Yesterday, IBM‘s sixth annual  “5 in 5” was announced in the company’s headquarters in Armonk, NY. It is a list of  5 revolutionary things to come in the next 5 years. The list is based on current market trends and emerging technologies that are being developed in the company’s research labs worldwide.

“At IBM, we’re bridging the gap between science fiction and science fact on a daily basis.” said the press release.

The 5 things that will transform peoples lives in ways we cant even imagine are:

New power sources:

We are surrounded by energy. Anything that moves or emits heat is a potential energy source. That’s a widely known fact, right? Well, scientists from IBM claim the energy generated in that way can and will be harvested in the near future. Converting ocean wave energy into electricity is the main subject of research at their laboratory in Ireland. According to the press release:

“Created energy comes in all shapes and forms and from anything around us… 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.”

Use of passwords expiry date is closing in

Remember the retinal scanners and voice recognition machines from various sci-fi movies? They won’t be so sci-fi anymore, at least the guys at IBM say so. No more creating and remembering multiple passwords for all the log-ins you have to make during the day. You will be able just to say something to a microphone or look into a small sensor, and get access for example, to your credit card at an ATM machine. All your biometric data, also referred to as multi-factor biometrics (facial definitions, retinal scans and voice files), will be composited to a single, unique, yours only password.

Mind reading

IBM scientist, among others, are working on ways to connects the human brain with electronic devices such as computers and smart phones. Bioinformatics, as the field is called, is focusing on designing headsets with advanced sensors that will be able to read electrical brain activity, and convert them to orders the devices will execute (as if Siri weren’t enough already). That way, it will be possible to control electronic devices, move the cursor on a computer etc. It is predicted that the technology will be applied in the gaming and entertainment industry in the next 5 years. A possible use of the technology will be in medicine, where doctors will be able to assist in rehabilitation from strokes, and understand brain disorder such as autism.

Digital divide is coming to an end

Today, the gap between those who have access to electronic information and those  who do not is enormous. But it will narrow in the near future as mobile technology is advancing and the devices are getting cheaper. Some predictions are that 5.6 billion mobile devices will be sold in the next five years, so that approximately 80% of the global population will have access to mobile device.

As a proof of this expansion of mobile technologies, IBM, for example, enabled illiterate villagers in India to pass on information through recorded messages on their phones, using speech technology. With such information, villagers would know when the doctors were coming to the village, whether to, or not to fertilize crops according to the weather forecast, etc.

SPAM no more

In five years, spam filters will become so complex that people will never receive unwanted mail again. You will get only the information that you could find useful at the time. The situation was nicely described in the press release”

“Imagine if tickets to your favorite band are put on hold for you the moment they became available, and for the one night of the week that is free on your calendar. Through alerts direct to you, you’ll be able to purchase tickets instantly from your mobile device. Or imagine being notified that a snow storm is about to affect your travel plans and you might want to re-route your flight… From news, to sports, to politics, you’ll trust the technology will know what you want, so you can decide what to do with it.”

Apparently, IBM is developing a technology that will work on the basis of real time analytics, and will automatically integrate data from your social networks and online preferences.

For more information on the topic, watch the official video from IBM below: