Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

IBM’s “Five in Five” for 2011

December 22nd, 2011 / in big science, research horizons / by Erwin Gianchandani

IBM is out with its sixth annual “Five in Five” list, specifying five technology innovations that have the potential to change the way we live, work, and play over the next five years. It’s a list that has met with some success over the years — for example, a 2007 prediction that “cell phones will be wallet, ticket broker, concierge, bank, shopping buddy, and more” has largely come to fruition.

So what’s on this year’s list of science fiction stories that could be reality by the year 2016? Find out after the jump…

IBM's Five in Five: #1: Energy: People power will come to life [image courtesy IBM].Energy: People power will come to life


Imagine being able to use every motion around you—your movements, the water rushing through the plumbing—to harness energy to power anything from your house to your city. It’s already being tested in Ireland, where IBM scientists are studying the effects of converting ocean wave energy into electricity. But instead of a buoy to capture motion, a smaller device that you wear or attach to your bicycle during a ride, for example, will collect the energy you create.


IBM's Five in Five: #2: Security: You will never need a password again [image courtesy IBM].Security: You will never need a password again


The name “multifactor biometrics” sounds as intriguing as the thrillers that use it as a plot device. In real life, the use of your retinal scan or your voice as a passport to verification will replace multiple passwords for access to information and secret hideouts, should you decide to accept the option. Your unique biological identity becomes your only password as multifactor biometrics aggregate these characteristics in real time to prevent identity theft.


IBM's Five in Five: #3: Mind reading: no longer science fiction [image courtesy IBM].Mind reading: no longer science fiction


Dialing a telephone is considered so last century. Soon, overt communication with devices might be just as archaic. IBM scientists are researching how to link your brain to your devices, such as a computer or a smartphone, so you only have to think about calling someone and it happens. For example, see a cube on your computer screen and think about moving it to the left, and it will. Beyond electronics control, possible applications include physical rehabilitation and understanding of brain disorders such as autism.


IBM's Five in Five: #4: Mobile: The digital divide will cease to exist [image courtesy IBM].Mobile: The digital divide will cease to exist


Mobile devices are decreasing the information-accessibility gap in disadvantaged areas. In five years, the gap will be imperceptible as growing communities use mobile technology to provide access to essential information. New solutions and business models from IBM are introducing mobile commerce and remote healthcare, for example. Recorded messages can be transmitted to quickly deliver valuable information about weather and aid to remote or illiterate users who haven’t had ready access before.


IBM's Five in Five: #5: Analytics: Junk mail will become priority mail [image courtesy IBM].Analytics: Junk mail will become priority mail


Imagine technology that replaces the unwanted messaging in your life with the next best thing to a personal assistant. IBM is developing technology that uses analytics and sensemaking to integrate data into applications that present only the information you want—and then do something about it. Combining your preferences and your calendar, for example, the technology will proactively reserve tickets to your favorite band’s concert when your calendar shows you’re free, or research alternate travel plans when it detects bad weather along your route, and then tell you where to go.

Be sure to watch the short video below, which introduces all these innovations with more detail:

To learn more about this year’s “Five in Five,” check out the official IBM announcement as well as IBM’s Smarter Planet blog.

And for a historical perspective, view the “Five in Five” lists from prior years: 2010200920082007, and 2006.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

IBM’s “Five in Five” for 2011