IBM’s Top 5 Innovations Will Change Your Life Within 5 Years

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The 2011 predictions cover green power, mind-reading machines, desirable junk mail, DNA passwords, and digital profusion

IBM has released its sixth annual IBM 5 in 5 list of five innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years.

The latest IBM 5 in 5 is based on market and societal trends as well as emerging technologies from IBM’s research labs around the world that can make these transformations possible.

The list consists of these five findings: people power will come to life; you will never need a password again; mind reading is no longer science fiction; the digital divide will cease to exist; and junk mail will become priority mail.

Shaping Up Things To Come

In a post on the Smarter Planet blog, IBM strategist and writer Steve Hamm said the Next 5 in 5 initiative got its start in one of the company’s Innovation Jams in 2006. “The seed goal was to get the entire company thinking about grand challenges,” he said.

The first “innovation” about “people power coming to life” relates to renewable energy. IBM said anything that moves or produces heat has the potential to create energy that can be captured – walking, jogging, cycling, the heat from a computer, and even the water flowing through water pipes.

IBM says advances in renewable energy technology will allow individuals to collect this kinetic energy, which now goes to waste, and use it to help power our homes, offices and cities. For example, it will become possible to attach small devices to the spokes on your bicycle wheels to recharge batteries as you pedal along.

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, IBM said in a press release.

Created energy comes in all shapes and forms and from anything around us. IBM scientists in Ireland are looking at ways to understand and minimise the environmental impact of converting ocean wave energy into electricity.

Science faction

IBM continues to bridge the gap between science fiction and science fact on a daily basis, the company said. The second innovation in the “5 in 5”, foresees that “you will never need a password again”. This will come about because your biological makeup is the key to your individual identity, and soon, it will become the key to safeguarding it.

IBM says you will no longer need to create, track or remember multiple passwords for various log-ins. Imagine you will be able to walk up to an ATM machine to securely withdraw money by simply speaking your name or looking into a tiny sensor that can recognise the unique patterns in the retina of your eye, IBM said. Or by doing the same, you can check your account balance on your mobile phone or tablet.

Each person has a unique biological identity, and behind all that is data. Biometric data – facial definitions, retinal scans and voice files – will be composited through software to build your DNA-unique online password, IBM said.

Referred to as multifactor biometrics, smarter systems will be able to use this information in real time to make sure whenever someone is attempting to access your information, it matches your unique biometric profile and the attempt is authorised, the paper said. To be trusted, such systems should enable you to opt in or out of whatever information you choose to provide.

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