HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
May 7, 2007, Herald Journal

IBM: A ‘five in five’ prediction

By MARK OLLIG

What do you get when you combine the brainpower of 150,000 people from 104 countries and the research “think tanks” of the technology giant IBM?

You get an online brainstorming session called “IBM Innovation Jam.”

International Business Machines (IBM) recently released some exciting technological predictions derived from this “Innovation Jam,” which they think might occur during the next five years.

These predications were made public in the “IBM Next Five in Five” report. This report talks about the five innovations that IBM feels has the possibility of changing how we work, live and play over the next five years.

These five predictions are also based on market and societal trends, along with the technological discoveries being made from the IBM labs all over the world.

Scientists at IBM are looking at how the young people of today are using technology to communicate and play. Instant messaging or IM chats, video games and video messages are commonly used over the Internet. IBM says their scientists feel the younger generation of today are teaching the adults how we will be communicating, shopping and working in the future.

In five years time, according to the IBM report, when we go to work and sit at our desk, the computer environment will look more like that of a Sony PlayStation 2 or an Xbox game rather than. . . Excel spreadsheets. Internet programmers will be creating software programs for a three dimensional (3-D) Internet world.

The cell phone of the future will have “presence technology” or “presence intelligence” in it as well.

Say you’re getting close to the mall or your favorite store. . . your cell phone will be “pinged” (ping is a type of protocol that sends a message to an electronic device) and an instant test message will be scrolling across the display on your cell phone about the latest sales.

Or, say you are on your way home after work, and you’re getting within range of your favorite pizza place. You hear a “beep” on your cell phone and see a message about the $5.00 discount on a pizza. . . a take-home meal deal just for you – if you stop in. The message is sent on behalf of the pizza store because the technology used will “know” your exact location from them.

Daniel Dias, a director in IBM’s Research Laboratory, said in a statement, “Open collaborative research and real-world innovations are going to shape the future. In the next five years, our lives will change through technology innovations.”

Here are the five innovations that were selected by IBM:

First on the list: Get ready for three dimensional or “3-D” Internet.

In this 3-D online world, you will “walk” the aisles of supermarkets, bookstores and your favorite shopping mall. 3-D Internet will make possible new kinds of education, remote medicine and consumer experiences. This will transform how we shop, interact with our friends, family, doctors, and teachers.

Second, IBM says we will be able to access health care remotely, from just about anywhere in the world. Millions of people with health concerns will be able to have their conditions automatically monitored as they go about their daily lives. A person’s medical condition will be monitored through sensors in the home, which will be transmitted to the patient’s health care provider.

IBM feels that hardware and software advances in the field of remote-control healthcare will be a major advancement by 2012.

Third, cell phones will start to read our minds. Well, not really – but the use of advanced “presence technology” (somewhat like Global Position Systems or GPS) will give cell phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants) the capability to automatically “learn” about the user’s whereabouts and preferences as they commute, work and travel. Presence Technology, used in instant messaging – already makes it possible to locate and identify a user as soon as the user connects to the network. Presence Technology will be able to “learn” that when you are in a class at school or a meeting at work, to automatically forward your calls to voice mail. Presence Technology will also be the reason why your favorite store will know to ping your cell phone with a “personal special” as you are driving or walking by.

In five years, all sorts of cell and mobile devices will have the ability to continually learn about and adapt to your preferences and needs.

Fourth on the list is “real-time speech translation.” Yes, the “Universal Translator” made famous on those Star Trek episodes will become a reality. The IBM report says the movement towards globalization needs to take into account the differences in language. Travelers will use portable “speech devices” to translate dinner menus into the local speaking language. Doctors will use them to communicate with patients that speak a different language.

Real-time translation technologies will aid in eliminating the language barrier and assist in the world’s economy and social interaction.

The fifth technological prediction from IBM is the impact of nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology has already had a major impact on microprocessors, making electronic products like PCs and cell phones smaller, technologically enhanced and less expensive.

In five years, carbon nanotechnology will possibly be used for water filtration. The need for clean water needs to be addressed soon, as the growing worldwide shortage of clean drinking water increases.

We will know which predictions becomes a reality – in 2012.

Here is the link to IBM that contains the “Next Five in Five” report.

http://www.ibm.com/ibm/ideasfromibm/us/five_in_five/010807/images/Fiveinnov_010807.pdf.

If you want to get more in-depth coverage from the “Innovation Jam,” visit http://www.globalinnovationjam.com/get_started2006/.