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IBM predicts how future technology will radically augment your senses

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IBM 5 on 5
IBM 5 on 5

IBM today published its annual 5 in 5 report, citing five arenas of technology the company believes will see vast advancements over the next five years. This year's list focuses on the five human senses and how future tech will help augment touch, sight, taste, hearing, and smell. Each article is written by one of IBM's research experts, so while some of the ideas may sound unfeasible today, they're coming from people with a decent understanding of what's coming down the pipe.

For starters, IBM thinks within five years we could be "touching" items we're shopping for online using only a smartphone, "so that you can feel a sweater, jacket, or upholstery – right through the screen." Further, marrying augmented reality and future breakthroughs could allow you to point a phone at produce and receive feedback on the freshness of food before you throw it in your shopping cart.

Digital shopping cards will get more 'physical'

Sound could stand to receive even more benefits in the years ahead thanks to "algorithms embedded in cognitive systems" that will be able to decipher and understand virtually any sound. IBM inventor Dimitri Kanevsky says this could particularly revolutionize our communication with infants. Patents to understand a baby's utterances are already in existence, but we've been waiting for technology to catch up; when it does, it will enable us to interpret their feelings with deeper insight than ever before. He also expects that we'll one day see advance hearing devices / cochlear implants that help us predict incoming weather conditions.

The implications of what we'll see in sight, smell, and taste are also extraordinary, and each article is worth a read. Even if you don't believe we'll see any of these examples appear anytime soon, seeing them dreamt up by experts is part of the fun.