Computers Will Smell Your Breath in Five Years, and Other IBM Predictions

Paul Lilly

IBM lays out five predictions that will change computing in the next five years.

Within the next five years, PCs and cell phones will know if you're coming down with a cold or other illness, IBM says. Tiny embedded sensors will analyze orders, biomarkers, and thousands of molecules in your breath, giving doctors help in diagnosing and monitoring certain diseases and ailments, even diabetes. That's just one of five predictions IBM made as part of its seventh annual " IBM 5 in 5 ," which is a list of five innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live, and interact during the next five years.

"Due to advances in sensor and communication technologies in combination with deep learning systems, sensors can measure data in places never thought possible," IBM explains . "For example, computer systems can be used in agriculture to 'smell' or analyze the soil condition of crops. In urban environments, this technology will be used to monitor issues with refuge, sanitation and pollution – helping city agencies spot potential problems before they get out of hand."

Another prediction IBM made was that you'll be able to touch through your phone and actually feel the item you're shopping form. Haptic, infrared, and pressure sensitive technologies will advance to a point where you can discern different textures, or the weave of a fabric.

"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," IBM says.

As far fetched as these and other IBM predictions might sound, not all of them are mere Electric Dreams ; some of them are bound to come true, just as they have in the past .

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