7 Socially Significant Electrical Engineering Inventions

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It’s an exciting time to be in electrical engineering. The field’s movers and shakers are shaping a more sustainable, self-aware, and socially connected society. Take a look at seven significant electrical engineering inventions and their positive effects on various aspects of life.

To learn more, check out the infographic below, created by Ohio University’s online Master of Science in Electrical Engineering program.

Seven electrical engineering inventions that have made a socially significant impact.

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1. Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lightweight and rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries power everything from mobile phones to electric vehicles. Today, they’re poised to energize a sustainable world.

Cheaper, Lightweight, and More Stable, with Many Applications

Lithium-ion batteries are popular because the cost to produce them has declined (85% between 2009 and 2019), they’re lightweight, and their stability has improved. Key applications include mobile phones and renewable energy. The tech’s developers won a Nobel Prize for their contribution to renewable energy’s future. One of the largest lithium-ion battery installations is in San Francisco, generating 1,200 MWh.

2. Robotics

A robot is an automatically controlled machine that replaces human effort.

Freeing People from Onerous Tasks

Key applications for robots are simple, repetitive tasks and hazardous tasks. An emerging application since the COVID-19 pandemic is helping ensure workplace safety. Collaborative robots (cobots) work alongside human workers to help ensure their safety from virus transmission. A Markets and Markets report predicts the global cobot market will grow 41.8% between 2020 and 2026.

3. GPS

The GPS (Global Positioning System) in cars, computers, and smartphones helps us find our way. But scientists are turning to GPS for more than just navigation.

Precise Analysis of Our World

GPS captures signals from satellites and measures their arrival time to Earth. It can be accurate to the millimeter. Emerging applications include tracking and analyzing earthquakes, volcanoes, ionospheric changes, and solar eclipses.

4. Wearable Technology

Wearable technology, from smartwatches to devices designed to reduce stress, has streamlined consumer interaction with information. Statista expects the number of connected wearable tech devices to top 1 billion globally by 2022.

Consumer Benefits of Versatile Tech

Wearable tech has myriad applications, including monitoring glucose, tracking fitness, and enabling smart textiles. A Grand View Research market analysis report projects the wearable tech market will expand 15.9% from 2020 to 2027, thanks to the technology’s many benefits, such as increased awareness of behavior and health issues.

5. Drones

A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle used for military, industrial, or commercial purposes. Even more, drones shoot aerial video, inspect properties, and deliver aid during natural disasters. Their popularity is soaring.

Widely Popular, with Many Uses

Drones are increasingly available and affordable. Their many uses include surveillance, recreation, and film. Sales are expected to top $12 billion in 2021. Self-monitoring smart drones with safety features are on the horizon.

6. Eye-Tracking Technology

Eye-tracking measures eye motion relative to the head. Initially embraced by market researchers, its beneficial uses have swiftly grown in other fields, such as medicine.

New Marketing Applications and More

Marketing developments in eye tracking include webcam tracking and mobile trackers. Other new applications for eye-tracking tech include developing safer cars and assisting people with limited mobility.

7. Virtual and Augmented Reality

Virtual reality is the computer-generated simulation of a 3D environment with which people interact as if it were real. Augmented reality is an interactive experience where a person’s view of real objects is enhanced by computer-generated information.

Applications in a Broad Range of Fields

The applications for immersive technology are growing. For example, the medical, industrial, education, and entertainment fields are using either virtual or augmented reality in innovative ways.

Modern Electrical Engineering Innovators

Pioneers of cutting-edge concepts, mission-driven leaders at tech giants, and inventors and entrepreneurs inspire the next generation of electrical engineering innovators through their work.

Kimberly Bryant

Kimberly Bryant, born in 1967, is an electrical engineer and founder of Black Girls Code.

Garrett Camp

Garrett Camp, born in 1978, is an entrepreneur known for founding StumbleUpon and Uber.

Sandra Cauffman

Sandra Cauffman, born in 1962, is NASA’s deputy director of earth sciences, focusing on Mars missions.

Marian Croak

Google Vice President of Engineering Marian Croak, born in 1955, specializes in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.

Douglas Engelbart

Douglas Engelbart (1925–2013) was a pioneer in computer-human interaction.

Grant Imahara

Grant Imahara (1970–2020) was a robotics designer who was well known for his TV show MythBusters.

Charles Kao

Charles Kao (1933–2018) was a pioneer in fiber optics communication.

Marta Molinas

Marta Molinas, born in 1968, is an engineering professor specializing in cybernetics.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk, born in 1971, is an inventor, most notable for his contributions to renewable energy and space travel.

Satya Nadella

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, born 1967, is an expert in cloud computing technology.

The Impact of Electrical Engineering Inventions

Electricity powers our world. Electrical engineering inventions show us ways to harness that power to the benefit of all, from fueling developments in renewable energy, health care, and industry to sparking our imaginations and enlightening us about ourselves.


Astrodyne, “Recent Innovations in the Electrical Engineering Industry”
BBC News, “How Elon Musk Aims to Revolutionise Battery Technology”
Bloomberg, “Energy Storage Investments Boom As Battery Costs Halve in the Next Decade”
CNBC, “The Battery Decade: How Energy Storage Could Revolutionize Industries in the Next 10 Years”
CRN, “The Coolest Wearable Technologies Making Waves at CES 2021”
Eyegaze, “How Eye Tracking Technology Improves Our Everyday Lives”
The Famous People, “Famous 20th-Century Electrical Engineers”
Grand View Research, “Wearable Technology Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report”
GreenBook, “2020 Vision”
iD Tech, “16 Black STEM Innovators Who Have Defined Our Modern World”
Insider, “Drone Technology Uses and Applications for Commercial, Industrial and Military Drones in 2021 and the Future”
Linuxhint, “Best VR Experiences 2021”
Markets and Markets, “Collaborative Robot Market”
MIT School of Engineering, “How Does a Battery Work?”
The Nobel Prize, “The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019”
PV Magazine, “Top Global Li-ion Battery Projects”
Scientific American, “GPS Is Doing More Than You Thought”
Skelia, “Electrical Engineering”
Solar Power World, “World’s Largest Lithium-Based Energy Storage System Storing 1,200 MWh of Power Now Online in California”
Stage, “6 Reasons Why the Virtual Classroom Will Revolutionize Education”
Statista, “Number of Connected Wearable Devices Worldwide from 2016 to 2022”
Taylor & Francis Online, “Cogent Social Sciences: Wearable Technology-Stimulated Social Interaction for Promoting Physical Activity”
The Wall Street Journal, “The Battery Is Ready to Power the World”