IBM reveals five innovations that will change our lives in the next five years (Update)

Dec 19, 2011

Today IBM formally unveiled the sixth annual “IBM 5 in 5" (#ibm5in5) – a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years.

The next IBM 5 in 5 is based on market and societal trends as well as emerging technologies from IBM’s research labs around the world that can make these transformations possible.

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People power will come to life.

Anything that moves or produces heat has the potential to create energy that can be captured. Walking. Jogging. Bicycling. The heat from your computer. Even the water flowing through your pipes. 

Advances in renewable energy technology will allow individuals to collect this kinetic energy, which now goes to waste, and use it to help power our homes, offices and cities.

Imagine attaching small devices to the spokes on your bicycle wheels that recharge batteries as you pedal along. You will have the satisfaction of not only getting to where you want to go, but at the same time powering some of the lights in your home.  

Created energy comes in all shapes and forms and from anything around us. IBM scientists in Ireland are looking at ways to understand and minimize the environmental impact of converting ocean wave energy into electricity. 

You will never need a password again.

Your biological makeup is the key to your individual identity, and soon, it will become the key to safeguarding it.  

You will no longer need to create, track or remember multiple passwords for various log-ins. Imagine you will be able to walk up to an ATM machine to securely withdraw money by simply speaking your name or looking into a tiny sensor that can recognize the unique patterns in the retina of your eye. Or by doing the same, you can check your account balance on your mobile phone or tablet. 

Each person has a unique biological identity and behind all that is data. Biometric data – facial definitions, retinal scans and voice files – will be composited through software to build your DNA unique online password. 

Referred to as multi-factor biometrics, smarter systems will be able to use this information in real-time to make sure whenever someone is attempting to access your information, it matches your unique biometric profile and the attempt is authorized. To be trusted, such systems should enable you to opt in or out of whatever information you choose to provide. 

Mind reading is no longer science fiction 

From Houdini to Skywalker to X-Men, mind reading has merely been "wishful thinking" for science fiction fans for decades, but their wish may soon come true. 

IBM scientists are among those researching how to link your brain to your devices, such as a computer or a smartphone. If you just need to think about calling someone, it happens. Or you can control the cursor on a computer screen just by thinking about where you want to move it.  

Scientists in the field of bioinformatics have designed headsets with advanced sensors to read electrical brain activity that can recognize facial expressions, excitement and concentration levels, and thoughts of a person without them physically taking any actions. 

Within 5 years, we will begin to see early applications of this technology in the gaming and entertainment industry. Furthermore, doctors could use the technology to test brain patterns, possibly even assist in rehabilitation from strokes and to help in understanding brain disorders, such as autism. .

The digital divide will cease to exist.

In our global society, growth and wealth of economies are increasingly decided by the level of access to information. And in five years, the gap between information haves and have-nots will narrow considerably due to advances in mobile technology. 

There are 7 billion people inhabiting the world today. In five years there will be 5.6 billion mobile devices sold – which means 80% of the current global population would each have a mobile device. 

As it becomes cheaper to own a mobile phone, people without a lot of spending power will be able to do much more than they can today. 

For example, in India, using speech technology and mobile devices, IBM enabled rural villagers who were illiterate to pass along information through recorded messages on their phones. With access to information that was not there before, villagers could check weather reports for help them decide when to fertilize crops, know when doctors were coming into town, and find the best prices for their crops or merchandise. 

Growing communities will be able to use mobile technology to provide access to essential information and better serve people with new solutions and business models such as mobile commerce and remote healthcare. 

Junk mail will become priority mail.

Think about how often we’re flooded with advertisements we consider to be irrelevant or unwanted. It may not be that way for long.  

In five years, unsolicited advertisements may feel so personalized and relevant it may seem spam is dead. At the same time, spam filters will be so precise you’ll never be bothered by unwanted sales pitches again. 

Imagine if tickets to your favorite band are put on hold for you the moment they became available, and for the one night of the week that is free on your calendar. Through alerts direct to you, you’ll be able to purchase tickets instantly from your mobile device. Or imagine being notified that a snow storm is about to affect your travel plans and you might want to re-route your flight? 

IBM is developing technology that uses real-time analytics to make sense and integrate data from across all the facets of your life such as your social networks and online preferences to present and recommend information that is only useful to you.  

From news, to sports, to politics, you’ll trust the technology will know what you want, so you can decide what to do with it. 

Last year's predictions were the following:

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You'll beam up your friends in 3-D

In the next five years, 3-D interfaces – like those in the movies – will let you interact with 3-D holograms of your friends in real time. Movies and TVs are already moving to 3-D, and as 3-D and holographic cameras get more sophisticated and miniaturized to fit into cell phones, you will be able to interact with photos, browse the Web and chat with your friends in entirely new ways. 

Scientists are working to improve video chat to become holography chat - or "3-D telepresence." The technique uses light beams scattered from objects and reconstructs a picture of that object, a similar technique to the one human eyes use to visualize our surroundings. 

You'll be able to see more than your friends in 3-D too. Just as a flat map of the earth has distortion at the poles that makes flight patterns look indirect, there is also distortion of data – which is becoming greater as digital information becomes “smarter” – like your digital photo album. Photos are now geo-tagged, the Web is capable of synching information across devices and computer interfaces are becoming more natural. 

Scientists at IBM Research are working on new ways to visualize 3-D data, working on technology that would allow engineers to step inside designs of everything from buildings to software programs, running simulations of how diseases spread across interactive 3-D globes, and visualizing trends happening around the world on Twitter – all in real time and with little to no distortion. 

Batteries will breathe air to power our devices

Ever wish you could make your laptop battery last all day without needing a charge? Or what about a cell phone that powers up by being carried in your pocket? 

In the next five years, scientific advances in transistors and battery technology will allow your devices to last about 10 times longer than they do today. And better yet, in some cases, batteries may disappear altogether in smaller devices. 

Instead of the heavy lithium-ion batteries used today, scientists are working on batteries that use the air we breath to react with energy-dense metal, eliminating a key inhibitor to longer lasting batteries. If successful, the result will be a lightweight, powerful and rechargeable battery capable of powering everything from electric cars to consumer devices. 

But what if we could eliminate batteries alltogether?  

By rethinking the basic building block of electronic devices, the transistor, IBM is aiming to reduce the amount of energy per transistor to less than 0.5 volts. With energy demands this low, we might be able to lose the battery altogether in some devices like mobile phones or e-readers. 

The result would be battery-free electronic devices that can be charged using a technique called energy scavenging.  Some wrist watches use this today – they require no winding and charge based on the movement of your arm.  The same concept could be used to charge mobile phones. for example – just shake and dial. 

You won’t need to be a scientist to save the planet

While you may not be a physicist, you are a walking sensor. In five years, sensors in your phone, your car, your wallet and even your tweets will collect data that will give scientists a real-time picture of your environment. You'll be able to contribute this data to fight global warming, save endangered species or track invasive plants or animals that threaten ecosystems around the world. In the next five years, a whole class of "citizen scientists" will emerge, using simple sensors that already exist to create massive data sets for research. 

Simple observations such as when the first thaw occurs in your town, when the mosquitoes first appear, if there’s no water running where a stream should be - all this is valuable data that scientists don’t have in large sets today. Even your laptop can be used as a sensor to detect seismic activity. If properly employed and connected to a network of other computers, your laptop can help map out the aftermath of an earthquake quickly, speeding up the work of emergency responders and potentially saving lives. 

IBM recently patented a technique that enables a system to accurately and precisely conduct post-event analysis of seismic events, such as earthquakes, as well as provide early warnings for tsunamis, which can follow earthquakes. The invention also provides the ability to rapidly measure and analyze the damage zone of an earthquake to help prioritize emergency response needed following an earthquake. 

The company is also contributing mobile phone "apps" that allow typical citizens to contribute invaluable data to causes, like improving the quality of drinking water or reporting noise pollution. Already, an app called Creek Watch allows citizens to take a snapshot of a creek or stream, answer three simple questions about it and the data is automatically accessible by the local water authority. 

Your commute will be personalized

Imagine your commute with no jam-packed highways, no crowded subways, no construction delays and not having to worry about being late for work. In the next five years, advanced analytics technologies will provide personalized recommendations that get commuters where they need to go in the fastest time. Adaptive traffic systems will intuitively learn traveler patterns and behavior to provide more dynamic travel safety and route information to travelers than is available today. 

IBM researchers are developing new models that will predict the outcomes of varying transportation routes to provide information that goes well beyond traditional traffic reports, after-the fact devices that only indicate where you are already located in a traffic jam, and web-based applications that give estimated travel time in traffic. 

Using new mathematical models and IBM’s predictive analytics technologies, the researchers will analyze and combine multiple possible scenarios that can affect commuters to deliver the best routes for daily travel, including many factors, such as traffic accidents, commuter's location, current and planned road construction, most traveled days of the week, expected work start times, local events that may impact traffic, alternate options of transportation such as rail or ferries, parking availability and weather. 

For example, by combining predictive analytics with real-time information about current travel congestion from sensors and other data, the system could recommend better ways to get to a destination, such as how to get to a nearby mass transit hub, whether the train is predicted to be on time, and whether parking is predicted to be available at the train station. New systems can learn from regular travel patterns where you are likely to go and then integrate all available data and prediction models to pinpoint the best route. 

Computers will help energize your city

Innovations in computers and data centers are enabling the excessive heat and energy that they give off to do things like heat buildings in the winter and power air conditioning in the summer. Can you imagine if the energy poured into the world's data centers could in turn be recycled for a city's use?

With up to 50 percent of the energy consumed by a modern data center goes toward air cooling. Most of the heat is then wasted because it is just dumped into the atmosphere. New technologies, such as novel on-chip water-cooling systems developed by , the thermal energy from a cluster of computer processors can be efficiently recycled to provide hot water for an office or houses. 

A pilot project in Switzerland involving a computer system fitted with the technology is expected to save up to 30 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, the equivalent of an 85 percent carbon footprint reduction. A novel network of microfluidic capillaries inside a heat sink is attached to the surface of each chip in the computer cluster, which allows water to be piped to within microns of the semiconductor material itself. By having water flow so close to each chip, heat can be removed more efficiently. Water heated to 60 °C is then passed through a heat exchanger to provide heat that is delivered elsewhere.

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User comments : 27

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ScienceFreak86
4.8 / 5 (4) Dec 19, 2011
Old news...
Isaacsname
4.5 / 5 (8) Dec 19, 2011
Agreed, mostly old news.

The first one though, I'd like to see more being done to integrate technology and nature personally. For example, trees in cities/city parks could be fitted with monitoring systems that use local networks to send a request for nutrients, or pheromone traps to combat a pest, they could be dispatched and controlled remotely using UAV's.

As silly as it sounds, I'm using open-face Skinner boxes and operant conditioning to get squirrels to water the plants in my backyard exactly and only when they need it, they are trained to respond to pop-up dry soil monitors, which in turn trigger a metered watering system for each individual bush ( only 5 bushes currently, but I'm going to expand the system this year to do some other things )

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

When life gives you squirrels...

:P
Vendicar_Decarian
2.8 / 5 (12) Dec 19, 2011
2 of these advances will be implemented in China, Japan and Singapore within the next 5 years.

In America within the next 5 years, people will be struggling to feed themselves.
Nanobanano
3 / 5 (6) Dec 19, 2011
This exact presentation is already a year old.

there was already an article on this at the beginning of the year.

How bad is this if the writer didn't even know that...
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.5 / 5 (8) Dec 19, 2011
This exact presentation is already a year old.

there was already an article on this at the beginning of the year.

How bad is this if the writer didn't even know that...
"Today IBM formally unveiled the fifth annual "Next Five in Five" a list of innovations that have the potential"

-I know you just HAVE to comment on everything because that is the nature of compulsion. But I would try to at least think of something pertinent? Or at least read the article first?

I know I know - so little time so much of nothing to say in so many posts.
Sebas
1.6 / 5 (7) Dec 19, 2011
Lol, energy per transitor is less than 0.5V. Assuming a chip has more than 100 million transistors, that still leaves us at a requirement of 50 milion V per chip. I hope that won't be the future of computing!
But the obvious mistake of the author aside, I would never trust predictions like this too much. The fact that a certain technology will be available at a certain time, will not mean that it will be used in everyday life (if we even have the slighest chance of "guessing" it right... Read the book called "the black swan" by Nassim Taleb , a wonderful work about the fallacy of predictions...
Nanobanano
3 / 5 (4) Dec 19, 2011
Ghost:

I know you just had to comment on this, because you are a damn troll, but that's ok. I understand you don't have a very good memory.

here, fool, the video is already a year old.

youtube.com/watch?v=anKiEoxkpxM

Quit harrassing me, you damn fossil.
shockr
4.3 / 5 (6) Dec 19, 2011
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

When life gives you squirrels...

:P


I do love Squirrelade :D
kaasinees
4 / 5 (3) Dec 19, 2011
Lol, energy per transitor is less than 0.5V. Assuming a chip has more than 100 million transistors, that still leaves us at a requirement of 50 milion V per chip. I hope that won't be the future of computing!

Your math fails... please take some decent computer and math classes... 3.3v and -3.3v is the max for a normal PC, how did you come up with 50 million V, besides chips nowadays have more than 100 million.

Anyway

Batteries will breathe air to power our devices

Probably a Proton Motor or a metal-air battery.
http://almaden.ib...battery/

Computers will help energize your city

http://www.zurich...ing.html

Looks like another advertising article to attract investors. Nothing to do with science.
Sonhouse
not rated yet Dec 19, 2011
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

When life gives you squirrels...

:P


Didn't the Boss play in that benefit concert?

I do love Squirrelade :D

ConcernedCitizen
not rated yet Dec 19, 2011
These are last years predictions. The newest predictions can be seen at asmarterplanet.com
DougCoulter
5 / 5 (4) Dec 19, 2011
Volts are not a measure of energy, doh. IS there anyone with even a grade school education here? Watts are volts times amps (a watt is one joule per second, a rate of energy, a joule is a unit).
Pyle
not rated yet Dec 19, 2011
Funny. Last year's list. Here is a link to a blog post on the new 5 in 5. Couldn't find it on IBM's site.

http://latimesblo...nes.html
Physmet
not rated yet Dec 19, 2011
When life gives you squirrels...


Isaacsname, that is great! You should post it on Youtube, I bet people would love it. :D Squirrels watering your yard...lol
Burnerjack
not rated yet Dec 19, 2011
We're well into the 21st century and I STILL don't have my George Jettson Flying Car. I've been duped! Well, at least that promise of meals in minutes came true. Walter Kronkite, rest well, you told the truth.
Callippo
not rated yet Dec 19, 2011
to reduce the amount of energy per transistor to less than 0.5 volts
People should learn, virtually every advantage comes at its less or more hidden price. The attempts for reduction of energy consumption are indeed welcomed, but the lower the threshold voltage of transistor will be, the more they will become vulnerable to solar flare or nuclear blast events. With respect of it, the optoelectronic and spinotronic brings an advantage, because these technologies aren't so sensitive to electromagnetic smog and impulses.
Nanobanano
1 / 5 (3) Dec 19, 2011
We're well into the 21st century and I STILL don't have my George Jettson Flying Car. I've been duped! Well, at least that promise of meals in minutes came true. Walter Kronkite, rest well, you told the truth.


We don't need flying cars, we have the internet.

Plus, flying cars would be terribly inefficient (yet excellent terror weapons for any Muslim who wants to be a martyr,) so unless we had Zero Point Energy, it would never be economically viable.
wealthychef
5 / 5 (1) Dec 19, 2011
The idea that we're going to get realistic 3D holographic imagery in our home is kind of given the lie when you look at the animation quality of this video, which presumably cost a few $$ to make. LOL
Isaacsname
5 / 5 (2) Dec 19, 2011
When life gives you squirrels...


Isaacsname, that is great! You should post it on Youtube, I bet people would love it. :D Squirrels watering your yard...lol


Wait 'till I get some little 3*4" touchscreen monitors and give them some visual supernormal stimulus, pictures of giant nuts/seeds.

I could very easily have them do all sorts of things with that method, like remotely water my indoor houseplants too.

Me and my tiny monkeys are gonna take over the world,lol.

Deesky
not rated yet Dec 19, 2011
Me and my tiny monkeys are gonna take over the world,lol.

Until they start acting squirrely! :)
CreepyD
3 / 5 (2) Dec 20, 2011
Even at a year old, most of these predictions seem hugely optimistic to make it to public use within 5 years from now.
Maybe 10-15 years would be more reasonable.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Dec 20, 2011
We're well into the 21st century and I STILL don't have my George Jettson Flying Car.

Seems like you were too lazy to invent one.

About the article:
Holographic chat: This should be easily achievable with dual cams and holographic screens already being available. Whether it has any additional value is anybody's guess (much like whether 3D adds anything essential to movies or not)

Tenfold increase in battery capacity? Unlikely in 5 years (maybe 3-4 times increase)

The personalized commute: This is overdue. It will definitely be here in 5 years, since it only requires a relatively minor upgrade to most navigation systems.

Computers help energize city: Not so much. Data centers are located outside cities. Getting moderately warm water to houses kilometers away isn't worth it.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (4) Dec 20, 2011
"Lol, energy per transitor is less than 0.5V" - sebas

Lol. Voltage is a measure of electrostatic potential, not energy.

Lol. You should learn the difference.

Lol. Then you should learn to not laugh at things you don't unerstand.

Lol. Then people wouldn't spend as much time laughing at you.

Lol.

Vendicar_Decarian
2 / 5 (4) Dec 20, 2011
"Holographic chat: This should be easily achievable with dual cams and holographic screens already being available." - Ant

Other than the fact that it wouldn't be a hologram.

No method is known for the production of projected holograms, and probably no method is possible.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Dec 20, 2011
Scientists are working to improve video chat to become holography chat - or "3-D telepresence."

They're using the terms interchangeably here. I think it's pretty clear what they mean.

No method is known for the production of projected holograms, and probably no method is possible.

This is already under way
Rewriteable hologram:
http://www.youtub...=related

Plasma explosion hologram:
http://www.youtub...=related

(Though both are probably not fit for market within the next 5 years)

Holography like in Star Wars is probably not a good idea, anyways, since it is always 'see through'. That might give it a neat retro feel, but is totally unpractical for rendering anything beyond schematic data (e.g. abstract air traffic control data). You wouldn't want to watch a movie that way.
Deesky
not rated yet Dec 20, 2011
No method is known for the production of projected holograms, and probably no method is possible.

Probably true. The method in AP's link above using plasma pixels will never be mainstream as it has too many limitations (high power and hazardous, lack of color, resolution, etc).

A similar approach I remember seeing was to use a falling stream of mist or water vapor as a transparent projection screen in mid air, but that too has practical limitations.

So, I had a random idea which might work. What if you used an aerogel like material as a 3D projection medium? The stuff's so thin and porous that you would normally see through it, but it could be sufficient to reflect RGB laser beams from any point in its volume (voxel) to create a 3D effect.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Dec 21, 2011
So, I had a random idea which might work. What if you used an aerogel like material as a 3D projection medium?

I actualy dicked around a bit with standing ultrasonic waves during my university days.
The idea was to create two crossed standing waves (one horizontal and one vertical) and deposit some reflective material in the pressure minima which would float indefinitely (I used clubmoss seeds as those are the finest seeds known) and then reflect a laser off of that.

Couple of problems (besides being a fantastic mess and prone to ignition)
- You see the path of the laser along the entire length - not just the point you want to illuminate.
- You always have a semitranssparent image (no occlusion possible)
- Drove all the dogs in the neighborhood nuts.

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