How does technology evolve? How long does it take for technology to become commercially viable? What are the pluses and minuses of this evolution? Who will win these races? All these questions always come to mind, but I am really not sure if there is a right answer for this. There are divergent technologies, and there are convergent technologies. What I mean is that some techniques start as all-encompassing technologies but end up into a particular technology or an application. Whereas some begin with a very focused technology but end up into divergent usage of the technology. But the ultimate question is why technologies are replaced?
I am really not sure if the inventors of these are also sure how long the product developed will last in the market. It is possible that I may interchange the word technology and product. Some products have a very long life, and some have a very short life.
The typical case is the telephone. The phone was invented more than hundred years back. Over a period, it became popular and useful; later it became mandatory in our lives. World over the proliferation of phones was quite fast and penetrating. I remember that during my visit to the USA in 1981, there were telephone booths at Carlsbad Caverns 800 feet below the surface. However, in India, it got delayed. Till 1984, I did not have a phone at home. In that year too we got it by making a misleading declaration of medical emergency to get it. Rest as they say is history. But nobody had expected the revolution that will come when the Telephone’s cousin Cell phone came around. As usual, it started as an expensive toy; they charged Rs.16/ minute to make and receive a call in 1997. The cell phones could store 100/200 numbers in the directory. Now 20 years hence, calling is free, data is as good as free, and storage space is as good as unlimited! Proliferation in India is 80% plus. Telephone, which is now called landline has now become a distant, poor cousin of the Cell phone. The cell phone has democratised the society. Now almost everybody has a cell phone. Along with this by providing decent cameras, cameras are also democratised. After ten years in what format cell phone will be available and what it will do is tough to predict.
Credit and Debit cards
Another product whose technological days seem to be numbered is credit/debit cards. These came into vogue on ‘70 s and ‘80 s. But the first one in use was Diners Club credit card in 1950. Initially, it took time to spread but later on it came up with magnetic tape authorisations, and now embedded chips have replaced the tape. With the introduction of debit cards, card business was also democratised. By democratised, I mean that the proliferation and spread have gone beyond 70% in the country like India with a very high population. But now the cards are getting a run for their money. With net banking, UPI, PayTM et al. making payments has become really easy. The only advantage with Credit cards is some Credit that people get when they use credit cards. But with QR code Technology the chip technology authorisation may become obsolete. Check the link below
Click this link, you will see a box showing QR code generator. Type whatever you want and scan the generated code! There you are!
I am giving below a link for QR code reader app for android
This one is for iOS
Download this or any other on your cell phone and scan the QR I have shown above! This is just for fun!
The QR code and touch type authorisation are the next technologies which can derail the business of Credit cards, but I am sure they will also come up with their own systems to remain in the race.
Hotel Room Keys
Another technology that has changed is the for room keys in the hotel.
Hotel rooms had large locks and keys, which then graduated to brass keys, latch keys and so on. Then came the locking systems where customers were given a card, and the key for the room was “prepared”!
Magnetic credit card size hotel key cards may soon be phased out in favour of smartphone app digital keys reasonably quickly. While key cards felt like a massive step into the future when they were first introduced, they do have their issues.
Many large hotel chains like Starwood, Hilton, and Hyatt are already making the transition to digital apps in many of their establishments. Guests directly download the relevant app and enter and lock their rooms via Bluetooth.
Many higher-end cars tend to come with camera-and-display setups as standard. Primarily, to provide functions like aiding the driver when reversing or parking.
While each manufacturer will give the technology a different name but these technologies are all essentially a form of CCTV for the car’s immediate vicinity. These systems also tend to provide the driver with other information like speed, direction, and obstacle proximity etc.
In fact, from May 2018 it became mandatory for all manufacturers to include backup camera systems for all new cars, in certain countries. Other manufacturers, like Tesla, have also announced they plan to replace all side-view mirrors with cameras in the future.
This will provide various benefits to the driver but also make the vehicle more aerodynamic. Physical mirror replacement will also work in tandem with the drive, excuse the pun, for fully automated driverless, or partially automated, vehicles in the future.
Kodak was the company which was linked to photography. It had so much hold on technology and market that generic name for photo films manufactured by any company would be called Kodak films.
What happened to Kodak? They apparently dug their own grave, unknowingly. They developed the digital camera and apparently forgot about it. Maybe their marketing arm did not understand and visualise the market potential for digital cameras. Kodak really never knew what hit them. Other manufacturers picked the digital camera technology and galloped ahead. Then the cell phones with the cameras started coming to the market, and they have become the norm for smartphones. Camera technology and camera film existed for a long time, but digital camera simply pushed them aside.
This is a classic case having invented the technology and lack of vision from the pioneer company. But why are technologies replaced? Ease of use, safer and there is cost benefit. With the advent of IT and computers, many manual systems are getting replaced with software; software once established is effortless to use and cost-effective. The new technologies are superior too! There is one crucial aspect; nobody can stop the progress and onslaught of the latest technology, in any field. Some technologies come like typhoons or floods. Society has to accept it and go along with it. Those who ignore can become new Kodaks!