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5 Future Technology Innovations from IBM — Cognitive Computing Is Coming

Every year IBM makes predictions about 5 technology innovations that stand to change the way we live within the next 5 years, (above) IBM introduces us to Cognitive Computing. Thought your smartphone was smart? In five years our computers just might be: Tasting, Smelling, Hearing, Seeing, and Touching everything for us. (5 senses videos below).

The goal of cognitive computing is to get a computer to behave, think and interact the way humans do. In 5 years, machines will emulate human senses, each in their own special way.

“With all due respect to current technology, our computers today are just large calculators,” said Paul Bloom, the CTO of Telecom Research at IBM. “They calculate very fast and lots of data, but they really don’t think.”

"This is really an assistive technology," commented Dr. Bernard Meyerson, IBM's VP of research. "It can't go off on its own. It's not designed to do that. What it's designed to do, in fact, is respond to a human in an assistive manner. But by providing a human-style of input, it's freed us from the task of programming and moved to the task of training. It simply has — not more intelligence — but more bandwidth, and there's a huge difference between the two."

Smell:

In 5 years, computers will have a sense of smell. We will see vast advances where sensors will be equipped to smell potential diseases that feed back into a cognitive system to tell us if they suspect a possible health issue. Your phone will detect if you're coming down with a cold or illness before you do.

Taste:

In 5 years, a computer system will know what you like to eat better than you do. A machine that experiences flavor will determine the precise chemical structure of food and why people like it. Not only will it get you to eat healthier, but it will also surprise us with unusual pairings of foods that are designed to maximize our experience of taste and flavor. Digital taste buds will help you to eat smarter.

Sight:

In 5 years, computers will not only be able to look at images, but understand them. Computers will be trained to turn pictures and videos into features, identifying things like color distribution, texture patterns, edge information and motion information. A pixel will be worth a thousand words.

Touch:

In 5 years, you will be able to touch through your phone. IBM is working on bringing a sense of touch to mobile devices, and bringing together virtual and real world experiences for a number of industries including retail. Shoppers will be able to "feel" the texture and weave of a fabric or product by brushing their finger over the item's image on a device's screen.

Hearing:

In 5 years, computers will hear what matters. Hearing systems of the future will be trained by 'listening' to sounds and will use this input to start detecting patterns and building models to decompose sounds. Machines will be used to predict when a tree might fall or to translate "baby talk" so parents understand if a baby's fussing indicates hunger, tiredness or pain.