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IBM’s Top 5 Innovations Will Change Your Life Within 5 Years

IBM 5 in 5
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The 2011 predictions cover green power, mind-reading machines, desirable junk mail, DNA passwords, and digital profusion

IBM has released its sixth annual IBM 5 in 5 list of five innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years.

The latest 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.

The list consists of these five findings: people power will come to life; you will never need a password again; mind reading is no longer science fiction; the digital divide will cease to exist; and junk mail will become priority mail.

Shaping Up Things To Come

In a post on the Smarter Planet blog, IBM strategist and writer Steve Hamm said the Next 5 in 5 initiative got its start in one of the company’s Innovation Jams in 2006. “The seed goal was to get the entire company thinking about grand challenges,” he said.

The first “innovation” about “people power coming to life” relates to renewable energy. IBM said anything that moves or produces heat has the potential to create energy that can be captured – walking, jogging, cycling, the heat from a computer, and even the water flowing through water pipes.

IBM says 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. For example, it will become possible to attach small devices to the spokes on your bicycle wheels to 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, IBM said in a press release.

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

Science faction

IBM continues to bridge the gap between science fiction and science fact on a daily basis, the company said. The second innovation in the “5 in 5”, foresees that “you will never need a password again”. This will come about because your biological makeup is the key to your individual identity, and soon, it will become the key to safeguarding it.

IBM says 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 recognise the unique patterns in the retina of your eye, IBM said. 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, IBM said.

Referred to as multifactor 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 authorised, the paper said. To be trusted, such systems should enable you to opt in or out of whatever information you choose to provide.

  1. Ridiculously optimistic, especially the prediction that mobile tech will become more accessible. In fact, if the tech goes on getting cheaper, you do have to sell more and more of them. So far, so OK. But what exactly is going to enable people to spend more on these things? In fact, we’re all cutting back on our ‘needs’, not adding to them. And the idea that the whole world is going to go on getting wealthier and more ‘connected’, despite the increasing pressures on resources is so la-la land it isn’t funny.

    1. Quite right, Anon anon. What will happen as the Information Age gets caught by the undertow of the Abundant Energy Age?
      So far electronic processing has given us the fragility of the global economy, the banking crisis and a proliferation of wishful fantasies about benign technology.
      OK, I’m being negative, and I do believe the problem is not new technologies themselves but the false hopes we invest in them. It’s unrealistic to imagine that new tech is going to reform human behaviour on a scale big enough to meet the challenges of the near future. More or better information can help us be more efficient, but how do we judge “better”?
      That takes WISDOM, something we all, leaders and led, seem short of.

  2. I believe the idea and concept is to stop draining capital from the masses just to access “the highway”. Innovation should mean at some point said access is an enabler to new services that allow all to create/spend in the infrastructure enmasse. New services for or innovations from the top down, including the providers. Think of it like an amusement park, if you charge so much only a few can get it, even those few will be very conservative once inside because of such a way one drain. The problem at the moment is that access generates enough revenue in the current setup for the gatekeepers that they can be quite content in keeping the infrasture from evolving and limiting the economic butterfly effect which could be greatly amplified.
    This world network has more potential in terms of creative systems than anything to date simply because it connects the world in real time. If we encourage growth to foster that creativity or choose a stagnant route – is entirely up to “us”, the connected.

  3. Not much innovation, just about all of these things have been innovated and exist. Some will come to market.
    Mobile phone technology cannot work without an extensive network of transmitter towers and all that goes with them.
    Most likely innovation is that each individual will achieve absolute anonymity. No one will be able to contact a person (even on a computer) or use any of their data without a persons personal permission. This includes all medical records etc. Possibly through an implanted chip holding personal data. Bio-metric data etc. cannot be held on any computer as it is then available to anyone. Also voice recognition, and subsequent required actions, will come of age.