IBM unveils five innovations it believes will change the way people work, live, and interact within the next five years. As YNN's John Wagner explains, the age of The Jetsons may not be so far off.
WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- "Something we've relied upon for forty years is gone - you can't make it smaller," said Dr. Bernie Meyerson.
As computer chips near the size of atoms, IBM is reinventing itself through cognitive computing. In five years they predict devices will begin mimicking the human senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing.
"Imagine a machine that could literally give a heads up, just by sniffing a passing person, to a physician walking into the office saying - there's a risk here," said Dr. Bernie Meyerson, IBM's Vice President of Innovation.
Phones with smelling sensors could detect a brewing cold, strep throat, even diabetes. IBM says an app for blood alcohol content or even a phone fire alarm will arrive in the not too distant future. Devices with hearing sensors could predict mudslides and floods, or help out new parents.
"It could actually interpret baby talk," said Meyerson, one of only 238 IBM designated "Fellows." "It's not like it says, 'I want to go out and play basketball.' That's not what it means. But it could say, 'man something really hurts,' versus, 'I'm just tired and cranky and want to go to sleep'."
IBM didn't come up with these ideas easily. They will spend about six and a half billion dollars on research and development in 2012 alone. But that eye on the future has led them to 19 straight years leading the country in the number of patents generated.
"The basic research we do is predicated on understanding what fundamental difference there is between how current machines compute, and how a human gets the job done," said Meyerson.
Lab computers could learn to look at X-rays and CT scans to give patients a second opinion. Over time, taste sensors could even help foodies become better chefs.
"From that chemical fingerprint that it takes each time you give it a comment, it could actually figure out what you like what you don't like at the most basic level, and begin tweaking recipes to optimize them," explained Meyerson.
IBM says they are setting the bar high: some of these will still be in rough draft form in 2017. Other's will already be changing our world.
For more information on IBM's predictures for the future, check out their website: