IBM foretells mind-reading machines

By 2016 consumers will be able to control electronics using brain power alone, people will not need to use passwords, and approximately 5.6 billion people will have phones with data access, IBM has foretold.

The predictions, announced by IBM on Monday, are part of the technology giant’s ’5 in 5′ project to make five predictions for what tech will look like in five years’ time. The ’5 in 5′ project has been run since 2006, though the company made no predictions in 2010.

“Every year IBM predicts the future of technology via the IBM 5 in 5 initiative,” Steve Hamm, a strategist in IBM’s corporate communications department, wrote in a blog post. “We assess not just the availability of a new technology but also the likelihood of its large-scale adoption.”


By 2016, consumers will have access to gadgets that ‘read their minds‘, allowing them to call friends and move computer cursors, according to IBM.

IBM has various prototypes that read electrical impulses in parts of the brain associated with movement. In 2010 ZDNet UK visited an IBM research laboratory and was able to drive a remote-controlled car by ‘thinking’ of the direction it should go in.

Computer security will be made simpler for the general person by replacing written passwords with biometric systems. These technologies will let people log into services via voice or iris recognition, with IBM predicting that people will be able to withdraw cash from banks in this way.

Energy harvesting technologies will become commonplace. People’s homes and modes of transport — like bicycles and footwear — will get technology to extract waste energy, allowing them to power electrical devices.

Smartphone use is going to grow, IBM said, predicting that 80 percent of the world’s current population of seven billion people — 5.6 billion people — will possess a smartphone by 2016.

Advertising should become more targeted as well: in the future there will not be any junk mail, IBM said, as advertisers will be able to tailor ads to individuals. “Junk mail will become priority mail,” the company said.

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