IBM's 5 in 5: Top innovations that will change the way you work in the next 5 years

Each year for the last seven years, the scientists at IBM have released their list of five innovations that they feel have the greatest potential to change the way we work and live during the next five years.

Here’s what they came up with this year:

1) Touch: You will be able to touch through your phone.  Imagine using your smartphone to shop for your wedding dress and being able to feel the satin or silk of the gown, or the lace on the veil, from the surface on the screen. Or to feel the beading and weave of a blanket made by a local artisan half way around the world. In five years, industries like retail will be transformed by the ability to “touch” a product through your mobile device.

2) Sight: A pixel will be worth a thousand words. We take some 500 billion photos a year, and 72 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. But computers today only understand pictures by the text we use to tag or title them; the majority of the information — the actual content of the image — is a mystery. In the next five years, systems will not only be able to look at and recognize the contents of images and visual data, they will turn the pixels into meaning, making sense out of it similar to the way a human views and interprets a photograph.

3) Hearing: Computers will hear what matters.  Ever wish you could make sense of all the sounds around you and be able to understand what’s not being said? Within five years, distributed systems of clever sensors will detect elements of sound such as sound pressure, vibrations and sound waves at different frequencies.

4) Taste: Digital taste buds will help you to eat smarter. What if we could make healthy foods taste delicious using a different kind of computing system built for creativity? IBM researchers are developing a computing system that actually experiences flavor, to be used with chefs to create the most tasty and novel recipes. It will break down ingredients to their molecular level and blend the chemistry of food compounds with the psychology behind what flavors and smells humans prefer.

5) Smell: Computers will have a sense of smell. During the next five years, tiny sensors embedded in your computer or cell phone will detect if you’re coming down with a cold or other illness. By analyzing odors, biomarkers and thousands of molecules in someone’s breath, doctors will have help diagnosing and monitoring the onset of ailments such as liver and kidney disorders, asthma, diabetes, and epilepsy by detecting which odors are normal and which are not.

via Ooh Ooh That Smell — IBM’s 2012 “5 in 5″: Innovations Of The Senses « Turbotodd.


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  • John N Melissa Powell January 3, 2013 Reply

    I like the smell thing. I don’t like the Digital Taste Buds- we already have enough fake crap in our food. Lets just keep it natural. And I’m astonished by the Touch thing on the phones. I just dont even see how that is possible…

  • Daniel January 4, 2013 Reply

    In other words, multi-sensory–five innovations, five senses. How about some innovation that is less tangible, intuitive?

  • Christopher White January 4, 2013 Reply

    I fear that in five years we will be discussing the ability to download our souls into a computer and live eternally in a digital state.

  • Pingback: Did IBM’s 5 in 5 from 2008 come true? |

  • Pingback: Did IBM’s 5 in 5 from 2008 come true? |

  • Gary January 9, 2013 Reply

    A little creepy. Anyone remember “Terminator?” Yikes!

  • Ghyrn Wakefield February 4, 2013 Reply

    Reminds me even more about the movie Bicentennial Man, where Robin Williams as a robot keeps being upgraded with new equipment that makes him more and more human.

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