18 Technologies that have changed our lives

From Internet to Smart Phones, these 18 technologies have changed our lives

18 Technologies that have changed our lives
18 Technologies that have changed our lives
Tushar Kanwar - 24 August 2016

1. Cellular Technology

Remember the humble PCO? Or how, when you set out for some place, you’d only be reachable once you reached your destination? All that changed with cellphones, allowing us to place calls and send messages no matter where we were, to a point where the number of cellphones connections will soon surpass our not-insignificant population! Special tip of the hat to the Nokia 3310, the first cellphone for more folks than I can recount!

2. Internet

We’ve come a long way from the glacially slow dial-up connections to reliable fast home/office broadband, and if there’s one thing that has touched our lives as much as cellular tech, this is it. Look around on these pages at just how many other technologies the Internet enables– enough said.

3. SMART phones

Think about it—what is the first piece of technology you reach out to in the morning, and then scores of time throughout the day? Yet, as little as 9 years ago when the iPhone was introduced, the concept of a big touchable screen that enabled a multitude of capabilities—a camera, an Internet device, a gaming device and for those rare times, a phone–was alien to the industry and most consumers. So much has changed in such a short span, hasn't it?

4. GPS Maps

There may have been a charm, for some at least, of folding out the Eicher city map each time you had to head to someplace new. For most though, the consumerisation of GPS-based maps, of which Google Maps is a shining example, has not only made getting from Point A to points unknown easier and safer, it’s also taken the guesswork out of the picture when you want to know which route’s got that must-avoid traffic jam!

5. USB Flash Drives

Save the floppy disk from magnets and dust, save the CD and DVD from scratches—it seems there was a time when all we were doing was protecting our ata on a day-to-day basis. Along came the USB flash drive, and suddenly, transferring and carrying your data was as simple as plugging it in and throwing it into the closest pocket, and weeks ormonths later, the data would still be there, ready to use. Redefined peace of mind.

6. Media Streaming

Remember the time when all you could watch on the TV was state-sponsored television? 11 years ago, a video called “Me at the Zoo” was uploaded on a little-known service called YouTube. Cut to today, and it serves up not only some of the most innovative content but also preserves the past of television, with all those 1980s ads or episodes of our childhood cartoons. Coupled with Netflix’s on-demand premium content model, media streaming has changed how the connected world consumes content.

7. Digital Photography

Way back when this magazine started, you’d probably consider shooting a single 36 exposure roll of film a fairly generous photographic record at a party…yet today, with a digital camera, you’d think nothing of taking a hundred. Or two. The idea of photography being free and unencumbered changed the landscape. And with the miniaturisation of digital camera sensors into competent smartphone shooters, the camera changed from something you had to remember to carry to something you always had in your pocket.

8. Wi-Fi

In the late 90s or the early 2000s, if you were one of the lucky ones with Internet access, it would likely have been on one PC in the home. Today, Internet connections blanketing our homes is second nature to most people, and that’s all thanks to the interoperability success story that is Wi-Fi. With city-wide municipal wireless networks around the corner, Wi-Fi’s about to take the big step.

9. Peer to Peer Networking

It’s such a quaint little concept, being told what you can and cannot watch as a grown adult in India. Peer-to-Peer (P2P technology) changed all that, allowing services like Napster and those based on the BitTorrent standard to further the concept of universal democratised access of content. Sure, like any internet service, it is prone to misuse, but the fact that it allows access to content that big movie and music producers deem unfit to launch in India is an immensely liberating pro-consumer option. Little wonder that today P2P traffic accounts for anywhere between 27-55 per cent of all Internet traffic (depending on location) and BitTorrent continues to influence media distribution and Internet legislation.

10. E-commerce

The World Wide Web was initially conceived as a system to share information, but who would have thought that someday people would be spending hundreds of billions of dollars on online retail? E-commerce has changed consumer behavior forever, and changed several industries— travel and hospitality, consumer electronics, fashion—forever.

11. Apps

Key to the smartphone’s success was the idea that the phone manufacturer couldn't dictate the breadth of software capabilities the device could have, and today, apps allow you to be the consummate Instagram-celebrity, the Twitterguru, the Pokemon-catcher and the Excel-ninja, all from the same device.


Sure, people still meet at social venues like clubs and parties, but can you imagine a world today without Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and, to give credit where it’s due, Orkut? Social networks have brought the world closer and connected people in times of strife and love. It’s also where many of us get our breaking news—we may not have a choice in terms of what content newspapers and other publications provide, but we do get to choose the people or groups we follow online.

13. Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP)

Keeping in touch with friends and family across the world used to be a prohibitively expensive affair. Today, for the cost of a coffee, you can sign up for services that allow international dialing to any number over the internet, and that’s not even considering the host of services that allow free voice and video conversations.

14. E-books

There used to be a time when you couldn't get a self-respecting bookworm to part with his paperback, but today, even the most hardened of the lot have switched over to e-book readers thanks to the sheer convenience of carrying your entire library with you everywhere you go…and Amazon has led the charge in this space, consistently delivering the best e-book reading experience over the years through its Kindle devices.

15. Use Generated Content

Many of us are children of an era when the only source of information were media channels and publications, but the past two decades have seen an explosion of content that’s driven by selfpublishing platforms, whether it's a blogging platform like Wordpress or Medium, or a video hosting community like Youtube. Today, as long as you have something to say, there’s a place and medium for you to say it.

16. Internet Banking

I can’t recall the last time I had to go into a bank for a banking transaction, but it wasn't too long ago that we regularly had to deal with pay-in slips and complex money transfers. Today, most readers are more than familiar with Internet banking, and the process of securely transferring money, even for micro transactions like splitting a lunch bill, has never been easier. We’re on the brink of a mobile wallet revolution too, and soon, your smartphone could be all the wallet you need to shop at the mall.

17. Personal Computing

There was a time when a PC meant having a bulky beige box taking up all the space on your desk. Today, depending on your need and budget, you can carry a fullyfunctional Windows PC in your pocket or a slim manila case that’s as capable as the desktop or laptop in your home or office. Productivity is no longer limited to the indoors.

18. The On-Demand Economy

Want a cab now? How about a place to stay for the night in a bookedout city? If Uber and Airbnb come to mind, it’s because of the disruptive impact players in the new ‘access economy’ have had on their industries, with technology enabling the direct connection between suppliers willing to rent assets (e.g., apartments for rent or cars for transportation services) with consumers.



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