100 Years of Advancement - How has Technology Developed from 1920 - 2020?

27th Dec 2019

100 years

100 years ago we were on the pinnacle of a huge breakthrough age of technological advancement, just think of the technology we have now that our ancestors would never have imagined possible in their wildest dreams.

Technology is on an exponential curve upwards, and many experts of today are calling our current time ‘the fourth industrial revolution’. We’ve gone from building the first cars to building advanced rockets capable of landing on Mars.

Here are some facts about the last 100 years of technological advancements that will make you wonder just what space-age fantasy your grandchildren will grow up in.

From The First Convertible Car to Autonomous Vehicles

100 years of innovation

Prior to 1922, most cars came without a roof or even side panels, making them fair weather vehicles. When advancements in steel came about, more cars were manufactured with steel frame tops, allowing the driver some protection from the elements. In 1922 an inventor created the best of both worlds, a retractable soft top. 

Fast forward to 2020 and the likes of Google, Lyft, Uber and most larger car companies are beginning testing with autonomous electric vehicles. Environmentally friendly and potentially safer with machine reactions far outpacing human reactions, many investors see this technology as the way forward, at least for shared transport options as a minimum. 


From Lie Detectors to AI Learning and Facial Recognition Technology

100 years of innovation (1)

After scientists noticed a strong positive correlation between blood pressure and lying, and after writing several research papers on the subject, William Marston went on to develop the Polygraph, as a means of taking a reading whilst talking to a subject. It was one of the first ways science had been brought in to detect human feelings and responses.

Now, 100 years later we’re already widely implementing AI and facial recognition to recognise human emotions. Mostly it has been utilised for marketing purposes, with some shops employing cameras to work out a customer’s moods at the point of sale and push appropriate offers towards them. Camera recognition can however still be used in law enforcement, with smart cameras now able to identify and track criminals and use AI learning to determine their locations and movements. 

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From Traffic Signals to AI Traffic Sensors

100 years of innovation (2)

We can take a good guess that the drivers of the 1920s never imagined the volume of traffic that would be on our roads today. They didn’t need a huge range of car safety and traffic control devices back then, but accidents were slowly becoming a growing problem. Originally police would stand in a podium in the middle of a junction and control the traffic, but it was a waste of resources noted by William Potts. 

Potts invented the modern 3-light traffic system we know today in 1920, but do you think he ever envisioned the systems that the smart cities of the 2020s would have?

Some cities worldwide have already implemented sensors into high-traffic areas which monitor congestion and use AI to learn the best ways to control or reroute traffic in a safer and more efficient way. Some cities even have cameras that feed into the Internet of Things to control traffic systems when they note an accident. This helps responsively avoid traffic build up. 


From The First Automatic Watch to Advanced Wearable Tech

100 years of innovation (3)

In 1923 John Harwood invented the first automatic watch, which would run for 12 hours autonomously without the need for winding. Now as we go into 2020 most people have a smart watch attached to their wrists, where being able to call, video chat or get on the internet is the norm. 

As we go further into the 2020s we should start to see significant advancements in wearable technology, possibly even going as far as implanted computer chips. Google Glass came and went, but with fashion businesses starting to develop trendy AR interface glasses, we’re likely to see a resurgence in this technology. The uses aren’t just helpful for everyday wear either, they have numerous advantages for businesses too. Several distribution giants are seeing the advantages of AR glasses for stock location management.


From The First Instant Camera To High Resolution Smart Cameras

100 years of innovation (4)

Once upon a time you had to sit completely still for minutes while a camera slowly captured your image, so when Samuel Shlafrock invented the first portable ‘instant’ camera in 1923, it must have caused waves in the photography community. 

It’s strange to think of how many branches of modern technology have developed onwards from the traditional camera now. From high resolution drones adding a new dimension to videos, to smart cameras that can identify specific people or objects and track them across an IoT network. These smart cameras have numerous applications such as helping with robotics developments, so robots can effectively ‘see’ using a range of cameras, sensors and AI learning. 


From The First Liquid Fueled Rocket to the First Proposed City on Mars

100 years of innovation (5)

The first glimmer of hope that space travel was even theoretically possible came in the form of Robert H. Goddard, who successfully launched the first liquid fueled rocket. Although it was far from penetrating the atmosphere at 60mph and 41ft, it was the precursor in engine technology that led to launching humans into space in the 1960s.

Now Elon Musk has announced he if fully preparing for SpaceX to build a sustainable city on Mars by 2050, but aims to begin building moon bases much sooner. They are currently testing technology that will allow them to transport the equipment needed for these projects in the near future, and already plan to launch a network of satellites in the 2020s that can provide super-fast internet to even the most remote areas of Earth. 


What do you think the next 100 years will hold for technology? Will Ensign be installing cables on Mars in 2120? 

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