Argyris Gabriel | Technology Editor | Friday 15 July 2016 | GMT 12:30 |

Science is amazing. Science is adventurous. Science has led to numerous technological advancements for the human race. But I’d like to discuss how technology itself has evolved over time and its applications in the present, but more importantly: the future.

As the population grows, the needs of the masses increase, however, simple technologies can be redesigned, adapted or repurposed for any number of far more practical pursuits. Once, the most innovative technology was sliced bread and while this may sound absurd, it’s something we take advantage of in this day and age.

Sliced bread helped elongate the onset of mould and as a result allowed bread – as a mass produced food product – to last longer, which 10 years after World War One was still not seen as that important other than in the baking industry. Here’s my point: advancements in technology regularly only receive usage in their given fields, and while sliced bread can’t be repurposed, many things being invented now could revolutionise fields they may not have been originally designed for.

In April this year, a ‘firefly communicator’ was introduced to the public as a ‘bug enthusiast’s best friend’. This product does what it says on the tin. It has a pre-programmed code, which turns on and off, that mimics the light patterns fireflies communicate with. While this could make large leaps in the world of bug watching, this doesn’t aid in any practical uses. However, this could easily be repurposed to help our soldiers in the military if it was programmed to communicate Morse code in hostage situations or for the passing of orders between squads. If each soldier had one on their person, stealth and high pressure missions would be drastically more fluid, meaning less loss of life.

Similarly, in March, the ‘anti-snore patch’ was shown to the public. Yes, we all know people who snore; it may be a nuisance to deal with a significant other who can’t shut it when you’re trying to sleep, but what purpose could this possibly have other than to serve the whims of the masses? It may be good for the products business, but again, repurposed this technology could do wonders. If scaled up, this technology could aid in soundproofing, allowing more space in a soundproofed room, as the spikes and cones from the walls in the current technology would become obsolete.

As the anti-snore patch technology works on the idea of noise cancellation (taking the sound waves of noise, inverting them and then sending them back on top of the original, thus cancelling the sound waves), we could very well say goodbye to sleepless nights, regardless of your significant other’s snoring habits. Any loud construction tools could be made silent in the face of this technology, student exam halls completely silenced from the coughing of that annoying kid in the corner, and the frankly annoying screams of schoolgirls over pre-pubescent footballers silenced for good.

While you may have seen the phrase: “Your phone has many more times the computing power than the device that sent a man to the moon” one too many times, there’s a reason for its popularity. First, it’s true, second, shouldn’t be taken lightly and third, it’s essentially the backbone of many socially and economically developed societies. Your phones, tablets and hand held devices are like nothing the world’s ever seen, yet they are mass produced. The technology on a smartphone is entirely based on the idea of convergence.

Before smart phones it was: computer – internet, radio – radio, phone – telecommunication, Gameboy – games. Now, your smartphone sees to all these tasks, sometimes two, three at a time, and that’s exactly how they gained their popularity, by taking things we consider entertainment or a necessity, and bringing them together.

If we lost technology overnight, the world would take a big hit, death rates would sky rocket, millions would be out of jobs, and economies would likely collapse; this is the amount we rely on technology. And yet there are thousands of technological advancements out there that have no relevance to our lives. For example, the ‘unknockable cup’ was created simply for ease; this technology could be put in buildings in cities with high earthquake occurrences, yet it’s in our travel mugs.

Ultimately, technology is a wondrous thing, yet in many cases, we comfortably seem to waste it on irrelevant ideas.


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