IBM Predicts Computers Will See, Hear, Taste, Touch and Smell by 2018

Big Blue has released its annual "5 in 5" predictions.


You Can't Detect What You Can't See: Illuminating the Entire Kill Chain

Posted December 18, 2012

Cynthia Harvey

Every year, IBM researchers make predictions about computing innovations they believe will occur within five years. This year the "5 in 5" predictions focus on ways technology is imitating human senses.

Mashables' Pete Pachal reported, "Today's PCs and smartphones can do a lot -- from telling you the weather in Zimbabwe in milliseconds, to buying your morning coffee. But ask them to show you what a piece of fabric feels like, or to detect the odor of a great-smelling soup, and they're lost. That will change in the next five years, says IBM. Computers at that time will be much more aware of the world around them, and be able to understand it. The company's annual '5 in 5' list, in which IBM predicts the five trends in computing that will arrive in five years' time, reads exactly like a list of the five human senses -- predicting computers with sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch."

CNET's Eric Mach explained, "IBM thinks that by the time our 45th president is in office in 2017, we'll be able to touch things and feel their virtual surfaces through our devices; get diet help from digital taste buds; give our computers their own sense of smell; and get new help in the sight and hearing departments as well. Collectively, IBM calls it cognitive computing."

The IBM press release added, "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."

Business Standard noted, "IBM researchers are developing technology to analyse odours in people's breath that identify ailments, including liver and kidney disorders, asthma, diabetes and epilepsy. By determining which odours and molecules in a person's breath are associated with each disease, computers of the future will be able to make an instant analysis for problems that today could be misdiagnosed or go undetected by a doctor. Computers will also be able to detect harmful bacteria that cause infections in hospitals just by smelling the surroundings."

Tags: IBM, predictions

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