Happy New Year! 2018 was a pretty interesting year for technology buffs like me. Yes, there were some tech-related mishaps, but there were also many major advancements in technology that have changed our world for the better. While my humans were busy exchanging gifts and feasting with family over the holidays, I scurried off to do some digging (first on the internet, later outside in our backyard – gee I hope I can find that bone I hid).
There have been many technological advancements during the past year, from small gadgets to big data technologies. Too many, in fact, to list out completely. Instead, I decided to focus on five technologies that have made a major, positive impact on society, all in different ways.
AI & Machine Learning
While not new to 2018, artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies became mainstream this past year. From your smartphone to your car, to household appliances and other smart home products like Echo and Google Home; to healthcare and workforce practices, and even how we file our taxes, we saw an immersion of AI technology in many of the everyday products we use. The machine learning capabilities of AI technology (such as Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant voice control) have allowed us to streamline our work, have helped us to connect and communicate better, and have improved our lives overall!
Another technology that was not new to 2018 but became a norm for our culture is augmented reality and virtual reality—and not just in gaming! (Remember the craze of Pokemon Go?! Even Walking Dead has an AVR game now!) National Geographic launched its Air Land & Sea AVR initiative, which allows viewers to get a 360-degree up-close-and-personal view of different parts of the world, and many retail brands picked up AVR as a way to showcase their products and let customers fully envision what they would look like on themselves or in their homes. AVR technology even helped to bridge gaps in humanity, with a snow globe game brought to children who had to be in the hospital over the holidays. The children would put on the AVR goggles and watch as they became part of the snow globe, playing with the characters within.
Screen Time Apps
This one sounds like an oxymoron—technology that helps us disconnect from technology. But as the saying goes (or so I’m told by my humans), too much of anything can be a bad thing. Which is why Apple’s Screen Time and Google’s Digital Wellbeing apps have made it to my list of technology that has improved our lives! Whether you’re an Apple user or an Android user, you can now monitor how much time you spend on your phone daily and weekly, including which apps occupy most of your time. You can also see how many times you pick up your device in a day, how many notifications you get and read from your apps, and you can set controls and limits for app usage. Many of us are guilty of getting sucked into our devices and these new measures will help us all to maintain real-life relationships with our real human pals (and dogs, in my case).
Google Pixel Buds
And speaking of communication, 2018 was the year we finally bridged the translation gap for humans speaking different languages. (They do not, however, translate between dog and cat language. Clawdia and I tried.) Google’s Pixel Buds connect via Bluetooth® to a smartphone and the speaker and listener can experience practically real-time translation. One human wears the earbuds while the other holds the phone, and the app will translate the human who’s talking and play it aloud on the phone. Priced at just $159, this useful technology is accessible and affordable to the everyday human.
Space, the final frontier (whatever that means…). I have noticed my humans staring up at the skies at night and pointing to different star clusters, wondering in awe what could possibly be out there. (I tried asking the universe, but they said my howling was too loud and would wake the neighbors.) And while curiosity killed the cat (hint hint, Clawdia), it seems nothing will stop the passion of humans at large to find out more about space and whether we can live out there. 2018 saw the emergence of many new spaceflight technologies, including the NASA InSight Lander. This spacecraft made a successful six-month journey and landing on Mars and will be the first probe ever to study the planet’s interior. The InSight Lander technology even gave us the first recorded sounds on Mars! Maybe living on Mars isn’t as far off as we think. I can picture it now—Cache, the Space Cadet! (My humans have already given me this nickname, anyways.)
Looking back at 2018, there were some ‘ruff’ times for technology. But, there were also many instances where the advancement of technology truly helped us all to connect and communicate better.
After all, that’s what technology is supposed to do—help us be better, and live better lives. It’s why I love technology so much; it brought me and my family together.
‘Til next time,
Your pawsitively pawesome pal Cache