Tech has made great strides in the last decade and a half, who could have dreamed about some of the ways that tech have made our lives better, easier and even more amazing!

We’ve listed below some of the tech advances that we are most impressed with.

1. Streaming services

Music

music streaming @rawpixel

Around 2003 a BitTorrent site called PirateBay was launched that made it possible to download music for free. However, this and other sites like it kept on being shut down so the service was spotty and unreliable, as well as being incredibly illegal.

Taking its lead from these BitTorrent sites, in 2008 a company called Spotify launched and immediately became a hit. Now anyone can sign up and instantly have access to any of the music that is on there, some premium services provide a download option, however, as soon as you stop subscribing, these downloads are usually no longer available, so ownership is never with the user, thus skirting the licencing issues that plague the BitTorrent sites.

There are now many music streaming services, YouTube, Amazon Music, Apple Music and Google Play to name just a few (although these ones constantly rate the highest in user numbers, most likely due to ease of use and name recognition).

And now if you have a smart speaker, a pretty cool piece of tech, somewhere in your house it’s now even easier to use music streaming sites. Most only need you to call their attention by using their name and then playing your favourite music is only a few sentences away.

TV & Movies

TV Streaming @freestocks Netflicks

As BitTorrent sites became more popular they also began to offer popular tv shows and movies, of varying quality, but they were a free and easy way to see any latest show or film, unfortunately while still being quite illegal. However, as always, a market was discovered and exploited and streaming services are now readily available.

While the market for paid TV, such as Sky and Virgin, are still going strong, people are increasingly turning away from high priced packages offered by these services. Streaming services often provide a wider range of shows but there is an issue where one provider gains the rights to a popular show and then it’s not available on other formats. Sky is even getting in on the game, offering bundle packages on NOW TV. Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have even jumped from simply providing a way to view entertainment, to producing it themselves. Some of the most exciting TV shows and movies are now being produced by companies who weren’t even on the radar a few years ago.

All in all, our favourite music or tv entertainment has never been more accessible and it shows no signs of slowing down.

2. Drones

Drone @ymoran

We’ve had thoughts on Drones before, but who could have really predicted how much we would be using them in everyday life.

It seems that drones are becoming a lot more accessible to the everyman as the prices become more reasonable. With the lower prices now coming in at around £10 it can be the perfect Christmas or birthday gift for a child, and for lot of adults too. There are many higher end drones too, with prices going into the £1,000’s. These can include all sorts of attachments from HD cameras to arm attachments and night vision, etc.

While the military has been using unmanned vehicles for some time, they started using drones as we know them around 2000. It didn’t take long for them to start turning up in everyday public life.

Businesses are now turning to drones too to provide a more streamlined service. Amazon first used a drone to make a delivery in 2016 but as yet is still trialling the system having only just made the first public demonstration of deliveries in America in March of last year.

A word of warning

As a word of warning, anyone who is a serious about flying their high-priced drone should brush up on the new rules and regulations or they may face fines and, in extreme cases, prison time. This could include complying with the new Drone Code and completing an assessment if you intend to fly it for commercial gain.

So, what started out for the general public as a bit of fun for kids has turned into something a lot more wide-spread and it doesn’t look like there’s going to be an end to it anytime soon.

3. 3D Printers

3d Printing @NeONBRAND

3D printers first came about in the 80’s but were so specialised and expensive that it’s not something that came into the public consciousness until around the 00’s.

Interestingly enough it was the medical sector that made the biggest strides in this new technology and using patients own cells were able to 3D print organs which was then implanted with much lower rates of rejection.

Around 2008/2009 3D printers were suddenly becoming available for personal use through kickstarting campaigns they were however still quite expensive.

A look at now

Jump forward to the present and it seems that for just a couple of hundred pounds you could have your very own 3D printer in your house.

Some incredible things are now available to us that we couldn’t have conceived of just a few years ago and not just in brightly coloured plastic. From making everyday household appliances, chocolates, customised engagement rings in real silver or gold, and on a larger scale, big machines are printing out affordable housing. Not to everyone’s taste I’m sure but it could be the key to the housing crisis that many countries are currently faced with.

And with good, affordable tech, the right imagination, and some outside funding have a look here at an inspiring small business that 3D prints forearms for children who have lost them or who were born without them. How incredible that this technology is available to us today to provide a service that would be vastly more expensive from more traditional routes.

Other industries are now regularly using 3D printing too. Many Formula One teams now incorporate this tech, using it to build new and replacement parts all to try and make the fastest and most powerful machines possible.

With such diverse options out there, from creating fashionable shoes to building tools in space. It seems as if the future has arrived and we are only held back by our imagination, and budget of course.

4. Driverless cars

Driverless Cars @nabeelsyed

It has long been known that human error is the cause of most traffic accidents but what exactly can we do about it? More cars than ever are being sold and driven on the roads which means that the risk factor only increases.

It seems that driverless (or self-driving) cars have been a staple of science fiction for many years now and finally reality is catching up and designers have discovered that by removing the human element, cars should in fact become safer.

Back in 2011 Top Gear showed us a BMW car that could drive itself, after having been taken around the lap first of all in order to get the lay of the land. It’s quite amusing to see Jeremy Clarkson’s reactions as he is, in effect, being made redundant by the new technology.

But how do they work? Here is a pretty interesting TED talk by Google’s Chris Urmson which explains how a driverless car works.

This technology is still pretty new and how will it cope in a world where people really do like to have control of the situation, as shown by Jeremy’s reactions when in the BMW.

Could it go wrong?

It’s also not completely fool-proof tech, as this article sadly shows. Regardless of how good the coding is, it is still input by humans and, as demonstrated time and time again, humans are fallible. It’s also interesting to note that these cars are computerised and in recent years with many organisations being hacked for information, it’s concerning to think that all someone needs to do is hack into the system and they would have control of your vehicle.

It is an exciting tech development though and one we could not have imagined being in the day-to-day a decade and a half ago. Who knows where this technology will take us in the future?

So while I agree that this is all very impressive I am still waiting for a flying car. Where is that future I’ve been promised!?

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