09/12/2015 9:15 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

Simple Ideas That Changed The World

Child outdoors in the woods holding up an electronic tablet with an image of a globe on it.
Sally Anscombe via Getty Images
Child outdoors in the woods holding up an electronic tablet with an image of a globe on it.

Often, when we change the way we think about everyday things, we can improve the world and make everyone's lives easier.

And every once in a while, someone comes up with a way to make something that's really complicated, really simple.

Here's five of the best modern ideas that have changed the way we live.

1). GPS


You might remember having to pull the car over while driving and flick through your street directory to work out where you were going. Or stopping by the side of the road to ask a friendly local how to get to the main street in a new suburb you're visiting.

But GPS has made it all much simpler.

It means no more map grids, legends, or missing your highway exit -- simply plug in the end address and you're off, with step-by-step directions along the way.

For those who are vision-impaired, GPS can also be a useful addition to a cane or guide dog.

2). Credit cards

credit cards mall

Cash -- and sometimes cheques -- used to be the mainstay methods of paying for things at a store.

But the days of overstuffed wallets or asking who the cheque should be made out to are largely over, all thanks to the credit card.

John Biggins invented the first bank-issued credit card in Brooklyn, New York in 1946 -- though it required merchants to deposit sales slips to the bank, who would then charge customers.

Modern credit cards have made payment easier, with it taking just a swipe or a tap to buy now, and safer, eliminating the need to carry around wads of cash.

3). Digital cameras


Think about all the steps you used to have to take if you wanted to have a photo of your loved ones.

You'd need a camera, sure, but also a roll of film. Each roll would net you about 40 exposures, maximum.

Once the shot was taken, you'd need to head to the camera store or a chemist and get it printed. And then fit it into a photo album.

Digital cameras now let you take thousands of shots, upload them near-instantly onto your computer or the web, and share widely with your friends and family.


4). Robots

robot cleaning

Though the technology isn't simple, the idea is. Instead of humans doing risky or repetitive work, let robots get involved.

Robots promise to continue improving efficiencies the world over, and perform some of the world's most dangerous jobs.

Those include defusing bombs, underwater welding, and climbing over skyscraper exteriors to make sure the building's all in one piece.

5). Smartphones


Some might argue they have made the world a more complicated place.

But the idea of packing a whole bunch of things into one -- a device that can call, message, email, take photographs, connect to the internet, and myriad other common uses -- has undoubtedly revolutionised the way people live their lives.

Find your friends in a crowd, work out what the weather will be, or simply give Mum a call wherever you are. It's all at your fingertips.

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