IBM's 5 in 5 - Big Data the way forward for Big Blue

Every year IBM predicts the technological innovations that will change the way we live our lives over the next 5 years.

This year the areas are Energy, Security, Mind Reading, Mobile Computing & Analytics.


Harry Kolar predicts that parasitic power collection (using every day motions to produce useful electricity) will progress in both the small and grand scale as we attempt to deal with Power Demands inflating at 2.2% through 2035.

In day-to-day life the motion of walking/cycling to or from work could produce enough power to charge up your mobile phone or other small house-hold appliances whilst the water you use whilst having a shower could power the lights in your lounge whilst you relax afterwards.

In the world at large he sees an expansion in the use of Tidal energy convertors on the sea floors and wave energy converters sitting on the surface to produce energy for Costal Communities (like much of Ireland and Northern Europe).


David Nahamoo sees the world of online security progressing further down the biometric access route with "your unique biological identity and biometrics dada - facial definitions, iris scans, voice files, even your DNA" being used to authenticate your identity online.

He sees a world where we can walk up to an ATM, say our name and the amount we wish to withdraw and then let the computer do the rest having analysed our voice, gait and pupils.

Clearly we can see this technology developing in smartphones as it stands, but as it progresses it will become harder to fool, so no taking photos of your older brother to the ATM to get money for a night out...

Mind Reading

Kevin Brown's future is one where we can use sensors sitting on the outside of your head to measure electrical synapses to control computers for those of us who are disabled, in particular an IBM colleague called Shah.

However as the technology develops over the next few years the general public could control Smartphones and other objects such as cars simply by thinking about the actions we want to perform. Think Siri 5.0.

Mobile Computing

Paul Bloom sees the Smartphones getting smarter (Geniusphones?) being able to use information about you to either better inform suggestions to you, or to an extreme, make decisions for you. Ask your phone to book you a table at a restaurant? Why not get it to order you your food based on your previous patterns, preferences and needs. Say you've scheduled a Rugby game for the next day, you get your phone to book a meal at an Italian restaurant and find a bowl of Spaghetti waiting for you as your main course.

Bloom also sees networks utilising more localised network storage, say in a street 20 people are watching a recently released blockbuster, the network can temporarily store the video closer to the street allowing a (marginally) quicker transfer of information using the unused bandwidth of the neighbourhood to speed up the process.


Like Bloom's idea Jeff Jonas thinks that "big data" will become more and more important over the coming years and as corporations collect information then can inform our decisions through subscribed services. Services which might once have been considered "spam" can advance to such a level that the information they push to consumers is of such a personalised level that it actually become useful.

Jonas' example is that of a service that advises you of a delay due to a car crash between you and an appointment, and recommends a closer coffee shop (Starbucks of course) which both you and your appointment could get to in time for your meeting.

This idea could be further expanded to have a service where once enough information about people is online a gift service could actually email you with a suggestion for a gift to give your Niece for her birthday, if you reject the suggestion it updates your profile in preparation for the next occasion.

My Conclusion

4 of the 5 above areas have at least something to do with the collection and communication of data, with the other field being about how we actually power all the advancements. If there is one thing we have seen changing in our online world it is how the collection, processing and utilisation of personal (and not so personal) data has accelerated.

Apple, Google and Facebook, 3 of the online behemoths have more data on us than even the most totalitarian of governments did 20 years ago, they know what we like to eat, where we like to drink, what we want to listen to, what we watch, what we desire.

Privacy advocates may tear their hair out at the prospects that big blue foretell but with the right level of oversight the hoarding of information could benefit all our lives (as long as we keep the tinfoil hats close to hand).