Technology has become integral to our daily lives. We use our smartphones for everything, smart home devices allow us to control the lights and heating systems in our homes, virtual reality video games are becoming increasingly realistic and we rely on GPS systems to find our way. All of this technology is based on software developments that have happened over the last few decades. In the last decade, in particular, growth in software development has been proceeding at an amazing rate. Besides our love of innovation, what is driving this growth?
One of the software developments that are likely to have the most dramatic effect on our society is the improvement of automation. The increased use of robots across a range of industries has already begun to change how work is done. For example, the automotive industry was quick to implement automated systems. As more and more jobs are automated, we may reach a point where most physical labor is obsolete. While we are still many years away from the time when every home has its housekeeping robot-like Rosey from The Jetsons, the Roomba was the first small step and that future is on the way!
Gaming is a major industry that has consistently driven software development. Anyone who has seen any recent console game releases can see how far we have come from the days of Pong and Space Invaders. Recent advances in video game software include major improvements to virtual and augmented reality games. Augmented reality overlays interactive digital elements onto the real world. Pokemon Go is the best-known augmented reality game — the craze to catch ‘em all that swept the world was most people’s first introduction to this type of software. As the Franklin Institute notes, possibilities for augmented reality to be used in our daily lives keep emerging.
One recent innovation in online casino gaming is the live casino. While many of the available games are similar to mobile games, particularly online slot games, live casino gaming is far more complicated on a technological level. Live casino games allow players to interact with an actual dealer and other players in real-time. Software and hardware components must be used together for this to work: live-streaming camera feeds, a Game Control Unit (GCU) to encode the video stream, and a monitoring system to track what’s being played at the table. It’s a complex system that allows online casinos to more closely mimic the experience of traditional casino gaming.
Remote work and school
This past year has shown how rapidly software developers can respond to needs that arise. For years, Skype was the primary video communication program. During the pandemic, however, a range of new programs emerged that made it possible for us to remain connected with our family, friends, and colleagues. Zoom is the success story of 2020. While Zoom had been released in 2012, it had a small user base and wasn’t well-known among the general public. During the pandemic, it became incredibly popular, in large part due to its software which made it possible to have up to 1,000 people logged into a single call at once. Another reason for Zoom’s success was the speed with which they addressed security concerns as they appeared.
It didn’t just work that moved online, for many students of all ages school took place remotely this year. Video conferencing software made holding classes or seminars possible, but other types of software were equally important. Some programs allowed teachers and professors to record their lessons or lectures, while others monitored student engagement and participation and helped make proctoring exams possible. Some programs, like Proctorio, even track student eye movements to try to identify suspicious behavior. While these programs are impressive, they are also incredibly invasive because there is little to no oversight of these companies despite them having the ability to take remote control of everything from webcams to browsers. This has frightening implications for further software developments. Progress is important, but these software developments have shown that progress should be accompanied by oversight.
In the last century, technology has made incredible advances that earlier generations would never have thought were possible. If in only 100 years we have gone from small propeller planes to supersonic space planes capable of breaking through Earth’s atmosphere, what might be possible in the next century with further advances in software development?