December 21, 2011 at 04:11 AM EST
IBM's 5-Year Tech Predictions: Mind Reading Computers and People Power
IBM released its sixth annual "5 in 5" which lists the five technologies the company thinks will come true in the next five years. The predictions aren't really predictions about the tech world in general but a way for IBM to showcase programs that IBM is actually working on.
(IBTimes) -- 12/21/2011 --

IBM Corp. released its sixth annual "5 in 5" which lists the five technologies the company thinks will come true in the next five years. The predictions aren't really predictions about the tech world in general but a way for IBM to showcase programs that IBM is actually working on. Some of the predictions seem to be out of this world but it's still worth looking at if only to wish that some of the predictions would come true.

People power. IBM thinks that people would be powering their homes in the future using nothing but their own energy. Exercise machines can be hooked up to a generator to capture the generated kinetic energy.

"Anything that moves or produces heat has the potential to create energy that can be captured," IBM said. "Walking. Jogging. Bicycling. The heat from your computer. Even the water flowing through your pipes." The company even has a team working in Ireland researching ways to covert wave energy into electricity. The idea is a sound one given the energy crisis facing the world today but surely there are more alternative sources of energy than exercise?

Mind reading computers. Goodbye crystal balls, hello desktop PC. IBM is working on devices that will be controlled by the human brain waves. "If you just need to think about calling someone, it happens," IBM said. "Or you can control the cursor on a computer screen just by thinking about where you want to move it." Mind reading technology is being used today to read the brain waves of paralyzed patients. Brain computer interfaces would need electrodes and it's a far cry from what IBM envisions.

Biometrics will replace passwords. There are no more passwords in the world of the future. IBM thinks devices will recognize users by the way the walk, talk, look and move.

"Your biological makeup is the key to your individual identity, and soon it will become the key to safeguarding it," IBM said. "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 recognize the unique patterns in the retina of your eye. Or by doing the same, you can check your account balance on your mobile phone or tablet."

No more junk mail. Junk mail will evolve to become more personalized. According to IBM real time analytics will be so powerful that it will integrate data from all facets of your life on social networks to recommend information that is tailored to suit the user. This is actually an ominous prediction with implications of loss of privacy as companies would actively look at users' social networks to advertise their products.

The digital divide will no longer exist.  People from all social strata will have access to technology and over the next five years the gap between the rich and poor will continue to shrink.

"In our global society, growth and wealth of economies are increasingly decided by the level of access to information," IBM said. "And in five years the gap between information haves and have-nots will narrow considerably due to advances in mobile technology."

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