IBM Reveals Five Innovations That Will Change Our Lives in the Next Five Years

November 25, 2008

( -- Unveiled today, the third annual "IBM Next Five in Five" is a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years.

Unveiled today, the third annual "IBM Next Five in Five" is a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years:

-- Energy saving solar technology will be built into asphalt, paint and windows
-- You will have a crystal ball for your health
-- You will talk to the Web . . . and the Web will talk back
-- You will have your own digital shopping assistants
-- Forgetting will become a distant memory

The Next Five in Five is based on market and societal trends expected to transform our lives, as well as emerging technologies from IBM’s Labs around the world that can make these innovations possible.

In the next five years, technology innovations will change our lives in the following ways:

Energy saving solar technology will be built into asphalt, paint and windows

Ever wonder how much energy could be created by having solar technology embedded in our sidewalks, driveways, siding, paint, rooftops, and windows? In the next five years, solar energy will be an affordable option for you and your neighbors. Until now, the materials and the process of producing solar cells to convert into solar energy have been too costly for widespread adoption. But now this is changing with the creation of “thin-film” solar cells, a new type of cost-efficient solar cell that can be 100 times thinner than silicon-wafer cells and produced at a lower cost. These new thin-film solar cells can be “printed” and arranged on a flexible backing, suitable for not only the tops, but also the sides of buildings, tinted windows, cell phones, notebook computers, cars, and even clothing.

You will have a crystal ball for your health

What if you could foresee your health destiny and use that knowledge to modify your lifestyle? Even though we are told that things like French fries, potato chips, cheese and wine aren’t good for us, what if you could find out specifically that you are someone who could consume more of those vices without having negative impact on your health? In the next five years, your doctor will be able to provide you with a genetic map that tells you what health risks you are likely to face in your lifetime and the specific things you can do to prevent them, based on your specific DNA – all for less than $200. Ever since scientists discovered how to map the entire human genome, it has opened new doors in helping to unlock the secrets our genes hold to predicting health traits and conditions we may be predisposed to. Doctors can use this information to recommend lifestyle changes and treatments. Pharmaceutical companies will also be able to engineer new, more effective medications that are targeted for each of us as individual patients. Genetic mapping will radically transform healthcare over the next five years and allow you to take better care of yourself.

You will talk to the Web . . . and the Web will talk back

“Going” to the web will change dramatically in the next five years. In the future, you will be able to surf the Internet, hands-free, by using your voice – therefore eliminating the need for visuals or keypads. New technology will change how people create, build and interact with information and e-commerce websites – using speech instead of text. We know this can happen because the technology is available, but we also know it can happen because it must. In places like India, where the spoken word is more prominent than the written word in education, government and culture, “talking” to the Web is leapfrogging all other interfaces, and the mobile phone is outpacing the PC. In the future, through the use of “VoiceSites,” people without access to a personal computer and Internet, or who are unable to read or write, will be able to take advantage of all the benefits and conveniences the Web has to offer. And by the web becoming more accessible by using voice, it will become easier to use for everyone. Imagine being within a phone call’s reach from the ability to post, scan and respond to e-mails and instant messages – without typing. You will be able to sort through the Web verbally to find what you are looking for and have the information read back to you – as if you are having a conversation with the Web.

You will have your own digital shopping assistants

Ever find yourself in a fitting room with all the wrong sizes and no salesperson in sight? And what about affirmation from friends that the outfit you’ve chosen truly does look good on you? In the next five years, shoppers will increasingly rely on themselves - and the opinions of each other - to make purchasing decisions rather than wait for help from in-store sales associates. A combination of new technology and the next wave of mobile devices will give the in-store shopping experience a significant boost. Fitting rooms soon will be outfitted with digital shopping assistants - touch screen and voice activated kiosks that will allow you to choose clothing items and accessories to complement, or replace, what you already selected. Once you make your selections, a sales associate is notified and will gather the items and bring them directly to you. You’ll also be able to snap photos of yourself in different combinations and email or SMS them to your friends and family for the thumbs up…or the thumbs down. Shoppers can access product ratings and reviews from fellow consumers and will even be able to download money-saving coupons and instantly apply them to their purchases.

Forgetting will become a distant memory

Information overload keeping you up at night? Forget about it. In the next five years, it will become much easier to remember what to buy at the grocery store, which errands need to be run, who you spoke with at a conference, where and when you agreed to meet a friend, or what product you saw advertised at the airport. That's because such details of everyday life will be recorded, stored, analyzed, and provided at the appropriate time and place by both portable and stationary smart appliances. To help make this possible, microphones and video cameras will record conversations and activities. The information collected will be automatically stored and analyzed on a personal computer. People can then be prompted to "remember" what discussions they had, for example, with their daughter or doctor by telephone. Based on such conversations, smart phones equipped with global-positioning technology might also remind them to pick up groceries or prescriptions if they pass a particular store at a particular time. It's not hard to imagine that TVs, remote controls, or even coffee table tops, can one day be the familiar mediums through which we tap into our digitally-stored information.

Provided by IBM

Explore further: Russian volunteer programmers help to find mysterious black holes

Related Stories

Build a better weather network? New York takes the dare

January 17, 2016

Counting every raindrop or measuring every gust of wind is impossible, but New York is getting closer with a uniquely extensive statewide system of automated weather stations that should paint a dramatically clearer picture ...

The skeleton of the Milky Way

December 21, 2015

Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, is a typical barred spiral galaxy, a flattened disk of about a hundred billion stars, gas, and dust that is roughly one hundred thousand light-years in diameter. The galactic disk is surrounded ...

1BOG gets funding for a new way to sell solar

February 14, 2010

When we needed a new "pre-owned" car, we knew the drill. We searched the Web, visited the auto mall, settled on a model, did some haggling, vetted the price by phone, and haggled a bit more. Within a couple of days, we had ...

Five years in orbit for ESA's Proba-2

November 3, 2014

( —ESA's Proba-2 celebrates five years in orbit today. From technology demonstrator to solar observatory and now space weather platform, the mission has provided triple value to European scientists.

Recommended for you

Team first to solve well-known game theory scenario

February 11, 2016

A team of computer scientists from the University of Maryland, Stanford University and Microsoft Research is the first to solve a game theory scenario that has vexed researchers for nearly a century. The game, known as "Colonel ...

GPS tracking down to the centimeter

February 11, 2016

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have developed a new, more computationally efficient way to process data from the Global Positioning System (GPS), to enhance location accuracy from the meter-level down ...

New computer vision algorithm predicts orientation of objects

February 11, 2016

Seen from any angle, a horse looks like a horse. But it doesn't look the same from every angle. Scientists at Disney Research have developed a method to help computer vision systems avoid the confusion associated with changes ...

Record for fastest data rate set

February 11, 2016

A new record for the fastest ever data rate for digital information has been set by UCL researchers in the Optical Networks Group. They achieved a rate of 1.125 Tb/s as part of research on the capacity limits of optical transmission ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

4.4 / 5 (9) Nov 25, 2008
"Ever find yourself in a fitting room with all the wrong sizes and no salesperson in sight?"


Ever had a sales person allow you to browse for more than 5 seconds without attaching themselves to you like some kind of human barnacle?
4 / 5 (1) Nov 25, 2008
101, thou robots really cracketh me upeth
2.5 / 5 (6) Nov 25, 2008
this is crap . if anyone is going to tell me what the future will look like, im certainly not going to believe a large corporation whose predictions are digusised advertisements. hogwah. physorg...for shame.
3.2 / 5 (5) Nov 25, 2008
It's pretty clear these things would add value and therefore are inevitable. Don't you love that feeling when a new technology comes along and you get to explore it? Well with accelerated technology evolution that will a more frequent occurance. Bring on the future!
3.7 / 5 (13) Nov 26, 2008
i can't see any of these things becoming common place in the next five years
4 / 5 (3) Nov 26, 2008
The only useful item of the 5 is ubiquitous cheap solar panels, but I cannot imagine it happening within five or even ten years.
1 / 5 (3) Nov 26, 2008
cheap solar panels?
not if any cor-piration has a say in it!
4.3 / 5 (4) Nov 26, 2008
They've been talking about all of these for years. I highly doubt that they are suddenly going to show up in the next 5.
4 / 5 (4) Nov 26, 2008
I can easily imagine PHYSORG disappearing within 5 years if they continue to post this kind of nonsense. Jeez, this is science fiction written by and for third graders. Make that 5th graders if we are talking about public schools. The last guy who missed so badly on his predictions was Edward Bellamy in his 1887 book Looking Backward. If IBM focuses on software for getting apparel to shoppers trapped in changing rooms with wrong sized garments, they will be gone just as quickly as PHYSORG. Ya know, this stuff is so bad, it deserves an award!
not rated yet Nov 26, 2008
IBM's prediction of the "video phone" for the public did come to pass. I wish I could remember when they predicted it would originally occur, but they were at least 25 years wrong.
5 / 5 (2) Nov 26, 2008
Imagine having an argument with your spouse - "Did not!" "Did too!"..."wait, let's check the recording". Oh, the horror!!!
5 / 5 (3) Nov 26, 2008
Energy saving solar technology will be built into asphalt, paint and windows
Good idea, but won't be within 5 years.

Doctors can use this information to recommend lifestyle changes and treatments
Insurance companies can use this information to see whether you are worth insuring.
mobile phone is outpacing the PC
They are right about this, but forget that mobile phones are becoming fairly powerful PCs already.
You will have your own digital shopping assistants
If people want digital shopping, they will do it online. If they go to a store, they want to interact with a person not a PC.
such details of everyday life will be recorded, stored, analyzed, and provided at the appropriate time and place by both portable and stationary smart appliances
They can't control spam, viruses and bots, yet they want PCs to record everything we do?
not rated yet Nov 30, 2008
IBM changes their name to BM. jkjk

Actually they should invent earmuffs that block out all the racket from morons on cell phones. And dark glasses. A privacy and sanity kit.

IBM does have some pretty cool thin technology with flexibility that will be there soon/should be here soon/hopefully. They moved into materials research big time a ways back.

Computer/tattoos with solar technology and accessory/piercings. Teeth that repair themselves. Smart facial tissue. That kind of stuff. Hey, I could write stuff for them.

Honestly, the best thing IBM did was allow clones of PCs which moved the whole thing forward for all of us. Thanks to whoever did that.
not rated yet Dec 01, 2008
did anyone notice the state of the laptop?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.