Arguably the last 15 years have been the most technologically impressive of all time. In fact, if you were to add up the advancements of the last 15 years, it is possible to say that all prior years combined did not produce the level of technology, or the ease to consumers in the last decade and a half.
It will be exciting to see what the technology in the beginning of the 21st century evolves into. But for now, here are ten huge inventions that change the world as we see it today.
When the internet was first established as a consumer-friendly way to interact with people across the world with programs such as the 1990’s Prodigy, the world accepted the idea, but was still struggling with the implementation. Then came America Online, which essentially introduced most of America to the Internet. In the 2000’s Facebook has changed the way the people of the world interact with each other, as well as has been the influence for dozens of other social media start-ups. Facebook is the new way people interact. Defining who you are is now a matter of selfies, funny posts, and daily reminders to everyone that you exist. People manage their parties, businesses, outings, and instead of a letters they send bulk Facebook posts announcing everything from a new job to a new baby.
Facebook is the way to become reacquainted with old friends or find out if that girl you had a crush on in high school actually liked you or not. You can also see if the prom king ended up with a beer belly, or if that nerdy kid you sat behind in class is now a millionaire with a bombshell of a wife.
Social media is where people connect to the world, and is partially responsible for the change in media and the entire outlook on our tech-based future.
You can thank Apple and Steve Jobs for several of the technologies that would eventually lead to changing our world as we knew it 20 years ago. One of the biggest changes to affect us was the iPad. The iPad became the most portable and user-friendly computer the world had ever seen until the iPhone, which we will talk about shortly.
The iPad essentially links everything in the world together and with the use of millions of apps, consumers can do everything from daily pregnancy planning to running a business. But, of course, the real pleasure is the obsessively intimate nature most people have with their devices and their games…think Angry Birds and Words with Friends.
The iPad is that computer you always wished you had when you were a kid, but thought was pure science fiction. Since the iPad, hundreds of new tablet-type devices have popped up on the market, including hybrid computer/tablets.
Who knew that the dial-up phone of the early 90’s would evolve into arguably the most usable and used portable device in the world. Essentially condensing the capabilities of an iPad and adding the ability to talk on a phone and text, it would be hard to get through a day without seeing an iPhone being used. In fact, used is an understatement, as now phones are seemingly glued to our hands as an obsessive device that has become so saturated into our society that laws are now being proposed and passed on when you can and cannot use them. Take for example, driving down the road, at stop lights, in court houses, and in some museums and businesses.
The iPhone’s many apps and capabilities have become so common, that one of the least advanced and used technologies on the phone is the traditional telephone capability of talking, which has advanced to video chat. Again, another future-esque feature—we always wondered if it would be possible until we realized we’d been using it on our phones for years.
While Uber’s idea isn’t new, they were really the first company to have a successful approach to what work-trending would eventually know as a gig-economy. Uber has introduced a revolution in terms of people becoming their own bosses, by giving workers the ability to seamlessly start a company and work as an independent contractor. No longer do you need to worry about requesting vacation or working a schedule non-conducive to your family life.
This trend in gig-economy has taken off in a way which experts believe will eventually occupy 40% of jobs in the next 5 years. While Uber focuses on the neighborly “cabbie” type experience, other start-up companies such as Delivery-Fleet in Houston, Texas, focus on same-day and on-demand delivery services that enable businesses to provide consumers with the instant gratification they seek.
Much like Apple is to technology, Uber is to trend-setting the work-life balance companies have been preaching the last half decade. Although, now, it seems the reality has come to fruition.
When J.K. Rowling first published the Harry Potter series in the 1990’s, an entire generation of readers that had once been declining was now hooked on reading. What J.K. Rowling did for bringing the next generation to reading in many ways led to the popularity of e-readers.
The two top-dogs in the book industry, Barnes and Noble and Amazon were the biggest influence with their respective Nook and Kindle e-readers. Since the inception of e-readers, the Kindle and its various models has seemingly taken over the market. The question many people ask, is how long until physical books are a thing of the past and more a collector’s item, than something you read.
While we aren’t to this point yet, there is no doubting that the influence of e-readers, with the capability to store thousands of books in one easy-to-carry device, is changing the publishing industry with respect to newspapers, magazines, and books.
Skype was that first real mainstream technology where people could sit back and smile because the science-fiction fantasy of video-chat was now possible. In addition to video-chat, Skype has transformed how people talk to each other, and often how they conduct business whether across town, or around the world.
What Skype also offers is for international phone and video conversations that can be conducted without paying for phone and data services, which seem to be growing more expensive every six months as their advancements increase. A free service on Skype will give you the ability to use the most basic services, which are plenty for the vast majority of the world.
The only restriction is contacting people who do not use Skype, which can be overcome by signing up for a paid Skype service which will enable you to do this. Using the Skype app with your smart phone will enable you to talk to anyone in the world for the price of your phone plan.
Believe it or not, there was a time when you could not pull information from one computer and transfer that information to another. But, then came 5.5″ floppy disks, then smaller discs, CD-ROMs, and finally USB flash drives. Flash drives come in many different shapes, forms, and have a broad variety of capacities.
While flash drives still serve a purpose for the everyday consumer, Cloud services are now taking over as the next greatest technology to come to portable information.
The Cloud is a vast security-protected storage database that enables users to access software, files, and information as long as they have an internet connection. By saying goodbye to flash drives, CD software, and other portable storage formats, people can now ensure that all of their information will be located securely and in one place.
Most businesses now have capabilities to utilize this storage at an affordable rate. So if you travel from New York to Tokyo, you can be assured that you will have access to your files and programs whether you are on a plane, in a hotel, or even in a cab or restaurant.
GPS isn’t exactly a “new” 21st century technology. However, prior to the year 2000, GPS was primarily a military technology, or reserved for industries such as air traffic control. However, now consumers may find it difficult to get through life without the use of GPS.
Can you remember a time when you didn’t have a female voice telling you to turn left in 800 feet, or providing you the exact mileage and estimated arrival time to your destination?
GPS can locate you within several feet, as well as help you locate friends and family whenever you need to find them. GPS can provide you with the closest gas stations and restaurants, as well as be used as a marketing tool—as GPS technology can monitor where you shop and the times of the day you are shopping—to provide your devices with coupons and discounts, or advertising at specific times of the day.
Love it, or hate it, GPS has changed our lives forever.