Arthur C Clark was a noted Science Fiction writer who wrote three “laws” regarding science and magic: 1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. 2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible, and 3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Truly, any of our current tech would seem like magic to our ancestors, and it’s only developing more rapidly. Here are 25 Life-Changing Technological Advances The last decade Has Seen.
Live & Online Streaming
In 2007, Netflix introduced online streaming to personal computers as one of it’s add-on services. The next year saw the addition of streaming to Xbox 360’s, blue ray disc players, and TV set-top boxes. A decade ago, there was no “binge watching” or “Netflix and chill.”
Google’s Self Driving Car project was started in 2008. Currently, Google’s self driving cars have clocked over 2 million miles and are being tested on the streets of major cities across the US. If you have a small child, they will probably view self driving cars as a normal part of life, the same way we view the internet now.
Alternative to iPhone
Android Software was also developed by Google, and the first release was in 2010, giving us an alternative to the iPhone. Market share-wise, since 2010, there have been many times where Android phones were more popular than the iPhone.
Kickstarter went live on April 28th, 2009 and has completely changed the way that small projects and businesses get off the ground by appealing directly to their intended customer base for initial startup funds. Other similar sites – Indiegogo, Gofundme, and Pateron – have popped up and also allowed crowd-sourced funding for everything from medical treatment to vacations.
The Tesla Roadster was released in 2008 and is a unique advancement in electric cars because it can go up to 300 miles on a single charge. Tesla continues to push the boundaries of electric cars with the Model 3, which starts at only $35k, making the dream of owning a well made, completely electric car far more realistic for many middle class Americans. Unlike cars such as the Toyota Prius, Tesla Motors makes cars that are completely electric, and well, are just much nicer cars.
The iPad was released in 2010, and now pretty much everyone makes a tablet PC. We know these are used for many things, but let’s be honest – mostly they’re Netflix, Pinterest, and gaming app devices. Tablets are the bridge between smartphones and laptops.
The first Kindle was released by Amazon in November of 2007. It cost $399 and sold out in less than six hours. It took until late April 2008 for there to be more in stock. Not only have e-readers changed how we receive books, they’ve changed the publishing industry. No longer do independent authors have to receive dozens if not hundreds of rejection letters before getting their books to an audience who’s more than happy to pay for them.
Mars Rover (Curiosity)
Curiosity, the mars rover, launched in November of 2011. So far, he’s hanging out, looking for signs of habitability (if mars could support life), and singing himself happy birthday every year. OH! And in 2014, he found water under the surface of mars. That’s a huge deal.
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Augmented Reality Devices
In 2014, Google debuted Google Glass – wearable augmented reality. We know augmented reality as tech or images that combines with, well, reality, and augments it. A great example of this is Pokemon Go. While versions of VR (virtual reality) and Augmented reality have been around since the 80’s, things like Oculus Rift are making them more available to the mass market.
Normally when a rocket is sent into space, it’s done. It’s a one time use. (The part that houses people, etc, is the shuttle.) But in November and December of 2015, two separate, PRIVATE companies – Blue Origin and SpaceX – successfully landed rockets that could be reused. This overcame one of the most major hurdles in the cost of space travel.
Wait until you see number 4! It will blow your mind!
Solar Singles are small solar panels designed to look like regular roofing shingles, except they produce electricity by absorbing sunlight. While the first types were available in 2005, and then in 2011, several of those companies no longer make Solar Shingles. Tesla unveiled their Solar Roof project in 2015 and officially entered the market in 2016. Their shingles look more like a traditional roof, to the point that you wouldn’t know it was solar unless someone told you. We’re getting close to the end of big solar panels of the roof. Neat, huh?
2013 & 2014 were big years for robotics as great leaps were made in the area of robot agility. Most people don’t realize what a feat of physics and balance simply walking is as that’s something we master as humans around a year old. But breaking it down to teach machinery how to do it – the minute corrections that must be made for balance that humans do without thought – are a little bit harder to code into machines. Well, robots that can hop, walk across uneven terrain or even run now exist. So that’s going to be great for us humans during the uprising. They can chase us now!
Tesla Power Wall
In 2015, Tesla announced the Powerwall, a battery for your home. The current generation, Powerwall 2, can power an entire 2 bedroom house for a day on a single charge. This is also amazing for people who have solar panels and want to store power. While these things are a bit too costly for most families now, what we know about tech is that it comes down in price, so in a decade or two, everyone might have a Powerwall. This takes us further and further from HAVING to be connected to a traditional power grid. Unfortunately, electric companies are recognizing this and trying to pass legislature to require homes to remain connected to a traditional power grid and in some cases be charged a monthly fee, but they’re all written in doublespeak to sound pro-solar. We’ll get there. Eventually. If the government stays out of the way.
Gene Editing (CRISPR)
Gene Editing – cutting out pieces of DNA we don’t like, or inserting, or reordering – is not just for science fiction movies anymore. CRISPR (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) is the name of the technique, and it was successfully tested on twin monkeys in China in late 2013. Right now, all the approved human trials are focused on cancer cures, but human trials are just beginning, so who knows where we’ll be in another decade.
The first Keurig for home use was launched in 2012 (okay, technically not the last decade, but still), and now one out of ever four in home coffee makers sold is a Keurig. Magic happy coffee – not espresso, American style coffee – at the push of a button. Magic. By the by, “Keurig” means excellence in Dutch (at least, that’s the story the inventors have told everyone).
Large Hadron Collider (LHC)
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, the largest single machine in the world, and the largest and most complex experimental facility we (humans) have ever built. In the most laymen of terms, it allows Physicists to run experiments and study some of the most fundamental yet elusive theories in physics, like the basic laws that govern the universe, the structure of space and time, quantum mechanics, you know, the big stuff. It’s first test run was in 2013.
Hoverboards, sadly, weren’t the hoverboards from Back To The Future when they came around. They’re more like a cross between a skateboard and Segway. They first debuted in 2013 when a Kickstarter was started for “Hovertrax.”
It used to be, that in order for a pregnant mother to find out if the child she was carrying had Downs Syndrome or any other number of possibilities, she and the baby had to undergo a procedure called an Amniocentesis, wherein a needle was inserted through the abdominal wall, into the uterus, to take a sample of the amniotic fluid. Aside from being a horrifyingly large needle jabbed into your abdomen, this test carried a risk, albeit a tiny one, of serious complications for mom and baby. Now, we have blood test, from mom only, that can rule out an whole host of complications and unexpected issues (and tell you the gender!), simply by drawing moms blood around the ten week mark. Amazing, huh? There are a handful of companies that do these genetic tests now, and they’re standard in the US for any women who will be giving birth after age 35. The first one, and arguably most well know, MaterniT® 21 , was available in 2012.
EMV "Chip Cards"
EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) is the proper name for “chip cards,” and the reason that microchips have been added to most cards is because it prevents the card information from being stolen or reproduced. All the information in a traditional magnetic strip on a card can be stolen and easily duplicated; however the microchip in an EMV card creates a unique transaction code at the point of sale which cannot be duplicated, protecting information from being mined later and compromised. If a hacker were to steal information from a chip card and try to use that card’s information for a purchase, it would be denied.
Social Media Advancements
2006 was a big year for Social Media. While MySpace was going in full swing, it was the year that Facebook allowed anyone over the age of 13 -not just college students with an .edu email address – to sign up as users. Twitter was also launched in July of that year, and youtube just a year prior. These two platforms have fundamentally changed the way people communicate, receive their news, and make their opinions known.
Smartwatches can basically do most things a smart phone can, albeit on a little bitty tiny screen you wear on your wrist. These, much like fitbits, are really seeing the tide turn to wearable technology, which is pretty awesome. Just think of high end jewelry mixed with high end tech. Watches today, necklaces tomorrow?
Looking for more tech? Check out 25 of the Most Technologically Advanced Cities in the World.
3D Printed Replacement Organs
3D printed replacement organs are a real, actual, “this is not a sci fi movie” thing that’s happening. Researchers have already been able to transplant 3D printed thyroid glands into mice, and some things, like a replacement trachea, in humans. Cosmetic companies are currently working on 3D printing skin which would not only be weird and amazing for makeup application, it would completely change how we’re able to treat burn victims. Additionally, a 3D printed organ can be custom fitted to a patient’s own body and made using their own stem cells, so there’s no chance of rejection.
Drone Delivery Service
As of summer 2016, Amazon.com, the online retailer where you can buy, you know, everything, is experimenting with drone delivery. Amazon currently offers Prime NOW which is a 2 hour delivery if you live in a major city near a distribution center. It’ll take awhile for the drones to get in the air, mostly because of battery life and air regulations, but the tech exists, and Amazon is very serious about rolling it out; it’s just a question of when.
Second Sight is a company based in California that got approval in 2013 to start marketing it’s Bionic Eye. The artificial eye uses a camera set into the users glasses that transmits (wirelessly) messages into a retinal implant. It doesn’t fully restore normal vision, but some level of vision and in some cases color is restored.
The iPhone was first released in 2007. The very first smart phone. Now we do basically everything from these tiny computers that live in our pockets – banking, ordering food, taking pictures and sharing them via social media, and, oh yeah, you can even call people on them.
Photos: 24. Google self-driving car (fair use), 23. Bersam via wikimedia commons via android.com, 21. Kasuhisa OTSUBO via Flickr, 20. Netspy via wikimedia commons, 19. Jon ‘ShakataGaNai’ Davis via wikimedia commons, 17. Skydeas via wikimedia commons, 14. kansascity.com via wikimedia commons, 13. Pasco Olivier via Flickr, 11. m01229 via Flickr, 10. Maximilien Brice (CERN) via wikimedia via CERN document server , 9. Soar Boards via Flickr, 7. RRZEicons via wikimedia commons, 6. Twitter logo via wikimedia commons (Fair Use) , 4. Subhashish Panigrahi via wikimedia commons, 1. Yutaka Tsutano via Flickr