Feeds

IBM: 'Your PC will read your mind by 2016'

Predicts the passing of passwords, junking of junk mail, more...

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

IBM has released its annual predictions for the future of technology, and this year’s batch includes biometric security, replacing mice with brain sensors, and an end to the “digital divide” between those online and off.

Big Blue’s “5 in 5" predictions look at what technologies will be commonplace in five years time, based on the current state of play. This year, IBM has nominated personal-power generation, biometrics replacing passwords, mind control of PCs, the end of the digital divide, and automatic scheduling and purchasing software.

“A lot can happen in five years, but a lot of this stuff is closer than you think,” IBM Fellow and VP of innovation Bernie Meyerson told The Register. “A lot of this is either in development by IBM or by third parties already.”

By 2016, power generation will be built into almost anything, from running shoes to water pipes (so-called "parasitic power collection"), and IBM predicts tools such as battery chargers that clip onto your bike and charge as you cycle to work. Quite who’ll develop this isn’t known – El Reg can’t see the power companies being thrilled about it.

Biometric technology is nothing new, but IBM predicts that within five years it’ll be built into everything from laptops to cash machines. Retinal prints and voice-recognition software are the most likely contenders, but there are still technical problems with both areas which went unacknowledged in the predictions.

One of the most intriguing areas IBM nominated was mind control of PCs. While there are non-intrusive headsets already available for online gaming, they are expensive and seldom as efficient as manual controls. However, the increase in computational power and software sophistication is making mind-reading increasingly easy, Meyerson said.

“This is as much a software issue as a hardware issue,” he explained. “You need an algorithm that associates pattern with function and makes the correlation in terms of brain monitoring. The basic capabilities exist and they are coming on strong.”

However, there’s still a lot more than five years to go before the ultimate in mind control is reached – wetware that’s embedded directly in your skull. Meyerson said that a group of graduate students had recently pitched venture capitalists on this and found a lot of interest, even if the technology is many years away from fruition – and provided you can find beta testers.

The end of the digital divide is also predicted, with an estimated 80 per cent of the world’s population owning a reasonably smart handset and the signal to run it. Meyerson said he had been to China and talked to executives who were seeing millions of people signing onto mobile service in a few days as low-cost rural networks go up.

Finally, and perhaps most unlikely, Big Blue predicts spam will actually become useful, by programming devices to identify pertinent information from floods of emails, and include it in personal planning – such as automatically buying concert tickets for your favourite band. While this might make sense for IBM’s Big Data plans, El Reg has its doubts. ®

Website security in corporate America

More from The Register

next story
Man buys iPHONE 6 and DROPS IT to SMASH on PURPOSE
Yarrrgh! 'Tis Antipodean insanity, ye crazy swab
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
4K-ing excellent TV is on its way ... in its own sweet time, natch
For decades Hollywood actually binned its 4K files. Doh!
Your chance to WIN the WORLD'S ONLY HANDHELD ZX SPECTRUM
Reg staff not allowed to enter, god dammit
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Monitors monitor's monitoring finds touch screens have 0.4% market share
Not four. Point four. Count yer booty again, Microsoft
DARPA-backed jetpack prototype built to make soldiers run faster
4 Minute Mile project hatched to speed up tired troops
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.