IBM Predicts the Next Five Innovations to Watch in the Next Five Years

Posted by: Reena Jana on December 2, 2008

IBM has just released its third annual “Next Five in Five” list of innovations to watch. These are based on research done in Big Blue’s own labs, as well as market trends the company has observed. They’re interesting to pay attention to because they just might reveal what IBM is working on and might commercialize in the future.

Here are IBM’s predictions for what to expect by the end of 2013. First, in video format, and second, in text (the notes in parentheses are mine).

IBM's Next Five in Five:
-Energy saving solar technology will be built into asphalt, paint and windows
-You will have a crystal ball for your health (via genetic maps)
-You will talk to the Web . . . and the Web will talk back (via voice recognition)
-You will have your own digital shopping assistants (via mobile devices)
-Forgetting will become a distant memory (via smart appliances in every area of the home and office)

Reader Comments

Peter Mortensen

December 2, 2008 6:38 PM

There seem to be flipsides to a lot of these. Genetic mapping has the issues around insurance that so many people are worried about. Voice recognition can actually be really frustrating (even when working perfectly), and is actually a lot more labor intensive than writing (not too mention, a lot of people are visual, so audio only just won't work very well). Ubiquitous shopping assistants could get incredibly intrusive. And wasn't there a cover story about how the increase in smart appliances actually harms our in-borne ability to remember?

Not to play pessimist at all, just that I think anyone involved in such projects needs to really think about the wider consequences of such creations. Barry Katz of California College of Arts talked this summer at Jump about "Anticipatory Design," the craft of figuring out the social impacts of technologies before releasing them. We didn't foresee a lot of the social change that freeways and ubiquitous cars would bring, we made similar mistakes with cell phones. What will those five changes mean if they come to pass, and how can we orient them to make a positive impact?

Kevin

December 5, 2008 12:40 PM

The comment "We didn't foresee a lot of the social change that freeways and ubiquitous cars would bring, we made similar mistakes with cell phones." implies that the net result of freeways and cell phones is bad. In reality each has brought positive and negative consequences. Had we foreseen them before before releasing them, I am convinced we would have determined the positive impacts would outweigh the negatives and they would have been released anyway. What might have been different is we would have warned about the negatives and tried to find ways to mitigate the negatives up front.
Don't be so sweeping in the condemnation of everything that brings negatives. Most things bring positives and negatives thereby upholding the law that there must be an opposition in all things.

Robert

December 5, 2008 1:12 PM

Most of this video paints one of the worst scariest futures I could imagine. There are so many new technonlogies coming around that are productive useful things. Solar was the one good thing that this video offered as our future. I am stunned that smart wireless devices was not even mentioned. I guess this was done by big blue and not Apple though...

Phani C

December 5, 2008 1:19 PM

Of all the neat things that are called innovative above , I would like to see energy spent on "Energy saving solar technology will be built into asphalt, paint and windows " so that it is really a give back to the environment.Solary energy still remains untapped in most parts of the world. The natural source shouldnt be wasted away.

Alex Hunt

December 9, 2008 6:43 AM

The prediction about "smart appliances" has been around since the early 1990s I think a lot of this is just wishful thinking on the IT Industries' part. Before can have intelligent appliances we need more intelligent humans to operate and program them. Can you imagine a fridge that orders your milk for you and the operator has accidently added an extra zero or two! !00 bottles of milk would be a real surprise to come home to! The trouble is predicting what people want is like herding cats, everybody's' needs are different and inconstant.
All I can say to a company brave enough to market such a device is — best of luck, you are going to need it!

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What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.

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