updated 03:15 pm EST, Tue November 25, 2008
IBM Next Five in Five
IBM on Monday announced its third annual IBM Next Five in Five innovations for the future that will change the way people live. The five technologies are promised for the next five years based on research and technology developed by IBM Labs from around the world and is set to include such low-cost solar cells built into ordinary surfaces, low-cost DNA tests that will keep track of users' health, speech recognition across the wider Internet, the creation of personal digital shopping helpers and digital memory aids.
The solar technology will be built into asphalt, paint and windows thanks to thin-film solar cells that can be 100 times thinner than silicon-wafer cells while also being less costly to produce. The new type of cells can be printed and arranged on a flexible backing that can then be installed on building tops or sides, tinted windows, cell phones, cars and clothing.
A "crystal ball" approach to an individual's health will come via testing of one's DNA, with doctors developing a genetic map that tells users what health risks they are more likely to face. Thanks to human genome mapping, doctors should be able to recommend lifestyle changes based on long-term risks, while drug companies should engineer more effective medications. IBM promises this DNA test will cost less than $200, IBM claims.
IBM's speech recognition is also set to expand to the Internet as a whole rather than individual applications. Web visitors should soon have the choice of browsing primarily by voice. It's already being done in India, the company explains. Via VoiceSites, users will be able to access supported websites, giving them the ability to read and respond to e-mails without either keyboard or mouse input.
Shoppers won't have to bring along a friend or trust a sales person when buying clothing, as a combination of new technology and newer mobile devices will give buyers new options in selecting clothing and other goods. Applications are due to include selecting styles, sizes and accessories from inside a fitting room and having them brought over, sending photos of an outfit to friends and family, accessing reviews on the fly and downloading coupons for purchases.
Finally, IBM aims to help those with bad memories by introducing portable and stationary appliances that will help users remember dates, things and notes by recording voices and images, then categorized, processed and stored on a PC. A phone call to the PC will help users remember what it was they needed to get, or GPS tracking software in personal devices will notify them they are near a store or service they need to visit.
IBM Solar Panel
IBM Crystal Ball
IBM Web Talk
IBM Digital Shopping Assistant
IBM Memory Aid