Great tech invented in the past decade
- April 8, 2022
- Business & Tech
The 2010s saw the rise of everyday technology. Social media, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence radically changed our day-to-day lives. iPads, smartwatches, fitness trackers, true wireless earphones, electric cars—the list of innovations from this decade is a long one. Sci-fi tropes like universal translators and virtual reality games became very real. And virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa changed how we interact with technology in our homes.
As we stepped into a new decade, We thought it’d be instructive to reflect on noteworthy technological advances of the 2010s. It has been a decade of spectacular products and innovations, so narrowing down the list is tough. From iPads and smart speakers that are now in every home to advances in space tech that will land humans on Mars within our lifetimes, here are our personal picks for the top technology of the 2010s.
In 2014, Amazon launched Alexa, bringing the Internet of Things (IoT) into our homes. Alexa is a voice-activated virtual assistant that can do pre-programmed operations such as setting timers, sharing current weather, creating lists, and accessing Wikipedia articles. Alexa can now order pizza, change the room’s lighting, jot down a shopping list and instantly make an order, and more thanks to thousands of Alexa Skills. Virtual assistants with vocal capabilities, such as Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and Cortana, are now found in millions of homes around the world.
It’s hard to think Apple iPads have just been around since 2010 given their widespread use, especially among children at restaurants. This tablet computer is a cross between a smartphone and a laptop computer, with a larger touchscreen interface for controlling the device. It’s a tech invention that without a doubt revolutionized our lives during this decade. With a hybrid of a portable gadget that could be used for personal downtime and a hard-working machine that virtually replaced the corporate workhorse laptop computer, the iPad fundamentally transformed our lives. Look around today and you’ll see children, employees, acquaintances, family, and/or a stranger sitting next to you on a plane who relies on their iPad to get through the day.
Facial recognition technology
Facial recognition technology, which was invented by Woody Bledsoe, Helen Chan Wolf, and Charles Bisson in the early 1960s, has risen in popularity over the last decade. Amazon’s Rekognition software, which debuted in 2016, is one of the most well-known examples of facial recognition software. On the one side, Facial recognition, popularized by Apple’s iPhone X as a way of user verification, adds another layer of biometric security. On the other hand, it generates a situation of widespread observation that is ripe for exploitation.
3D printing, which was invented in 1974 by physical chemist and writer David E. H. Jones has become one of the most prominent innovations of the last decade. While many of the possibilities of 3D printing are intriguing, bioprinting has seen some of the most significant advancements. The first time this happened was in 2012, when otolaryngologist Glenn Green led a team that successfully bioengineered one of the first synthetic tracheas to help a struggling newborn breathe. In 2017, the Russian business 3D Bioprinting Solutions successfully produced and implanted a thyroid into a rat, marking yet another important step ahead.
Netflix was founded in 1997 by Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings as a DVD sales and rental service, but it only gained a household name in 2010 when it switched to in-home video streaming. Despite having a very small streaming library at first, the service grew to add titles over time, eventually branching out into original content creation. Furthermore, Netflix popularized the term “binge-watching” by releasing a full season of one of its original shows in one day. Netflix helped in raising the quality of television series by increasing costs and attracting cinematic talent to the previously underserved medium.
Self driving cars
The concept of a self-driving car isn’t a new one. Ernst Dickmanns, a German engineer, was the first to develop an autonomous van in 1986. However, until recently, these vehicles were more fantasy than reality. By 2013, a number of major automakers, including General Motors, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, and BMW, had begun developing their own self-driving cars. The new technology also raises a slew of ethical questions, such as how a car would decide how to behave in a number of situations involving many people, such as whether to protect the car’s passengers, other drivers, or pedestrians in the event of an accident. Though we aren’t yet at the stage of having a fully autonomous vehicle, significant progress has been made in the creation of certain features that aid the driver.
Uber was officially launched in 2009 as UberCab by Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick, but the service has only grown in popularity over the last decade. What began as a smartphone app for customers in San Francisco who wanted to order a car ride has grown into a multibillion-dollar global business that has spawned competitors such as Lyft and Ola. Though the concept is similar to taxis, which have existed for longer than automobiles, there are a few key differences. First, no more trying to tell the driver where you’re going verbally: with the app, you simply enter your destination and GPS will take care of the rest. Additionally, Ubers have sprung up in many suburban and rural regions where taxis were previously unavailable, providing users with more options.
Instagram, which was launched in late 2010, has grown to become one of the most popular social networking networks, with over 1 billion users. This photo-sharing app has transformed marketing, advertising, public relations, brand building, and journalism. It spawned meme culture and the development of social media influencers. With IGTV and reels, an app that was originally solely for photos with different filters now contains video, ephemeral content, and long/short – form video, allowing it to compete with, and replace, other platforms like Vine, TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube. We now all look for Instagrammable moments on vacation, when we go out to eat, get engaged, get married, or to showcase the highlights of our life.
If you’ve ever had the hassle of having to divide a bill after a group meal, you’ve probably appreciated Venmo’s invention. Venmo is a mobile payment service owned by PayPal that allows people to send and request money from each other via an app. Venmo has made it easier to exchange money—now it’s used for anything from sharing dinner bills to paying rent—also it’s created an interesting social culture around payments, thanks to an activity feed that shows payment activity (but not payment amounts) between people you know.
Fried food is wonderful, but it is not particularly nutritious. That’s why the invention of the air fryer was such a game-changer in the food world. When Philips introduced “Rapid Air Technology” in 2010, the first air fryer as we know it hit the market. The device’s goal is to create the same crispiness as oil-fried food by using extremely fast-moving air instead. When Oprah named the air fryer one of her “Favorite Things” in 2016, it began to appear on kitchen countertops around the country. Though food fried in an air fryer does not have the same flavor as food from a street fair, it is a good alternative for individuals who want to eat healthy.
It was an incredible decade. A decade of invention and immeasurable innovation. We learned how to resurrect the dead (via hologram), print vital organs, and order fresh bread from a vending machine. Some delighted us, some inspired, and some unnerved us.
Many of these inventions still face significant challenges, but the next decade will be critical in smoothing out the kinks, and ushering in a new era of connectivity, innovation and, most likely, laziness.
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