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A decade of progress

A decade of progress
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When we think about major inventions, most of us jump right to things like the telephone or electricity. And sure, those completely changed the world, but new products and services are being launched every year that also have major impacts. The past decade has seen a significant-tech boom and an increase in products featuring smart technology. Here are some of the most important and influential inventions since 2010.

Video doorbell

Video doorbell
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In 2013, Jamie Siminoff went on the TV show Shark Tank with his video doorbell, the DoorBot, which records activity outside the front door. Though the panel of judges – excuse us, sharks – didn’t make him an offer that worked for him, he launched it on his own. He changed the name to Ring, sold it to Amazon in 2018 for more than $1 billion, and the rest is innovation history.

Sure, we had doorbells and security cameras before this, but this invention combined the two in a way that was affordable to average homeowners. “With just about everyone receiving packages, doorstep thieves have become a major problem,” Mike Falahee, owner and CEO Marygrove Awning Co. tells Reader’s Digest. “The video doorbell is a widely-used security measure to deter and capture thieves.”

Apple iPad

Apple iPad
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Given the ubiquity of Apple iPads – especially where kids in restaurants are concerned – it’s hard to believe that they’ve only been around since 2010. This tablet computer is a hybrid of a smartphone and laptop, providing a larger touchscreen interface that is used to control the device.

“It’s a tech innovation that without a doubt changed our lives during this decade,” Mike Satter, interim president at OceanTech and president at WipeOS tells Reader’s Digest. “The iPad completely changed our lives with a cross between having a mobile device that could be used for personal downtime to a hard-working machine that essentially replaced the business workhorse laptop computer. If you look around today you will notice children, coworkers, friends, family and/or a stranger next to you on a plane that depends on their iPad to help them through the day.”

Meet 7 inventors who regretted their inventions. 

Facial recognition technology

Facial recognition technology
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Conceived by Woody Bledsoe, Helen Chan Wolf and Charles Bisson in the early 1960s, facial recognition technology has exploded over the last decade, Technical Writer at ProPrivacy Damien Mason tells Reader’s Digest. One of the most notable examples of facial recognition software is Amazon’s Rekognition software, which was introduced in 2016.

“On [the] one hand, facial recognition adds another layer of biometric security, popularised by Apple’s iPhone X as a method of user verification. On the other, however, it creates a state of mass surveillance that is ripe with exploits and abuse,” Mason explains. “Sure, it can help to identify and catch wanted criminals, but it remains a flawed technology with far too many false positives to be a viable method of policing.”

Bioprinting

Bioprinting
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The technology of 3D printing – which physical chemist and writer David E. H. Jones imagined back in 1974 – has become one of the most visible innovations of the past decade. As exciting as many of the possibilities of 3D printing can be, perhaps the most significant developments have been in the area of bioprinting.

This first happened in 2012, when otolaryngologist Glenn Green led a team that bioengineered one of the first synthetic tracheas to stabilise the breathing of a struggling baby. Another major step forward occurred in 2017, when Russian company 3D Bioprinting Solutions successfully built and transplanted a thyroid into a rat.

“While transplants from one person into another can result in complications, such as the body rejecting the foreign organ, chances of this are drastically reduced using this method as bioprinting uses the stem cells of the host to create the organ,” Mason explains.

“Whether this eventually extends to entire limbs or not, it’s clear that this is revolutionary for the medical world.”

Learn about these 10 accidental discoveries that changed the world. 

Netflix streaming

Netflix streaming
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Although Netflix has been around since 1997, when Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings established it as a DVD sales and rental service, it became a household name in 2010 when it transitioned to in-home video streaming. Though it initially had a pretty limited streaming library, the service continued to add titles over time, eventually branching out into creating original content. More than that, Netflix popularised the concept of “binge-watching” by releasing an entire season of one of their original shows – like Orange is the New Black – in one day. “It would be fair to credit Netflix for its part in increasing the quality of television shows, with growing budgets and helping to draw movie talent into the previously lower medium,” Mason says.

Semi-autonomous cars

Semi-autonomous cars
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The idea of having a car that can drive itself isn’t new. In fact, German engineer Ernst Dickmanns first created an autonomous van in 1986. But prior to the last few years, these vehicles were more dream than reality. By 2013, several major automobile manufacturers –including General Motors, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla and BMW – started developing their own versions of the self-driving car.

“Sadly, autonomous vehicles aren’t quite on our doorstep, with many kinks to iron out such as collision avoidance,” Mason explains. The emerging technology also raises all sorts of ethical concerns, like how a car would decide how to react under a variety of situations with multiple parties – for example, whether to protect the passengers in the car, or other drivers or pedestrians in an accident.

Though we’re not to the point of having a fully autonomous car, major strides have been made in the development of specific amenities designed to assist the driver. One example is the 2014 Mercedes S-Class, which has semi-autonomous features like self-steering, the ability to stay within lanes and accident avoidance.

Learn more about the future of self-driving cars. 

Uber

Uber
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Technically, Uber was founded in 2009 as UberCab by Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick, but the service really took off over the past decade. What started off as an app for people in San Francisco who wanted to order a car ride via their smartphone has turned into a several-billion-dollar worldwide company and inspired competitors like Lyft and Juno.

Though the concept is similar to taxis – which have been around longer than cars themselves – there are a few distinct differences. First, no more trying to verbally tell the driver where you’re doing: with the app, you simply plug in where you’re going, and GPS will do the rest. Also, Ubers have sprung up in many suburban and rural areas where taxis traditionally weren’t available, giving people more transportation options in areas lacking public transit.

Instagram

Instagram
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Instagram was released in late 2010 and has become one of the biggest social media platforms with more than 1 billion users. The photo-sharing app has revolutionised marketing, advertising, public relations, brand building and journalism, according to Andrew Selepak, PhD, a media professor at the University of Florida, and director of the graduate program in social media.

“It has given rise to the meme culture and created social media influencers. An app that once was only for images with different filters now has video, ephemeral content and long-form video with IGTV and allowed its parent company Facebook to compete with, and replace, other platforms like Vine, Periscope, Snapchat and YouTube,” Selepak tells Reader’s Digest. “We now all look for Instagrammable moments on vacation, when we go out to eat, get engaged, get married, or to showcase the highlights of our life.”

Air fryers

Air fryers
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Fried food is delicious, but unfortunately, it’s not very healthy. That’s what makes the invention of the air fryer such a food game-changer. The first air fryer as we know it hit the market in 2010 when Philips introduced what it coined “Rapid Air Technology.” The idea behind the device is to achieve the same crispiness as frying food in oil, but using extremely fast-moving air instead. The air fryer really started appearing on kitchen counters across the country when Oprah named it one of her “Favourite Things” in 2016. Though the food cooked in an air fryer doesn’t taste exactly like it would from a fast food shop, it is a decent option for those looking to eat healthier.

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