Consider the poor VCR. Many young people today have no experience with video cassette tapes or the players that ran them; there was no struggle to calibrate the impenetrable settings to make a tape play properly. Progress means moving forward so it’s important to consider what will no longer exist and what we should start reconsidering.
The stethoscope, that classic symbol of the medical profession, might no longer be in use. As The Daily Mail reports:
“Doctors will soon be hanging up their stethoscopes for good after almost 200 years, according to a new report.
A medical mainstay since 1816, they are being elbowed out of the way by new technologies such as ultrasound which has only been about since the 1950s.
Mobile devices are becoming increasingly popular, accurate, smaller to the point of being handheld and cheaper to make.”
Even iconic symbols fade as better devices, cheaper devices and more mobile and integrated technology come to exist.
GPS systems are another example. These days, most phones come with apps linked to major networks or software. Google Maps is a popular and high quality navigation tool, used by millions every day. It’s simplicity and that it’s on devices we take with us anyway, as well as being free, means it makes GPS systems redundant.
Or consider digital cameras. While, obviously, professional photographers have high-end ones, low-end were quite popular for the average person and proved a great investment for companies. Now, with the ubiquity of smart phones, digital cameras for non-professional photographers are useless: camera phones are perfectly adequate, makes the need to carry another gadget pointless and serves exactly the same purpose.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the story of Kodak. As Pete Pochal write in Mashable:
“Kodak has finally formalized what had been expected for years — it’s gone bankrupt. In the past 15 years, digital technology changed photography dramatically, and Kodak, a former heavyweight in the analog film business, got left behind.
[But] Kodak missed the boat on digital not once, but at least three times. Besides never capitalizing on the digital-camera tech it helped create, Kodak also gravely misunderstood the new ways consumers wanted to interact with their photos, the technologies involved, and the market forces surrounding them.
“It’s sad because they still have good people there,” says Jeffrey Hayzlett, who was Kodak’s Chief Marketing Officer from 2006 until 2010. “Overall the company has made a bunch of bets on technologies and business models that needed a longer runway than they had.”
Another key area is examining the kind of tech that you can only find in pre-owned cars or airplanes. Think about the last time you saw cassette radios in cars; Mental Floss has a list of 11 things you no longer see in planes – some of which you didn’t know we even had.
Tech is always moving forward, but it’s important to view these technologies being left behind with a positive, not negative light; it shows we improved and we are improving.