Here are some excerpts from IBM's predictions for the next 5 years. What do you think of these predictions?
You'll beam up your friends in 3-D
In the next five years, 3-D interfaces – like those in the movies – will let you interact with 3-D holograms of your friends in real time. Movies and TVs are already moving to 3-D, and as 3-D and holographic cameras get more sophisticated and miniaturized to fit into cell phones, you will be able to interact with photos, browse the Web and chat with your friends in entirely new ways.
Scientists are working to improve video chat to become holography chat - or "3-D telepresence." The technique uses light beams scattered from objects and reconstructs them a picture of that object, a similar technique to the one human eyes use to visualize our surroundings.
3-D telepresence will do more for business than for personal communication. The trend for socializing is toward more chatting by typing than by talking. The ratio of typed to spoken cell phone conversations keeps going up. Think about it: Do you spend more time in chat rooms, instant messaging, email, and Facebook? Or do you spend more time on the phone?
Better batteries using air.
Batteries will breathe air to power our devices
Ever wish you could make your lap top battery last all day without needing a charge? Or what about a cell phone that powers up by being carried in your pocket?
Battery improvements will certainly keep coming. But will they have their biggest impact on hand-held devices? Or on cars? My guess: cars. Oil is too expensive and the remaining oil is deep offshore or in other places hard to reach. In the United States 94% of transportation energy comes from oil. Even that number understates the dependency since corn ethanol (shown as renewable energy in that graph) requires so much oil to produce it.
Some feel good pap about how we can all save the planet with personal technology. Is this practical?
You won’t need to be a scientist to save the planet
While you may not be a physicist, you are a walking sensor. In five years, sensors in your phone, your car, your wallet and even your tweets will collect data that will give scientists a real-time picture of your environment. You'll be able to contribute this data to fight global warming, save endangered species or track invasive plants or animals that threaten ecosystems around the world. In the next five years, a whole class of "citizen scientists" will emerge, using simple sensors that already exist to create massive data sets for research.
One idea: Imagine putting camera collars on big cats. Suppose the cameras could be powered from the movement of the cats (I'm reaching). Far more people would get off on virtually riding along with the cats on hunts than would get off on shooting the cats. The cameras might help deter poachers (and then again, maybe not). But habitat destruction wouldn't be stopped by cameras aimed at stopping poachers. Habitat destruction due to growing human populations and industrialization is the root problem. I see continued deterioration.
Computers will tell you how to commute to avoid traffic. Ho hum.
Your commute will be personalized
Imagine your commute with no jam-packed highways, no crowded subways, no construction delays and not having to worry about late for work. In the next five years, advanced analytics technologies will provide personalized recommendations that get commuters where they need to go in the fastest time. Adaptive traffic systems will intuitively learn traveler patterns and behavior to provide more dynamic travel safety and route information to travelers than is available today.
I doubt this will help much. What will help: 3-D holograms that enable you to work from home and yet still do really high quality meetings. What will help longer term: Cars that drive themselves. That'll enable closer packing of cars on the road, higher speed travel, lower accident rates, and time to read and type at a computer while the car computer does the driving.
IBM expects more of the waste heat from computer data centers will get used for useful purposes like heating buildings in winter.
Computers will help energize your city
Innovations in computers and data centers are enabling the excessive heat and energy that they give off to do things like heat buildings in the winter and power air conditioning in the summer. Can you imagine if the energy poured into the world's data centers could in turn be recycled for a city's use.
I question the potential for this idea to do much. Data centers are often located where electric power is cheaper. Really expensive cities (e.g. Manhattan) have rental costs that tend to push data centers out to the suburbs or beyond. So knowledge workers in expensive skyscrapers interact with cloud computers in other states and countries.
What should have made it to IBM's list for the next 5 years? I can think of a few things off the top of my head:
So what else do you see in the next 5 years? How will faster computing power and cheaper internet bandwidth change our lives? Will biotechnological advances have much of an impact in the next 5 years? Biotech's big impacts seem longer term. Certainly we'll see amazing biotech advances in the 2020s. But will we see any major disease cures in the next 10 years?
Update: Also check out IBM's 2007 predictions for the following 5 years. Note they had cell phones acting like credit/debit cards. That's already the case in Japan and now the Nexus S phone from Google has circuitry to help do that. So this is happening, albeit more slowly. Also, they predicted more active control of cars by car computers. That's happening very gradually with adaptive cruise control and other electronic assists making some driving decisions.
Update II: An article about 3-D and augmented reality reminds me of some areas of continued big advances in the next 5 years:
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2010 December 27 10:11 PM Trends Technological Advance|