Reasons to Be Thankful


By Samuel Greengard

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are seven technologies and products that aren't only cool, they've actually improved the quality of our lives:

1. A healthcare revolution. Researchers keep announcing remarkable breakthroughs in medicine -- everything from cancer therapies and vaccines to heart disease detection and artificial body parts. Now if we could just get people to eat healthier and exercise.

2. Better and safer automobiles. Cars today drive better, break down less often and are far safer than in time's past. Back up cameras, crash sensors, traction control and other systems have improved the driving experience immeasurably.

3. Ubiquitous networking. Wireless networking--including Wi-Fi and cellular networks--has matured to the point that it's easy to stay connected whether you're in Boston or Bangalore. What's more, Wi-Fi has enabled an entertainment revolution that includes easy whole house audio and video streaming, a la Netflix.

4. The iPhone and iPad. I'm not sure any two devices in the history of computing have so profoundly changed the way we access data, communicate and interact. I'm beginning to think there's nothing you can't do on an iPhone, including finding a parking spot and taking your blood pressure.

5. Digital cameras. At this point, we take a camera phone for granted. But it has revolutionized the way we document events. Only 15 years ago, it was necessary to carry your camera with you, make sure it was loaded with film, take the film to the drugstore to get it developed and go back for more copies. Now we carry our pictures on our smartphone and make print from home.

6. Home automation. The promise of home automation has been dangled in front of our faces for years. But thanks to Internet connectivity and Wi-Fi, controlling and managing lights, cameras, locks, thermostats, sprinkler systems and other devices is finally possible.

7. Cloud computing. Still in it's infancy, cloud computing has already transformed the way we access and use data. I can sync my iTunes library through the cloud and have all my calendar, contact and e-mail items constantly synced across multiple devices.