May 28, 2024

Most Influential Tech Innovations 21st century

The most influential tech innovations of our age have truly transformed how we live. We’ve previously written about the 20 gadgets that have changed our world – a surprising number of which were created over 100 years ago.

On the other hand, the first decades of the new millennium have seen their fair share of life-changing tech, gadgets, and inventions. Many of them are extremely influential, and their impact is expected to be felt for a very long time. 

Because of that, we’ve put together a list of the 10 most influential tech innovations of the 21st century to give you an overview of these innovations and their impact. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Most Influential Tech Innovations of the 21st Century

In this list, you’ll find some of the key innovations of the past two decades. They range from hardware to software and services, and each of them has been transformative to the way we live now.

Biometric Authentication

biometric market

Source: Statista

The adoption of biometric authentication is one of the most significant innovations in security in recent decades. Although the concept of fingerprint security isn’t entirely new, its real proliferation began in 2013 when Apple introduced TouchID fingertip authentication on the iPhone.

Today, biometric authentication technology is used across a range of industries, from finance to airport security. Fingerprints are the most used biometric identifier, but facial recognition and iris recognition are also becoming more prevalent

Biometric authentication has made our devices and activities more secure and private. In addition, it’s made authentication more convenient, as users are no longer required to remember passwords and PIN codes unless they choose to. However, some aspects, such as facial recognition, have come with controversy.


VR gaming revenue statistics

Source: Statista

AR and VR are about more than gaming and virtual retail experiences, though those are a big part of the AR/VR transformation. Although the technologies were around in the 20th century, they have advanced enormously in the last few years, thanks to the advancement of 5G. 

Today, AR and VR are bridging the gap between real and virtual worlds. With increasing interest in the Metaverse, these innovations could be central to many aspects of our lives, especially if the Metaverse takes on a more prominent role, for example, in the workplace and education, and especially in the healthcare sphere.

AR and VR are also now big parts of the entertainment industry, especially gaming. VR gaming revenue is expected to reach $3.2 billion by 2024.

Electric Cars

Europeans cars

Source: EIB

Electric vehicles, or EVs, may have briefly seen the light of day in the late 1800s, but the lack of demand put a stop to them – until they returned in the 21st century. Advancements in EV technology, coupled with concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, are key to driving consumer interest in EVs.

EVs produce up to 30% less carbon emissions than traditional cars, making our cities less polluted and more sustainable. With more people switching to EVs around the world, we expect that the trend for innovative sustainability will keep growing.

More and more traditional automakers are now investing in EV technology and looking for a way to capitalize on the trend. If these investments are successful, they will hopefully help the fight against climate change and help people live more sustainable lives.

Subscription Services


The popularity of subscription services, especially Video On Demand (VOD), surged during the COVID-19 pandemic. But they existed before that, of course. BBC iPlayer, launched in 2007, is one of the earliest examples of a VOD service.

Subscription services have revolutionized consumer content consumption habits and transformed the landscape of television entertainment. Viewers no longer have to depend on a TV station’s schedule to enjoy their favorite programs but have access to content to suit everyone’s tastes. What’s more, ongoing AI innovations in content personalization will likely disrupt the landscape even further.

With these changes in consumer habits come changes in business strategy. Many companies in entertainment and other industries, such as business SaaS, have adopted a subscription revenue model as a result. These tiered models allow businesses to customize and scale their offerings at a level that’s never been seen before.


Blockchain technology use cases

Source: Statista

The first blockchain was implemented in 2008 by the mysterious Bitcoin founder, Satoshi Nakamoto. However, the decentralized ledger technology has had an influence far beyond cryptocurrency. It has many applications across other industries – from fashion and manufacturing to finance and gaming. For example, in South-East Asia, 88% of gaming startup funding deals in 2022 went to blockchain gaming.

The technology has had a major influence on digital security, as well. By removing the need for middlemen and providing foolproof transparency, blockchain has brought in a new era for ensuring the integrity and security of sensitive data. 

We’re also looking forward to seeing the potential of blockchain in the Metaverse and the NFT sphere. Given its decentralized nature and ties to cryptocurrency, we believe it will continue to have a transformative impact across these and other spheres.

Transformer Architecture (GPTs)


Have you ever used ChatGPT? If you have, you’ve experienced the benefits of transformer architecture.

The Deep Learning AI model is widely used in natural language processing (NLP) and is at the core of generative AI applications like ChatGPT. The architecture was created in 2017 by Google, and GPT-1 was introduced by OpenAI one year later.

These generative pre-trained transformers (GPT) have wide-ranging applications beyond being a writing tool or an alternative to Google. From machine translation to customer service chatbots and medical tools, the current and future potential of transformer architecture is absolutely huge.

That influence may be both positive and negative. But irrespective of how we perceive it, it’s clear that GPTs are here to stay.

Smart Home Services

Smart Home Market Revenue statistics

Source: Statista

A smart home is a house that has automation devices with internet access that can communicate with each other. 

Although the earliest versions of smart homes arrived in 1975, they were riddled with issues. The increasing usage of wireless technology in the 2000s made advancements in smart homes possible, and by 2012, the US had 1.5 million smart homes. A decade later, that number grew to over 150 million.

Smart home devices aren’t just about convenience and telling your fridge to order more carrots from your phone. They’re also about living more sustainably and creating more efficient living spaces.

For example, smart devices that optimize energy use and provide you with suggestions can significantly reduce a household’s energy consumption. And devices like smart outdoor cameras, video doorbells, and sensors can make a home more secure.


drones market revenue

Source: Statista

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, were in use prior to the 21st century, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that the development really took off. Originally intended for military use, drones are now widely used across a range of both B2B and B2C industries – from aerial photography to agriculture and parcel delivery. They’re also popular with hobbyists.

They’ve also been valuable for mission-critical responses – challenging use cases where drones may serve even more effectively in the future with further advancements.

Drones are also increasingly used by journalists and filmmakers to capture footage. As a result, they’re on their way to becoming significant tools for information gathering with both civilian and military applications.

Cloud Computing


Cloud computing is an approach to computing resources architecture that relies on resource sharing and offers on-demand self-service, optimizing resource use. A more scalable and cost-effective alternative to traditional system architectures, cloud computing is transforming the way enterprises are operating around the world.

The first cloud computing services (AWS) were established in 2002. Other vendors, such as Google and Microsoft, followed suit. And during COVID-19, cloud computing grew substantially in popularity, enabling remote work and collaboration. 

This growth of cloud computing is no surprise, given its huge capacity for cost reduction, enabling business agility, performance optimization, and efficiency. The market for cloud computing services is only projected to grow, reaching $809 billion by 2025.


Smartphones sold statistics

Source: Statista

Of course, no list of 21st-century innovations would be complete without the smartphone. Although the world’s first smartphone, the IBM Simon, was launched in 1994, it wasn’t until the release of the first Apple iPhone in 2007 that the phenomenon was truly embraced. That event served as the start of a paradigm shift. And as of 2022, 66% of the world’s population has a smartphone.

Smartphones have fundamentally transformed how we interact with each other, access information, perform day-to-day tasks, and conduct financial transactions – they’ve become integral to our identities. Smartphone devices and apps have transformed many industries, creating opportunities for developers and other IT professionals.

It can be said with little doubt that smartphones have been one of the greatest innovations of this century. And the smartphone revolution is showing no signs of stopping as it blurs the lines between the physical and the virtual worlds, adding value to our lives.


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