Swapna Krishna

Sep 7th 2022

4 Examples of Disruptive Technology That Have Changed Our Lives


“Disruptive technology” is a buzzword, but it’s actually become the norm within the tech sector. As Wired points out, “tech disruptors today have unchallenged access, funding, and regulatory support (or at least acquiescence)” — they’re anything but the underdog. Disruption has become the accepted, mainstream way we innovate and move forward.

However, just because it’s accepted at this point doesn’t mean it’s easy. Disruption does just that — takes on the status quo, which hasn’t changed for years or even decades. Here are four examples of disruptive technology over the past decade or two that changed the way we live in 2022.

3D Printing Transforms Multiple Industries

Many of us aren’t aware of how much 3D printing has changed our everyday lives, and yet this disruptive technology has done just that. While 3D printing is actually decades old, Redshift notes, it started really gaining traction in 2010. Also called “additive manufacturing,” it has exploded over the past decade and transformed many industries, from manufacturing to medicine.

The automotive company Ford has become so accustomed to using 3D printers in its manufacturing process that they now operate autonomously in its factories. Rocket Lab uses additive manufacturing to produce rocket engines, reports MIT Technology Review, while doctors and scientists are testing out how to 3D print skin, per a study in Sensors International, and other organs, according to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. This is one of many examples of disruptive technology that has affected nearly every industry, and it’s clear that the possibilities are endless for what 3D printing can do.

All Hail Ride-Sharing Apps

Remember hailing a cab? That feels so 2000s. Uber went live in San Francisco in 2010, and transportation hasn’t been the same since. The company hasn’t been without its problems — from workplace harassment, reports NPR, to poor treatment of drivers, per The Guardian — but it’s hard to argue that Uber and competitors like Lyft have changed the way we live and get around.

This disruptive tech has become so mainstream that cab companies — who rallied against rideshare apps for years — are now signing on. Starting this summer, New Yorkers will actually be able to hail a yellow cab through the Uber app, thanks to the feature Uber Taxi.

The Rise of Streaming Video

It seems like every week, a new online streaming service debuts, yet it’s easy for most of us to remember a time when they didn’t exist. Netflix launched in 1997 as a mail-by-DVD service that changed the way we watched movies. But it didn’t stop there; in 2007, the same year it delivered its billionth DVD, the company announced it was launching a streaming service.

Blockbuster declared bankruptcy in 2010, and people have predicted the death of Netflix again and again — in 2007, The New York Times said, “while Netflix’s DVD rental business has thrived in part because of the company’s superior logistics, that competitive edge will not mean much in the world of digital distribution.” Yet Netflix has utterly transformed the way we watch movies and television, induced the phenomenon of binge-watching (which, according to Netflix PR, 73% of people feel good about) and set an example for the rest of the industry.

Forget Hotels, Book an Airbnb

When did hotels become so last decade? It turns out it was right around the beginning of the 2010s when Airbnb launched for the third time and finally secured funding, according to Business Insider. It took the company three years to gain a foothold within the lodging and travel industries, but by 2011, Airbnb was operating in 89 countries.

The digital platform for renting out your space has become so successful that it’s been directly tied to housing crunches in major cities: A Harvard Business Review study shows a link between rising rental prices and local increases in Airbnb listings. In 2022, there were more Airbnb listings in New York City than actual apartments available for rent, notes Curbed. Airbnb has disrupted the lodging industry so much that metropolitan areas are pushing back, regulating short-term rentals, as DCist explains, and cracking down on empty apartments, according to Vice.

Disruptive technologies may become the norm in the ever-changing tech world, especially as these technologies become cheaper and easier to distribute. In tomorrow’s tech world, “disruptive” will become synonymous with “new.”

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