In 5 years you will control gadgets with your mind


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Forget using passwords to log on to your computer, needing touchscreens to navigate on your smartphone or paying expensive energy bills; in the future your daily activities will create all the energy you need to power your house, biometrics will unlock your devices, and your mind will be capable of controlling them.

It’s a bold prediction, but IBM expects such technologies will be in people’s hands in as soon as five years’ time.

The futuristic trends are part of IBM’s sixth annual Next Five in Five technology forecast of innovations it believes will change the way people live, work and play over the next five years.

Today people are struggling to afford the rising costs of energy while the heat and energy they produce as they go about their everyday lives goes wasted. IBM predicts that eco-friendly people power — power generated by walking, jogging, cycling, your computer getting hot or the water flowing through your pipes — will be captured and harnessed to power our households.

“Advances in renewable energy technology will allow individuals to collect this kinetic energy, which now goes to waste, and use it to help power our homes, workplaces and cities,” explains IBM. Humans and their unique biological makeup will also be the key to solving another everyday annoyance: Passwords.

IBM suggests, “[y]ou will no longer need to create, track or remember multiple passwords for various log-ins. Imagine you will be able to walk up to an ATM machine to securely withdraw money by simply speaking your name or looking into a tiny sensor that can recognise the unique patterns in the retina of your eye. Or by doing the same, you can check your account balance on your mobile phone or tablet.”

Google already implements such a feature on the latest version of its mobile operating system, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The internet giant enables Galaxy Nexus owners to unlock their phones simply by looking at it thanks to the company’s Face Unlock technology.

Of all the technological predictions, mind reading might appear to be the most far-fetched, but numerous companies and organisations including NeuroSky, Neurowear, Interaxon, and the VERE project are already using advanced sensors to translate electrical brain activity and facial expressions into computer commands.

“IBM scientists are researching how to link your brain to your devices, such as a computer or a smartphone. If you just need to think about calling someone, it happens. Or you can control the cursor on a computer screen just by thinking about where you want to move it,” says IBM. Such technology will be found within the gaming and entertainment industries within five years predicts IBM.

Two other predictions made by IBM suggest that marketers will transform junk mail into priority mail by utilising real-time analytics to recommend information that is only relevant to you, and the digital divide will cease to exist as mobile technology gets cheaper and more competent.

“There are 7 billion people inhabiting the world today. In five years there will be 5.6 billion mobile devices sold — which means 80% of the current global population would each have a mobile device,” says IBM.

“Growing communities will be able to use mobile technology to provide access to essential information and better serve people with new solutions and business models such as mobile commerce and remote healthcare.” — Relaxnews 2011

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