IBM's five in five: Upcoming innovations

Five innovations that will change our lives in the next five years

  • Commutes will be personalised. By combining advanced analytics technologies, such as predictive analytics with real-time information about current travel congestion, commuters will be provided with personalised recommendations that get drivers where they need to go in the fastest time. Adaptive traffic systems will intuitively learn the travel patterns and behaviour of every individual, proving more customised travel safety and route information than is possible today.

  • People won’t need to be scientists to save the planet. Not everyone is a scientist, but every individual is a walking sensor. In five years, everyone could be a walking sensor because phones, cars, wallets, and even tweets will collect data that scientists can use to paint a real-time picture of the world. People will be able to contribute this data to fight global warming, save endangered species, or track invasive plants or animals that threaten ecosystems around the world.

  • Batteries will breathe air to power devices In the next five years, scientific advances in transistors and battery technology will allow devices to last about 10 times longer than they do today. Instead of the heavy lithium-ion batteries used today, scientists are working on batteries that use air to react with energy-dense metal. If successful, the result will be a lightweight, powerful and rechargeable battery capable of powering everything from electric cars to consumer devices. Batteries may disappear altogether in some smaller devices.

  • People will have the opportunity to meet their friends in 3D In the next five years. 3D interfaces – like those in the movies – will let people see and talk with 3D holograms of their friends. As 3D and holographic cameras get more sophisticated and miniaturised to fit into cell phones, people will be able to interact with photos, browse the Web, and chat with friends in entirely new ways.

  • Computers will help energise cities. With up to 50 per cent of the energy consumed by a modern data centre being used for air cooling, innovations in computers and data centres are enabling the excessive heat and energy to be recycled for a city’s use, such as heating buildings in winter and power air conditioning in the summer.

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