#WhatTheTech: Christmas Special

Written by:
Leah Johnston
Date Posted:
20 December 2019

This week is the #WhatTheTech Christmas special! There’s a slightly different format this time as we look back on a decade of tech and innovation. 

Decade in review
With the 2010s drawing to a close, we are taking a look back over the last 10 years of technological advancements, how they are shaping our future and playing a part in our everyday lives. 

Tech in our homes
From smart TV’s to smartphones and tablets, this decade has been about becoming an interconnected, always-on world. Since 2010, our TV’s have become thinner, smarter, and visually clearer thanks to 4K. 

We can even wear smartwatches to monitor how many steps we take a day, visualise health data, and sync with our phones to alert us when we have a text message. This decade, the smartphone has become an essential part of our everyday lives. Just imagine leaving your phone at home all day – could you cope?

Entertainment in our living rooms has excelled with the release of augmented and virtual reality. Whilst the idea predated the decade, the 2010s brought the term to fruition with real products – replacing the world as we know it with a completely virtual counterpart. For instance, wearing a VR headset, we can transform our living room into a magical kingdom or a planet in the Star Wars universe instantaneously.

Apps and streaming
This decade has seen the birth of 5G wireless networking, opening up more opportunities for faster connections and better streaming capabilities – enabling us to download a full film in just seconds. 

The idea of streaming cinema-grade content has fast become the norm in the 2010s – watching live TV via cable channels seems a distant memory. With the explosion of streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+, binge-watching our favourite series in the comfort of our own homes whenever we desire is standard procedure.

Our own behavioural and biological characteristics have taken centre stage in the past decade when it comes to identification. Biometrics range from fingerprint sensors, retina scanning, facial or voice recognition – for example using face ID to unlock your iPhone, or more controversially, governments body’s using cameras in public areas to track people of interest around the city. 

This development is not without ethical debate with regards to its use or how it can be regulated. The idea of a ‘surveillance state’ has been the root of many governments’ and press discussions – something that we can expect to continue into the next decade.

Electronic travel
From Uber to Bolt, ride-hailing apps have become the backbone of modern travel – what did we do before them? The point-to-point transportation services make travel simple and painless by removing the need for cash and paying the company directly through the app, rather than the driver. Along with Airbnb, such apps have caused disruption to existing industries, creating stiff competition for standard taxis and hotels.

Not only can we transport ourselves with the use of an app, but we can transport our dinner right from the restaurant kitchen to our front door too. Apps such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo have capitalised on the nation’s laziness – removing the need for us to ever leave our sofas. 

If we do fancy leaving the house, the way in which we travel ourselves has also started to change in the last decade. We have become a more eco-aware society, with companies such as Tesla, Nissan and Audi providing increasingly popular electric and hybrid cars. Whilst we may not have flying cars or electric planes just yet, fully autonomous vehicles are in development – most notably with Tesla’s efforts. 

Artificial Intelligence 
The rise of the digital assistant, where speech recognition software is used to interpret commands or questions from humans, saw the likes of Amazon’s Alexa, The Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri become an intrinsic part of our everyday lives this decade.

The human-like assistants use AI and machine learning to make decisions and perform daily tasks such as telling us what the weather is like outside, to playing our favourite album. Building on this premise, the Smart speaker was born – with the Amazon Echo, or Apple Homepod integrating AI voice assistants into home speakers. This type of technology has sparked an array of security concerns due to the personal nature of the product being so connected within our own homes. 

A look to the future
The past decade has been an explosion of social media influence, the smartphone, home gadgets, apps for everything and artificial intelligence as an extension of our families – but what will the next decade hold?

What do you think will be the next big technology trend? Let us know your thoughts @hyve!

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