December 01 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets Year: 2013 Rating: 3
IBM held its Third Annual "Five in Five" which looks at emerging trends as well as what IBM itself is developing in their own labs around the world. Here's the vid.
While previous predictions given by these "Five in Five" releases can be somewhat fanciful (like mind-reading cellphones for instance), this latest list has the refreshing feel of being very near and very possible.
Solar technology will be built into everything
IBM states that within five years we could be seeing thin-film solar technology built into everything around us. This includes sidewalks, driveways, paint, windows and even clothing. Their belief is that thin-film solar will get so cheap that it can be applied everywhere in our lives. It's ability to be flexible also makes it easy to wrap around our daily devices which could benefit from a little extra power boost. It's interesting to think that while some people are clamoring for white asphalt and roofing tiles to reflect the Suns energy and save on lighting, another faction will emerge that will want solar film instead. Of course the question remains: are you going to want to hook a battery up to your clothing?
Your health can be pre-determined
Mapping DNA keeps getting faster and cheaper as the years go along. It only makes sense that very soon people will begin to use that genetic information to look for hereditary traits that could impact your health. In finding out you have a high chance of becoming diabetic, you may try and change your diet to avoid or delay its effects. Basically, it's the movie GATTACA without being able to actually alter the DNA before birth. I wonder how you'll take the news when they tell you that the junk food you so love is literally killing your body and taking years off your life.
Surfing the Web through speech
Voice recognition technology today can be described as mediocre at best. Often little things such as regional accents, incorrect speech (Warshington instead of Washington) or similar-sounding words (prints, prince) can screw everything up. The good news is that it's getting better with experience, a whole lot better. Google recently unveiled voice recognition technology for its iPhone app which has stunned most users for its accuracy and ease of use. Sadly, people in the UK are having a much harder time with it. As software experiences more and more human speech, developing an all-encompassing voice recognition device can't be too far off.
Personal shopping assistants
Out of the whole list, this one makes the least sense to me. You're in a booth trying out clothes, the clothes don't fit, so you type on a screen you need a new size brought to you. On top of this, your dressing room will have a camera which will take pictures of you in the clothes and send it to all your friends for their opinion. This has bad idea written all over it. Not only will it make the shopping experience take longer as you wait for the busy employee to bring you the clothes you need (five minutes later you get a "sorry, not in stock" message), but there's a camera in the dressing room (I won't go into details how this could be abused by both parties). You'll also wait for a "Hot or Not" type voting on pictures of you in the various outfits which I'm sure all your friends will love getting every time you go shopping. IBM, scrap this. It'd make more sense to take photos from home of yourself and have them overlay the clothes onto your picture.
You will never have to rely on your memory
Finally, we have the idea that gadgets will record everything during our lives and catalog it for easy access whenever we need it. IBM is big into this kind of technology. You might remember that they are the ones trying to make a business card which records faces or people you meet, locations where you met them, all relevant data on the person and what context they appeared in. So if you're the kind of person who always forgets names, places you have been, or what you did on what day, IBM is trying to help.