The 20th century was an era of significant advances in technology, but the 21st century is shaping up to be even more momentous. Whereas the 20th century saw major inventions and applications such as television, personal computers, mobile telephones, the Internet, and many more. Within the first quarter of the 21st century, however, the world has been witness to a substantial volume of tech innovations that may soon surpass the volume seen during the previous century.

Here are some of the most important tech advancements since we conquered our fear of Y2K:

The Segway

Although a working prototype of this human transportation device may have been successfully tested and operated in the 20th century, the Segway was formally introduced to the world in late 2001 during a morning news broadcast from New York City.

What makes the Segway such an important tech breakthrough is its stabilization mechanism, which synchronizes with human body motion to create a fluid electromechanical transportation experience. This dynamic stabilization is inspiring researchers to create more efficient biomedical devices to empower those who live with disabilities.

The iPhone

The late Steve Jobs did not invent the smartphone by any means; nonetheless, his vision to create a smart mobile device that could be mass-marketed on the basis of personal appeal and functionality was certainly groundbreaking.

Ever since his early days as co-founder of Apple, Jobs had been interested in the introduction of devices that would revolutionize the concept of personal computing. Prior to the iPhone, Jobs had already tried his luck with the underwhelming Apple Newton, which lagged behind personal digital assistants. Tech giants IBM, Research in Motion and Nokia had already broke ground with mobile devices that were remarkably similar in function to what we are used to these days; however, those products were mostly intended to be used by corporate executives who could afford them. With the first-generation iPhone in 2007, Jobs convinced the tech industry that the world was ready for smartphones.

Self-Driving Cars

Google may not have been the first to thoroughly research the concept of an autonomous car; however, its 2012 road testing of an Audi TT, a Toyota Prius and even an elegant Lexus RX450h were groundbreaking in terms of what they accomplished.

The driverless cars being developed by Google are able to get from point A to point B while following the rules of the road, keeping passengers safe, and protecting their own mechanical integrity. In addition to developing the technological aspect of self-driving cars, Google has also prompted legislators in four jurisdictions of the United States to pass laws that will accommodate these vehicles in the near future.

The Raspberry Pi

Compact, single-board computers have been around as embedded devices since the 20th century, but they were mostly utilized in certain business industries and not at home, in school or at the office. The field of embedded computing was mostly limited to specialized and expensive devices installed in applications such as ATM tellers and factory robots.

In 2012, the Raspberry Pi Foundation of Wales introduced a tiny, single-board computer with enough media and connectivity ports to use it as a full-fledged personal computer that could be purchased for less than $50. The original intention of the Raspberry Pi Foundation was to create devices that would encourage computer science education; in the end, they created a market for ultra-compact and low cost personal computers.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

The cloud computing paradigm dates back to the 20th century, but it was not widely adopted until the 21st century and after the introduction of the Web 2.0 and SaaS concepts. Less than two decades ago, the client/server model of computing was still prevalent in the business world; that began to change with the Web 2.0 paradigm of hosting applications that can be accessed through just about any Internet-connected device with a modern browser.

Web 2.0 progressed into SaaS, which employs a subscription model of access to advanced software applications hosted in the cloud. SaaS has leveled the playing field for small and medium-sized companies that no longer have to make expensive hardware investments or hire a dedicated IT staff.

Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes about technology and other gadgets and gizmos aplenty. She currently writes for Total Voice Tech, her go to for all professional Dragon products.