Tech

15 Inventions From the Past Decade That Changed Our World

It will make you wonder what's next.
IMAGE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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The world is modernizing at rapid speed, and technology is at its most advanced level today. But unsurprisingly, it took a while for experts to break through to the optimum outcome. There were prototypes and earlier models of great inventions that we owe our present-day lifestyle to. As we welcome the year 2020, we take a look at the technological breakthroughs made in the past decade, and perhaps, ponder over what’s to come from all these achievements.

1| CRISPR (2012)

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The Cancer Dependency Map is a project to pinpoint the genes that are critical for the survival of cancer cells. Such genes have been catalogued in various datasets. But whether the datasets match each other hasn’t always been clear. • Encouragingly, two of the largest datasets—both derived from pan-cancer CRISPR-Cas9 genetic screens—have been compared and found to be consistent. • Even better, the CRISPR-Cas9 screens used to generate the two datasets differed methodologically. Neither screen, then, is likely to replicate the biases of the other. Instead, the screens likely verify each other’s results. • One screen comes from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the other comes from the Broad Institute. Now that the screens been integrated, they form the basis for the Cancer Dependency Map. • According to the Broad Institute, cancer-specific dependencies are compelling therapeutic targets. That is, the genetic mutations that cause cancer cells to grow also confer specific vulnerabilities that normal cells lack. • Unfortunately, for most cancers, the relationships between the genetic features of cancer and cancer dependencies are poorly understood. Hence the need for the Cancer Dependency Map, which is derived from experiments with cancer cell lines in the laboratory. • “This is the first analysis of its kind and is really important for the whole cancer research community,” said Aviad Tsherniak, a corresponding author of the current study and the associate director of Cancer Data Science group at the Broad Institute. • “It is worth remembering that when these datasets were originally produced, we were dealing with a new, unproven technology,” noted Francesco Iorio, principal staff scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute. • "This study is important because it demonstrates the validity of the experimental methods and the consistency of the data that they produce." • "We will have access to much greater statistical power to narrow down the list of targets for the next generation of cancer treatments. [credit: Joshua Dempster et al., Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News]????

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If you’ve heard of gene-editing, then the acronym CRISPR shouldn’t be far behind. Simply put, the technology behind the CRISPR works in identifying a certain part of the DNA in a cell and alters it. So far, it’s been used on plants and animals. While it may also be used to modify a human being’s DNA, something that has been attempted in China, but is widely deemed unethical. It potentially could be the answer to preventing congenital diseases.

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2| iPad (2010)

The concept of the iPad was strange when it first came out, but the first generation of iPads caught on and became a hallmark for other portable tablets. The 2010 model had a 9.7-inch screen, no camera, possessed Bluetooth functions, and was Wi-Fi only. It was an important introduction at that time because it carried Apple’s first processor, the Apple A4.

3| Siri (2011)

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A year after the iPad, Apple made another groundbreaking contribution to the business of consumer electronics—Siri. The virtual assistant was instantly artificial intelligence in your hands. It was first an iOS app in 2010, and two months later, Apple acquired and incorporated it into the iPhone 4S. It changed everyone’s lives and started the trend for virtual assistants, which is now a non-negotiable feature for smartphones.

4| Reusabable Rockets (2015)

In 2015, Jeff Bezos’s spaceflight company, Blue Origin, launched its first-ever reusable rocket. Before this development, rockets were always destroyed in the flight process. The spacecraft Blue Shepard departed the atmosphere and returned intact, though it never left the earth’s orbit, as Elon Musk was quick to point out. It was an admirable feat, no less.

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5| 3D Printer (2014)

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This wasn’t the year that 3D printing was invented, but it was the year that it boomed. Patents that previously hindered it from expanding through other manufacturers expired in February 2014, and it was fair game for all those concerned. There was a decrease in price in Chinese 3D printers and suddenly, they were accessible to almost everyone and priced more affordably.

6| Sophia the Robot (2016)

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Hanson Robotics’s “humanoid” Sophia wasn’t exactly a welcome sight, but the robot was the most human-like innovation of its time. It was equipped with artificial intelligence and a system that processed facial recognition, so it was able to hold limited conversations. Sophia, who was designed to look like Audrey Hepburn, is able to display over 60 facial expressions as well as sing. The Hong Kong-based robotics company intended Sophia to be used for the elderly at nursing homes and to help people with general queries.

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7| Zipline Drone (2016)

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A breakthrough in the medical field, the Zipline drone began servicing the people of Rwanda in 2016, when it delivered blood at a quick rate. Zipline drones can transport up to 1.75 kilograms of cargo and fly 80 kilometers in 45 minutes—just enough time to save a life. The Zipline company now uses the same process to deliver vaccines, blood, and medicine around Ghana.

8| IBM Q System One (2019)

Quantum computing is taking a commercialized turn with IBM’s Q System One unveiled this year. This Quantum computing device aims to function on a practical level and “make real-world impact” by making high tech software available to many. The Verge argues, however, that the Q System One is merely a stepping stone in the quantum computer realm and is purely experimental. No matter how far off it has to go, it’s a step toward the right direction.

9| Prenatal Screening Pen (2011)

Around six million women die each year due to childbirth and pregnancy complications, reports Popular Science. The high mortality rate was due to little or no prenatal care that women in developing countries would receive. In 2011, graduate students from the Johns Hopkins University created an Antenatal Screening Kit that helps mothers-to-be in developing countries determine whether they’re at risk for preeclampsia and other complications for just a third of a cent. The safety pen is easy to use: its user draws a line on a filter paper and applies a drop of urine on it.

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10| Oculus Rift (2013)

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Now into the world of gaming and entertainment. This decade, we were introduced to the wonders of virtual reality gaming, thanks to the Oculus Rift. Each eye would see 640 x 800 pixels in ski goggle-like wearables. It also gave one the option of ditching the controller and moving your head to control the character instead.

11| The Curiosity Rover (2012)

In the never-ending exploration of foreign planets, NASA’s exploration program landed a rover on Mars on August 5, 2012. It was an ambitious project to test whether Mars had any signs of habitability. With it, it brought our world’s most advanced technology for scientific studies, which conducted sample analyses from soil and rocks.

12| Tesla Model 3 (2017)

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Elon Musk was first recorded speaking about the Tesla Model 3 a decade before its release. On the year of its unveiling, the Model 3 stunned in every way. Not only was it glossy and new, it hoped to bring electric cars to the public at the price of $35,000, a big plummet in cost from its predecessors, which were easily priced at $100,000. The car can drive at least 215 miles of range and comes in rear-wheel drive and all-while drive variants. The sedan also comes equipped with self-driving hardware.

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13| Hemopurifier (2014)

In healthcare, the Aethlon Hemopurifier was a beacon of light in 2014, when the Ebola virus threatened the world’s health. This bio-filtration system is connected to a dialysis machine and attracts Ebola viruses and takes them out of the bloodstream. It’s been used in treating Ebola, HIV, and Hepatitis C.

14| Water Genny (2019)

A start-of-the-art water dispenser, the Genny is an air purification device that produces up to 30 liters of fresh tap water from air per day. It sounds like something out a science fiction novel, but it exists and is here to solve the drinking water shortage. It also works in locations with high air pollution levels and acts as a room dehumidifier.

15| TerraCycle Loop (2019)

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An important innovation in 2019, the Loop initiative by TerraCycle has partnered with conglomerates such as Unilever and Nestle in its efforts to lessen single-use plastics. These companies work with TerraCycle to redesign their packaging to be recycled and eventually reused in the future. It’s giving plastic a second life.

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