12 technologies that have changed the world(part 2)

12 technologies that have changed the world(part 2)

Quantum computing

Companies and countries are pouring billions of dollars into quantum computing research and development. They're betting it will pay off by opening up new abilities in chemistry, shipping, materials design, finance, artificial intelligence and more.

The technology is beginning to show some of the promise researchers have hyped for decades. Last year, a Google-designed quantum processor called Sycamore completed a task in 200 seconds that, by Google's estimate, would take 10,000 years on the world's fastest supercomputer.

Honeywell, which once sold massive mainframes, predicts the performance of its quantum computers will grow by a factor of 10 every year for each of the next five years -- meaning they'd be 100,000 times faster in 2025.

Social networking

The online world was a very different place two decades ago. Social networkers of a certain age may remember Friendster, the site that launched in 2002 and allowed people to fill out an online profile and connect with people they knew in real life. But two years later, Mark Zuckerberg changed everything when he launched a social-networking site for college students called Facebook. It opened to the general public in 2006 and quickly left Friendster and MySpace far behind.

Today Facebook helps people connect and stay connected, but its real business is advertising. Last year, it brought in $32 billion in ad revenue. It also helped pave the way for other social networks that help people chat, share photos and find jobs, among other activities. It now has 2.37 billion users – nearly a third of the world's population

3D printing

3D printing --  the process of synthesizing a three-dimensional object -- is one of those technologies that edges ever closer to mainstream use every year. We've seen the concept play out on TV and in movies for years, and now with home 3D printers it's finally growing beyond a wildly exotic hobby for a small enthusiast audience.

3D printing got an early foothold as a way to design prototypes of just about anything. The technology allows manufacturers to build plastic components that are lighter than metal alternatives and with unusual shapes that can't be made by conventional injection molding methods.

The devices are used to create materials inside football helmets and Adidas running shoes, and Porsche plans to roll out a new 3D printing program that will allow customers to have their cars' seats partially 3D-printed.

Some call 3D printing the fourth industrial revolution. Spending in the field is growing at about 13% annually among large US companies, consulting firm Deloitte estimates, and will likely reach $2 billion in 2020.

Video streaming

Twenty-five years ago, a new media storage format was taking the entertainment world by storm. DVDs had superior picture and sound quality to the VHS tape, and they took up less room on your shelves. Movie rental stores abandoned VHS for DVDs, and online rental services like Netflix popped up, offering the convenience of mailing rented discs directly to you.

Then Netflix introduced its streaming service, allowing people to watch movies and TV shows across the internet. Consumers fell in love with the convenience of on-demand programming and began the phenomenon of "cutting the cord." As more streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and YouTube emerged, consumers started canceling cable and satellite subscriptions and rental services such as Blockbuster went belly up.

By next year, more than one-fifth of US households are expected to have cut the cord on cable and satellite services, according to eMarketer.

Music streaming

Vinyl will always be popular among audiophiles, but streaming is still the future of music listening. Streaming music is cheap or even free (in the case of Pandora and Spotify) and outpaces any physical format when it comes to convenience.

Streaming now represents 85% of all music consumption in the US, a 7.6% increase over 2018, according to BuzzAngle Music. In 2019, on-demand audio stream consumption hit a record 705 billion streams, a 32% increase over the previous year.

In 2019, total music industry revenues rose 13% to $11.1 billion, with streaming accounting for nearly 80% of that total, according to the RIAA. But at the same time, album sales fell 23% in 2019 and song sales dropped 26%. And that's after declines of 18.2% and 28.8%, respectively, the previous year.

Apps

Mobile apps have changed the way we consume media and communicate, from news and streaming services to texting and social media apps. They have also changed the way we go about living our daily lives, helping us find on-demand rides, short- and long-term rentals, and have food delivered to our door, just to name a few of the countless benefits.

There are more than 2 million apps in the Apple App Store, generating about $50 billion in revenue.

Autonomous vehicles

The promise of autonomous vehicles has been touted for more than a decade: Without human drivers, proponents say, cars will be safer and more comfortable, especially on long trips. Technology companies have been working on making them a reality for a long time. The driverless vehicle fleet from Waymo, the autonomous car company owned by Google parent Alphabet, has driven more than 20 million miles on public roads since its founding in 2009.

Fully self-driving cars may not arrive in dealerships for another decade, but we're already benefiting from the technology being developed for autonomous vehicles, including adaptive cruise control, automatic forward-collision braking, automatic parking, autopilot and lane-keep assist.

RFID

Retailers fell in love with radio frequency identification tracking some 20 years ago, touting the little chips as a convenient way to control inventory and reduce theft, without people having to make contact with the tagged item. Today, they have a variety of applications, including tracking cars, computer equipment and books. They're implanted into animals to help identify the owners of lost pets, farmers use them to monitor crops and livestock, and they help food companies track the source of packaged goods.

Thanks to growing demand, especially in the medical and health care industries, where the tracking technology is used to monitor patients and label medications, spending in the RFID tag industry is projected to hit $17 billion, more than twice the $8.2 billion spent in 2018.

Virtual reality

Companies large and small have begun using virtual reality, which transports users to a computer-generated world. Once confined to the realm of science-fiction movies like Walt Disney's Tron, virtual reality has grown into a real-world industry worth an estimated $18 billion.

While the video game industry was expected to get an economic boost from virtual reality, the broader tech industry sees other applications for the nascent technology, including education, health care, architecture and entertainment.

Videoconferencing

As the coronavirus pandemic has changed the world we live in, forcing us to avoid contact with others and shelter in place, videoconferencing has exploded in popularity. A few months ago, this technology wouldn't have made our list, but now it's proving indispensable. Video telephony has been around in some form since the 1970s, but it wasn't until the web debuted that the technology took off.

Along with webcams, free internet services such as Skype and iChat popularized the tech in the 2000s, taking videoconferencing to all corners of the internet. The corporate world embraced the tool as a way to cut down on employee travel for meetings and as a marketing tool.

As companies and schools implemented policies on work and study from home, video chatting and conferencing apps grew in popularity as a way to get work done and communicate with friends and family, especially among people who had never used the tech before.

E-cigarettes

Battery-operated e-cigarettes hit the US market about a decade ago, touted as a safer alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes. However, they didn't really gain traction until 2015, when Juul Labs debuted its discreet USB-size vaporizer and quickly became the industry leader.

In 2019, an increasing number of people who vape were winding up in hospital with symptoms that include coughing, shortness of breath and other health problems after vaping -- and at least 54 people have died.

Juul is accused in a lawsuit of illegally targeting young people online in advertising campaigns. Vaping companies have been sued on similar grounds in other courts. San Francisco banned the sale of e-cigarettes in June.

Ransomware

The first ransomware attack can be traced to the late 1980s, but the malware has grown in prominence as one of the greatest cybersecurity threats since 2005. Ransomware locks down a victim's computer system until a ransom, usually in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency, is paid. Hackers often threaten to erase data. It spreads like other malware does, through email attachments or unsecured links.

Ransomware attacks skyrocketed in 2019, hitting nearly 1,000 government agencies, educational establishments and health care providers in the US, at an estimated cost of $7.5 billion.