Technology is about more than just gadgets and gizmos. It has a very broad and deep definition.
The term “technology” comes from the Greek word “teckne” (which relates to art or craft) and “logia” (which relates to study). The combination of these two words, teknologia, means systematic treatment.
Over the past two centuries, the use of the term “technology” has changed significantly. By the 1940s, “technology” referred not only to the study of industrial arts, but it includes all machines, tools, instruments, weapons, communicating and transporting devices, as well as the skills by which humans build and use them.
More broadly, technology refers to tools, machines, and a collection of techniques that may be utilized to solve real-world problems. The tools and machines can be as simple as a nail pin or as complex as a particle accelerator or space station. Also, they need not be physical; virtual technology, such as software and cloud services, fall under this definition of technology.
In a broader way, technology is a means to fulfill a human purpose.
Since technology can be so simple or extremely complex, it can be categorized into different groups. Below, we have explained all different types of technology with modern examples.
8. Materials Technology
3D printed flexible sheet of piezoelectric material | Source: Nature Materials
Applications: Piezoelectric materials used in micro-thrusters for satellites, self-healing coatings used to protect metal products
Materials technology is a comprehensive discipline that involves choosing materials with properties that best meet the requirements of a target application. It may also include maintaining the performance of materials during the life of a machine by resisting fatigue, corrosion, and other damages.
Since different materials have different properties, blending multiple materials yields interesting characteristics, which lead to new applications.
Recent advances in materials technology provide extra functionalities leading to the term “smart materials,” which is characterized by their response to some external stimuli such as light, humidity, and temperatures. Several innovative materials, such as carbon nanotubes, graphene, and piezoelectric materials, have been developed and tested successfully over the past decade.
Materials science and materials technology are closely related to each other. While the former covers the design and discovery of new materials (particularly solids), materials technology focuses more on techniques and tests to determine how to improve the product.
7. Mechanical Technology
Applications: Cars manufactured by using mechanical robots, 3D printers, Power plants
Mechanical technology deals with the techniques of putting together mechanical parts and materials to build functional structures and control or transmit motion. For example, brakes on a bicycle, latch on a door, gear systems in a car transmission, etc.
Mechanical engineering technologists are expected to apply principles from product design, material sciences, and manufacturing processes to create useful products and production machinery. They primarily work as troubleshooters in the ongoing maintenance of machinery and automated equipment.
More specifically, their work involves analyzing stress, strain, shearing forces in structures, deflection due to bending, bearing, clutches, dynamics of a rigid body, motion, balancing of rotating masses, free vibrations, the flow of liquids, thermodynamic behavior of real fluids, and much more.
Expandable specialties may include energy, petroleum, nuclear, automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, industrial design, and product development.
6. Medical Technology
Applications: Stethoscope, pacemakers, ventilators, computed tomography (CT) scanners, surgical robots
Medical technology is often defined as the application of science to build solutions to prevent disease, injury, or other health problems. This may include detecting diseases through advanced machines, methods to treat patients, and monitoring of good health.
In a broader sense, medical technology focuses on equipment, systems, facilities, and procedures (but not drugs). A medical device can be an apparatus, instrument, device, implant, reagent, or software.
From syringes and sphygmomanometers (a device for measuring blood pressure) to medical imaging technologies (like X-ray and MRI machines), medical machines can play a range of roles in diagnosis, prevention, monitoring, treatment, and alleviation of disease.
One of the major technological developments in healthcare is 3D printing. It is used to create specialized prostheses, splints, parts for inert implants, as well as customized replaceable body parts.
Read: What Is 3D Printing? Working Principle | Types | Applications
Over the past decade, robotics has made significant contributions to healthcare. Robots can aid doctors in performing various tedious tasks. Surgical robotic arms allow surgeons to bend and rotate tissues in a more flexible and efficient manner.
Read: 15 Different Types of Robots | Explained
5. Electronics Technology
Applications: Computers, smartphones, digital camera, RADAR (Radio Detection And Ranging), power suppliers, multimeters, interactive Sensors
Electronics deals with everything the involves emission, flow, and control of electrons in vacuum and matter. An electronic component can be any physical entity (such as capacitor, resistors, inductors, diodes, and transistors) in a system that affects the electrons or their associated fields in a way consistent with the intended operation of the electronic system.
Electronics mainly comprises passive and active components, solid-state devices, operational amplifiers, audio and radio-frequency amplifiers, oscillators, frequency modulators, digital circuits, digital circuits, power supplies, and optoelectronics devices such as solar cells, light-emitting diodes, and optical fiber.
Various scientific and technical disciplines are closely related to different aspects of electronics. This has made possible developments of a broad range of electronic consumer, military, and industrial products.
As of 2021, most electronic devices utilize semiconductors to perform electron control. In fact, these devices represent a large portion of modern technology.
Integrated silicon circuits can be found everywhere, including everyday household appliances, cars, and even satellites. They are extensively used in telecommunication, signal processing, and information processing.
Read: 12 Emerging Technologies in Electronics That Will Change Our Future
4. Communication Technology
Applications: LAN (Local area network), videotext, teletext, Internet, wireless information transfer, GPS
Communication technology involves converging audiovisual and telephone networks with computer networks through a unified system of cabling or link.
Network enhancements come from recent advancements in computing devices, some of which are specifically developed for network applications and transforming data from one point to another.
It’s a broad and constantly evolving field, covering all devices that receive, store, retrieve, process, transmit information electronically in a digital form. This includes encompassing radio, television, mobile phones, communication devices, satellite systems, as well as many different services.
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Communication technology is, in fact, a crucial part of IT infrastructure. It makes it feasible to exchange, transfer, and provide information through a private or public network. It also enables better management of e-resources and, thus, qualitative services.
Furthermore, this technology is extensively utilized in space. For example, NASA and agencies use free-space optical communication in outer space to transfer more data in less time.
3. Nuclear Technology
Nuclear Power Plant Grohnde
Applications: Production of electrical energy, radiotherapy, smoke detectors, sterilization of disposable products, Radioisotope Thermal Generators used in space missions
When changes occur in the nucleus of atoms, massive amounts of energy are released. Nuclear technology involves all techniques that manipulate/control such changes in the nucleus of some specific elements and transform them into usable energy.
It is extensively used in nuclear power plants to produce electricity. Nuclear power is an efficient and clean way of boiling water to create steam, which turns turbines to generate electricity.
These plants use nuclear elements, such as uranium or plutonium, to generate electricity through a reaction called fission (in which the nucleus of an atom splits into two or more smaller nuclei).
Most plants use small, hard uranium pellets as fuel. A single pellet, about the size of a fingertip, contains as much energy as 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas, 3 barrels of oil, and 1 ton of coal. More specifically, the fission of 1 kilogram of Uranium-235 releases nearly 18.5 million kilowatt-hours of heat.
Nuclear elements can be a reliable, long-term source of electricity in deep space missions. Spacecraft use nuclear batteries to operate unattended for years. Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, for example, launched in 1977 to study the outer solar system, are still transmitting data today.
Read: 15 Interesting Facts And Statistics About Voyager 1 and Voyager 2
Apart from electricity generation, nuclear technology is also used in gun sights, medical radiography, and sterilization of tools and equipment.
Applications: Use of microorganisms for creating organic products like milk and baking bread, extraction of metals from their ores through the use of living organisms (bioleaching), production of biological weapons
Biotechnology utilizes biological systems and living organisms to develop different products. It covers a wide range of disciplines, from genetics and biochemistry to molecular biology.
Modern biotechnology provides revolutionary techniques and products to combat severe and rare diseases, reduce negative impacts on the environment, use cleaner energy, and have safer and more efficient industrial manufacturing processes.
Based on applications, biotechnology can be categorized into seven types:Red biotechnology: involves the development of vaccines and antibodies, artificial organs, diagnostic tests, and regenerative therapies.Green biotechnology: is applied to fight pests and nourish crops and strengthen them against harsh weather conditions and microorganisms.White biotechnology: consumes fewer resources than conventional processes. It is used to create industrial goods. It involves designing organisms and enzymes to create valuable chemicals or destroy hazardous chemicals.Blue biotechnology: exploits sea resources, such as micro-algae, to develop products and industrial applications.Yellow biotechnology: focuses on food production. For instance, conducting research to decrease levels of saturated fats in cooking oils.Gold biotechnology: uses advanced computational techniques to obtain, store, analyze and separate biological information, particularly related to DNA and amino acid sequences. It plays a crucial role in numerous fields, such as structural genomics, functional genomics, and proteomics.Gray biotechnology: addresses environmental issues and focuses on the maintenance of biodiversity and the removal of pollutants.
As of 2021, there are over 250 biotech health care products and vaccines available to patients. More than 14 million farmers worldwide use agricultural biotechnology to enhance yields and minimize damage from pests and insects.
More than 200 biorefineries have been established in the United States to examine and refine techniques of producing biofuels and chemicals from renewable biomass.
1. Information Technology
Applications: Multimedia conferencing, eCommerce, cloud computing, online banking, speech recognition, Intrusion Detection System, online advertisement
Today, Information Technology (IT) refers to everything people use computers for. While this field commonly deals with computers and computer networks, it also incorporates other information distribution technologies such as telephones, television, and the Internet.
Many companies now have IT departments for managing computers, creating and administering databases, and ensuring the efficiency and security of business information systems. Recent advances in computer software have enabled businesses to analyze data more precisely to discover hidden patterns and make informed decisions.
In the past decade, tech giants have focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning so that computers can make “human-like” decisions using real-time data. At this point, AI can perform a wide range of tasks far better than humans. For instance, it canPredict future outcomes based on historical trendsDiscover inefficienciesAutomate complicated analytical tasksExecute plansLearn and become better
The other revolutionary invention is the blockchain — a specific type of database that stores information in the most secure way. Blockchain technology enhances the security, transparency, and traceability of data shared across a business network.
Quantum computing, which harnesses the phenomena of quantum mechanics, also falls under the IT umbrella. In fact, it is considered the next significant evolutionary milestone in the development of information technology.
Read: 15 Best Science And Technology Research Labs In The WorldFrequently Asked QuestionsWhat are some examples of modern technology?
Modern technology is not only about speed and efficiency, but it also empowers you by giving you more access and control to smart services. The most popular examples of modern technology are:
5G: The fifth-generation mobile network is designed to connect virtually every machine and device together. It is meant to deliver up to 100 times faster data speeds than 4G, ultra-low latency, huge network capacity, and lower bit error rates.
Cryptocurrency: is a revolutionary yet often misunderstood new technology of digital currency. It is based on an encrypted, decentralized structure that allows it to exist outside the control of governments and central authorities. While more than 5,000 cryptocurrencies are there, Bitcoin and Ethereum are the most popular ones.
Surgical robots: are useful for minimally invasive surgery. They allow doctors to perform various complex procedures with more precision and flexibility than is possible with traditional methods. Robot-assisted surgery is being rapidly adopted by hospitals in the US and European countries for treating a broad range of conditions.
Augmented and Virtual Reality: While AR adds digital elements to live view often by using a smartphone’s camera, VR is a complete immersion experience that shuts out the physical world. Both are extensively used in gaming, employee training, design, entertainment, health, and education industry.
Deep Neural Networks: You might have already used neural network (a sub-field of machine learning) based products without realizing it. It is used in virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri, product recommendations in Netflix and Amazon, autonomous driving in Tesla, and the list goes on.Are there any downsides to technology?
Technology is used in almost all industries, and like everything, it has advantages and disadvantages.AdvantagesDisadvantagesEase of access to informationExtreme dependabilityBetter communication meansPrivacy ConcernsAids in new discoveriesSocial DisconnectEase of mobilityDigital Media ManipulationAccelerates development in renewable energyJob insecurityHas increased the productivity of almost every industrySocial media/computer game addictionWhat is the difference between microtechnology and nanotechnology?
Microtechnology involves a field of research and innovation concerned with very small things that have dimensions of the order of one micrometer. It focuses on chemical and physical processes as well as the development of microcomputer parts, microelectronics, microsurgery, and space microdevices.
Read: What Is MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical System)? Types & Application
Micromechanical devices, for example, are key components in various products like blood pressure monitors, automobile airbags, and ink-jet printers.
Nanotechnology is far more complicated the microtechnology. It involves understanding and controlling objects that have dimensions between 1 and 100 nanometers. To put his into perspective, human hair is, on average, 80,000 nanometers. At such smaller scales, quantum, mechanical effects become pronounced.
Read: 14 Unfamiliar Uses of Nanotechnology | Benefits and Applications
The applications of nanotechnology are quite diverse, ranging from developing new materials to synthesizing DNA-origami-based nanobots (that deliver drugs in the hard-to-reach areas in the body).