Four years from now, you may be having conversations on your cell phone with a holographic image of the person who’s on the other end, according to IBM’s annual list of technological predictions for the next five years.
That’s just one far-out prediction from the company’s annual survey. Other ideas include batteries that rely on “energy-dense” metals that recharge when they interact with the air, and last 10 times longer than today’s lithium-ion technology; computer programs that can tell when and where traffic jams will take place; sensors in cars, wallets and personal devices that give scientists data about the environment; and cities powered by recycled heat generated by computer servers.
Each year, IBM surveys 3,000 researchers and looks to Silicon Valley in California for input on what five innovations will come to fruition.
IBM is one of the few big corporations investing in long-range research projects, which it counts on for the company’s growth, said Paul Saffo, managing director of foresight at the investment advisory firm Discern in San Francisco, in an interview with Bloomberg. Last year, IBM invested $5.8 billion in research and development, totaling 6.1 percent of revenue, according to the Bloomberg article.
Over the years, not all IBM predictions have become reality. In 2006, the first year the company began the yearly predictions, speech translation was at the top of the list. While some programs can translate electronic documents and instant messages, highly accurate speech translation is not widely available today.
Saffo was quoted in the same article saying, “The nice thing about the list is that it provokes thought. If everything came true, they wouldn’t be doing their job.”