Throughout history, our world has been reshaped by groundbreaking technologies. From Thomas Edison’s brilliance that brought forth the light bulb, and the collective ingenuity of visionaries who birthed the cellphone, disruptive technology has continually revolutionized our lives.
So, in what ways have we experienced this type of technology in the last decade?
What Is Disruptive Technology?
Disruptive technology was first mentioned by Clayton Christensen, a Harvard professor, in a 1995 Harvard Business Review magazine, which he later popularized in his book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, in 1998. According to Christensen, this technology refers to innovations that initially cater to niche markets or lower-end segments but eventually grow to displace established industries or products.
In simpler terms, it refers to new ideas or inventions that completely change how we do things. They cause a quake within established industries and change our everyday lives, making products become cheaper, faster, better, and more accessible to everyone.
Additionally, this type of technology should not be confused with its opposite, incremental innovation (technology), a small, slow improvement made to existing products or technologies. Disruptive technology is different because it brings about an instant change in the market, requiring others to follow suit or get left behind.
Having understood what this technology is and how it contrasts with incremental technology, let us now explore how we have experienced it in the last decade.
1. AI and AI Models
Ten years ago, artificial intelligence had just started seeing the light of day, with limited capabilities and applications. Most AI chatbots, like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, were rule-based, only handling simple and repetitive tasks, such as providing basic information, playing music, or booking appointments.
AI has become more advanced and sophisticated, with enhanced capabilities and applications. AI applications such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Bing AI, and Google’s Bard are powered by deep learning, using neural networks to learn from large amounts of data and generate responses based on context and intent. They can handle complex and diverse tasks with the right prompts, such as providing personalized recommendations, creating textual, image, music, and video content, teaching skills, etc. We envision that ten years from now, our homes will be fitted with AI-powered assistants that control lighting, security, water supply, sound system, and more.
However, one worrisome concern about AI is how it could disrupt the future of work, as it could make some workers more productive while replacing others who specialize in redundant or repetitive tasks. Other concerns revolve around privacy, security, bias, accountability, transparency, etc., especially when dealing with sensitive or personal data or decisions.
2. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing provides services such as online storage, servers, and software without the requirement for physical infrastructure.
According to Statista, the cloud computing market has surged from $145 billion in 2017 to $591.79 billion by 2023. This technology revolutionizes work practices, fostering remote and hybrid models and seamless data sharing across devices. It has also enhanced healthcare by facilitating remote diagnosis, telemedicine, and precision medicine. Additionally, in education, cloud computing has increased quality and accessibility, enabling educators to deliver lessons, track progress, and provide support remotely.
3. Passwordless Security
Remember how forgetting your password used to be a frequent occurrence? Well, thanks to big tech companies introducing passwordless security, that’s now a thing of the past. With passwordless security, you don’t have to input a password or a PIN. Instead, you can use biometric methods, one-time codes, or physical tokens to access your online accounts.
Passwordless security has gained traction in various sectors and industries. In fact, a survey by HYPR shows that 54% of older adults prefer passwordless authentication to traditional passwords.
Many banking apps have implemented biometric authentication for their mobile banking apps. In healthcare, Microsoft’s partnership with Nuance Communications gave rise to a passwordless solution that uses voice recognition to authenticate doctors and nurses who access patient records.
4. Electric and Autonomous Cars
We saw electric and self-driving cars which could sense their environment and navigate roads without human input start populating the car market in the last decade. These autonomous vehicles, like Tesla, drives through the Autopilot feature. Other companies making strides in this industry include Zoox, AutoX, Waymo, and others.
While electric vehicles have emerged as a solution to reduce greenhouse emissions, self-driving cars still require a few improvements to achieve perfection. Nevertheless, we can confidently anticipate the imminent dominance of autonomous vehicles on our roads.
Drones are very exciting to fly, whether autonomously or remotely controlled. They have truly been a game-changing technology in recent years. A report by McKinsey shows that, in early 2022, over 2,000 commercial drone deliveries occurred daily globally, which has probably skyrocketed ever since.
From stunning aerial photography and videography to delivering packages and even emergency response, drones have changed how we approach most tasks. They find immense relevance in security, especially offering sophisticated surveillance and monitoring capabilities for law enforcement, military, and private sectors. That’s not all; you can do crazy (rather fun) things with a drone.
The impact of drones is undeniable, and we will continue to see improvements even as we find new applications for these game-changing flying vehicles.
Blockchain technology radically shifted several centralized server-based internet ecosystems to a decentralized, immutable, transparent cryptographic system in the last ten years. Cryptocurrencies, metaverse, and NFTs were born from this technology.
These four technologies spurred new forms of innovation, creativity, expression, and collaboration. Blockchain and the metaverse enable you to create, share, and monetize content and experiences. Even better, NFTs and cryptocurrencies empower you to have more control and ownership over your data and assets by conferring property rights and offering you economic incentives.
7. Wearable Devices
2013 marked a rise in the popularity of smartwatches globally. Pebble and Samsung Galaxy Gear offered features like notifications, apps, and voice control, while fitness trackers, such as the Fitbit and the Jawbone UP, measured steps, calories, and sleep quality. These devices were seen as convenient and useful accessories that complemented smartphones.
However, wearable devices evolved beyond mere accessories and became standalone devices offering more advanced features and capabilities. 2015 saw Apple release its first Apple Watch, featuring a heart rate sensor, a Retina display, Apple Pay support, and several other cool features.
The year after came the first generation of AirPods, which was massively improved in its second generation in 2019. The wireless earbuds featured noise cancellation, spatial audio, and Siri integration. Also, in 2021, Facebook launched its Ray-Ban Stories, a metaverse-oriented smart glasses with dual cameras, micro-speakers, a three-microphone audio array, an optimized Snapdragon® processor, and capacitive touch controls.
We have only mentioned some of the amazing features of existing wearable devices; we reckon these devices will reach new heights of sophistication and adoption within the next decade.
8. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
You have likely experienced virtual reality if you have used Oculus VR devices at any point. The concepts of AR and VR have existed for decades but were primarily limited to military training, product development testing, and surgery simulation.
The introduction of the Oculus Rift and Microsoft HoloLens in 2016 brought these technologies to the public, marking the beginning of something exciting. AR and VR have revolutionized our interaction with digital content. AR overlays digital information in the real world, enhancing our surroundings with virtual elements. On the other hand, VR immerses users in entirely digital environments, creating realistic sensory experiences.
These technologies have opened up many possibilities, and we surely have so much in store in the coming years.
9. GPS Systems
GPS, short for Global Positioning System, is a space-based radio-navigation system that relays highly accurate navigation signals to Earth. It was mainly used by allied armed forces and governments when it was first developed in the 1970s. However, over the last ten years, GPS has evolved beyond solely government use and finds use in everyday life.
GPS systems have made exploring our world much easier, as we can find places by opening an app on our phones. They have also improved safety and security by allowing emergency services to locate people in distress, tracking stolen vehicles, and monitoring hazardous materials.
10. 3D Printers
3D printing technology has existed since the 1980s. However, 30 years later, it became a disruptive technology that stormed the mainstream. By identifying inherent problems in a system, 3D printers were used to build new parts even before they were needed.
Today, with the press of a button, jewelry, toys and games, figurines/miniatures, home decor, and even keychains are made using 3D printers. You can easily build things with the different types of 3D printing at your disposal.
What Will the Next Disruptive Technology Be?
Our imagination can only begin to run wild as we ponder the disruptive future of the next decade. Change is constant, and new technologies will inevitably emerge, possibly displacing existing ones.
With major progress in artificial intelligence, blockchain, self-driving vehicles, and cloud computing already being made, excitement can not but continue to grow as we anticipate how these technologies will further impact our world soon.