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The tech inventions that changed our lives

Analysis of how information technology has been incorporated into users' day-to-day lives

The tech inventions that changed our lives
12 May 2007


The tech inventions that changed our lives is a personal work of the multimedia degree at the UOC that aims to show how computer technology has been incorporated into the daily lives of users, mainly within this last decade.

Technology is booming. The consumer society has led us to a dynamic in which we consume more and more by whim than by necessity and one of the most beneficial sectors is that of new technologies. In this work, we wanted to explain in a general way some of the latest electronic devices or technological innovations that have become very popular in today's society.

This project focuses on the explanation and development of what we have selected as the 14 decisive inventions for the user in this last decade. Initially, the project is explained in block 0 Introduction summarizing the objectives of the project and also putting the reader in the situation. The choice of the 14 inventions was not simple and the elaboration of a common template for all the inventions, to follow a similar structure, was not easy either, since there are very diverse inventions and it is not easy to catalog each of the computer advances following the same guidelines.

The first block of the project deals with the main innovations in the field of computer hardware. New forms of communication (Wifi, Bluetooth) and storage (flash), for example, have been some of the most impressive and fastest-growing innovations in the sector.

But it is not only hardware that has undergone an expansion. Some of the topics we deal with in the second block, computer software, have changed the economics of many sectors (such as Peer to Peer and MP3, which have revolutionized the music sector), but others have altered social habits, such as blogs and social communities, which have allowed any anonymous person not only to freely express their opinion but also to spread it around the world.

In the third and final block of content, we have included a few more applications of computing that cannot be classified solely as hardware or software, as they are a union of both and are also notoriously influencing both the economy and society.

As a culmination of the project we present the conclusions, which are evident after having read the project, and we have also developed an explanatory web page, as well as a PowerPoint presentation in which the essence of the project is shown in a more didactic and interactive way.

To explain in a general way each of these new advances, we have designed a template (see next page) that includes the past, present and future of each of the "inventions", as well as the most relevant aspects of their operation and tries to give an approximate idea of the influence they have had on society. The points evaluated in the project are the following:

  • Initial summary of characteristics
  • Definition
  • Functioning and scientific basis
  • Applications and sectors concerned
  • Versions and types
  • Requirements, consumption, problems
  • Current situation
  • Future forecast


Flash memories. Fast and transportable storage.


  • Name: Flash memory. Flash drive. Memory card
  • Year of invention and place: It was Intel in 1988 when it invented this type of memory as an evolution of the EEPROMs existing at that time
  • Year of impact on society: In 1994, SanDisk began to market memory cards (CompactFlash) based on these circuits and since then they have not stopped evolving
  • Sectors to which it belongs: from personal to space aeronautics. The spectrum of users is very wide and affects all sectors
  • Main brands: Sandisk, TDK, Verbatim, Kingston, PNY, PNY, Fordox, Samsung, Memorex
  • Approximate price range: from 15€ for 512Mb, 50€ for 2GB up to 4000€ for 64GB

DEFINITION: Flash memories are non-volatile, that is, the information stored is not lost as soon as it is disconnected from the current, a feature highly valued for the multitude of uses in which this type of memory is used.

The main uses of this type of memory are small devices based on the use of batteries such as cell phones, PDAs, small household appliances, digital cameras, portable audio players, etc.

HISTORY: The history of flash memory has always been closely linked to the progress of the rest of the technologies it serves, such as routers, modems, PC BIOS, wireless, etc. It was Intel in 1988 when it invented this type of memory as an evolution of the EEPROM existing at that time.

Between 1994 and 1998, the main types of memory we know today, such as SmartMedia or CompactFlash, were developed. The technology soon found applications in other fields. In 1998, the Rio company marketed the first 'Walkman' without moving parts by taking advantage of the SmartMedia mode of operation. It was the dream of every sportsman who had suffered the jumps of a Diskman in his pocket.

APPLICATIONS: The USB keychain, in addition to storage, often include other services such as FM radio, voice recording and, above all, portable players of MP3 and other audio formats. The flash memory cards are the substitute for the reel in digital photography since the photos are stored in them.

TYPES: There are memory cards of different sizes and brands. Some widespread formats are: compact flash, secure ROM, Memory Stick, Picture Card, etc. USB key fobs have infinite shapes, sizes and functions.

REQUIREMENTS: Some MP3 or video players with flash memory are self-contained and do not require any other device. Memory cards and USB flash drives require a computer, digital camera or music player to operate.

THE SITUATION: Nowadays, flash memories are a fundamental element for leisure and work. The change from analog to digital photography would not have been possible without this type of flash memory. Students, professionals and other groups use flash drives to transport data easily and quickly.

FUTURE: The future of the flash memory world is quite encouraging, as the trend is towards the ubiquity of computers and smart, embedded appliances and, therefore, the demand for small, cheap and flexible memories will continue to rise until new systems appear that surpass it both in features and cost and, at least in appearance, it is not feasible even in the medium term as the miniaturization and density of flash memories is still far from reaching worrying levels from a physical point of view.

Fiber optics. Data transmission mechanisms


  • Name: Fiber optics
  • Year of invention and place: 1977 first test system was installed in England.
  • Sectors to which it belongs: Internet, telecommunications, television
  • Main brands**: There are no brands, although the main investors are telephone companies such as Motorola and cable television companies such as the Venezuelan Supercable

DEFINITION: Fiber optics is the necessary advance to improve data transmission at the high speed required for worldwide use of the Internet. Telephone lines do not have such a high transmission capacity since they were not designed to carry data at the time of their creation.

HISTORY: In 1959 it was discovered as a derivation of the studies of physics (optics) new use of light, called laser beam, which were applied to telecommunications so that the messages were transmitted at unusual speeds and with wide coverage. But the use of lasers was very limited due to the lack of suitable conductors to make electromagnetic waves travel. It was then that scientists turned their efforts to the production of a channel, known today as optical fiber. In 1966 the proposal to use optical guidance for communication arose and in 1977 the first test system was installed in England.

SCIENTIFIC BASIS: Cables between 10-300 microns thick that carry messages in the form of light beams from one end to the other without interruption using a fiber made of tiny crystals. Transmission is by reflection and there are hardly any losses since the core of the fiber is covered by a layer of glass that causes a very low refractive index. The transmission and reception system requires the following components: Input signal, amplifier, light source, optical corrector, fiber optic line, receiver, amplifier and output signal.

APPLICATIONS: Increase speed in telecommunications. It is applicable in small stand-alone environments as well as in large geographical networks (from data processing systems in airplanes to long urban line systems maintained by telephone companies). The most common applications are for the Internet, networks, telephony, and cable television.

TYPES: Fiber optic circuits are composed of glass (natural crystals) or plastic (artificial crystals) filaments.

REQUIREMENTS: Only people in whose cities the fiber optic network is installed can subscribe. The cost of connection and installation is high. The fibers are fragile, there is limited availability of connectors and the difficulty of repairing a broken cable is high.

SITUATION: Fully booming, the installation and applications of this new technology are very effective and research continues to improve its performance.

FUTURE: In the future most people will have access to fiber optics and its installation cost will be lower. This will produce an increase in Internet connections and a new concept in telephony and television.



  • Name: WI-FI or Wifi. Stands for Wireless-Fidelity
  • Year of invention and place: The IEEE 802.11 standard was published in 1997. It belongs to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a worldwide non-profit technical-professional association founded in 1884 by various personalities (including illustrious ones such as Thomas Alva Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and Franklin Leonard Pope). WIFI as such is both the set of standards based on the IEEE 802.11 specifications and a trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance
  • Year of its impact on society: In 1999 the 802.11b version appeared, which together with 802.11g has been the most widely used
  • Sectors to which it belongs: As the IEEE is a non-profit association, any sector can benefit from this standard

DEFINITION: The IEEE 802.11 protocol is a set of standards designed to connect several computers wirelessly (via infrared or radio waves, depending on the standard), although its most frequent use today is for Internet connection.

HISTORY: The first version of the IEEE 802.11 protocol was created in 1997, with a transmission speed of 2Mbps (Megabits per second). Later, in 1999, two more advanced standards were created: 802.11a (54Mbps) which operated in the 5GHz band (GigaHertz) and 802.11b (11Mbps), which operated in the 2.4 GHz band (more widely used, as it is the same used by cell phones and other electronic devices). In June 2003 another standard was created, 802.11g, which operates in the 2.4GHz band with a theoretical maximum speed of 54Mbps and a range of up to 50km. In addition to being compatible with the 802.11b standard, it became the most popular.

APPLICATIONS: Its most common use today is to communicate a computer or other device (PDA, mobile, etc.) with an Internet access point. This allows that being within the coverage radius of the access node, you can access the Internet without the need for cables (simultaneously using other security protocols such as WEP or WPA to protect communication and data).

TYPES: More than types, there are different versions of the same communications protocol standard (see the History section for more details).

REQUIREMENTS: In most everyday use, which is Internet access, all we need is to have an access point nearby to which we can connect our device. If the device we want to connect is a computer, we will need a wireless network card, if it is another type of device it usually already has integrated WiFi communication capacity.

**Currently it is one of the most widely used communication standards, as it allows the creation of large Internet connection networks, even in entire cities at low cost and without the need for cables. In this way, we can be connected at any time and from anywhere to the network.

FUTURE: A new version of the protocol (version 802.11n) is already underway, which is expected to reach speeds of up to 600Mbps and with a much larger range. In the future, it is expected that cities will have guaranteed Internet access via Wifi from any point in the city (for example, the city of Nuenen, birthplace of Van Gogh, in the Netherlands, has already implemented it).



  • Name: Scanner (or Scanner)
  • Year of invention and place: Rudolf Hell is considered the inventor of the fax and the scanner. He founded a company in Berlin that in the 1960s created the forerunner of today's scanner
  • Year of its impact on society: It has never been a huge boom, although its biggest boom was in the 1990s

Sectors to which it belongs: Private, commercial and professional Main brands: Epson, Canon and HP

  • Approximate price range: From 60€ the cheapest to 240€ the most expensive

DEFINITION: The scanner is hardware whose main purpose is to convert analog information into digital so that it can be interpreted by a computer and stored or manipulated later.

HISTORY: The Hell company created in 1929 a machine capable of transmitting text. The machine decomposed letters into dots and retransmitted them electronically. This machine was the forerunner of the fax machine and later served as the technological basis for the first scanner in 1963.

APPLICATIONS: In addition to the usual uses of a scanner (digitizing images, text, etc.), there is a variant of the scanner that is used very frequently, especially in stores: the bar code reader.

TYPESThere are three types of scanners: roller, handheld and desktop. The roller scanner is similar to a fax machine since it automatically picks up the document to be scanned and digitizes it. Its main drawback is that it can only scan text documents. The handheld type is the least reliable, as it depends on the user's pulse, but it is the cheapest. Finally, the desktop type is the most expensive, but also the most professional and widespread.

REQUIREMENTS: The technology that makes up the scanner has the main disadvantage that it is very mechanical and this can lead to failures due to wear and tear, shocks, etc. Regarding consumption and requirements, it needs nothing more than electricity to operate and a driver (TWAIN standard) to communicate with the computer.

SITUATION: Currently it is not one of the most demanded products. The fact that most of the information produced is already digital has made the scanner fall into disuse.

FUTURE: Among the devices based on scanner technology with the greatest future are fingerprint readers and retina scanners, among others.



  • Name: Webcam or webcam
  • Year of invention and place: It was invented by Quentin Stafford-Fraser in 1991 at the Department of Computer Science, University of Cambridge
  • Year in which it impacted society: It is currently being commercialized the most
  • Sectors to which it belongs: Private, leisure

Main brands: Logitech, Creative, Microsoft, Genius, etc

  • Approximate price range: Between 12€ and 120€ depending on the model

DEFINITION: Basically, the webcam is a digital camera connected to a PC and its main purpose is to capture images to distribute them over the Internet.

HISTORY: Its invention is attributed to Quentin Stafford-Fraser, from the Department of Computer Science at Cambridge University. Quentin was addicted to coffee and, tired of going downstairs to get coffee and there was none left, he decided to connect a video camera to a computer via a video card so he could watch the coffee pot from his place.

APPLICATIONS: The most popular use is to communicate visually with other people (for example, with instant messaging programs such as MSN Messenger), although it can also be used to record small videos and photos to upload them to the Internet or to play video games (see Types).

TYPES: In addition to private webcams, you can currently find thousands of webcams on the Internet in public places and cities around the world that allow you to "visit" other places without being there (http://www.worldlive.cz/en/webcams#location). Other types of webcams would be, for example, the "Eye Toy", an accessory for the PlayStation2 console that captures your image and movements and turns you into the protagonist of the games.

REQUIREMENTS: The only requirement is to have a fairly powerful computer, a USB port (usually the most common connection) and webcam drivers.

SITUATION: Webcams are currently being promoted, mainly for recreational and communication use, but they are very popular.

FUTURE: More and more technological devices include camera and Internet connection and also the speed of data transmission is improving, which will enhance the use of videoconferencing as a form of communication, either from the cell phone, computer or any other portable device.

Bluetooth. Communication of computing devices


  • Name: Bluetooth
  • Year of invention and place: Ericsson, 1994 (first appearance)
  • Year of impact on society: From 2001 to 2005, sales of Bluetooth devices doubled every year
  • Sectors to which it belongs: Home environments, advertising, leisure and entertainment, applicable to medicine, automobiles, etc

Main brands: Ericsson, Nokia, Toshiba, Intel, IBM, etc

  • Approx. price range: Depending on which Bluetooth application. For example, a mouse with Bluetooth technology costs about 90 €, on the other hand, a USB-Bluetooth adapter can be found for 30 €

DEFINITION: Bluetooth is the name of the norm that defines a global standard of wireless communication and allows the communication and transmission of data and voice using a radiofrequency link. If one device is within the coverage radius of another, they can establish a connection between them.

HISTORY: The birth of Bluetooth technology began in 1994, from a study that developed the Ericsson brand and investigated the feasibility of a low-cost and low-consumption radio communication. As a result of this study, it was possible to create a short-range radio link, called the MC link. As the project progressed, a wide range of applications was considered, since the radio chip on which it was based was relatively inexpensive.

It was realized that for this technology to be successful, a large number of devices would have to be equipped with it. For this reason, the SIG group was formed by 5 promoters (Ericsson, Nokia, IBM, Toshiba and Intel) who formed a consortium and established a standard for their software to ensure the interoperability of equipment from different manufacturers.

APPLICATIONS: Bluetooth technology offers many possibilities, mainly because it facilitates communications between mobile and fixed devices, eliminates any type of cables and connectors between them, and it is even possible to create small wireless networks between personal devices. Moreover, Bluetooth technology applies to many sectors, mainly hardware, software and telecommunications.

TYPES: There are different versions of Bluetooth devices classified by their transmission power, although they are all compatible regardless of this factor. The classes of Bluetooth devices would be Class 1 devices, with a range of about 100m, Class 2, with a range of 20/30m and finally Class 3, with only one meter of radio. For two devices to communicate they must simultaneously occupy each other's range, i.e. if we want a Class 1 device to communicate with a Class 3 device, we must place it at a distance of about 1 meter, regardless of whether the range of the Class 1 device reaches 100m.

REQUIREMENTS: The only requirement is a relatively low-cost chip adapted to each Bluetooth application. However, the weak point of Bluetooth technology is the security given the ease with which data can be transferred to equipment that often lacks processing capacity. To avoid this problem, a question-answer routine has been defined, a session key is provided to the devices and an encrypted stream of data is generated (encryption).

STATUS: Booming, according to statistics from 2001 to 2005 the sale of Bluetooth devices is doubling every year.

FUTURE: Bluetooth technology will soon be introduced in consoles such as Sony Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii, which will have wireless controllers. Businesses will also be affected by the possibility of using Bluetooth as a means of sending advertising to cell phones when passing near a transmitter. Another new development will be the application of Bluetooth for wired communication between GPS equipment and medical equipment.


MP3 and DIVX. Main audio and video codecs


  • Name: DivX, Divx;), MP3, MPEG Audio Layer 3
  • Year of invention and place: MP3: developed and patented between 1986-1995, MPEG (Media Pictures Expert Group). Divx: 2000, Jeroma Rota (France), Max Morice (Germany) (hackers)
  • Year of impact on society: Parallel to the increase in the number of broadband connections (2000-2005)

Sectors to which it belongs: Home and professional environments, IT industry, music and film industry

  • Approx. price range: mp3 players cost about 40-300 euros, and DivX players cost 40-200 euros

DEFINITION: Mp3 and Divx are the names of the main audio and sound codecs most commonly used today. Codecs (short for encoder-decoder), encode the size of a signal to reduce the size of audio and multimedia files, mainly for broadcasting over the Internet or other transmission media and then recover it to make it usable.

HISTORY: The DivX technology was developed in the shadow of other technologies (MPEG-4 Part 2 and DecSS) by two hackers (Jeroma Rota and Max Morice) in 2000. After this innovation, two projects that pretended to legalize divs were Project Mayo and 3ivx.com. Project Mayo claimed at all times to know the source code until it culminated in the creation of the first legal Divx 4 codec. Currently, the development is completely legal and belongs to the company Divx, Inc, originally based on Project Mayo.

SCIENTIFIC BASIS: The mp3 technology was developed by the MPEG (Moving Pictures Expert Group) and the size reduction is based on a psychoacoustic analysis of the sound, that is to say, the sound is analyzed and the sounds that the brain cannot perceive (very high or very low frequencies, superimposed sounds, etc.) are discarded, obtaining a very reduced final size with an insignificant loss of quality.

TYPES: Both DivX and Mp3 significantly reduce the file size without hardly altering the quality, and this is precisely the factor that has caused so much success and acceptance for these codecs. To get an idea, Divx stores in about 700 MB what DVD stores in 8 GB, with a derisory loss of quality. The same is true for mp3, which stores approximately 1 minute of sound in 1 MB, i.e. it compresses by 90% the size of the same file in WAV format. This size reduction facilitates its diffusion on the Internet and for this reason, it is so popular.

REQUIREMENTS: Mp3 and DivX are basically (although not legally) circulating on the Internet, normally they are spread with P2P programs or also from some web pages or other programs. From there it is possible to download them to your computer to play them with specific player software (also easily found on the internet), or they can be recorded on a cd obtaining approximately an mp3 cd with about 12 hours of music or a movie with a quality close to DVD.

SITUATION: Currently these technologies are in fashion and mp3 is slightly more advanced because DivX files are more extensive and require broadband connections that not everyone has.

FUTURE: In this sector it is unpredictable to know where this fight between piracy and the film and music industries will go, every time new laws against piracy are agreed upon but apparently without much effect. We can assume that other forms of image and sound storage will be created and that their respective codecs will probably be created at the same time, each time with higher quality.

Messenger and VOIP. Real-time communication using computers


  • Name: Instant messaging software, Voip, Voice over IP, IP Telephony, Internet Telephony, Broadband Telephony and Voice over Broadband
  • Year of invention and place: The precedent was the "Experimental Voice Protocol Network", ARPANET - 1973 and the first instant messaging program on the Internet were ICQ, 1996 (Spanish)
  • Year in which it had an impact on society: From 2000 onwards
  • Sectors to which it belongs: Communication, Internet, education and business
  • Main brands: AIM, ICQ, Yahoo Messenger, Windows Messenger, QQ, Skype, Google Talk

DEFINITION: Voice over Internet Protocol, also called Voice over IP, VoIP, is the routing of voice conversations over the Internet or some other IP-based network. The most common use of the VOIP protocol is in instant messaging programs.

HISTORY: An early form of instant messaging was the implementation of the PLATO system used in the early 1970s. Then such a system on UNIX/LINUX started to be used by engineers and academics in the 80s and 90s. In 1996 ICQ, the first instant messaging program appeared. Since its appearance, many programs have emerged that have incorporated variations and have been developed in parallel elsewhere, each application having its protocol. Alternatively, programs have emerged that support several protocols, such as Gaim or Trillian, and recently some messaging services have begun to offer telephony (VoIP) and videoconferencing.

SCIENTIFIC BACKGROUND: VoIP converts voice conversations into digital audio, which can be stored on a computer. At the source, the voice is digitized, compressed and encapsulated over the TCP/IP protocol. At the destination, the opposite is done. This translates into greater flexibility to participate in a conversation.

APPLICATIONS: Important applications in several sectors, mainly for leisure, although its application to business and education is also important. The purpose of these programs is to improve communication by offering instant communication to the client, as opposed to conventional "e-mail". In addition, these programs increasingly incorporate more options such as telephone calls, file sharing, virtual whiteboard, built-in games, videoconferencing, sending SMS to mobiles, etc.

TYPES: There are several programs depending on the functions they have, some are more oriented towards videoconferencing and calls, while others are more oriented towards sharing functions and files.

REQUIREMENTS: The requirements depend on the program, generally, you need a computer with an Internet connection with a preferably high speed, an account in the desired server, and for most of them an advanced version of Windows, audio and microphone, and for some functions a webcam.

SITUATION: Although the "boom" of these programs is located a few years ago, it continues to be investigated with great impetus its applications in other fields and continues to increase the number of users who use it.

FUTURE: It seems that these programs are more and more inclined to integrate instant messaging programs with P2P, and the possibility of introducing the use of PayPal with these programs is being studied.

Peer To Peer. File sharing networks such as Napster, Edonkey, Kademlia, Gnutella or BitTorrent.


  • Name: P2P, Emule, Kazaa, Overnet, Torrents, Napster
  • Year of invention and place: The first P2P (PeerToPeer) application was Napster, in 1999. In 2001 it was closed by court order (it already had 27 million users) and in 2002 the first decentralized networks such as Kazaa, Grokster and Morpheus started to emerge
  • Year in which it had an impact on society: Since the year Napster appeared, file sharing through P2P networks has been growing steadily around the world and today there are hundreds of millions of users
  • Sectors to which it belongs: it is usually used in domestic environments although little by little some universities and companies are starting to use the Bitorrent protocol to share large files
  • Free/private distribution: Most of them are freely distributed. Emule: open source project (SourceForge). BitTorrent is distributed under the MIT license
  • Main projects: Emule (popular in Europe and America), BitTorrent (popular in Asia)

DEFINITION: P2P programs and networks are used to share computer files of all kinds free of charge over the Internet.

HISTORY: P2P (PeerToPeer) networks are based on the connection of computers through software such as Emule. In the beginning, some P2P networks were not decentralized and therefore a server was needed to manage the clients and their files. Today, P2P software technology continues to evolve to make users' connections and transfers as anonymous as possible.

APPLICATIONS: Currently, P2P networks are mostly used to share music files, movies encoded in DivX and all types of software for PC, MAC, video game consoles, ebooks, etc.

TYPES: The community of P2P users is very large and there are many programs and MODS (modifications of the original programs) to share files. In Spain, there are communities such as Emulespana where you can find the necessary information to start experimenting with Peer To Peer Networks.

REQUIREMENTS: In order to connect to a P2P network it is necessary to have a high-speed Internet connection, a PC or MAC computer with Windows, MAC OS or Linux, and a computer program such as Emule, BitTorrent or Pando.

SITUATION: Emule and BitTorrent are currently the most widely used file-sharing programs. The RIAA, SGAE, MPA and other organizations that defend copyrights are in an ongoing battle with P2P networks to ban their use.

FUTURE: Throughout history, lawsuits have led users to switch to P2P programs with technologies that are more difficult to stop, and the number of users has not diminished. The Internet phenomenon and its constant evolution will force film and music production companies to change their business model.

Blogging, Social Communities. Evolution to Internet 2.0


  • Name: Friendster, YouTube, Blogspot, Neurona, etc
  • Year of invention and place: In 2002, websites promoting online friend networks started to appear
  • Year of impact on society: From 2003 onwards, sites such as Friendster, MySpace, Tribe.net, Linkedln started to become popular
  • Sectors to which it belongs: Social networks are used by Internet users of all kinds and currently on sites such as Second Life, companies from all over the world can even create a virtual store and promote their services and sell their products

Main projects: SecondLife, MySpace, YouTube, Blogspot, CouchSurfing, Neurona, etc

DEFINITION: Social networks are made up of users, who are in charge of inviting more people and among them, they can communicate, see other users' profiles, see photos, videos, music, professional profiles, etc. Users are organized in groups and there are powerful search engines to browse the social network in search of other users.

HISTORY: Social networks are the result of the evolution of the Internet and the increase in the computer-using population.

APPLICATIONS: Providing multimedia content, offering accommodation to other travelers, sharing professional profiles, searching for friends and partners, finding old school and work colleagues,...

TYPES: Mainly activities related to leisure and the dissemination of multimedia content. There are also networks focused on the business and professional fields.

REQUIREMENTS: Normally, to participate in a social network, it is necessary to register as a user and provide some personal data or fill in a personalized profile on the website.

SITUATION: Social networks are currently booming and new initiatives are appearing every day to capture the interest of Internet users.

FUTURE: The future of the Internet to the so-called "Internet 2.0" and some are already talking about "Internet 3.0", involves a greater involvement of users on the Internet. Social networks will continue to be present and will evolve at the same time as the Internet.

E-Commerce and Online Advertising. Buying and Selling on the Internet. Banking applications


  • Name: Google Adsense and Adwords, eBay, Paypal, Amazon, etc
  • Year of invention and place: In 1995 the G7/G8 countries created the Global Marketplace for SMEs initiative, to accelerate the use of e-commerce among businesses worldwide
  • Year in which it had an impact on society: After the "dot com" crisis, from 2003 onwards
  • Sectors to which it belongs: the whole of society benefits to a greater or lesser extent from e-commerce and its various applications, from credit cards to Internet shopping
  • Main projects: Google Adsense and Adwords, eBay, Paypal, Amazon

DEFINITION: E-Commerce is the simple replication of a business on the Internet allowing to collect orders or offer products and/or services from or to customers or suppliers.

HISTORY: Since 1995 a multitude of Internet companies began to emerge, but the distrust of customers, and the absence of a well-defined business plan with specific objectives, led many of them to disappear (dot com crisis).

APPLICATIONS: Making purchases over the Internet. Make transactions in your bank online. Earn money and promote your business with Adsense and Google Adwords.

REQUIREMENTS: Most services for online shopping require the use of a credit card and for sales, you need a payment gateway that connects the website with a bank or service like Paypal.

SITUATION: Currently, a large part of society is unaware of or uninterested in Internet shopping/selling services. One of the most popular reasons is the lack of security on the Internet or the fear of being scammed.

FUTURE: The e-commerce of the future will have more facilities to move money on a global scale, greater social acceptance and sophisticated online marketing tools.


GPS (Global Positioning System)


  • Name: GPS (Global Positioning System) or Global Positioning System
  • Year of invention and place: It was designed by the United States Department of Defense and has been in operation since 1995.
  • Year in which it had an impact on society: It is currently being commercialized the most
  • Sectors to which it belongs: Military and Private
  • Main brands: Airis, TomTom, Navman, Acer, etc

Approximate price range: Between 180€ and 600€ depending on the model. The professional and specialized ones can even reach up to 30000€

DEFINITION: The idea of GPS is based on a set of 21 satellites. A GPS receives several signals at the same time from some of the satellites and calculates the position in which it is located.

HISTORY: Initially they devised a system called TRANSIT, consisting of 6 satellites, which was intended to support the U.S. marine fleet. Later they improved it with 28 satellites that provided worldwide coverage the first of the 28 satellites was launched in 1978 and in 1983 the entire network was available.

APPLICATIONS: In addition to military purposes, GPS has many applications: maritime navigation, detection of earthquakes, and volcanoes, tracking of icebergs, etc. It is increasingly used for private and leisure purposes.

TYPESThe GPS is a unique system. Although GPS is indeed the American satellite network and currently there is another Russian network (GLONASS) and in a few years there will be another European network (GALILEO), there is no great difference between them and the receivers have almost all common characteristics.

REQUIREMENTS: In order to use GPS technology it is necessary to have a receiver (also known as GPS) and receive the signal from the satellites (the more the better). Usually, the receivers have built-in maps of geographical areas or cities to facilitate the user's location.

SITUATION: GPS is currently at a great moment. It is very common to see more and more cars and individuals with a receiver that not only locates them geographically but also indicates the route to follow.

FUTURE: In the next few years, the European satellite network GALILEO will come into operation, which will also offer positioning services. In addition, more and more GPS receivers are being incorporated into cell phones, laptops and PDAs.

Home Media Center. Computing as the center of the home


  • Name: Home Media Center
  • Year of invention and place: SES GLOBAL, Astra, 2003 - Hannover
  • Year of impact on society: Has not yet had a real impact on society
  • Sectors to which it belongs: IT, home appliances, entertainment, hardware manufacturers, software, content providers, distributors, and product and service providers
  • Approx. price range: 500€ - 3000€

DEFINITION: A media center is a new concept of a computer, adapted to meet the needs of the whole family. It is designed to become the center of the home, that is to say, to be able to operate with a single device that allows several functions at the same time and allows interactive access to television.

HISTORY: Although it is a very recent invention, the first European Home Media Center was presented at CeBIT (Hannover) by the company SES GLOBAL. We can not clearly describe the history of the Home Media Center because it is rather a fusion between the functions of computers and other audiovisual devices, mainly the functions of the DVR (Digital Video Recorder) that allows recording on a hard disk television programming, video game consoles with an Internet connection and audio manager and digital photography (Xbox, Playstation) However we can say that the software that mainly uses these computers are Windows, Linux and Apple.

APPLICATIONS: A media center can be used as a personal computer or connected to the television via video cable. The media center can play music, watch movies and photos stored on a local hard disk or in any case on a local network, they are also able to play DVDs, record television images or perform other tasks such as searching for news on the Internet. They have a large storage capacity (the current ones are about 250 GB). Their use is quite simple and graphical, although they can perform quite complex functions. Their main advantage is that the user saves money by investing in a single device that was traditionally obtained from several (TV, video, computer, stereo, etc.). They also have the advantage that they are quite compact and do not take up much space.

TYPES: They are not well defined yet, but the differences will be created depending on the function of the media center and the possibilities and services that each device can offer.

REQUIREMENTS: It is necessary to buy a Media Center, the price varies depending on its innovations and power of it. It is also necessary to have an internet connection and to operate a media center it is possible to do it with a keyboard or with remote control.

SITUATION: Although it is not yet common, its use is booming, more and more brands are betting on these computers to place the computer as the center of the home. Although in Spain they are still not very well known, in other countries such as the U.S.A. and U.K. they are becoming more and more popular. FUTURE: Possibly, shortly, all homes will be equipped with a media center that will also serve as a personal computer when necessary.

Video game consoles


  • Name: Console or video game console
  • Year of invention, invention and place: There is no single inventor of video games, although one of the first dedicated companies was ATARI, founded in 1972 in New York
  • Year of impact on society: Each year it has a higher level of sales and a greater impact on the entertainment sector

Main brands: Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft

  • Approximate price range: From 130€ for the Nintendo DS to 399€ for the new Playstation 3

DEFINITION: A console could be defined as an electronic device whose main purpose is to allow playing video games. This would be its basic definition, although more and more consoles are becoming multimedia entertainment centers.

HISTORY: Although in the 50's companies such as SEGA and some video games such as OXO (A.S.Douglas, 1952 Cambridge University), a version of the famous tic-tac-toe game to play against the computer, the Odyssey (Magnavox, 1972) is considered the first console as such. However, it was the arrival of games like PONG (ATARI, 1975), SPACE INVADERS (Taito, 1978) or PAC-MAN that marked a before and after in the video game industry. From there came consoles such as the Atari 2600 (1977), the Nintendo (1985) and the Super Nintendo (1991), the different versions of Playstation (SONY), etc.

APPLICATIONS: Initially, consoles were prepared only to run games, but market demands and the evolution of communications (network games, Internet downloads, multimedia formats, etc.) have meant that the latest models of consoles now have an Internet connection, DVD playback, photographs and many other applications.

TYPES: More than types we could talk about classifications, for example: by brands (SONY, SEGA, NINTENDO, MICROSOFT...), by the storage system (cartridges, CDs, DVDs..), etc. But perhaps the best way to divide it is into laptops and non-portables. Laptops are characterized by being easy to carry and because you can play with them anywhere and anytime. Non-portables, on the other hand, are much more powerful and with better graphics.

REQUIREMENTS: If the console is portable, the only thing you need to use is that it has a charged battery and, logically, a game. If it is not, then it will be necessary (besides the game) for some plug and a TV or monitor to be able to play.

SITUATION: We are living in the most golden age of video games. It is currently one of the industries that moves more money in the world, even above the cinema.

FUTURE: It seems that the future of consoles is unbeatable. The recent launch of the Nintendo Wii and Playstation 3 has put video games back in the media spotlight, and not for nothing: wireless controllers with motion detectors, Internet browsing, Bluetooth and increasingly more communication between the user and video game and even between console and other "gadgets", such as other portable consoles, MP3 players, etc. An unbeatable future is predicted for consoles as a center of leisure and entertainment.

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