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IBM Predicts Holographic Phones, Air-driven Batteries

Nathan Eddy is a contributor to eWeek and TechWeekEurope, covering cloud and BYOD

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IBM predicts holographic phones by 2015, batteries charged by air, cities heated by servers, and more

In 2015, we will be using mobile phones that will project a 3D holographic image of callers, claims IBM in a list of predictions of future technologies culled from a survey of 3,000 IBM scientists. 3D displays are also the focus of work between Intel and Nokia in the development of a holographic interface.

Cities heated by servers and advanced city traffic monitoring are also listed as being among the prevalent technologies of the next five years, according to a Bloomberg article.

Holograms Are Just The Start

IBM has also predicted that batteries would move beyond lithium-ion construction to more energy-dense materials, greatly increasing their power capacity and allowing them to recharge by ‘breathing’ the air around them.

“All this demonstrates a real culture of innovation at IBM and willingness to devote itself to solving some of the world’s biggest problems,” Josephine Cheng, a vice president at IBM’s Almaden Lab, told the news service.

“These are all stretch goals, and that’s good. In an era when pessimism is the new black, a little dose of technological optimism is not a bad thing” Paul Saffo, managing director of foresight at investment firm Discern, told Bloomberg. “The nice thing about the list is that it provokes thought. If everything came true, they wouldn’t be doing their job.”

Earlier this month, IBM took steps to bring a better future to the island nation of Singapore, announcing a collaboration between researchers from IBM and engineers from public agencies in Singapore to improve the quality of its urban services.

The focus of the research effort will be to use sensor networks to model, predict and manage more effectively the use of natural and physical infrastructure resources – water, transport and energy.

The collaboration will focus on research into advanced analytics-based systems. The understanding of water, energy and transport systems requires science-based models of resources (such as hydrology for water) and behaviour (economic models for demand response for electricity and transport).

These models need to assimilate data from sensor networks at the right scale and resolution to capture the observed events and the interaction between the different systems. Such models may be used to understand the behaviour and develop policies for the management of these systems.

IBM said it would work with several agencies including the Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to develop decision support tools to help Singapore to manage its resources more effectively. As part of these efforts, IBM also intends to drive research collaborations with an ecosystem of research institutes and universities in Singapore.

One of the first projects with the LTA will focus on smarter transportation to mitigate traffic congestion. The research will build upon the work already done by IBM Research to provide traffic prediction and will aim to provide decision support analytics for improved traffic management.