20 Types of Technology: Definitions and Examples
Updated July 31, 2023
Most people use some form of technology every day of their lives. There are many different types of technology, and each one has unique functions that aim to make certain processes more efficient. With a better understanding of different types of technology, you can learn how each type of technology can help improve your daily life, and perhaps, this knowledge can even help you develop a desire for a career in technology.
In this article, we discuss what technology is and list 20 common technology types.
What is technology?
Technology is the product of transferring scientific knowledge to practical use. Different forms of technology are the result of people trying to find more efficient ways to do things and testing new ideas. Technology is constantly improving and generally aims to make processes easier for people. For example, the internet makes communication easier and more efficient. While a single piece of technology often overlaps into different areas, there are generally six different categories of technology: communication, electrical, energy, manufacturing, medical and transportation.
6 common types of technology
Here are six different categories of technology with examples for each:
Communication technology consists of any pieces of technology people use to communicate with one another. Some early examples of communication technology include Morse code and the telegraph. Below are some examples of more modern communication technologies:
Television sets transmit signals over which we can listen to and view audio and visual content. People use television to communicate important messages, advertisements, entertainment and more. Most televisions receive signals from a cable wire or over the internet, which relays signals that direct a television set on what content to display.
Many people consider the internet to be the most popular and powerful communication technology. It allows people from around the world to interact through written messages, as well as audio and video messages. With the internet, users can communicate almost instantaneously with anyone else and share information. This makes it a powerful tool for businesses, charities, governments and individuals among many others.
Cell phones are a modern improvement over the telephone. With a cell phone, people have the ability to call other phones and have a conversation with people across the world. Many phones are also capable of connecting to the internet, which allows users to communicate in other ways, such as text messages or video chats.
Many pieces of modern technology use electricity in some form. A few examples of electrical technology include:
Computers operate through a rapid pulsing of electrical currents. Their core foundation of computers is binary code, which determines whether there is an electrical current. Depending on the order in which the device receives these currents, a computer performs different functions. People use computers to access the internet and print physical copies of digital content among other functions.
A collection of electrical components that perform a particular function is a circuit. An example of an electrical circuit is a computer processor, which is a small component that translates electrical signals into computer code. Electrical circuits exist in many modern-day items, such as computers, remote controls, cell phones, appliances and more.
Artificial intelligence is a computer system designed to make decisions and perform actions autonomously. There are varying degrees of artificial intelligence sophistication in many of our daily tasks. For example, online navigation apps use artificial intelligence to analyze the best route for a traveler based on traffic, road closures and more. Another example is search engines, which use artificial intelligence to determine the best results to display for each unique user.
Related: What Is Artificial Intelligence?
Software includes the programs a computer uses to function properly. Most software aims to provide entertainment to users or make tasks more efficient. For example, word processing software makes it easier to create and edit documents when compared to older forms of technology such as a typewriter.
Audio and visual technology
Audio and visual technology consists of items such as cameras, microphones and projectors. Their purpose is to capture and display audio and visual mediums to users. Audio and visual technology often combines with other forms of technology, such as cellphones, to provide camera functionality, for example.
Energy technology aims to help generate, store and transmit energy for a variety of purposes. Common examples of energy technology include:
Solar panels use energy from the sun's rays to generate power. People use these panels to power things such as buildings, homes, outdoor lighting systems, water heating systems and more. Solar panels are a form of renewable energy, which is becoming a more popular form of energy generation due to its lack of carbon emissions.
Related: Guide To Becoming a Solar Installer
Wind turbines use propellers to generate wind energy. They are typically tall pillars located in open plains or within the ocean where winds are strongest and generate the most energy. As propellers spin, they generate energy, which the turbine then stores in a battery or transmits directly to a desired source.
Batteries store energy for later consumption, and people use these to power other forms of technology such as a television remote. They range in size—from small batteries in items such as watches to larger batteries for use inside cars or large solar panel installations. There have been great improvements in battery technology recently, with batteries now having the ability to store more energy for longer periods of time.
Mechanical technology is the application of engineering principles to achieve tasks more efficiently. People use this technology in a wide variety of machinery, with some common examples of mechanical technology including:
Manufacturing technology aims to produce goods faster and in a more cost-effective manner. A popular example of manufacturing technology is an assembly line, which greatly improved the speed of production processes. Manufacturing technology's benefits also include product quality improvements, better tracking and systems analysis, faster shipping speeds and enhanced employee safety.
Heavy engineering technology helps professionals perform tasks such as building bridges or digging tunnels. It helps transport heavy materials, dig holes into the ground and make construction processes more efficient. Other areas of heavy engineering include shipbuilding, mining, steel production and aerospace engineering.
Medical technology helps improve people's quality of life in a number of ways. Some examples include:
Diagnostic technology helps medical professionals attain more information about a patient. Examples of diagnostic technology include thermometers, MRIs, X-ray machines, electrocardiographs and stethoscopes. With these tools, medical professionals can make better treatment decisions and explore parts of the human body that would be impossible to analyze otherwise.
The development and improvement of medicine results in better pharmaceutical technology. Using different technologies, such as nanotechnology, microenvironments and artificial organs, researchers learn more about how different substances impact humans. They can then develop different prescription drugs, with the aim of curing or significantly decreasing instances of harmful disease.
Surgical technology allows surgeons to perform complex operations. Some recent examples include smart surgical glasses that display essential information directly within a surgeon's glasses and remote robotics, which allow surgeons to operate remotely with increased precision. Surgical technology assists in every type of surgery—from basic procedures such as appendectomies to more complex types such as spinal or brain surgery.
Related: Learn About Being a Surgeon
To monitor the health and status of a patient, healthcare professionals increasingly rely on technology. A common example is smartwatches, which can monitor biometric data such as heart rates and quality of sleep. Other monitoring technology includes devices implanted directly into a patient that provide even more advanced monitoring capabilities to healthcare professionals.
It's much easier to travel than it once was thanks to improvements in technology. Examples of transportation technology include:
GPS, or a Global Positioning System, is a piece of technology that can pinpoint locations on earth from satellites in earth's orbit. Using this technology, we can now receive real-time directions, monitor the transit of different objects or record precise time measurements. GPS is a feature in many devices such as smartwatches and larger tracking systems used by corporations and governments.
Flight technology has become safer and more efficient over time. We use flight technology in a number of ways—from the construction of planes to navigation equipment on an aircraft. Improvements in flight technology are even more apparent in space flight, which occurs fairly regularly.
Similar to flight technology, vehicles are now faster and safer. In addition, they are more fuel-efficient and comfortable and often provide entertainment options, as well. Vehicle technology has improved the way engines run, the safety features within vehicles, such as airbags, and the entertainment options available in a car.
Frequently asked questions
What are the most important technology skills for work?
Which technology skills are most important depends on your industry and specific role. These are some technical skills that may be useful in many roles:
How does technology affect the workplace?
Technology can help improve processes and communications in the workplace. It can also offer distractions that slow down productivity, so it's helpful to be aware of how technology affects you at work. Try to only implement the use of technology that enhances your processes, like automation software or productivity tracking apps.
Can technology help improve deep work?
Deep work is when you can focus completely on a single task and optimize your efficiency. Some technology, like headphones, timers and automated email responses, can help you improve your deep work.
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