In five years, technology advancements could enable sensors to analyze odors or the molecules in a person’s breath to help diagnose diseases. This innovation is part of IBM’s 5 in 5, a set of IBM annual predictions that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years.
“We cannot stop technology, not on 21st December 2012! This “5 in 5″ excerpt from Phys.Org will be my last post for this year. My next post will be on Wednesday 09 January 2013. I convey to all of you my season’s greetings with all good wishes to the new year 2013” – Georges Abi-Aad.
New generation of machines will learn, adapt, sense and begin to experience the world as it really is. This year’s predictions focus on one element of the new era, the ability of computers to mimic the human senses—in their own way, to see, smell, touch, taste and hear. These sensing capabilities will help us become more aware, productive and help us think – but not think for us. Cognitive computing systems will help us see through complexity, keep up with the speed of information, make more informed decisions, improve our health and standard of living, enrich our lives and break down all kinds of barriers—including geographic distance, language, cost and inaccessibility.
Here are five predictions that will define the future:
Touch: You will be able to touch through your phone
Imagine using your smartphone to shop for your wedding dress and being able to feel the satin or silk of the gown, or the lace on the veil, all from the surface of the screen? Or to feel the beading and weave of a blanket made by a local artisan half way around the world? In five years, industries such as retail will be transformed by the ability to “touch” a product through your mobile device.
Sight: A pixel will be worth a thousand words
Computers today only understand pictures by the text we use to tag or title them. In the next five years, systems will not only be able to look at and recognize the contents of images and visual data, they will turn the pixels into meaning, beginning to make sense out of it similar to the way a human views and interprets a photograph. In the future, “brain-like” capabilities will let computers analyze features such as color, texture patterns or edge information and extract insights from visual media. By being trained to discriminate what to look for in images—such as differentiating healthy from diseased tissue—and correlating that with patient records and scientific literature, systems that can “see” will help doctors detect medical problems with far greater speed and accuracy.
Hearing: Computers will hear what matters
Ever wish you could make sense of the sounds all around you and be able to understand what’s not being said? Within five years, a distributed system of clever sensors will detect elements of sound such as sound pressure, vibrations and sound waves at different frequencies. It will interpret these inputs to predict when trees will fall in a forest or when a landslide is imminent. For example, “baby talk” will be understood as a language, telling parents or doctors what infants are trying to communicate. In the next five years, by learning about emotion and being able to sense mood, systems will pinpoint aspects of a conversation and analyze pitch, tone and hesitancy to help us have more productive dialogues that could improve customer call center interactions, or allow us to seamlessly interact with different cultures.
Taste: Digital taste buds will help you to eat smarter
What if we could make healthy foods taste delicious using a different kind of computing system that is built for creativity? Will break down ingredients to their molecular level and blend the chemistry of food compounds with the psychology behind what flavors and smells humans prefer. By comparing this with millions of recipes, the system will be able to create new flavor combinations that pair, for example, roasted chestnuts with other foods such as cooked beetroot, fresh caviar, and dry-cured ham. A system like this can also be used to help us eat healthier, creating novel flavor combinations that will make us crave a vegetable casserole instead of potato chips. The computer will be able to use algorithms to determine the precise chemical structure of food and why people like certain tastes.
Smell: Computers will have a sense of smell
Tiny sensors embedded in your computer or cell phone will detect if you’re coming down with a cold or other illness. By analyzing odors, biomarkers and thousands of molecules in someone’s breath, doctors will have help diagnosing and monitoring the onset of ailments such as liver and kidney disorders, asthma, diabetes and epilepsy by detecting which odors are normal and which are not. IBM technology will “smell” surfaces for disinfectants to determine whether rooms have been sanitized. Using novel wireless “mesh” networks, data on various chemicals will be gathered and measured by sensors, and continuously learn and adapt to new smells over time. Due to advances in sensor and communication technologies in combination with deep learning systems, sensors can measure data in places never thought possible. For example, computer systems can be used in agriculture to “smell” or analyze the soil condition of crops. In urban environments, this technology will be used to monitor issues with refuge, sanitation and pollution – helping city agencies spot potential problems before they get out of hand.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-12-ibm-reveals-years.html#jCp
- IBM: You’ll be able to ‘feel’ through your smartphone in five years (news.techeye.net)
- Real “touch” screens and tasteful computers: IBM predicts the future (gigaom.com)
- Computers will be able to Touch, Taste, Hear, Smell and See [IBM 5 in 5 2012] (trak.in)
- IBM: The Smartphone Of The Future Will Hear, See, Smell, Taste & Feel (cultofmac.com)
- Feeling through your phone and a digital tongue: IBM predicts the five-year future (slashgear.com)
- IBM’s 5 in 5 predicts cognitive computing will complement our senses, virtualize touch (engadget.com)
- 5 things IBM thinks will change the world in the next 5 years (dvice.com)
- The week in gadgets: smart thermostats, cognitive computing and HP’s latest convertible (siliconrepublic.com)