IBM makes bold technology predictions for the coming years

Published on the 12/01/2013 | Written by Newsdesk

IBM predictions

IBM is generating both cautious ‘maybes’ and more than a little eye-rolling and with its latest round of five-year tech predictions that include mind-reading smartphones and a revolution in the way we view spam emails...

For the last five years, IBM has published a list of five technologies that it thinks will come to fruition in the next five years. This year’s set has provoked some surprised responses however, as ambitious predictions such as mind-reading smartphones and kinetic energy powered houses seem to come straight out of a science fiction novel.

The predictions are:
People powered houses: IBM says that new technologies will allow us to tap into the energy generated by everything from the water flowing through our homes’ pipes to the everyday movements of our own bodies.

“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.”

The death of the password: According to IBM, advances in biometrics will see no further use for passwords, as devices will be able to recognise our behaviours and physical features for security purposes.

“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.”

Smart devices will read your mind: “Within [five] years,” says IBM, “we will begin to see early applications of this technology in the gaming and entertainment industry”.

“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.

“[D]octors 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.”

Spam becomes your friend: According to the company, spam emails will soon become so advanced, and their content so targeted, that email users will start to welcome them.

“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?

“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.”

The digital divide will cease to exist:
“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.

“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.”

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