Do you remember a time before texting (AKA the ’90s) or before smartphones were everywhere (AKA the early aughts)? It can be hard to remember how people lived their day-to-day lives without these things, but there are even more gadgets that have positively disrupted everyday life. Here are a few of those devices arranged from the earliest to the most recent:
Do you remember payphones? They’ve mostly disappeared from our streets. But instead of getting rid of payphones entirely, cities like New York are remaking them into Wi-Fi connection points, called Links.
Tablets and Smartphones
You are no longer confined to a specific location for work thanks to mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones. The portability of these devices means you can work from anywhere at anytime. Before the millennium, you might have been chained to a desk, waiting for a call. No more. Tablets like Microsoft’s Surface are fast becoming indispensable for employers who want to get the best from their employees.
These devices have also changed our relationship with leisure activities. When you’re flying, you don’t need to rely on the airline’s in-flight movie choice. When you’re waiting in line, you can play a game or check your email. Furthermore, e-books, TV shows and other forms of entertainment are at our fingertips.
The ability to stream video on demand has heralded the demise of once-prosperous video stores. Online music services also have altered the music scene by enhancing discoverability for new artists while undermining the profit model of the big labels.
Cable companies are scrambling as more people cut the cord, and it’s possible that the era of cable packages is over. Instead, services like Hulu and Netflix have shaped a new binge-watching era for TV. Now that HBO has joined the on-demand wave, expect the pace of transition to accelerate. And if live streaming of sports becomes available, television will be greatly altered.
Wearables for Wellness
Fitness trackers, like Fitbit, can help you monitor your health, count your steps and prompt you to exercise. You don’t need to manually count calories because there’s an app for that.
Furthermore, the future of healthcare likely includes wearables that assist healthcare providers and their patients by delivering medications on schedule, monitoring a wide variety of vitals and sending alerts if care is needed.
Smartwatches combine several of the above innovations into one wearable item. You can make calls, read emails and track your exercise routines and vitals all on one device. Some, like the Samsung Gear S, can mostly replace your phone while others, like the Apple Watch, must work in conjunction with your phone.
Looking further down the road, phones may be entirely replaced by smartwatches when it comes to actual phone calls while the descendants of today’s phones may be primarily used for creating and engaging with media as these devices merge with tablets.
Electric cars, like the Tesla, are gaining popularity because of breakthroughs in battery technology, and it’s now possible to believe in a gas-stationless future.
Now that car makers like Mercedes-Benz and General Motors are starting to make electric cars, it seems like a good possibility that we will start seeing positive changes resulting from moving away from fossil fuels, such as cleaner air and quieter cities.
Although drones are currently most associated with the military, they have a lot of potential for commercial applications, ranging from package delivery to agriculture to filmmaking.