You know technology when you see it, but can you say what
it is? For something we’re so familiar with, technology seems unusually
challenging to define. Part of this is because there are so many different
types of technology.
You see various kinds of tech everywhere you go. Nowadays,
it’s so widespread and varied that it’s hard to put your finger on what exactly
technology is. Here’s a guide to help you out.
What Exactly Is Technology?
Technology is the practical application of science. If
that seems like a vague and open-ended definition, that’s because technology
itself is vague and open-ended. What people think of when they hear
“technology” changes over time or even between different
people in the same era.
Science is a broad subject, so its applications are
similarly widespread and varied. You may understand it better by dividing
technology into different categories. There are many technology types, each
serving a unique purpose.
Common Types of Technology
There are countless types of technology, but here are a
few major kinds. You can categorize technology in several ways, so a lot of
overlap exists between these categories:
Information technology (IT) is a type of technology-focused on storing, processing and delivering data. The term first emerged in the 1970s, and you generally hear it referring to company tech support. You could categorize any equipment or practice dealing with computers as information technology.
IT is one of the broadest categories of technology. It
encompasses everything from desktop computers to smartphones to data centers.
You can probably guess from the title that physical
technology is tech you can touch. This type of technology includes pretty much
everything that isn’t software. So while IT covers programs and code, physical
technology encompasses the opposite.
Physical technology is a relatively new term since, for
much of history, all tech was physical tech. But now, since so much is digital,
you can use it to differentiate between the tangible and intangible types of
Consumer technology is one of the more talked-about types
of technology. It refers to any tech marketed toward customers, not businesses.
This category includes the things companies sell to people to make their lives
easier or more entertaining.
Consumer tech covers products like video games, cell
phones, TVs and smart speakers. These are the kind of goods you buy for
everyday use, not necessarily for your business.
Enterprise technology is the opposite of consumer
technology. While the target market for consumer tech is individuals, the
audience for enterprise tech is companies. This technology type can closely
resemble consumer tech, but it appeals to businesses, not customers.
Common kinds of enterprise technology include management
software and business intelligence. Many types of enterprise tech are bigger,
more business-oriented versions of consumer tech.
Communication technology is a subcategory of IT. It’s a
more specific type of technology that deals with helping people communicate. It
includes physical tech like phones as well as digital tech like social media
You’ll often see communication technology and IT listed as one category since they’re so
closely related. But while communication tech does account for a lot of IT,
it’s not the only type of technology under that umbrella.
Personal technology is a more specific type of consumer
tech. As the name implies, it covers the forms of technology you buy for
personal use. These devices are used by a single individual, not a group or
Personal tech includes things like smartphones, laptops,
ebooks and personal networks. Most of the tech you own probably falls under
You’ve heard people describe things as
“high-tech,” but low technology is also a class within this field.
This category includes things you probably don’t think of when you hear the
word “technology, ” referring to old or unsophisticated examples of
Low technology covers outdated tech like record players,
but that’s not where it ends. Homemade machines and manual devices are also
types of low technology.
Explore Other Types of Technology
You can further divide technology by its industry, like medical or entertainment tech. This field is so varied that you could find infinite ways of categorizing it — the possibilities are vast. Near-countless methods of applying the sciences exist within our daily lives, meaning there are just as many types of technology to match.
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