Any form of technology with the purpose of being consumed by the public is consumer technology. This includes computers, phones, cars and anything else like that. Each year we see new innovations to these products that make them become better and better each year. Take self driving cars for example, back fifteen maybe twenty years ago most cars still had old crank style windows which you had to manually crank to open the window, a few years later Tesla announces that they are working on self driving cars. Surly at this rate we would have some crazy technology that we could not even imagine having 10 years ago right? Well yes and no.
Developments in physical hardware have come a long way in the past 20 or so years. Phones in the early 2000s were just a tiny screen with some buttons on it used to call your friends. Now it’s advanced so greatly to where phone companies are trying to make the screen so big that they want them to fold in half just so it will fit in your pocket. Samsung has been leading the way right not with their foldable phones, but how does it work? OLED screens are made up of an organic material that will emit light when electricity is passed through them. This means that they do not need a backlight to physically light up the screen therefore they can be made extremely thin. Samsung has now developed these OLED screens from a flexible anode layer and a flexible polymer layer to put on top which results in a fully flexible and folding screen. They have now gone one step further and made extremely thin glass that can be flexible and does not break when folded. Clearly these are huge steps in physical hardware technology and there are so many other examples that can be used like new chips used in computers or phones to make them have more processing power, but I do think we are hitting a limit where the laws of diminishing returns are starting to come into play. The more we pay for a specific product we will reach a certain point where we don’t get equal value for our money. We can buy a cheap computer for 500 euro and it runs ok, but if we spend 2000 we get something even better, but if we spend upwards of 4000 we don’t get the same amount of gain we get from going to 500-2000 to 2000-4000. We are getting to the point where we have all these theories and knowledge on how to make physical hardware for technology better but it’s just not practical. Making these latest and greatest products it’s not cheap so it’s not going to be cheap to buy. That Samsung fold phone for example was around 2000 euro when it was first released. Even a regular new iphone goes for around 1100 euro which is insane to think about even a new computer just to do college work on will set you back that much and maybe more. Physical technology will always continue to grow and evolve even with minor incremental gains, but do I think we will see the same gains we have seen from early 2000s till now, from now till 2040s? I really hope so but it’s hard to say
One thing that has huge potential though is software technology. Today we are seeing great advancements in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). I remember a few years ago Google announced that they have made some strides in AI and were claiming to do some quite unique things. They have created an AI that is able to take and make calls for you like booking a table at a restaurant for something along the lines. This was announced back in 2018 and now in 2022 it must have come a lot further. There are so many examples of consumer technology with AI built in that people actually want to buy, this could be like mentioned above a tesla self driving car or even something more simple like a Samsung fridge where the AI takes stock take of items in the fridge and will let you know if you are out of an item or if something is close to out of date. We are getting to a point where lots of just everyday items will include some sort of AI just to help us with day to day tasks which is great. I certainly do not see us peaking on a software technology front for many years as machine learning and AI is a very difficult task to accomplish anyway, but to push us into this automated future where a computer is doing simple tasks for us people will keep working on this to make it better and better and to make it more readily available to the average person.