US: IBM unveiled the fifth annual “Next Five in Five” – a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years.
According to a survey of 3,000 IBM researchers, the next five years will bring smaller, longer-lasting batteries, 3-D holograms, increasingly personalised GPS systems with real-time parking spot information, citizen scientists who donate personal data to scientific research and computer heat repurposing–the heat from data centres used to, say, warm up buildings.
A common man with a latest gadget may not be a physicist but can be a walking sensor. In coming five years, sensors in phone, car, wallet and even tweets will collect data that will give scientists a real-time picture of the environment. With this way, everyone will be able to contribute this data to fight global warming, save endangered species or track invasive plants or animals that threaten ecosystems around the world.
IBM recently patented a technique that enables a system to accurately and precisely conduct post-event analysis of seismic events, such as earthquakes, as well as provide early warnings for tsunamis, which can follow earthquakes. The invention also provides the ability to rapidly measure and analyse the damage zone of an earthquake to help prioritise emergency response needed following an earthquake.
The company is also contributing mobile phone “apps” that allow typical citizens to contribute invaluable data to causes, like improving the quality of drinking water or reporting noise pollution. Already, an app called Creek Watch allows citizens to take a snapshot of a creek or stream, answer three simple questions about it and the data is automatically accessible by the local water authority.
Advancement in 3D
In the next five years, 3-D interfaces will let users interact with 3-D holograms of their friends in real time. Scientists are working to improve video chat to become holography chat – or “3-D telepresence.” Latest technology will enable users to see more than their friends in 3-D too. Scientists at IBM Research are working on new ways to visualise 3-D data, working on technology that would allow engineers to step inside designs of everything from buildings to software programmes, running simulations of how diseases spread across interactive 3-D globes and visualising trends happening around the world on Twitter – all in real time and with little to no distortion.
Instead of the heavy lithium-ion batteries used today, scientists are working on batteries that use the air we breath to react with energy-dense metal, eliminating a key inhibitor to longer lasting batteries. If successful, the result will be a lightweight, powerful and rechargeable battery capable of powering everything from electric cars to consumer devices.
Relief from traffic jam
In the next five years, advanced analytics technologies will provide personalised recommendations that get commuters where they need to go in the fastest time. Adaptive traffic systems will intuitively learn traveller patterns and behaviour to provide more dynamic travel safety and route information to travellers than is available today.
With up to 50 percent of the energy consumed by a modern data centre goes toward air cooling. Most of the heat is then wasted because it is just dumped into the atmosphere. New technologies, such as novel on-chip water-cooling systems developed by IBM, the thermal energy from a cluster of computer processors can be efficiently recycled to provide hot water for an office or houses. So, innovations in computers and data centres are enabling the excessive heat and energy that they give off to do things like heat buildings in the winter and power air conditioning in the summer.
A pilot project in Switzerland involving a computer system fitted with the technology is expected to save up to 30 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, the equivalent of an 85 percent carbon footprint reduction. A novel network of microfluidic capillaries inside a heat sink is attached to the surface of each chip in the computer cluster, which allows water to be piped to within microns of the semiconductor material itself. By having water flow so close to each chip, heat can be removed more efficiently. Water heated to 60 °C is then passed through a heat exchanger to provide heat that is delivered elsewhere.