The world of technology has massively changed over the last decade. We take a look at just how far we’ve come, with our top seven technology advancements list.

1) Smartphones

With our smart phones we can now do almost anything that we can do with our home laptop. A recent stat we read told us that 90% of people have their smart phone within reach 100% of the time! We are most definitely firmly attached.

From the late 1990’s onwards phones have just been getting smarter. In 2003 less than 1% of phones were considered to be ‘smart’, yet now it is becoming the norm. We are seeing more and more new users in developing countries such as Africa as the models become cheaper and cheaper to manufacture and buy. Nearly two-fifths of all mobile phone users, close to one-quarter of the worldwide population, will use a smartphone at least monthly in 2014. Initially, Blackberry changed the way we communicate and was a powerful force in improving global communication. Now with the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy, we have the world at our fingertips from wherever we are. The price of smartphones is becoming so affordable that the world could soon be connected for the first time. At the end of 2013 there were more mobile phones than people on earth!

2) Social networking

It’s hard to believe that Facebook was founded less than 10 years ago. According to Statistics Brain, there are 680,000,000 Facebook users on mobile devices alone and Facebook report over 1.1 billion users in total. Twitter has become increasingly more popular with a whopping 190 million unique visitors each month and 550 million accounts. Social networking sites have completely transformed the way that we communicate with each other. The social media statistics are truly amazing with 72% of ALL internet users on social media, 93% of marketers using social media for business and YouTube searches providing a selection of 14 billion videos.

3) WiFi and the IoT

With about a third of the world’s population online, the advent of the internet gave us access to information we had never had so quickly before. The incredible connectivity we have been given by the internet means that we can do online shopping and banking and stay in touch with instant communication. Since WiFi hotspots have become widely available (there are a predicted 6.3 million worldwide), we have access to online connectivity more or less anywhere that we go.

The Internet of Things (or The Internet of Everything) as it is often called, tells us how close we are to a time where literally everything can be done via the internet and where our ‘things’ will know what to do before we do. For example, appliances could tell you what food you have in the fridge and whether it is out of date and give suggestions about what to cook for tea with the ingredients you have. If you ran out of detergent your washing machine may be able to tell you. It won’t be too long a time that before we wake, our phones are already preparing our day, checking the weather or for traffic jams, ensuring we wake up a little earlier to get through delays. Our cars may have already planned our journey to work for us.

4) Tablets

Typically larger than the mobile phone but still reliant on WiFi, the tablet computer has become a common inhabitant of many homes. This ‘mobile computer’ has everything contained into one touchscreen, like today’s mobiles it includes a camera, microphone and has eliminated the need for a mouse or keyboard. Tablets are fabulous for digital photography and videography. Today it is estimated that over a quarter of Americans own a tablet.

The future of tablet purchases looks even rosier. Patrick Pierra cites a report which predicts that, in 2014, nearly double the amount of money will be spent on tablets ($76 billion) compared to $38 billion on smartphones. At the same time as tablets are getting smaller, smartphones are getting bigger, seemingly converging to a screen size of 7 inches diagonally.

5) E-commerce

E-commerce has changed over the last 10 years. Services conducted over electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks, has led to a massive shift in the way we buy and sell products. For example, the introduction of secure payment systems such as Paypal, to the online auctions of Ebay and the ease of which Amazon has made online shopping. Consumer confidence has greatly increased in recent years. So much so that in the UK an estimated 85% of people who browse the internet report shopping online.

What does the future hold for payment in stores? We already have contactless payment, could we soon have a fingerprint payment? Simply swipe a finger over a device which would connect to our bank account to take payment. Or, retinal scanning – a technique that uses the unique patterns on a person’s retina to identify them. Retinal scanners are typically used for authentication and identification purposes, could they also be used to take payment in stores or even online?

Technology is also enabling new innovations and disruptive businesses to flourish. Zopa has been described as a pioneer of peer-to-peer lending using the internet to cut out the banks, matching those who want to save with customers who wish to borrow money and arguably creates a better deal for both.

6) Wearable technology

A smartwatch originally performed simpler tasks such as calculations, translations, and games. They’ve now turned into mini wearable computers which run mobile apps, are media players and some can be used as a mobile phone to take calls. In fact, wearable technology is set to transform the health and wellness industry.

Google Glass is a recent development made available to the public in May 2014, it consists of an optical head mounted display. Google Glass is a hands-free device and communication with the internet is through voice command. The use of Google Glass has been demonstrated in healthcare and shows how technology can vastly improve patient care. It has been used already to demonstrate surgery as it is happening, educating medical students who can watch the procedures remotely.

7) Augmented Reality

Last but certainly not least in our seven technology advancements is augmented reality. This could be a lot of fun to create or use. Augmented reality is where the real world and some generated sensory input combine together, it could be a sound or visual addition to that which is real. See a great example of an augmented reality at a bus shelter on the Pepsi Max advert.

Looking back on this list, it seems that technology has made some huge leaps forward in a relatively short space of time. With such fast-paced progress, it’s exciting to think what the future might look like in a super-connected world. Watch this space…

Related links:

The future of point collecting

Technology and the next generation

The best WiFi statistics of 2014

How WiFi has changed the world

BYOD in the workplace