50 surprising things that didn't exist 10 years ago
Depending on who you ask (and how his or her decade went), 2009 might seem like just a few minutes ago or eons away. Looking back, the United States in 2009 had just elected the first African American president; Instagram was still just a speck in the imaginations of its two future inventors; and Juul didn't exist. Many of today's hallmarks of modern life––from social networks and online dating to preventive medicine and meal delivery kits––have been introduced in these critical 10 years.
Many of these inventions and adoptions have fundamentally altered the course of American life. On the technological side, the advent of such gadgets as tablets, smartwatches, and even home security systems allow people to do more than ever with the simple stroke of a few keys. Norms have shifted significantly surrounding some issues during this decade, too. Online dating was becoming more mainstream in 2009 than at the turn of the century but was hardly as ubiquitous a match-making tool as the practice is today. Pot-smokers a decade ago had to buy marijuana from the black market; today, high-end dispensaries and medical offices in a growing number of states can sell weed and its associated products legally.
A quick look at the advances that have occurred in recent years also shed a lot of light on people’s priorities over the past decade. For example, it’s clear with the development of some apps that people have had a big focus on saving time. Apps like Instacart and Postmates allow people to have their groceries or food delivered directly to their doors, while meal prep kits like Blue Apron allow people who would enjoy cooking to do so without having as much prep or waste: Everything can be delivered pre-assembled and measured out perfectly. From grocery delivery services to personal technology, Stacker surveyed dozens of surprising things that didn’t exist 10 years ago and whittled that list down to 50. It seems for every breakthrough or trend there are a dozen more in fast order coming at us promising to make our lives healthier, more organized, more convenient, and more fun.
Click through for a surprising look at products and services that didn't exist 10 years ago—including a few we all could probably have lived without.
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If someone calls out “Hey, Alexa!” now, most people will assume that the person is talking to a robot, not a human. Alexa is just one example of a personal robotic home device that can do anything from turning on the lights to changing a song that you’re listening to on your home speaker. Amazon debuted smart home speakers in 2014 with the Echo, and while many people have since gotten hooked on the novelty and convenience of the smart assistant of sorts, personal robots have been drawn into question by privacy advocates.
iPhones were nothing new 10 years ago, but voice command on the iPhone was. The idea that you could ask your phone verbally to call or text someone was just an idea back in 2009, until Apple debuted the Siri voice command feature in 2011.
Glasses for the vision impaired
In an incredible technological feat, a pair of glasses that could mimic sight for the visually impaired was developed in 2017. The company eSight helps many patients live similar lives to those with good eyesight see clearly thanks to high-resolution screens and revolutionary software.
The market in 2019 is so heavily saturated with wellness products and services, it may come as a surprise that this was not the norm 10 years ago. Back then, acupuncture, crystals, and reiki were fringe treatments rather than mainstream commodities like they are today.
Virtuous ice cream
Ten years ago, there were few options for those looking to inhale a pint of ice cream without a heaping side of regret. But then came Halo, the ice cream brand that debuted in 2012 and offered pints that came in at less than 300 calories. And with the astonishing level of consumer success that it saw, it’s no wonder that Halo set the stage for even more reduced guilt ice cream brands that have popped up since.
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When the iPad was announced by Apple in 2010, no one really knew how the public would receive the idea of a personal tablet––a sort of hybrid between phone and computer. Ten years later, sales are still going strong, with Apple reporting an impressive $4.66 billion in sales from July through September of 2019.
A Kodak film revival
What’s old is new again in the case of Kodak, which reissued its 35mm and other print films due to popular demand. Analog film buffs celebrated the company’s move, which required sourcing of over 80 ingredients to make the film, some of which were no longer widely available.
So dominant is Instagram in the minds of many millennials today, it’s almost inconceivable that the company ever didn’t exist. But the reality is that Instagram was nonexistent until two friends co-founded the company in 2010 and later sold it to Facebook.
Knowledge was once the domain of those able to enroll and attend lectures and seminars, or those willing to do a little self-teaching. But the rise of the Massive Open Online Course in 2012 via companies like Coursera changed that forever, opening up the world of learning to anyone with an internet connection.
Diverse makeup shades
Until pop star Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty in 2017, the range of available cosmetics shades was relatively narrow, making the makeup industry one that was seriously lacking in inclusivity. Fenty launched to wild success as went to market with 40 shades of foundation to cater to a wider skin tone range than ever before, and other companies have since been pushed to follow suit.
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