Guess When These 20 Sci-Fi Technologies Are Coming To Your Phone Or PC

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IBM researchers are exploring new inventions and trends that will change every aspect of your life—everything from your health to your commute.They just released their annual “Five in Five” year-end predictions, in which they name five crazy-sounding technologies that will be ordinary in five years.

The predictions they made in 2007 for 2012 were spot on—for example, voice-controlled cars and mobile payments. So we looked back at IBM’s past predictions to see what they anticipate coming to fruition between 2013 and 2017.

When will your PC or smartphone be able to smell things?

By 2017, smartphones will have a sense of smell

Tiny sensors that can 'smell' can be built into smartphones and other mobile devices.

Those traces of chemical compounds can be fed to a powerful cloud app, detecting everything from carbon monoxide to the flu virus.

As a result, if you sneeze, the phone can tell you if you are getting sick.

When will data centres heat our cities?

By 2015, excess heat from computers will be recycled

It has already become common for data centres to use the heat produced by the computer servers they house to heat their own buildings, but it's still unusual for this heat to be captured and used elsewhere. Not for long, though.

When will standing in line at the cash register be a thing of the past?

By 2013, we will have our own digital shopping assistants

In 2008, IBM was working on tech that allows retailers to recognise when shoppers are in their stores and do things like send coupons to their phones.

Today, iPad apps that give customers access to inventory and discounts are available. Facial recognition systems are just starting to be deployed, so far, mostly for surveillance.

When will computers read our minds?

By 2016, computers will seem telepathic

Today, anyone can play thought-controlled video games. Business Insider reviewed one device called the Brainwave Headset, from MindWave, which lets you do just that.

But the technology is still pretty basic and it isn't included with most PCs or smartphones. That will change, IBM researchers say.

When will you be able to feel an item you're buying online?

By 2017, your phone will let you touch and feel stuff

Your phone will use vibrations to simulate how things feel, similar to how a videogamer uses a 'haptic device,' like a wired-up glove, to feel the rumblings of battle.

It will let you distinguish fabrics, textures, and weaves so that you can know if a sweater is soft or scratchy, right through the screen, IBM researchers say.

When will we log in with our fingerprints or voices?

By 2016, passwords will be gone

Passwords and user names are not very good protection.

But your body is. Computers will one day recognised your face, fingerprint, voice to create a unique password, IBM researchers say,

This is fast on its way. Lenovo PCs have face-recognition logins. Earlier this year, Apple bought a company called AuthenTec that makes fingerprint scanning technology.

When will junk mail get junked?

By 2016, we'll only get offers we really like

Market researchers will soon be able to sift through so much info on what you buy that they'll stop sending you offers on stuff you don't want.

In 2012, big data became a big thing. Hopefully, companies will start using it to learn how to stop sending us junk mail.

When will the Web listen to us—and talk back?

By 2013, the Web will be speech-enabled

In 2008 IBM was working on the Spoken Web project and predicted by 2013, there would be many web sites with a voice interface.

We've already gotten close to this, between Apple's Siri and Google's Voice Search. Voice search works on mobile devices or any computer using the Chrome browser with a microphone.

When will 911 be a thing of the past?

By 2014, cops will respond to crime before it happens

Computers that can see and hear will help cities fight crime. They'll use those sensors, coupled with big-data analytics, to discover crime hotspots as they occur.

The analytics part is already here. IBM worked on a pilot with Memphis police that analysed crime patterns based on incident reports to find the criminal 'hot spots.'

When will we stop seeing red lights?

By 2015, your commute will be personalised

Eventually, using sensors and smart traffic lights, roads will direct us away from traffic jams.

People may even be able to use apps that coordinate with the traffic lights to get personalised, reliable routes.

This is already starting to come true, thanks to ubiquitous GPS in smartphones and crowdsourced data from apps like Waze.

By 2017, computers will be able to recognise and understand images and video

A human can look at a picture and video and instantly perceive what the object is, the setting it's in, and what it may be doing, ' IBM researchers say.

Right now, a computer only registers a bunch of different-coloured pixels. Computers have to be taught to recognise patterns. When they've learned enough patterns, they will begin to perceive and 'see'.

And then you get things like home security systems that can catch the crooks before they break in.

When will we get smarter about preventing disease?

By 2014, cities will get smarter about pandemic infections

Technology will help hospitals track infectious diseases like a deadly flu down to the neighbourhood.

This is in its early stages thanks to big-data systems at the CDC and Google's Flu Trends.

By 2015, your electric car will be in a relationship with your power company

IBM worked with Honda's American subsidiary and Pacific Gas & Electric on a pilot project that let smart electric grids talk to electric vehicles.

It let EV owners create a custom schedule for the best times to charge their cars, when electricity is plentiful and cheap.

This is a little like hunting down gas stations with the cheapest prices--only for electricity.

When will a computer forecast your health?

By 2013, you will have a medical crystal ball

Doctors will use tech that can read your DNA or ultratiny nanoscale computers to diagnose you. This sounds a little like the 'tricorder' scanner on Star Trek--our own personal diagnostic machine.

While that's pretty sophisticated, something like the tricorder is already on the market today--the Scanadu Scout. It's like your own personal medical lab.

When will you stop plugging in your gadgets?

By 2015, batteries will recharge themselves from the air

IBM is working on something called the lithium-air battery. It plans to have a lab prototype of an air-breathing rechargeable battery for electric vehicles by 2014.

That's right: the battery will power itself up from thin air.

When will holograms become commonplace?

By 2015, you'll beam your friends over in 3D

In 2010 hologram apps were just starting to appear in app stores. IBM researchers predicted that videoconferencing tools like Facetime or Skype will eventually become more like a 3D hologram than a video conferencing chat.

When will a computer develop a sense of taste?

By 2017, digital taste buds will help you to eat healthier

Computers with taste buds are not quite the food 'replicator' from Star Trek. They're more like personal chefs creating recipes customised to a person's tastes and nutritional needs, IBM researchers say.

But the replicator isn't far away. Venture capitalists are already funding startups working on similar inventions.

When will we stop wasting energy with unneeded lights and air conditioning?

By 2014, city buildings will sense and respond to conditions like living organisms

Buildings will be loaded up with sensors and that can heat, cool, turn lights on and off on their own, as humans move about the building.

This is almost here. Earlier this year, GreenWave Reality released a smart light bulb that can respond to your iPhone.

When will solar become ubiquitous?

By 2013, energy-saving solar technology will be built into asphalt, paint, and windows

IBM Research built a new kind of solar cell that can be added to a lot of different materials.

Products that use this kind of tech have started to arrive. You can already buy roof tiles with solar panels built in.

When will computing devices hear?

By 2017, your phone will help you hear better

Obviously, computers and smartphones can already process sounds.

Soon, those sensors will be coupled with massive cloud-computing services that can help them figure out what these sounds mean.

Then our devices will do everything from giving you superhuman hearing to figuring out what a baby's cry means.

Here's a look at today's cool tech ...

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