Innovations and new technologies are changing the world and the daily lives of each and every one of us. Many things that were mere visions of the future yesterday are now reality. Meanwhile, we are surrounded by technology at every moment of our lives.
We use technologies to exchange information, to clean our clothes, to prepare our meals and to get from one place to another. But even everyday items like door locks, floor panels and furniture are technologies that we now take for granted and that seem less impressive to us than self-driving cars or 3D printing. But what exactly do we consider to be technologies and what types of technology are there?
What does the word technology mean?
What do we now understand technology to mean? When we hear the term, we often think about innovations in the field of communications. Or we imagine visions of the future that are reminiscent of science fiction movies. With regard to everyday life, we automatically think about items that are powered by electricity and that, as a rule, tend to be complex. But technology doesn’t automatically have to be complicated. Simply put, we are always using technology when we use scientific knowledge to achieve a specific purpose, whether in industry or in our daily lives. From the discovery of the wheel to computers and from mp3 players to the latest technologies like self-driving cars, countless technological innovations have shaped daily life and will continue to influence it in the future.
What types of technology are there?
- Basic technologies, as the name implies, are the basis of our industry. They have not only been tested in theory and in the laboratory but have also been put to use for years. Basic technologies include combustion engines, for example, as well as transistors and the power grid. Basic technologies are of utmost importance for industry and the economy. Ideally, a new technology will at some point establish itself as a basic technology.
- Key technologies are the key to further development in a particular technology sector. Key technologies are a focus of scientific research. They are studied enough to yield a practical application, but not to the point that all potential applications can be fully realized. Examples of key technologies include bioinformatics, image recognition and robotics, as well as solar power and hybrid technologies.
- Pacemaking technologies are technologies that are not yet ready for use but are more than just visions for the future. They already have a practical application and can be developed further into key technologies. Pacemaking technologies are often tied to very high-risk investments. Examples of pace-making technologies include neuroinformatics, gene technology and nanotechnology.
- Emerging technologies that are still in the research stage are called future technologies.
Key, pacemaking and future technologies are all called new technologies. They are essential to the continued development of society and to the competitiveness of businesses.
Content written by Anne Kammerzelt, she works and lives as free project manager and journalist in Berlin.