IBM: Within 5 Years, You Will Touch Through Your Screen

Some of the predictions may be obvious, while others may raise questions if we really need such capabilities. All predictions, however, are solidly placed in mainstream and consumer electronics computing and relate to a machine ability to adopt superhuman-like senses.

For 2013 to 2018, the predictions are:

Touch: You will be able to touch through your phone
Sight: A pixel will be worth a thousands words
Hearing: Computers will hear what matters
Taste: Digital taste buds will help you to eat smarter
Smell: Computers will have a sense of smell

With the exception of "touching through the screen of a phone" and "interpreting pixels", we have heard the remaining predictions in the past in varying forms. The interest in computers adopting more senses beyond touch has been with us for awhile, so it should not be surprising to hear about them again and again.

Touch, of course, has still plenty of innovation room left and IBM's idea is that haptic feedback will beable to simulate certain fabrics not too far down the road. When online shopping, for example, you will be able to feel the fabric of a t-shirt.

Personally, I would already be happy if some of the prior predictions would come true. For example, kinetic device charging, which would allow a phone to generate power from your body movements, or holographic phone calls. Of course, IBM's tech predictions are frequently not so much about the details, but also reflect our changing interest in what tech should do.

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  • tomfreak
    so I guess if all those come true, another 30years we will have humanoid cyborg that is 90% human?
  • sixdegree
    holographic phone calls
    I guess i should stop calling that phone sex hotline then. Seeing an old dude with frilly undergarments impersonating hot Spanish model projected through my phone kinda kill the mood right away.
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    STFU IBM, I still care for none of these things. Give me more powerful hardware and better battery life, that's all that matters.
  • beayn
    I don't see any practical application for computers to have a sense of smell and taste in the next 5 years. What would the the point? This "Touch through your phone" looks interesting... but honestly it seems far fetched to me to have that in 5 years as well.

  • tanjo
    Touch: You will be able to touch through your phone
    At first thought: What? Like air phone or something? Then I watched the video... and it sucks. Buy a dress online. Feel the texture through your phone bla bla. Pffft. If you haven't touched most of the materials used in dresses, you're probably living in a cave.
  • jdw_swb
    Maybe I just don't want to touch through my screen.

    I just want to make phone calls.
  • hoofhearted
    Smell: Computers will have a sense of smell

    My computer is gonna hate me!
  • DRosencraft
    Touch/Smell through a device is a good idea in limited applications. Some here obviously rarely shop for non-mechanical devices, or lack a great deal of imagination. That said, touch/smell would have to be done right to be useful at all. Not every "cotton" shirt is made to the same standard. It could be useful if you're shopping online to be able to feel what that particular shirt's quality and texture are like. Or for smell, to be able to smell what some restaurant's food smells like, or what some deodorant/perfume/shampoo/detergent/cleaner smells like before you buy it. It is useful in limited scenarios, but those scenarios are very common. They may not constitute a huge percentage of computer activity, but it's something that is likely done by millions of people on a daily basis. Not the most glamorous tech, and I don't think it'll be even on the horizon in next five years due to the complications of synthetically creating variable senses of smell and touch on demand.
  • fnh
    "Sight: A pixel will be worth a thousands words"

    Wasn't there a guy who put up a million-pixel website that was worth a million dollars?
  • dragonfang18
    So in 5 years we may actually know what 2 girls 1 cup might smell like?