alone when reporting their technological improvements and think about the pathway to a practical technology.