Technology plays a significant role in modern lives on a day to day basis. Modern technological innovations have grown exponentially in the last few decades – if you consider that a few decades ago, when computers first came to be used, they needed rooms to house them and that, too, in a controlled environment.
Today you hold a computing device in your hand via the smartphone! In fact, the multi-functional smartphone has changed the way people interact with others, work, exercise, treat illnesses, get entertained and more.
Let’s see the role of technology in a few areas that impact daily life in modern times.
Technology improves healthcare and medicine
One of the areas that impact humans everywhere is sickness and health. Health is important and diseases have to be treated. It is here that technology has made great strides in all aspects whether it is diagnosis or treatment or even backend operations in healthcare.
Starting with computerized records and printed prescriptions, the use of information technology has practically revolutionized healthcare. It is much easier to keep and access electronic records of patients, their treatments and medicines, their reports (including imaging results) via databases and cloud computing.
Telemedicine now means that patients and doctors can interact with one another across countries as well. This provides the possibility of higher quality of medical care, particularly in countries or remote areas that do not have access to high quality, experienced or specialized doctors and treatments.
Targeted medicines that have fewer side effects are being used for certain cancer therapies. These are more effective and have fewer side effects and some have already been FDA approved. But cancer is not the only disease that is being helped by targeted therapies.
The fact of the matter is that each person is different and has a unique medical history and genes. That is why one size fits all medicines sometimes do not work or have too many side effects.
Genomics is all set to revolutionize treatment for many diseases, but it will take time for it to become mainstream as research is currently on. In fact, DNA variation and sequencing may also be used to predict diseases and help prevent them in the future.
Use of robotic surgery and artificial intelligence
Robotic surgery has been in use for a number of years now, carrying out complex procedures. However, these still require a surgeon’s presence and robotic surgery only reduces hospital time, decreases pain and discomfort and results in smaller scars.
AI offers another quantum leap – AI can more easily learn from previous surgeries, objectively help with clinical judgment and diagnosis, analyze images and information faster-making healthcare more efficient.
AI may be used to develop advanced radiology options that will work in a non-invasive way that will give an accurate reading of what is happening inside the body. This will improve health care significantly.
Technology for fuel
Fuel consumption is ever increasing and there seems to be no let up in the negative effects of the use of fossil fuels and others that have resulted in climate change and had large-scale effects of the world’s environment. While solar power was heralded as a novel and pollution-free alternative, the use of solar power is still extremely slow and not very efficient.
Using membrane technology researchers have come up with a solution – a device that can clean the air and provide power at the same time. The device only needs to be exposed to sunlight, a process similar to the use of solar power. The device uses special nanomaterials and this help purifies and cleans the air. The by-product is hydrogen gas and this can be stored and used as fuel.
In a related development, other researchers have been able to develop a process that uses membrane technology to convert carbon dioxide, released by power plants, to usable fuels to power vehicles.
Since there seems to be no end to vehicles using fossil fuels, some of the new technologies (if and when they come into widespread use) will help to reduce the dependence on environmentally dangerous fuels and diminish the harmful effects of climate change.
Technology in smartphones
The computing device you hold in your hand can soon be used for a wide range of functions. The use of technology in smartphones is finding newer and more innovative uses for the smartphone coupled with the widespread availability on the internet.
Smartphones, through various apps, are already being used for health, weight loss, cooking and shopping healthy and stress relief, not to mention a host of other things. Coupled with wearable gadgets like Fit bit, Apple’s watch and other devices the phones can measure your heartbeat, steps and other things that can keep you healthy.
Imagine your phone being used as the ultrasound machine – engineers have invented a transducer that is wearable and can be powered by a smartphone that can provide reliable information.
An ECG can already be carried out by a smartphone, diagnosing or ruling out heart attacks or arrhythmias. Now a small attachment used with your phone will be able to check your heart rhythm yourself, simply by putting your finger on a sensor. You can attach an otoscope to look inside the ear and send the video to your doctor to diagnose many ear problems. While this is useful for adults, it is even more useful for small children as the testing can be done at home.
With advanced cameras on the smartphone, taking a selfie can help diagnose pancreatic cancer among other diseases simply through the whites of the eyes.
These developments, as well as the possible improvement of more and accurate apps, will help lower the cost of healthcare and also make it available to people in developing and poorer countries that do not have access to even basic machines easily.
Technology in 3D printing
When 3D printing was first used it was expensive and could only produce some plastic toys or blocks. Now 3D printing has advanced so much that it is used in
- Industrial Goods
- Construction and architecture
- Health and medical
Many small parts can be made easily and according to exact specifications. As these are custom made and it is easy to make small quantities it is a viable and cost-effective alternative.
In fact, 3D printing has come a long way since it first began and is used for various applications. In future 3D printing may even be used to print human organs that can be used for transplants – research is ongoing for this.
Technology and Virtual Reality
Virtual reality is something your brain experiences though you are in a virtual environment, mimicking reality. The immersive environment can enable people to interact virtually. The human brain feels that it is actually in the place. While you may have experienced a degree of virtual reality using headsets for gaming, the fact is that virtual reality may have many more applications.
- In gaming too, virtual reality is becoming more advanced and more immersive, with more complicated games and a better experience. You can even get a few virtual reality movies that offer a more immersive experience.
- Virtual reality will enable you to virtually visit any place, so armchair travel will not be just through books or television – you will feel that you are actually there.
- The technology can be used in psychotherapy to treat fears and phobia. It can also be used to teach doctors and medical professionals anatomy and give them virtual experience in carrying out surgical procedures.
- Virtual reality can be used as a tool to help differently-abled people to experience things that they otherwise cannot due to the physical limits of their bodies.
- The technology is being used for military applications as well. It can help soldiers adapt to hostile conditions better once they have trained in virtual reality environments.
Technology in crime fighting
When technology has permeated almost all areas of daily life, why would law enforcement and crime fighting be left behind?
In many advanced countries, crime fighters are using the latest technology to fight crime. So a modern law enforcement officer may have access to:
- Body cameras – body cameras are easy to use and unobtrusive, so ideal for use in hostile situations. Along with data software and AI, this is then used to generate incident reports. The data can further be analyzed for errors and to enable a faster response time.
- Smartphone sleuths – a smartphone already can tell the police where you were at a particular time and your movements can be mapped. This can be used as incriminating evidence or can help release an innocent. At the same time, this technology is of use in the case of unforeseen incidents like a car crash to see whether and if any apps were being used or messages exchanged during the time of the crash.
- Software for data connectivity – advanced software that can be used to collate and analyze data across different platforms (criminal and crime databases, social media feeds, foreclosure lists and more) can potentially be used to predict crime.
- Tattoo recognition technology – tattoo are increasingly popular and not only among gang members. Tattoo recognition technology can be used to identify possible criminals more accurately.
- Drones – drones are already being used to monitor any hostile situations, giving crime fighters valuable information so they know how best to proceed.
Technology makes driving safer
Cars already use a lot of technology, but the current advancements are geared to make driving safer and easier. Among them are
- Biometric access – keys that you press to open your car remotely may soon be a thing of the past. Soon cars will be able to use some kind of biometric scans to open the car door. This may feature face recognition, fingerprint scan, retina scan or voice can be used to open the door and start driving. This will be used in conjunction with your smartphone, Bluetooth and wi-fi and will ensure greater security of your car.
- Head up display (HUD) – a projected display of your car’s dashboard will be visible to you without the need to take your eyes off the road. This will give you the required navigation information and eliminate guesswork.
- Parking assistance – the car has scanners that will help you park your car even in tight spaces. This may also include lane assistance while driving so that you keep to your lane and avoid possible collisions.
- Auto braking – if your attention is elsewhere or something unexpected happens, auto braking will kick in and the car will stop automatically. This prevents collision with the car in front of you, thanks to the front cameras on your car.
- Electronic stability control – while driving in rough weather, in tricky roads or rough terrain, this will help correct the steering, put on the brakes, correct the course and more making driving safer.
- Night vision – in dark and low light conditions, infrared night vision systems used in the car will help prevent accidents as they will pick up things and people that you may not be able to see.
These are for cars driven by people. However, technological advancements are already being used and tested in driverless cars that use advanced computers and algorithms as well as cameras, lights and sensors to enable the car to drive safely.
People already use a great deal of technology in their daily life, sometimes being unaware of how much it has permeated all sectors. However, these are only a few of the current events in technology and, as research and innovations are ongoing, these are only going to increase.
Technology has made life easier and safer in many ways. And yet, there is also increasing concern about digital dependence and increasing isolation in real life and in the real world. It is important that technology is used to improve and not diminish the quality of life people lead.