2010s in science and technology

This article is a summary of the 2010s in science and technology.


Big data and "Big Tech" saw an expansion in size and power in the 2010s, particularly FAANG corporations. The growing influence of "Big Tech" over cyberspace drew scrutiny and increased oversight from national governments. The G20 countries began closing tax loopholes[1] and the European Union began asserting legal guidelines over domains such as data privacy, copyright, and hate speech, the latter of which helped fuel a debate over tech censorship and free speech online, particularly deplatforming. Throughout the decade, the United States government increasingly scrutinized the tech industry, from attempted copyright regulations to threatening antitrust probes.[2][3] Increased protectionism and attempts to regulate and localize the internet by national governments also raised fears of cyber-balkanization in the later half of the decade.[4][5][6]

Communications and electronicsEdit

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad for the first time at a press conference on 27 January 2010
  • Smartphones maintained their strong popularity throughout the 2010s, along with the arrival of tablets. Apple Inc. launched the iPad in 2010, its first tablet computer, which offered multi-touch interaction. The iPad became an immediate bestseller and only months after its release became the best selling tech product in history.[7] By the mid-2010s, almost all smartphones were touchscreen-only, and Android and iPhone smartphones dominated the market.[8]
    • Mobile apps become commercially available in the early 2010s, along with popular app stores such as Google Play, iOS App Store, and Microsoft Store.
    • Throughout the early 2010s, sales for PCs declined in favor of tablet computers and laptop convertibles;[9] in 2012, tablet and smartphone sales overtook netbooks and Samsung overtook Nokia for the first time as the largest mobile phone maker in the world;[10][11] in 2013 in developed countries, smartphone sales surpassed feature phones.[12]
    • In April 2019, South Korea became the first country to adopt 5G broadband.[13] Verizon launched its 5G services in the United States just hours later, along with disputing South Korea's claim of becoming the world's first country with a 5G network.[14] The United Kingdom's first 5G mobile network became operational on 30 May, initially covering parts of six cities.[15]
  • In 2011, more than 2 billion people used the Internet,[16] one billion mobile broadband users predicted and 4.6 billion people worldwide were subscribed to mobile phones,[17] and Americans spent more time using mobile apps than using the World Wide Web.[18]
  • Cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, gained ground as a digitally alternative way to secure financial transactions, control the creation of additional units, and verify the transfer of assets. Cryptocurrencies also expanded the usage and boundaries of Blockchain.
  • Virtual reality took a radical shift in the 2010s, with headsets such as the Oculus Rift gaining popularity. While the device was only capable of rotational tracking, the initial design would later serve as a basis from which the later designs came.[26] Other popular headsets include PlayStation VR, Google Cardboard, HTC Vive, and the Samsung Gear VR.
  • During the decade, 3D printing, 3D modeling, and 3D scanners became increasingly popular, in which the technologies enabled users to join or solidify certain materials to create a concrete three-dimensional object. The 3D printer industry gained over $7 billion in sales.[27]
  • Wireless headphones saw technological advancements and a large growth in usage.[28]
  • Wireless charging for smartphones became more popular, with companies such as Samsung and Apple releasing wireless charging phones and chargers.[29]
  • Smart watches became more widespread in usage, with over 175 million of them sold in 2018.[30]
  • Transparent display screens and curved touchscreen displays entered the market, and slowly gained popularity throughout the decade.[31][32][33]
  • In 2016, scientists at MIT created the first five-atom quantum computer with the potential to crack the security of traditional encryption schemes.[35]
  • Fixstars Solutions created the world's first 13 Terabyte SSD in 2016.[36][37]
  • The number of IoT devices increased 31% year-over-year to 8.4 billion in the year 2017[38] and it was estimated that there will be 30 billion devices by 2020.[39]


Automobiles and transportationEdit

Tesla's all-electric sedan the Tesla Model 3, was unveiled in March 2016 and became the best-selling plug-in electric car


NASA announced that its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured photographic evidence of possible liquid water on Mars on 4 August 2011.
The first collisions of CERN's Large Hadron Collider took place on 31 March 2010.
The first-ever image of a supermassive black hole, located in the Messier 87 galaxy, was revealed on 10 April 2019.

Spaceflight became increasingly privatized, including crewed spaceflight. SpaceX captures a significant share of the commercial launch market with Falcon 9.[56][57] Falcon 9 became the first rocket to land its booster propulsively for reuse, in 2019 most flights reused boosters. Several other companies started working on partially reusable rockets while SpaceX started development of a fully reusable rocket, Starship. Towards the end of the decade around 100 companies were developing rockets for the small satellite market,[58] some have made test flights and Rocketlab's Electron made multiple commercial flights.[59] The Space Shuttle was retired in 2011. SpaceX and Boeing developed commercial crewed spacecraft for orbital flights (SpaceX Dragon 2, Starliner), Dragon 2 made its first crewed flights in 2020. Blue Origin develops the crewed New Shepard for suborbital flights. Virgin Galactic develops a spacecraft for suborbital flights and performs first crewed flights. NASA Dawn probe was the first spacecraft to orbit two extraterrestrial bodies,[60] the first spacecraft to visit either Vesta or Ceres, and the first to orbit a dwarf planet,[61] arriving at Ceres in March 2015, a few months before New Horizons flew by Pluto in July 2015.

Other notable developments in astronomy and spaceflight over the decade included:

Computing and artificial intelligenceEdit

  • The number of internet users doubled from about 2 billion to about 4 billion, surpassing half the world population in 2018.[86]
  • Smartphones became increasingly common due to a rapid increase in sales.[87] Their applications and use time by the average user increased, too.[88]
  • Google develops the world's first self-driving car to be licensed for use on public roads.[89][90] It was the first driverless ride that was on a public road and was not accompanied by a test driver or police escort. The car had no steering wheel or floor pedals.[91]
  • In 2012, Google Chrome became the world's most used web browser, displacing former long-time frontrunner Internet Explorer.[92]
  • Microsoft announces Windows Mixed Reality (previously Windows Holographic).
  • Quantum computers made rapid progress.[93] In 2019 Google announced to have achieved quantum supremacy,[94][95][96][97] although this claim is disputed.[98]
  • During this decade artificial intelligence based on deep learning neural networks experienced rapid advancement, resulting in multiple practical applications in diverse fields such as speech and image recognition, social network moderation, virtual assistants, surveillance, healthcare or even art generation.[99] In 2016, Google artificial intelligence program AlphaGo beat human grandmaster in the game of Go for the first time.[100]

Legal issuesEdit

  • In August 2010, Oracle sued Google for copyright and patent infringement over the use of Java-related technology in Google's popular Android operating system for smartphones and tablet computers. Oracle asserted Google was aware that they had developed Android without a Java license and copied its APIs, creating the copyright violation. Oracle cited patents related to the Java technology created by Sun and now owned by Oracle that Google should have been aware of.[101][102]
  • Following an unprecedented internet protest and blackout campaign in 2012 in which many popular websites took part, the widely criticised Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill was temporarily withdrawn in the US Congress, pending resolution of the issues identified.

Software developmentEdit

  • Collaborative source code sharing website GitHub becomes in 2011 the world's most popular open source hosting site,[103] after in the previous decade attaining the title of the world's most popular Git hosting site.[104]


  • In 2012, the Higgs boson is discovered, completing the discovery of particles of the Standard Model.[105][106]
  • In 2015–16, gravitational waves are detected for the first time,[107][108] with the rate of detections increasing as the detectors were improved.[109]
  • In 2018, a powerful new electron microscope enabled scientists to view individual electrons.[110][111]
  • In 2019, scientists discovered a way to view reactions in "dark states" of molecules, i.e. those states that are normally inaccessible.[112]

Robotics and machine learningEdit

  • In 2019, a robot is developed at MIT that can do multiple experiments in fluid dynamics at high speed.[113]



  • Researchers at Harvard report the creation of "cyborg organoids", which consist of 3D organoids grown from stem cells, with embedded sensors to measure activity in the developmental process.[114]




See alsoEdit


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