It’s hard to tell what’s been scarier this last decade and a bit: the speed at which technology has evolved, or how easily and quickly each new development has become an essential part of our lives.
Behind so many major innovations since the turn of the century has been the Internet, connecting everything and everyone. Then came broadband and wireless applications, and the pace of change snowballed. From services such as DAB radio to fridges that can add items to your next shopping order and innovation that improves our safety – like camera monitoring systems from Brigade Electronics – the changes have been relentless.
The six technologies listed below are so normal now we don’t even think about them – but you’d miss them if they were gone.
This section was originally going to be about MP3 players, but even these are phasing out thanks to the do-everything nature of your average smartphone. So we’ll stick with the digital music tracks themselves. Before them, we rammed dozens of CDs into our bags so we had plenty of listening for a long journey. We exercised with a CD player strapped to us – and prayed our favourite track didn’t skip too much as we bounced around.
With Google Maps on your smartphone, no longer do you have to approach strangers in the street to ask for directions. No longer do you pull over to flick through your A-Z of Britain and try not to panic. Finding B from A these days is a simple case of tapping in an address or nearby landmark and setting off. Still not much help for people who can’t read maps, mind.
It does many things very well. So well, in fact, that it’s caused sales of the devices that specialise in doing one thing very well to dwindle across the board. Digital cameras? Music players? Handheld games consoles? Portable DVD players? No need for any of them with a smartphone. Think of all the airline hand baggage space you’ve saved since ditching all those extra electronics. Now there are apps for everything, from fitness to editing videos, and answers for anything in the palm of your hand. Pub quizzes have been hotbeds of suspicion ever since.
Amazon’s Kindle (codenamed Fiona, as this Bloomberg.com piece reveals) has revolutionised the way we buy and read books. Indeed, Amazon itself was set up originally to sell books, so an electronic reader on which to read digital books was a logical next step for the retailer. Part of its success comes down to the hand baggage issue again – you can store multiple books one of the devices. And no one needs to know what you’re reading: witness the success of 50 Shades of Grey.
Does anyone sit down in front of the TV at a particular time anymore? Thanks to the likes of the BBC iPlayer and Channel 4’s All 4, you don’t need to fret about missing a show. We even gorge on entire box sets in one go now. The only things we tend to gather in front of the screen for are live events, like sports coverage or breaking news.
The idea of a bigger smartphone, minus the phone part, seemed dead in the water until Apple produced its iPad, as this Wired.com article highlights. After all, why would you want a device that could do what a smartphone already did, that was almost the size of a laptop? Funny thing is, no one can now remember ever thinking that, and now the laptop lies in the corner unused.
This post is in association with Benjamin Campbell