Gadgets That Changed Society

There are many inventions that changed society. In transportation, we would consider the airplane, automobile, or even a boat. In communications, we might consider the telegraph, the telephone, or even television. In medicine, we might consider penicillin, pace-makers, or even contraception.

But this article is about gadgets and most of the above listed inventions are not considered gadgets. Why? A gadget is defined as a small device that you can carry with you on a journey. Life, by many, is considered a journey so a pace-maker might be considered a gadget. An old style (wall mounted) telephone would not be considered a gadget, but a modern day cell phone would be.

We will outline (3) gadgets that have changed society. Some consider the advance of these technologies has had a positive impact on society and has changed they we behave. Others believe these technological advances have actually reduced our ability as a society to communicate.

Cell Phone

Portable radio transmitting devices have been for years for communication purposes. Starting with Walkie-Talkies, a term coined after one’s ability to walk and talk without having a connecting wire attached, became popular for communication during WW II. Developed by Motorola as a communications device during combat, these gadgets became available to the public following the war. Limited by transmission distance and somewhat hefty to lug around the woods, they served their purpose as local and reasonably inexpensive devices. A major contributor to the portable devices weight was the size of its internal battery.

New technology was needed to transmit a signal over long distance and reduce the cost/weight of the gadgets. The signal transmission via a repeater system known as cell towers provided better localized signal at great distances. Additionally, advances in computer chip and circuit board design led to reduced cost and lighter products. As important were advances in battery storage design and capacity. All of these advances combined have led to slick gadgets like the iPhone and Droid.

Sunglasses

Polarized sunglasses have changed society. This gadget has reduced eye strain and increased protection from UV light that can damage one’s eyes. A little known fact is that lifeguards have a 7-fold (7X) increase in cataracts due to overexposure to sun and UV light. The old “glacier goggles” were an excellent solution to reducing sun glare, but not address other protection.

Corrective lenses also have been developed to provide improved eyesight, but also to improve eye protection with polarizing lenses. This is a topic that is overlooked when considering contact lenses. UV protecting contact lenses will likely be developed, but they don’t cover the entire eye.

Coffee Mug

The coffee mug has been around since mankind first sipped caffeine in liquid form. Insulated coffee mugs are gadgets that has enhanced our lives and changed society in many ways. The ability to sip warm coffee while traveling is an enhancement. Having to clean a shirt from a dripping coffee mug is not.

Our society has changed since the insulated mug was invented. For one, there are a variety of specialty coffee shops that exist today. No longer do individuals sit at a diner being served by Flo, their waitress. A commuting worker today will drive their vehicle through a take-out window and is willing to purchase a customized mix. Our habit for purchasing coffee on the way to work versus having a cup prior to leaving our homes or once arriving at work has changed. In addition, this on-the-go mentality has changed our breakfast habits. If our only way to have a hot cup of coffee was to sit for breakfast at home or at a diner counter, would we be more like to eat breakfast in the morning?

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