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Mind reading, the death of junk email and biometric passwords: IBM’s Five in Five

Rather than join the "here's what will happen next year" brigade, IBM has unveiled a list of its top five innovations that will change the game over the next five years. One or two may just surprise you...

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Big Blue says it is bridging the gap between science-fiction and science fact when it comes to Five in Five – its sixth annual prediction for the, "innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years."

So what are these innovations? Without further ado…

People power will come to life
IBM reckons we will soon be able to power our homes with the energy we create ourselves, whether it is by jogging, walking or the heat from your home computer. These create kinetic energy, which IBM believes we’ll soon be able to capture and use to power our homes and offices, by, for example, small devices attached to the spokes on your bicycle wheels that recharge batteries as you pedal along.

You will never need a password again
This one will sound like a relief to the countless folk out there who struggle to remember passwords for lots of different services, or those who make the common but potentially devastating mistake of using the same password for everything.

But how does it work? By using your unique biological makeup, says Big Blue. Biometric data such as facial definitions, retinol scans and voice files will be used to build a unique online password, one that is tied to your DNA.

"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 recognise 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," the company says.

Mind reading is no longer science fiction
We’re heading towards the more fanciful predictions with this one. IBM reckons that, "Within 5 years, we will begin to see early applications of this technology in the gaming and entertainment industry."

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The company is researching how to link your brain to your devices, so for example you can call someone on your smartphone simply by thinking it, or you could move the mouse cursor by thinking where on the screen you want it to go.

At the moment the technology involves headsets that read electrical brain activity and recognise facial expressions, excitement and concentration levels, and thoughts of a person without them physically taking any actions, says Big Blue.

The digital divide will cease to exist
Back towards earth with this prediction. The growth in mobile devices means that in five years 80% of the world’s population will have one. The cost will of course come down, so people with less disposable income will also be able to own a powerful mobile device, says IBM.

IBM uses the example of illiterate villagers in rural India, who were able to use mobile phones to pass on recorded messages, enabling them to know when a doctor was coming to the village or what the weather would be like and how it would affect their crops.

Junk mail will become priority mail
This one sounds like bliss. IBM thinks a combination of personalised and relevant advertisements and finely-tuned spam filters will result in the impression that spam is dead.

For example, what if tickets for your favourite band were reserved for you the moment they went on sale, and integration with your calendar meant they would be booked for a night you were definitely available. An alert would be sent to your mobile with all the relevant details, leaving you the simple task of clicking a button to confirm it all.

This one would work by pulling in information about you (that you are happy to reveal, obviously) from social networks and other online preferences and present relevant information to you.

This could all be reality within five years, says IBM. What do you think? Let us know via the comments below.

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