It's that time of year again. IBM has just released its sixth annual "IBM 5 in 5." It's a list of innovations that Big Blue bets have the potential to change the way we work, live and interact over the next five years. This year, IBM is focusing on market and societal trends, as well as emerging technologies from its research labs.
IBM predicts, first of all, that people power will come to life. In other words, anything that moves or produces heat has the potential to create energy that can be captured. As IBM sees it, advances in renewable energy technology will allow individuals to collect this kinetic energy 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," IBM said. "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."
The Real James Bond
IBM's second prediction is around passwords. Big Blue predicts in the next five years our biological makeup will be the key to safeguarding our individual identity. IBM says we will no longer need to create, track or remember multiple passwords thanks to multi-factor biometrics, which will match our unique biometric profile.
If that's not 007 enough for you, how about this: IBM scientists are researching how to link your brain to your devices, such as a computer or a smartphone. If you just think about calling someone, IBM said, it happens. It's all part of IBM's bioinformatics research, and within five years we'll see the early applications of this tech in the gaming and entertainment industries.
Fourth, IBM predicts unsolicited advertisements may feel so personalized and relevant it may seem spam is dead. IBM is developing technology that uses real-time analytics to make sense and integrate data from across all the facets of your life to make that a reality.
No More Digital Divide
Last but not least, IBM is sure the digital divide will cease to exist in five years thanks to mobile technology. IBM is estimating 80 percent of the current global population will have a mobile device as the price comes down.
"When the One Laptop Per Child effort was first announced, commercial vendors didn't want anything to do with it because of the $100 price point," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "A couple of years later we saw the first netbook and a whole host of devices that are getting cheaper and cheaper and more and more powerful. That got me thinking about the notion of good enough computing, which I think some people in Silicon Valley look upon with a certainly amount of disdain."
With "good enough" computing, personal computing becomes accessible to anyone regardless of their location or education. Ruggedized mobile devices set the stage for mass adoption of user interfaces that don't require people to know how to read in order to learn. With the persistent problem if illiteracy, this could help many people, even in the U.S., King said.
"In countries like Africa and South America where to build communications infrastructure is problematic, we've seen mobile technologies offer a very viable methodology to allow people to tap into information and capabilities that they never would have dreamed of otherwise," King said.