American multinational technology and consultancy giant IBM unveils five innovations set to launch in the market in the next five years.

These “Next Five in Five” innovations will change the way people work, live and play in the coming decade.






#1 Interactive Communication in the 3rd Dimension

In the next five years, 3D interfaces – like those in the movies – will allow social interaction between a group of friends through 3D holograms in real time. According to IBM, scientists are improving video chat to become holography chat – or “3D tele-presence.”

As 3D and holographic cameras get more sophisticated and miniaturized to fit into cell phones, one could be able to interact with photos, browse the Web and chat with your friends in 3D.

Also, IBM R&D are hard at work to revolutionize how data can be visualized in 3D. Through new technology, engineers can step inside of holograms from designs of buildings to software programs, running virtual simulations of how diseases spread across an interactive 3D environment and visualize trends occuring on the Internet – all in real time and with little to no distortion.

#2 No Batteries Included, or Required

Also, scientific advances in transistors and battery technology will allow devices last about 10 times longer than they do today. Better yet, batteries may disappear altogether in smaller devices.

To replace the heavy lithium-ion batteries used and discarded today, batteries are being developed to use air to react with energy-dense metal, eliminating a key inhibitor to longer lasting batteries. If successful, the result will be a lightweight, powerful and rechargeable battery capable of powering for everything from electric cars to consumer devices.

By re-designing the basic building block of electronic devices— the transistor, IBM aims to reduce the amount of energy per transistor to less than 0.5 volts, potentially leading to battery-free electronic devices that can be charged using a technique called energy scavenging.

Some wrist watches use this today – they require no winding and charge based on the movement of your arm. The same concept could be used to charge mobile phones– just shake and dial.

#3 Human Sensors

Micro sensors placed inside phones, cars, wallets and even tweets can collect data that will give scientists a real-time picture of the environment.

Since we humans are beings of senses, each one of us is essentially a walking sensor. We could be able to contribute data to fight global warming, save endangered species or track invasive plants or animals that threaten ecosystems around the world. A whole class of “citizen scientists” is expected to emerge within the next five years, using simple sensors in current personal devices to collect massive data sets for research.

An example, IBM has developed mobile phone applications that allow typical citizens to contribute invaluable data to causes, like improving the quality of drinking water or reporting noise pollution. Already, an app called Creek Watch allows citizens to take a snapshot of a creek or stream, answer three simple questions about it and the data is automatically accessible by the local water authority.

IBM has recently patented a technology that enables accurate and precise post-event analysis of seismic events, such as earthquakes, as well as provide early warnings for tsunamis, which can follow earthquakes. The invention also rapidly measures and analyzes the damage zone of an earthquake to help prioritize emergency response needed, following an earthquake.

#4 Traffic Updates that are almost Pre-cognitive

In the coming five years, advanced analytics technologies will provide personalized recommendations that get commuters where they need to go in the fastest time. Adaptive traffic systems will intuitively learn traveler patterns and behavior to provide more dynamic travel safety and route information to travelers.

IBM researchers are developing new models that will predict the outcomes of varying transportation routes to provide information that goes well beyond traditional traffic reports– after-the fact information that only indicate where you are already located in a traffic jam, and web-based applications that give estimated travel time in traffic

Using new mathematical models and IBM’s predictive analytics technologies, the researchers will analyze and combine multiple possible scenarios that can affect commuters to deliver the best routes for daily travel, including many factors, such as traffic accidents, commuter’s location, current and planned road construction, most traveled days of the week, expected work start times, local events that may impact traffic, alternate options of transportation such as rail or ferries, parking availability and weather.

#5 Hot Chips power Cities

Significantly, innovations in computers and data centers redirect the excessive heat and energy that these devices give off to heat buildings in the winter and power air conditioning in the summer.

Imagine, the energy poured into the world’s data centers could in turn be recycled for a city’s use. Up to 50 percent of the energy consumed by a modern data center goes toward air cooling. Most of the heat is then wasted because it is just dumped into the atmosphere.

On-chip water-cooling systems developed by IBM harness the thermal energy from a cluster of computer processors and efficiently recycled the thermal energy to provide hot water for an office or houses.

A pilot project in Switzerland involving a computer system fitted with the on-chip water-cooling system is expected to save up to 30 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year the equivalent of an 85 percent carbon footprint reduction.

The system works through a network of micro-fluidic capillaries inside a heat sink that is attached to the surface of each chip in the computer cluster, which allows water to be piped to within microns of the semiconductor material itself.

By having water flow so close to each chip, heat can be removed more efficiently. Water heated to 60 °C is then passed through a heat exchanger to provide heat that is delivered elsewhere.

IBM’s Next Five in Five is based on market and societal trends expected to transform our lives, as well as emerging technologies from IBM Labs around the world that can make these innovations possible.



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Dagooc, Ehda. “IBM set to launch new innovations in five years.” 31 December 2010. Cebu’s The Freeman. Accessed 01 January 2011. Link Here.


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