Types of Technology

April 14, 2020 • Zachary Amos


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:

1. Information Technology

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.

2. Physical Technology

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 tech.

3. Consumer Technology

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.

4. Enterprise Technology

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.

5. Communication Technology

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 platforms.

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. 

6. Personal Technology

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 business.

Personal tech includes things like smartphones, laptops, ebooks and personal networks. Most of the tech you own probably falls under this category.

7. Low Technology

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 the concept.

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.