IBM has an annual tradition of making five-year predictions trying to forecast what new technologies will move the needle over the coming five years.
Below I list the five trends and give my take. In general, I would say these are interesting but nothing ground breaking. Even a bit wimpy considering these things have been happening during the past five years. But still a fun read from IBM.
1) IBM: People power will come to life. (The use of kinetic energy to power devices)
my take: I've seen several kinetic-energy harvesting solutions pop on the market here and there over the past few years. Nokia, for example introduced a bike-charging solution early 2011. Of course there are environmental advantages to such solutions, but we should also think about the 1.5 billion people who don't have immediate access to power.
Nokia's bike charger introduced earlier this year.
2) IBM: Biometrics will replace passwords.
my take: I suppose we can forget about the demo effect during Google's official introduction of facial recognition in Ice Cream Sandwich. In general, I'd say this has been happening for years now in laptops. So sure, I'd say the technology will be well in place for wide biometric use within five years. But like with all trends, it comes down to user acceptance.
Smile for an Ice Cream Sandwich.
3) IBM: Mind reading is no longer science fiction.
my take: Don't think thought-controlled input is real? Think again. There are already products on the market now from companies such as Emotiv. I've tried this a few times in a simple game in which the player has to move objects via thought. It takes some getting used to. So IBM already has had this one right for a few years now. Good thinking.
4) IBM: The digital divide will cease to exist.
my take: We're seeing the cost of computing come down and the goal of real solid sub-$100 laptops and tablets is getting close. And pretty good smartphones (unsubsidized) have already reached that price point. The problems of connectivity and power still has some ways to go in being solved. Five years? IF IBM means everyone on the planet will be well-connected, that's optimistic.
5) Junk mail will become priority mail.
my take: A strange forecast among the others. As I understand it, IBM points to super-smart filtering and powerful data-mining to bring you only the information you really want. IBM is taking a wide definition of spam here, with even subscribed streams considered unwanted if they don't interest you. We've heard similar predictions in the past from the likes of Microsoft. Meanwhile spam has been a game of whack the mole. But the tide is turning.